Ballantyne ResortOnly about 30 miles south of Lake Norman, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is a Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond hotel. Guests here can enjoy an award-winning golf course, tennis, luxurious spa and salon, and a gourmet restaurant.
SleepThe Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge boasts 200 guest rooms, 14 suites, and a four-bedroom cottage. The elegantly appointed, spacious guests rooms have seamless glass showers and separate oval tubs, 10-foot ceilings, LED TVs, and large picture windows, with the Grand Deluxe rooms overlooking the scenic golf course. Suites range from 800 square feet to the 1,200-square-foot Presidential Suite, and include amenities such as private balconies, living rooms, dining tables, kitchens, and walk-in closets. Larger groups can stay at the 3,670-square-foot Cottage, which has four bedrooms/bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, wet bar, and patio with beautiful golf views.
EatOpen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the newly revamped Gallery Restaurant specializes in contemporary American cuisine. Under the direction of talented chef David Moore, the Gallery’s eclectic menu changes seasonally, and includes such favorites as seared flounder, veal, and duck. The stylish restaurant also has a spacious bar and full wine list. For lighter fare, such as salads, warps, and sandwiches, there’s the Ballantyne Spa or Golf Pavilion, and the Veranda, located in the lobby, has a full bar and serves coffee and pastries.
PlayOne of the main attractions here is the championship, 18-hole golf course. Set among rolling hills and hardwood forests, the course features a pro shop, driving range, and putting green. It’s also home to the renowned Dana Rader Golf School, which offers a number of programs and personalized instruction for players of all ages and skill levels. Other recreational opportunities include the spa, which has 18 treatment rooms, whirlpool, sauna, indoor and outdoor pools, and a fitness studio with the latest cardiovascular and weight-training equipment. Adjacent to the spa are lighted tennis courts, where guests can take lessons from resident tennis pro Peter Marmureanu.
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Great Wolf LodgeLocated about 20 miles southeast of Lake Norman in Concord, Great Wolf Lodge is all about family fun. The main attraction is an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park. Elsewhere there’s all matter of kid-centric activities, including arcade games, bowling, and mini-golf.
SleepGreat Wolf Lodge has a number of different suites available, including fun themed suites—such as wolf den, summer camp, and log cabin—the kids will sure to love, as well as premium suites, some of which have whirlpools, wet bars, and multiple TVs. For a more economical option, stay in a standard suite, which sleeps up to four and starts at just $189 per night. All accommodations include free entry into the water park.
EatMeals are a family affair here, and the Loose Moose Cottage is sure to have something to please everyone. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant features both healthy and decadent options, and generous portions. For dinner, there’s an expansive buffet that features a carving station, salad bar, entrée specials, and loads of kids’ favorites. And mom and dad can have their choice of adult beverages. There are also a number of snack shops onsite, as well as a Dunkin Donuts.
PlayGreat Wolf Lodge is all about play, and there’s more than enough here to keep kids entertained throughout your stay. The massive indoor water park, which is maintained at a comfortable 84 degrees, has attractions for guests of all ages. The centerpiece is Fort Mackenzie, a four-story, interactive tree house with suspension bridges, swinging cargo nets, treetop slides, soaking spray stations, and a 1,000-gallon bucket that dumps water down from the treetops. Other highlights include a wave pool, a four-story mat waterslide, and kiddie pools designed with fun interactive toys that spray water. Outside of the water park is an expansive arcade, mini golf, kid-friendly bowling alley, a kid spa for parties and special events, and the Howly Wood XD Theater, a high-tech motion thrill ride. There are also regular family-fun shows in the lobby, where guests can sing songs, go on scavenger hunts, and listen to bedtime stories.
The Ritz-Carlton, CharlotteStaying at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is an immersive experience that’s all about luxurious pampering, impeccable service, and attention to detail. From the moment you walk into the grand lobby of the stunning 18-story hotel you’re treated like royalty, and you’ll no doubt feel like a king (or queen!) during your stay.
SleepThe Ritz-Carlton is heralded throughout the world for its contemporary and stylish rooms, and the Charlotte location is no exception. If you’re looking to splurge, stay in one of the suites, such as the one-bedroom, 886-foot Parlor Suite, or the majestic, 2,900-square-foot Presidential Suite, which is on the hotel’s 16th floor and offers panoramic views of Uptown. Suite amenities include 400-thread-count linens, multiple flatscreen TVs (including one built into the bathroom mirror!), iPod docking station and DVD player, in-room gourmet coffee and tea, along with dual vanities and separate tub and shower. The hotel’s smaller guest rooms, averaging about 500 square feet, have many of the same amenities.
EatLike so many other experiences you can have at the Ritz Carlton, Charlotte, dining is a decadent treat for the senses. For tasty cocktails, light fare, and unbeatable people watching, grab a seat at the Lobby Lounge. This stylish hangout has seasonal outdoor dining and live entertainment Thursday through Saturday evening. Urban Sip, located on the hotel’s 15th floor, offers unbeatable views and serves more than 60 wines, 35 scotches, and a variety of tapas, light bites, and artisanal cheeses. For the main course, make reservations at BLT Steak. This intimate, 72-seat restaurant offers juicy steaks, fresh seafood, and mouth-watering sides. When you’re ready to indulge your sweet tooth, sample some of the decadent deserts at Bar Cocoa, including handcrafted pastries and cupcakes, French macaroons, and sinful chocolates, some of which are sweetened by honey from the hotel’s rooftop beehives.
PlayA vacation at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte isn’t complete without a visit to the 13,000-square-foot, bi-level Spa & Wellness Center. Here you can pamper yourself with a rejuvenating massage or body treatment, relax in the sauna and whirlpool, or swim a few laps in the pool. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center with wellness and exercise classes, including yoga and Pilates. Other fun activities include a cooking class at Bar Cocoa, where award-winning chefs will teach you how to make delicious chocolates and pastries. And while there’s really no reason to leave the luxurious confines of the hotel, if you feel like venturing out, Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is in the heart of uptown within walking distance of several museums, as well as shopping, arts, theatre centers, and entertainment districts.