The Ark on Lake Lanier

Written By: Adrienne Crawford

Nestled on the shores of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia, is The Ark, a truly remarkable destination that shares striking similarities with the legendary vessel built by Noah. Its story and charm are also equally captivating. This renovated facility offers a beautiful retreat with a maximum allowance stay of forty-five people. Yet, the most fascinating aspect about the The Ark is how it fulfills its current purpose. Much like the biblical ark, The Ark on Lake Lanier holds its own tale of resilience, transformation and the promise of new beginnings. Its serene setting by the lake provides the perfect backdrop for memorable gatherings, retreats or special events.

How it All Started

In 2006, Jeff Hylton and his family came upon the property that would become The Ark when searching for a new home. Initially it was not for sale, but according to Jeff, “I felt a stirring in my heart for the property.” Despite initial setbacks and challenges, including Hylton caring for his ill father, he held onto his faith and sent up a heartfelt prayer for the opportunity to own the property. Six months later, it became available for purchase.

What followed was a period of renovation and remodeling, during which tragedy struck with a devastating fire and financial hardships due to the recession. Yet, amidst the trials, Hylton remained steadfast in his vision and felt compelled to expand.

The name “The Ark” emerged from a friend’s comparison to Noah, which resonated with Hylton’s belief that the property was meant to be a sanctuary and a place of refuge.

“I knew I was being called to do this and I wanted to accommodate more guests,” Hylton said. “Everyone was saying I was crazy because of the state of the economy but I knew in my heart I was going to do it.”

As renovations were completed, Jeff and his team realized the true purpose of The Ark: to serve as a self-sustaining ministry house, providing rest and accommodations for missionaries and others in need.

In 2012, eighteen missionaries came into town for a year-long missions school, and the Hylton family eventually decided to move out to let the missionaries take over. When the missionaries left in June 2013, the Hyltons transitioned The Ark into a short-term vacation rental. This allowed them to fulfill their vision of making the property a place of ministry while also ensuring its sustainability. The Ark is all encompassing. It offers a pool, hot tub, separate pool house, large fire pit, full size lighted volleyball court, tether ball, corn hole boards, croquet, in-ground trampoline, small basketball court, frisbee golf targets, access to ski boats and canoes as well as a 16-seat home theater. The Ark’s evolution from a family home to a sanctuary for guests reflects Hylton’s unwavering dedication to following his commitment to serving others.

A Home Away from Home

Some of the guests who have stayed at The Ark include the non-profit ministry Refuge Widowers, which hosts the only faith-based retreats for widowers in the country.

“Our partnership with the Ark has been instrumental in expanding our global community,” said Refuge Widowers Founder Daniel Brooker. “The Ark provides rest with a view for the guys in our community, weary from their profound loss, offering not only ample privacy for each man to reflect but also a range of amenities designed to accommodate a group of our size.”

Jeff Shinabarger, Executive Director of Plywood People, a nonprofit in Atlanta leading a community of startup founders, social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders, expressed, “The Ark is unique for a myriad of reasons; most notably for creating an environment that fosters real, authentic conversations and oftentimes an experience of personal change. I’ve used The Ark for numerous retreats and it’s very hard to find a place in Georgia that can house as many people as it can and still provide the feeling of [safety] and being at home.” Shinabarger comments that he has seen The Ark have a dynamic impact on himself and those he knows. “My family and I were also able to experience The Ark in the off season and enjoy it together. We watched our kids do a January cold-plunge in the pool on site.”

Logan Simmons and Malachi Mills of the local musical group “The Band Loula” have taken refuge here as well.

“Jeff and The Ark team are world-class people,” they said. “We have never felt more at home in our own hometown than at The Ark and we are so thankful for the time we have spent there as a band. The estate was a landing place for us before and after our largest headlining concerts to date, offering a safe and comfortable place for us and our crew to gather, relax and rehearse for our shows. Our entire band and team, who came in from several different states, were all blown away by the hospitality and attention to detail.”

Hospitality & Care

Perhaps one of the most special amenities The Ark offers is the services of Jackie Page, the in-house chef and caterer. Her presence at The Ark adds an extra layer of warmth and hospitality to the experience, making guests feel instantly welcomed and cared for. Beyond her culinary skills, Page embodies the role of a friend and mother figure, ensuring that everyone she greets feels like part of the family. Page adds that she joined Hylton in his mission because she shared his heart for serving others.

“My vision for hospitality and serving people is the fuel to my passion,” Page said. “Our collaborations at The Ark have been both gratifying and rewarding.”

Page’s background in food services and hospitality shines through in her exceptional culinary creations. With a keen understanding of dietary needs and preferences, she goes above and beyond to cater to each guest personally, ensuring that every meal is a memorable and satisfying experience.

What sets Page apart is her genuine passion for what she does. Her love for cooking is evident in the delicious meals she prepares, and her enthusiasm for serving others shines through in every interaction. She strives to exceed guest expectations. Whether it’s planning menus, accommodating dietary restrictions, or creating themed meals, her attention to detail and dedication to guest satisfaction make her an invaluable asset to The Ark.

Moreover, Page’s ability to work with all budget levels ensures that every guest can enjoy a delicious culinary experience tailored to each group’s needs and preferences. Her warmth, hospitality and culinary expertise truly make her an indispensable part of the Ark’s success.

Making Memories

Visitors to The Ark are treated to a one-of-a-kind experience, where the beauty of nature and the comfort of modern amenities come together harmoniously. The property may only be booked in its entirety, making this a private oasis for your group or gathering. Whether for a peaceful getaway, a celebratory occasion, or a team-building retreat, The Ark offers an unforgettable setting that inspires wonder and awe. There is a three-night minimum for reservations, with peak rates at $6,000 per night for weeknights, $7,000 weekends (Thursday-Sunday) and $46,000 per week. Contact The Ark for Off Season Rates.

Jeff Hylton’s journey is indeed awe-inspiring and speaks to the power of faith and the pursuit of purpose. As a result, each guest at The Ark is a fortunate recipient of hospitality, refuge, compassion and generosity.

For More Information

The Ark on Lake Lanier

6250 Old Dawsonville Road,


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