By Kathy M. Newbern © 2010
Part 1 of 2
Pampering. That’s what a girl needs. That’s what a girl wants.
And for gal pal Linda and I, that’s what we girls got on our Girls’ Getaway weekend to The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte, the Queen City.
It was an easy drive for each of us, and the location is super convenient. From the hotel, it’s a straight, 15-minute drive down to SouthPark Mall, for all those fashionistas out there. We must confess, though, that we skipped the mall due to limited time. We did, however, each manage to snap up a nice pair of shoes at DSW for our birthday dinner at Ballantyne’s Gallery Restaurant. (Read that report here). Incidentally, you can get a three-course, $30 special meal there now through July 25 as Gallery Restaurant is one of 88 eateries participated in the Queen’s Feast Charlotte Restaurant Week™.
A bit part of what I love about getaways, to be honest, are the resorts themselves. In that regard, Ballantyne shined. That’s because the Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond Ballantyne has a high-quality spa, indoor pool area, fitness room with special instructors, plus a new outdoor pool. There’s also afternoon tea, tennis, golf (with a Dana Rader Golf School), and a host of special, ongoing events.
And, then there are the oh-so-comfortable rooms. Ballantyne is a member of Starwood Hotels’ Luxury Collection, and it shows.
(Ballantyne photo of a guest room.)
In Charlotte, our parlor suite included two double beds, which were adorned with lovely, soft linens; a flat screen TV both in the bedroom and the sitting room; a full bath with shower and soaking tub in the bedroom, plus a separate full bath in the parlor. We loved the bath products, incidentally, from Laboratoire Remede, including an Energizing Cleansing Body Tonic, a Hydra Contour Complex for the Body and Shampoo Actif re-energizing hair and scalp system. There was also complimentary bath salts and dental rinse.
Truth be told, on previous girls’ getways, we have been known to order room service and in-room movies, then just hang out in the room, and that temptation definitely exists when you have such luxe digs, but there was so much to do at Ballantyne that we just had to get out there. So glad we did.
Linda hit the Fitness Center Saturday morning. While she diligently jogged on the treadmill, in the adjacent room, a special abs class was under way that incorporated medicine ball, pilates and yoga.
The next morning before making my way to my spa appointment, I hit the welcoming indoor pool, left, and took a water aerobics class – which turned out to be a private class as I was the sole attendee. (Photo by Linda).
My final morning, I, too, worked out on the treadmill. The fitness room was never crowded; neither of us had to wait for any equipment to become free.
We both took full advantage of the hotel’s new outdoor pool that opened last spring providing “a refreshing chic respite,” according to the news release at the time.
The pool is large (75 feet by 25 feet) and welcoming with plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, seating and landscaping plus drink service and a separate gazebo. We did think the drinks were weak, though. (My only other mild complaint is that there’s no complimentary coffee in the hotel in the mornings, although later, I realized I could have found some at the Spa. There is an efficient, express coffee service in the lobby bar, but patrons have to purchase their java.)
There are lots of ongoing summer events, too, most happening through September 3:
• Ice Cream Social in the lobby Fridays and Saturdays, 3-4 p.m.
• Wine and Cheese Socials Friday nights and Wine Tastings Saturday nights at the Gallery Bar, $15 per person;
• Farmers’ Market each Saturday in the parking lot – a fun discovery for us as we each went home with some nice fresh produce;
(Farmer’s Market photo by Kathy M. Newbern)
• Saturday Summer Cocktail Classes, including The Art of Summer Cocktails July 24, 3-4 p.m., and Martini Madness Aug. 21, 3-4 p.m.;
• On July 23 & August 20, the hotel will host a Friday night pool party from 6-8 p.m.;
• Cooking School at $65. The next one is Aug. 21, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on making Sandwiches and Accompaniments for Football Season (call 704.248.4100 for reservations or info).
The highlight for me was, of course, sharing such a luxurious getaway with a great friend, where, over Chef J. Kelly Morrow’s seven-course dinner in The Gallery Restaurant, we celebrated our summer birthdays. Then, after Linda departed, I had alone time for total pampering in the spa, with a truly outstanding treatment (read about that in Part 2, coming next).
Another friend emailed me when I got home: “Three of us girls went for lunch (at Ballantyne), and we raved so much about it that when the fourth showed up, we went back for dinner before going to the theater.” After she reads this, I bet they’ll arrange an overnight stay next time.
Details: Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is offering its Summer Getaway Rates now, such as its Better Tomorrows, stay one night and get the second at half off; and its Sunsational Savings of one night free if you buy two and stay three nights consecutively. Details: www.theballantynehotel.com, or 866.248.4824.
For more on what else to see and do on your own Charlotte getaway, contact the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority at charlottesgotalot.com.
About Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge
Charlotte’s Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge offers 200 hotel rooms, 14 suites, a 36-room Lodge and a four-bedroom Cottage. Ballantyne is popular for meetings, weddings, social occasions, golf tournaments and weekend getaways. Guests enjoy complimentary valet parking, complimentary golf club rental and complimentary pool & fitness area access.
The 36 guest rooms are spacious and offer a large bath with dual vanities, jetted bath with separate shower, large closet, North Carolina custom furnishings including a large Armoire and executive desk, sitting area, WiFi and the Luxury Collection palatial pillow-top bed with egyptian cotton linen. Many of the guest rooms also feature a private balcony. The Cottage, a four-bedroom and four-bath residence is located adjacent to The Lodge.
The craftsman-style Lodge at Ballantyne is 40,000 square feet offering a casual yet sophisticated retreat atmosphere reminiscent of a North Carolina Mountain-style hunting lodge. Grand in style and flexibility, The Lodge includes meeting space, break-out rooms, spacious social areas with vaulted ceilings, a second-floor loft with pool tables, a fitness room with cardio & free weights, a business center, a lower level stone patio, rocking-chair front porch overlooking the golf course, and outdoor lawn space that can accommodate a tent.
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and husband, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and operate YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.
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