In less than four years, the antebellum mansion on Monticello Street went from being a faded grand dame to an award-winning Southern belle welcoming visitors from around the world.
Twelve Oaks Bed and Breakfast opened its doors in the fall of 2012 and has already garnered a host of awards and designations. It is part of Bedandbreakfast.com’s Diamond Collection, which also named it one of the top 10 B&Bs in the country. It also received a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor last year.
Now it’s being inducted into the Southern Living Hotel Collection.
“That’s amazing, we just opened a little over two years ago,” said Nicole Greer, owner of the property. “I love the Southern Living brand. I’m a Southern girl and I’m completely honored to be part of the collection.”
To celebrate all the honors the bed and breakfast has received, including the latest, a ribbon cutting and open house will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 2-3 p.m., with the ribbon cutting being at 2 p.m.
One of the things that draws so many people to Twelve Oaks, she said, is that the mansion’s antebellum look and history. Visitors from around the world search for lodgings that let them experience Tara—or in this case, Twelve Oaks—first hand.
“When we opened, I thought it would be a great weekend getaway,” she said. “I never imagined we’d have people coming from all over the world. Just about every week we have people from around the world stay with us.”
She said one of the reasons Twelve Oaks attracts so many guests is there aren’t enough bed and breakfasts around Atlanta. Visitors come to Atlanta, many looking for those iconic Gone With the Wind settings. In reality, those relics are few and far between.
Greer said she is amazed at how many people from other countries are interested in America’s Civil War. “A lot of people say they want to experience a true antebellum mansion,” she said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find something like this in Atlanta.”
Twelve Oaks fits perfectly into Covington’s focus on Hollywood and history, she said. The property “ties in perfectly to both. [It’s connected] to one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time and to the history of Atlanta and Margaret Mitchell.
It was the movie that inspired Greer to change the name of the house from Whitehall to Twelve Oaks, not because Greer was a fan of the movie—though she is—but because a magazine photo of it had caught author’s Margaret Mitchell’s attention in the 1930s. She cut out the photo, scrawled, “Twelve Oaks. I see this for Ashley’s house,” and sent it to David O. Selznick, Gone With the Wind’s producer.
“You can see in the movie the features that were incorporated,” Greer said.
Twelve Oaks is one of the first bed and breakfasts included in the Hotel Collection, Greer said. Their inclusion on the list came about indirectly when she met a representative of the newly-launched hotel collection at a bridal show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta two years ago.
“He stopped to learn more about the bed and breakfast,” she said. “That summer, he came with one of his colleagues for a visit. Typically, he said, when they came out to look at a property, they were looking for the ‘Wow!’ factor. He said he saw ‘Wow!’ everywhere he looked.”
The invitation to become part of the collection came soon after.
To be included in Southern Living Hotel Collection, hostelries need to meet criteria that, according to the magazine’s web site, promises the “best in “authentic Southern travel, hospitality and experience.” Since there are few places that meet those standards, being included is an honor as well as good for business.
“We have to follow a very rigorous set of standards and will be inspected every year to make sure we’re still meeting those standards,” Greer said. “They will be sending out an email about our property to all their email subscribers—they have close to a million.
“That’s a huge thing for our property and a huge thing for Covington as a travel destination,” she said. “Every time someone stays with us, they go out to eat, which is really good for local restaurants. We’re within walking districts of the square. We have lots of guests who go to The Mystic Grill, RL’s Off The Square, Milazzo’s Ristorante, Amici’s Italian Cafe, Scoops, Treasure Thai.”
She said that some of her guests, like the couple from Queensland, Australia, who are returning for the third year, come back multiple times.
“We’ve had people who come from all over the [world] and just fall in love with Covington,” she said. “It’s really an amazing place.”
As part of the Southern Living Hotel Collection, Greer said, Twelve Oaks may host a Southern Living dinner, which brings one of the magazine’s chefs to town for a meal and wine tasting. Greer said she is looking at ways to bring in a local chef or restaurant to be part of the event.
Workshops and wedding shows may also be in the bed and breakfast’s future, she said. “I don’t know what we’ll end up doing or how the collection will change, but I think they are looking at doing certain dinners and workshops.”
The Southern Living designation isn’t the only one Twelve Oaks has received, Greer said. The bed and breakfast is part of Bed&Breakfast.com’s Diamond Collection. As part of the company’s announcement of the winners, information on Twelve Oaks and Covington went out to over a million travelers world-wide, which, Greer said, brought further recognition to the city of Covington.