If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed I recently spent four days in beautiful Charlotte, NC as the guest of The Ballantyne, one of Starwood’s stunning Luxury Collection hotels. Lucky for me, my traveling companions, food blogger Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt and One Kings Lane VP of Merchandising Andrea Stanford, were TONS of fun. We kicked off the trip with antiquing at some local treasure troves and then hit up The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery for lunch. I’m still dreaming about the pretzels! That evening back at the hotel we took a “liquid arts class” where we learned to whip up some seriously delicious cocktails. My favorite included a soda made from freshly juiced rhubarb and strawberries mixed with a healthy amount of my favorite poison, gin. We finished off the day with a late night dinner at Customshop that certainly gave my favorite New York spots a run for their money.
The second morning we piled into our awaiting Bently (the Luxury Collection rides in style…) and headed out to Lucky Leaf Gardens to learn about the microgreens we’d be eating at that evening’s dinner. I know so little about farming (and cooking!), but this trip motivated me to try some new recipes. That afternoon the three of us girls took a golf lesson from Dana Rader (she was very patient with my lack of skills…hysterical) followed by a picnic with the resort’s in-house etiquette expert Carl Libonati. Thankfully there was time for a nap before the evening’s insanely scrumptious dinner party. It was my first time having buffalo tartar!
Our third and last full day was pure indulgence. I met Ashely and Andrea in the pastry kitchen for a lesson from Executive Pastry Chef Keli Fayard (chocolate chip scones, almond croissants, and éclairs…you bet I taste-tested!), joined Mr. Libonati for a formal afternoon tea, and then was spoiled with a deep tissue massage in the Ballentyne spa. Instead of hitting the town the last evening, we opted for a girls’ night in and watched a rom-com while devouring a tub of the resort’s homemade gelato. Needless to say, I returned home to crazy New York in a happy, relaxed Southern state of mind. A special thank you to The Luxury Collection‘s amazing team for spoiling me rotten! Can’t wait to visit Charlotte again soon.