I’ve been trying to get down to visit the Delta Resort & Spa near McGehee, Arkansas for almost a year. Finally I did! I was invited to visit and speak about my novel, The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee, at the resort’s monthly Girls’ Night Out event. And earlier on the same day, I did a reading in town at the McGehee Public Library.
I’ll say right off, the entire town of McGehee, Arkansas—the library patrons and Girls’ Night Out participants—REPRESENTED Southeast Arkansas in a big way. What an enthusiastic group of new Gracie Lee supporters. Thank you!
The resort did not disappoint. I was impressed by this mirage-like resort in the Delta.
(Disclosure: As a guest of the resort, I received complementary hotel accommodations, dinner, drinks, and shooting range privileges. As always, opinions are my own.)
Once I left Little Rock proper and drove south on Highway 65, the world began to feel familiar. Although I’d never spent much time in the Lower Arkansas Delta (I’m an Upper Delta girl), as the fields and irrigation pivots came into view, as I glimpsed restaurant signs attached to old cotton trailers (rather than billboards), Dumas and McGehee may as well have been Dyess and Keiser. I was as good as home.
Truth: The further I can see toward the horizon, the slower my pulse.
Of course in typical farm road fashion, my GPS fizzled out and flashed the “location cannot be determined” message which really means “CONGRATULATIONS! You have escaped traffic and stress and are now entering a rare and special place sure to bring adventure”.
No worries. GPS breakdowns happen in all the best spots. Luckily, I grew up old school with skills extending far beyond programing an address into bluetooth navigation. Since I saw no nearby gas station (aka local direction provider), I called the Delta Resort and was given specific instructions. “Six more miles past the high school, turn left at the train trestle, then a mile or so down the gravel road.”
Train + Gravel = My Kind of Roadmap.
Truth: Delta Resort and Spa is out of the way.
That’s the beauty of it.
Delta Resort—Then and Now.
Delta Resort owner, Gary Gibbs, first hunted this Desha County land back in 1979. His experience proved to be so positive, it set the bar for every subsequent hunt. In 2006, when the nearly 2,000 acres became available, he purchased the land with the idea of creating a great hunting and conference center. One year later, lodge construction began along with renewal of the lake only steps from the main entrance.
Today, Delta Resort & Spa has the rare designation as being one of the only lodges in the Delta located in a green timber reservoir. (A green timber reservoir is a forested lowland temporarily flooded during fall and winter to attract ducks.) The 130-room resort (consisting of two lodges) is located in the Mississippi Migratory Bird Flyway, haven to 40 million migrating waterfowl annually (Arkansas Game & Fish Wildlife Department).
Delta Resort not only caters to the outdoor enthusiast but is also well equipped to facilitate corporate retreats and special events. A corporate event held smack dab in the middle of a migratory waterfowl refuge sounds like a heavenly place to team build and refocus efforts on the important things.
And what a great place to write. To my creative friends—this may be the peaceful getaway you’ve been seeking. Nature’s soundtrack provides a lullaby of birds and ducks and bullfrogs. Prairie grass whips in the wind. I could almost hear the sizzle of the sun sinking into the lake beyond the cattails.
My corner suite provided an apartment-like space with queen bed, living room with sofa and wet bar area (complete with coffee pot, microwave, and mini refrigerator), two full bathrooms (each with double sinks), and two flat screen televisions. As a writer, I so appreciated the fast, complimentary Wi-fi, spacious writing desk, good task lighting, and lots of plugs for my electronics.
Mostly I loved the calm.
Food. Glorious Food!
In 2013, 43 Grill & Bar opened, named after the property’s location on Canal 43 (a local landmark). The lunch menu included a variety of soup, salads and sandwiches, along with a plate lunch special on certain weekdays. Dinner included local cuisine and southern fare with a variety of desserts homemade daily. On the night I visited, dessert included Gracie Lee’s favorite—strawberry cake. (I think it was simply a coincidence, but I’m pretending it was planned.)
For dinner, I chose buffet over menu ordering mainly because the smells lured me over to the silver serving bowls heaped with comfort food.
Truth: Fried okra on the buffet made it a no brainer choice for me.
Kayla, the resort sales manager and one of my hosts, ordered duck nachos, a Delta Resort speciality. She didn’t bat a lash when I asked to photograph her food, and I knew we’d be fast friends from then on out. I scarfed down my food, failing to get a picture. My meal couldn’t have been better if my own Aunt Lavern had whipped it up in her kitchen on Little River.
I suspect 43 Grill & Bar has been enthusiastically received in an area of Arkansas not known for its dining options. The restaurant drew a sizable crowd for dinner, yet the atmosphere exuded “small town” with lively conversation and laughter. Folks pulled up chairs totally impromptu. That’s the delight of small town living. Everyone knows everyone. By the end of the meal, I’d met everyone too.
Next door to the restaurant in the Great Rivers Hall, the Girls’ Night Out event proved to be spirited fun. After my presentation (and selling out of books!), the lovely ladies invited me to play Bunco. It was my first time, and what a blast. I even won a door prize for driving the furthest.
Later, I fell into bed exhausted yet exhilarated from a wonderful evening with folks who quickly felt like friends in a place that immediately felt like home. And my bed linens? NICE. I’d already messed up my pillows somewhat in the picture below, but a comfy bed and quality linens are a must.
Delta Resort delivered.
World Class Shooting.
Day Two began with trap shooting. The Delta Shooting Sports Complex is one of the largest sporting clay resorts in the nation offering 15-station Sporting Clays Courses, 5-Stand Course with practice course, 5 Olympic Bunker Trap Stations, 4 Skeet fields and 12 ATA trap fields. I don’t really know the difference in all these shooting sports, but I do know the U. S. Olympic Shooting Team Trials for Rio were held at the Delta Resort. It’s world-class legit for sure, but even so, I felt right at home testing my minimal shooting skills.
And sorta not.
Truth: After going through a whole box of shells, my arms felt sore the next day which is pretty pathetic if you think about it.
Other than meeting up with my shooting instructor and getting earplugs at Duck Pro Outfitters, I didn’t spend much time at the pro shop. With a selection of clothing, gear, and a few snacks, I imagine this place is popular and essential for hunters.
I never took advantage of the resort’s spa services either. Located on the third floor of Bucksduck Lodge, Delta Spa services included hot stone massage (for achy après-trap shooting arms) as well as mani and pedis. Next time!
Truth: The Delta Resort doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It isn’t hoity-toity, and that’s a good thing. From the comfortable accommodations and friendly staff to the expansive, natural grounds, the resort feels unpretentious and real with a touch of southern flair. Like the Delta itself.
For reservations and for more information on shooting clinics and events, visit the Delta Resort website HERE. Follow Delta Resort on FACEBOOK to keep up with local happenings. If you’re headed to Hot Springs, check out the resort’s sister property, Hotel Hot Springs (connected to the Convention Center). Fully renovated Hotel Hot Springs was recently written up in Southern Living Magazine!
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
P.S. If you make a trip to the Delta Resort & Spa, there are lots of nearby sights to visit such as the Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee and the Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial site, Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, Arkansas Post Museum, Delta Rivers Nature Center, Arkansas Railroad Museum, and the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie. I will be writing about some of these places separately because this post is already longgggggggg. Thanks for reading!
Delta Dawn, Tanya Tucker