My friends and I love to make a big deal about our birthdays — especially those milestones. This year marked my big “Five O,” so it was my turn to be spoiled. I couldn’t imagine a better way to ring in my fiftieth than with a weekend getaway in the Queen City.
In true girlfriend getaway fashion, we spent our weekend happily sequestered at The Ballantyne Hotel Charlotte, a AAA Four Diamond property. We savored fantastic meals, enjoyed a blissful spa day, and relished much needed “friend time.”
But First, Food
Before checking into the hotel, we kicked off our weekend Friday night with a casual dinner at Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse. No matter what you’re in the mood for — pizza, wings, burgers, salad, fajitas — you’ll likely find it here.
We split an order of fried pickles, which paired perfectly with a classic margarita. It was a toss-up between that and a cold NoDa “Hop Drop’n Roll.” Their beer list on tap is quite extensive — local offerings, as well as craft beers from breweries in Maine, Colorado, California and others.
My heart was set on ordering the Impossible™ Burger, a 100% plant-based version of a real beef patty. However, they were out of them that evening. I wasn’t shocked, as they’re wildly popular. I opted for a personal-size veggie pizza — mushrooms, black olives and banana peppers — and I was completely sated.
After dinner, we checked in and caught up over a bottle of wine purchased from our recent Napa Valley winery vacation. (Read “California Wine Country Getaway” for all the details on that fun trip!)
Accommodation options at The Ballantyne Hotel Charlotte include guestrooms at The Ballantyne, or rooms in the Cottage or The Lodge, located adjacent from the main property. Our guestroom was spacious and smartly decorated, with calming colors and upscale furnishings. The expansive windows let in all that glorious natural light and showcased views of the grounds. My bed was ridiculously comfortable, with extra pillows and luxurious Frette linen bedding. One step into our room, and I knew this was going to be a memorable weekend getaway.
The hotel also boasts a fantastic public PGA golf course. They offer golf lessons, a golf academy, pro shop and a practice area. Overnight golf packages are available as well. Girlfriend golf getaway, anyone? A comprehensive kids program, area shuttle service, afternoon tea and concierge service are also on offer.
In addition to the above amenities, AAA Members receive exclusive perks with the hotel’s AAA Member Savings Plus Cocktails package (valid Thursday through Sunday). You’ll enjoy The Ballantyne Signature Cocktail for two guests at the Gallery Bar (once per stay) and complimentary internet access and valet parking. Just ask about the “AAA Hot Deal” when you check in!
We took advantage of room service the next morning — avocado toast with mirin tamago, marinated tomato on ciabatta bread served with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. It was the perfect way to begin a day of pampering.
I’d only visited The Spa Ballantyne once a few years ago when I took a spa tour while researching my article “Respite and Retreat.” I was beyond excited to experience it this time as a guest.
I enjoyed a custom massage therapy, which is a personalized session targeting areas you might need extra work on. It was much needed and extremely relaxing. Other treatments to choose from include the Matcha Detox Massage, Detoxifying Contour Wrap, Jasmine Flower Wrap, varied facials, as well as hair and nail treatments. They also feature the Carolina Lavender Signature Massage, which showcases their signature blend of products crafted from lavender grown in the Carolinas.
After our massages, we floated into the indoor pool area. It was serene and less populated than the outdoor pool. We were more interested in chilling out and spending time together than getting a tan. However, we did pop over to the outdoor pool bar for a couple of drinks later that day. It was a lively spot, and the bartender was attentive and friendly.
Prior to our treatments, we pre-ordered our lunch so it would be ready when we finished our sessions. We noshed on salads and hummus plates. The spa menu also includes crab cakes, a turkey wrap, cheese and meat plate, and paninis. Their specialty cocktails are especially refreshing. Try The Ballantyne — Smirnoff pomegranate vodka, Malibu rum, POM juice, muddled raspberries and Chambord.
The best possible way to cap off a day of pampering is with a meal at Gallery Restaurant. My feast began with the heirloom tomato and burrata salad. I followed it up with a trio of sides that included the Gallery mac & cheese (without the chicken), braised mushrooms and charred asparagus.
They do their best to source their menu locally and regionally, and the quality of the menu reflects that. It was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory. Dessert was a slice of special occasion chocolate cake, complete with a sweet birthday message penned in chocolate syrup. It was definitely worth those extra calories. And their regular dessert menu? Oh, my word. I wanted to sample everything. I have my eye on the chocolate bourbon crème brulee, and plan to order it firston my next meal Gallery Restaurant.
If you’re a whiskey fan, you’re in luck. Their bar menu boasts over 200 distinctive whiskeys, 65 bourbons, more than 120 single malt scotches, 20 Irish whiskeys and other options. They also have quite a comprehensive wine list.
Brunch So Hard
Our meal at The Gallery was so good, we had to go a second time! On Saturdays and Sundays, they do an amazing brunch. Acai berry bowl, southern grits, Belgium waffles, French toast, chorizo skillet, lamb burger — the options were almost limitless. I ordered the special, which was a southern take on an eggs Benedict (served on fluffy buttermilk biscuit). I added a side of crispy fingerlings and, of course, mimosas.
It was difficult, but we managed to tear ourselves away from our weekend getaway at The Ballantyne Hotel Charlotte and her numerous charms — for now.
For more weekend getaway inspiration, read on…