Retirement Systems of Alabama, the organization responsible for the pensions of public employees in Alabama, owns eight resort hotel properties in the state. All of these properties are next to, or near, golf courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, also owned by RSA. How the state's pension fund operator also became a major player in the recreation and luxury hospitality industries is a long and somewhat complex story. In short, they built it and people came. Even though RSA is the owner of all the properties, Marriott manages the day-to-day operations of the hotels, including through its Renaissance brand.
Two Historic Properties
The Grand Hotel Marriott and the Battle House Renaissance Mobile are two of Alabama's most historic and beloved hotel properties, each with a history dating back to the 19th century. Both are now part of the RSA's resort collection and designated as Historic Hotels of America. The Grand overlooks Mobile Bay from the Eastern Shore at Point Clear and is steeped in tradition, including ceremonial cannon firings daily. On the other side of the bay in downtown Mobile, the Battle House contains a soaring, ornate lobby lit by a skylight that's a must-see even if you aren't staying at the hotel. Staying at either place is akin to stepping back in time to experience what the classic hotels of yesteryear looked and felt like, but with modern amenities, of course.
Along with the Battle House, three other RSA hotels are in or near the downtown areas of Alabama cities. These properties are near RTJ golf courses, but not directly adjacent to them. In downtown Mobile two blocks from the Battle House, there's the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza, a much larger and more modern facility overlooking the Mobile River. The Renaissance Montgomery at the Convention Center is ideally situated near the Riverwalk on the Alabama River and other major attractions in the state's capital city. The Marriott Shoals is located between two parks on the banks of the wide Tennessee River near downtown Florence. The golf courses are across the river, as is Muscle Shoals, a small but legendary town with a rich music heritage.
Adjacent to RTJ Golf Courses
Four RSA hotels are located at the site of RTJ golf courses: the Auburn Marriott Opelika at Grand National, the Montgomery Marriott Prattville at Capitol Hill, the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge and the Grand Hotel. You can walk or drive a golf cart to these courses from your hotel and not have to worry about transportation or parking. All of these sites except for Ross Bridge have more than one golf course available for play. And from Ross Bridge it's a short drive not just to more courses on the RTJ trail at Oxmoor, but to all the attractions and events in Birmingham, Alabama's largest city.
The Spa Trail
The golf trail isn't the only draw to RSA hotel properties; there's also a spa trail. Five of the eight properties contain full-service spa facilities: Marriott Shoals, Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge, Renaissance Montgomery at the Convention Center, the Battle House and the Grand Hotel. For avid golfers planning on traveling the golf trail with a non-golfing loved one in tow, the idea of a spa trail could make for a convincing selling point. There's even a Spa Trail Card available that gives discounts and other perks, such as complimentary wine, to cardholders.
- Photo Credit Robert Mora/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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