After a long week I needed a break. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a spa weekend or an active outdoors kind of weekend so I picked a place that would give me both. The Ballantyne Hotel, part of The Luxury Collection, in Charlotte, NC was the perfect fit. The flight is short and just enough distance that I felt completely removed from the hustle and bustle of Miami.
The hotel is stunning, as it just went through a renovation. Every inch of the hotel got a complete makeover. Check-in was flawless and my bags were waiting in my room. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays, guests join the bartender for a specialty drink called Tipsy Tea, served in a tipsy glass. After a libation, everyone walks out to the beautiful fountain where they are given a penny in a keepsake pouch. Wishes do come true when you throw the penny into the Ballantyne fountain. Fergus, the bartender, handed me another Tipsy Tea as I cozied up to the fireplace with a book.
The next day was going to be a full day, sport mixed with relaxation, so I called it an early night. The guest rooms (235 rooms and nine suites) are exceptionally well appointed. By my bed was a monogrammed memory foam rug, slippers and water. My sunglasses had been placed on the desk atop a lens cleaning cloth with an image of the hotel on it. Such detail just added to the flair of the hotel and my sense of being pampered.
While on the subject of being pampered, the spa was absolutely lovely. The choices of treatments were extensive but I settled on the Carolina Lavender Signature Massage and was not disappointed. Afterwards, I slipped into the whirlpool and shut my eyes to the stillness around me. Had I been motivated, I would have taken advantage of one of their resistance pools, fitness center or the heated indoor pool but all I wanted right then was to be still and let the stress of the week leave my mind and body.
So, here is a true confession. I am not a golfer. To be honest, chasing after a little white ball never appealed to me until I met Brian, the golf pro at the Ballantyne Golf Academy. He made the lesson fun and had the patience of Job. As a true beginner, I needed all the help and encouragement I could get and he certainly went beyond my expectation. If I had had the time, I really would have liked to go back and practice my putts!
Along with the aforementioned activities, the resort offers bikes, tennis, walking trails, and an outdoor pool during the warmer months. There is also a shuttle that will provide transportation to several locations with no rigid schedules. Something not to be missed is the Afternoon Tea. My two favorites were the Emperor’s Breakfast and Jasmine Silver Tip. The presentation made me feel like it was an afternoon at Windsor Castle.
The restaurant on property is called The Gallery for good reason. Paintings adorn the walls giving it the feel of an art gallery and new paintings are constantly rotated in. The hand blown glass bowls and salt and pepper cups are an exquisite touch to the tables. The bar at the restaurant is slightly set apart and with the dark wood is warm and inviting.
This is the perfect destination for a wedding, a couple’s retreat, a place just to unwind or a sports weekend. Besides the tennis and golf, there is the US National Whitewater Center down the road that has kayaking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, walking trails, rope course and zip lining. The Ballantyne is a true escape, Southern style.
I met with Raj Radke, the general manager, who has quite an impressive resume and has been a true asset to the hotel. I will forever remember his parting words. He said, “The marriage between high-tech and high touch, that’s where the soul is.” And the soul is definitely at The Ballantyne.
Debbie Martinez is a Miami Dade resident and Travel Editor for The Florida Villager. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.