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Hotel Check: The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel

HOW MANY ROOMS? 208 rooms and suites

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS:  A refreshed interior, polished service, and Southern charm mark this popular golf and spa resort in Charlotte. Don’t miss a meal in the locally popular Gallery restaurant!

PRICE: Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $213.

WHERE IS IT:  Just 20 minutes from the airport and the city center (known locally as “uptown,” this is as close as it gets to a resort setting in Charlotte. It sits next to an award-winning 18-hole PGA golf course making it a popular spot year-round. Nearby shopping and dining are just a free shuttle ride away as is much of the Ballantyne corporate park area, which continues to grow.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Upon entering the bright lobby, guests are greeted by a friendly staff, but lured in further by a signature scent and views of the golf course through large picture windows. A fanciful light sculpture hangs over the redesigned lobby, which climbs two stories to a second-floor mezzanine. North Carolina artwork fills many of the hotel’s public areas. Take note of the two bronze Dalmatian statues near the entrance, which pay tribute to the animals that lived in this once-bucolic area decades ago. The many gold accents in the lobby’s redesign symbolize the gold found in the area (North Carolina was the first state where gold was discovered). On either side of the contemporary lobby are a host of amenities from an extensive spa and outdoor pool to one side and ample meeting space and Gallery restaurant to the other. Be in the lobby every day at 4pm for the afternoon ritual where staff members toast guests with different “tipsy teas” and cocktail shots (the perfect way to kick off your evening).

ROOM FACILITIES:  The rooms show off a subtle nod to the hotel’s Scottish heritage in tartan-print carpeting and deep green and blue hues. Large work desks feature built-in power outlets and chairs on either side meaning they can double as dining tables. Flat-screen TVs, minibars, and safes are all standard as is the free wireless Internet signal available throughout the hotel. Large king or paired queen beds are coated in soft Frette linens and thick comforters with bedside power outlets and USB ports proving especially convenient. Bathrooms are coated in marble with most offering soaking tubs and glass shower stalls stocked with Molton Brown toiletries. A handful of suites are in the mix including two Presidential suites boasting kitchenettes. Executive suites have separate bedrooms with leather-coated desks and living rooms with Nespresso machines. In addition to the main hotel, there is a 35-room lodge available for private group booking. This is the ideal way to enjoy the maximum in privacy, whether for corporate or social gatherings, because it features its own meeting and dining facilities. Of course, guests can also use the facilities at the main hotel. A four-bedroom cottage is yet another of the unique accommodation options here and is especially popular with corporate head honchos.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS:  Gallery Restaurant & Bar is, in fact, an art gallery thanks to a unique partnership with a local gallery where a rotating selection of art is on display and available for sale. An American menu serves up tasty fare for three meals a day, and it has garnered a strong local following both for its ambiance and creative menu. The bar serves everything from craft beer to a fine selection of wines and cocktails. Most unique, however, is the hotel’s partnership with Kentucky bourbon distilleries for a bespoke blend. Along with a few other bourbons, visitors can sample a flight of bourbon (including the hotel’s signature blend) paired with food that perfectly suits each drink’s flavor pallet. The hotel even has a local club, which meets monthly for regular tastings. Several days a week, people pop in for the hotel’s popular afternoon tea presentation with the works like three-tiered stands of finger sandwiches, freshly made scones with clotted cream, and a long list of hand-picked teas from the Rare Tea Company of London. Most impressive is the attention to detail like special menus for vegetarian guests and children. The Ryal lobby bar (ryal was once a historic Scottish type of currency) heats up after work when locals and guests gather over light bites and a long list of wine, beer, and cocktails (some of which use teas from the Rare Tea Company).

LEISURE FACILITIES:  Back to Charlotte’s most famous spa. It features dozens of treatment rooms for everything from organic facials to Swedish massage, a beauty salon, and lavish relaxation areas with sauna and steam rooms make this one of the hotel’s biggest draws. After each treatment guests are lavished with champagne or wine (among other options) and can relax in the outdoor or indoor pools. Guests can enjoy the pool areas, which also come with whirlpools and lap pools with counter currents. The fitness center is well-stocked with the latest equipment, advice from personal trainers, and bottled water. A spa boutique and menu round out the recreational options unless you are here to play a round of golf. The course is open to the public, and those that need a few pointers can enroll in the hotel’s own golf academy. Five tennis courts are popular with guests, and social functions often spill out to the many al fresco terraces with fire pits and seating.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES:  Free wireless Internet works around the hotel, and the expansive meeting space for as many as 600 makes it a huge draw for visiting conferences that want to pamper groups with resort amenities.

VERDICT:  For a hotel outside the downtown area, The Ballantyne stays busy year-round and is considered among the best hotels in the city. The corporate park surrounding the hotel and a lengthy roster of resort perks keep this Luxury Collection hot shot on travelers’ radar screens.

CONTACT: The Ballantyne, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28277. Phone +704-248-4000.