I hope you had a wonderful week. I was in Charlotte at an annual travel advisor workshop that, for those who participate, has become synonymous with business and personal growth. For you, this means satisfaction in your relationship with your advisor and the realization of your vacation dreams. Planning your vacation begins with a deep conversation between you and I. If you used a wedding planner or hired a designer to build or decorate your house, you recall that there were many conversations between you and your professional. Your vacation can be an investment of almost as much money, so the better I am at those conversations, the better the return on your investment.
So there I was with over 300 other travel professionals - it was a very rainy and tumultuous week, with tornado warnings the first two days, and eventually, actual twisters. Fortunately, our location was immune and we remained safe. Perhaps you haven't considered Charlotte as a vacation destination, or maybe you'll end up there on a work trip and not know what to do for diversion. I was pleasantly surprised at the rich culture and heritage of the city, so here are a few recommendations:
1. Stay at Charlotte's "work-meets-play" retreat, the top notch accommodations of the Ballantyne, a luxury hotel and renowned spa (with over 100 treatments), a golf course, corporate/business park, nightlife, dining, boutiques, cinemas, and an upscale residential area for when you're ready to move to the Queen City. Cuisine at the Ballantyne's restaurant is mouth-watering good; the ambiance is a mix of southern warmth, colonial-era sensibility and 21st century modernity, much like Charlotte itself. How inviting is this place? I met a young, local couple checking into the Ballantyne for a weekend 'stay-cation', something they say they do regularly to take advantage of the luxurious splendor in their own back yard.
2. NASCAR Hall of Fame. If you're a NASCAR fan then this is your Mecca. On my last visit to Charlotte, some friends of mine visited the museum and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a high-tech interactive experience that honors NASCAR history while educating and entertaining. There is a theater, broadcast studio, restaurant, gear shop and parking garage. The website for the City of Charlotte, which owns the facility, states, "The goal...is to honor NASCAR icons and create an enduring tribute to the drivers, crew members, team owners and others that have impacted the sport in the past, present and future."
3. The US National Whitewater Center, for when you need to add physical activity to your visit: in addition to whitewater rafting and kayaking, there is ice skating, ziplining, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and a variety of ropes courses, climbing and jumping activities. It's best to purchase your tickets ahead of your visit.
4. Get some culture: the Charlotte Ballet; the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (which celebrates the 10th year of its popular 'Jazz at the Bechtler this year), the Overn's Auditorium, which will be the site of ABBA’s first live show in 38 years; the celebrated group Celtic Woman will include Charlotte on their 15th Anniversary tour; Grammy-nominated Rapsody will perform - all this before the end of March! There is live music aplenty in this city, at large venues and small cozy ones: karaoke bars, speakeasies, cocktail bars, dance clubs, and the Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras.
5. Tours: city tours, food tours, beer tours, a multitude of historical tours, bus and tram tours, bike tours, industrial tours, and walking tours. You get the picture. Explore Charlotte! I've only mentioned a smidgen of all there is to experience here, and barely mentioned the sports venues, museums, performing arts, fine arts, and so much more.
If you don't know where to begin your adventures, you know a travel advisor that does!
'til next week.