Southern Elegance in ATL

To mark the milestone of my very first business trip, I’m sharing my recent experience down in the very toasty, vibrant city of Atlanta, where I had the privilege of spending two nights at The Whitley, formerly known as the Ritz Carlton Buckhead.

The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

The Whitley, located in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood north of downtown, is the setting for a series of conferences my company is hosting throughout the summer. As I work in communications, I had the privilege of attending our Marketing & Communication Meeting, which was held there earlier this month.

I recall our meetings departments being surprised when we were told late last year that the hotel they booked would soon no longer be the Ritz Carlton as it had been for three decades. Instead, it would be rebranded as The Whitley, A Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott/Starwood. Just short of a year later and there I was, getting to see the result.

Before reaching the hotel, I took a very efficient trip on the MARTA train from the airport, followed by a very sweaty walk from the station to The Whitley. I once read that Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a tribute to southern pride and a reference to the devil coming from the The Union (hence why he came “down”), but I’m pretty sure it’s just because Georgia is so, so hot.

But I digress.

The Whitley - Atlanta, GAAfter reading a few blurbs here and there from different Atlanta media outlets, I learned that the changes to the property came from the industry moving away from the very formal style that used to be so popular in hotels and into a more contemporary, casual future. From what I’ve heard, it has long been the place for celebrity parties and very sophisticated activities like an Afternoon Tea. The landmark Ritz Carlton property went through some big renovations to align with the Luxury Collection brand, and is now billed as “luxury with chic Southern style.”

The hotel sits on Peachtree Road, which if you can believe, is one of 55 “Peachtree” streets in the state of Georgia, and faces the famed Lenox Square, a very posh mall that is referred to fairly frequently in rap songs (sidenote: I did NOT see T.I.  or Andre 3000 while visiting).

I walked into The Whitley lobby and felt a little bit like I was on the Titanic. I know, that sounds overly dramatic. But I was there for business, so I was picturing brightly lit, sleek furniture, I-need-to-hop-on-this-call aesthetics. This lobby, with its elaborate, purple-accented chandelier, dark wood finishes, ornately-framed artwork and beautiful sit-like-a-lady armchairs, made me think of a more formal, elegant time. In my ripe old age of 26, I prefer it this way. You don’t see that so much anymore, so to me, it’s cool.The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

I never saw the property as a Ritz, but in my exploration through its halls I felt like they did an excellent job mixing that elegant “formal” charm with contemporary, more casual touches that leisure and business travelers alike have come to expect. Its website claims that it now boasts cosmopolitan style as well as timeless elegance, so I think I’m on the right track.

The lobby, with its various candy jars and its own coffee shop, all of which I had to resist breaking my sugar diet for, melts into a lounge area that wonderfully mixes more eclectic artwork with cozy couches (blankets included!) and a bright, colorful bar.

Around each corner were tall, luxurious-looking armchairs that I always expected to find someone hiding behind. Shout out to my coworker, Maggie, for taking a picture of me on one of those sophisticated lavender sofas.The Whitley - Atlanta, GA

I also had the privilege of somehow getting a room on the very top, 22nd floor, where I got a cool view of Buckhead with downtown in the background.

I will admit I was a tiny bit intimidated being down there at first. It was my first business trip, and despite having been to a handful of foreign countries, it was only the second time I’ve ever flown without my family (mild flight anxiety over here!). However, between the views, a clean room, a cozy bathrobe, the elegant décor and the friendly vibes, I felt as at-home as one could feel when plucked out of Ohio and placed in the middle of the deep South. So for that, I extend a warm, northern “Thank you!” to The Whitley for having me!

Southern Charm at South Eden Plantation

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

 

To be honest, I knew very little about the trip that we were embarking on. My mother-in-law took care of all the details and I was just along for the ride (and to be a bridesmaid), which was great! To my pleasant surprise South Eden Plantation is registered as one of the Historic Hotels of America.

 

As we drove from the airport admiring the lush green scenery, the resort popped up and we made a left turn onto a pebble road, where we entered between pink and brick security stands under a white trellis.

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

 

The winding pebble road was lined by overgrown willow trees and hanging Spanish moss, just like every picture you can imagine of Georgian charm (at night all of the trees were perfectly lit with white lights). As we approached the Main House, which is where our whole family stayed, I was giddy! It was all pink, brick, and white with hanging outdoor chandeliers.

 

We gathered our luggage and made our way to the front door, up a few stairs and through a large wooden white door. Taking just a few steps in we looked ahead at a grand room with a three-tier original light fixture hanging from the vaulted ceiling.South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

To the left was a magnificent lounge with copper ceiling tiles, large red tufted booths, and sparkling chandeliers. (Fun Fact: The lounge is called Scarlett’s after Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. The theater that sits on the grounds was the first theater to show Gone with the Wind when it came out in 1939!)

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

Our parents were whisked away to their suites and then we were led to ours. We entered through a separate wooden white door and climbed up hardwood steps to where we would be staying. The original hardwood floors had a perfect sheen to them throughout the entire Main House. Our room’s décor was classic with gray walls, white trim, a white four post bed frame, and of course, a chandelier!South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

Since our family was occupying all the rooms, we were able see each room. One of my favorites was where my parents stayed, it was called The Bird’s Nest Suite, and the name fit the room. Dark walls with white accents, a bird carved into the headboard, and actual bird cages fit snuggly over crystal light fixtures. The other suites boasted bright colors such as hot pink and Tiffany’s blue. Each room had its’ own style.

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

The parlor area where we were able to meet for coffee in the mornings was just as lovely as the sleeping rooms. Long white curtains, classic furniture, and original woodworking around the fireplace boasted the Southern charm that I have always related to the South. Our trip was far too short as I wish we had more time to explore the historic theater, the greenhouse-like indoor pool, and take in the historic significance of this location.If you ever find yourself in Georga, don’t forget to take a moment to visit South Eden Plantation, you won’t regret it!

P.S. She was a beautiful bride! (Photo taken at neighboring Pebble Hill Plantation by Andrea Z Photography.)South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, Georgia

 

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

 

South Eden Plantation - Thomasville, GA

 

Until Next Time,

Lauren

Sightseeing in Sri Lanka

Scrolling through beachy spring break albums on my social media feeds this week has me reminiscing (and missing) my February travels. Last month I shared my stay in Bangkok, but I actually visited four countries while I was away (because why not spend your whole trip on a plane?) Just kidding, I am glad I got to see SO much during a short period of time. This week I’m taking you Inn Lovers to Sri Lanka! Aside from the stunning coastal towns and welcoming culture, I LOVED the unique properties everywhere we turned. Come with me as I explore The Fort Bazaar in the historic town of Galle.

The Fort Bazaar, Sri LankaYou may be thinking that Sri Lanka seems like an odd choice for a vacation, and in recent past, you would have been right! After 26 years of conflict, the Sri Lankan Civil War ended in 2009. The country has been recovering since and building its tourism numbers along the way. Since 2009, tourism has increased by 300%, and it was easy to see why after visiting cities like Galle. The narrow streets are lined with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Dogs and roosters wander freely and school kids all hold hands leaving class as they walk along Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1588!

The Fort Bazaar, Sri LankaWe ventured along the streets and wandered through most of the properties we passed, including the Fort Bazaar, a boutique property on Church Street. You enter through a breezy front porch with artsy tables and then enter a secluded lobby where a bar and private room are off to either side. All of these properties almost felt like you were walking into someones home, where you can wind down a hallway and discover a hidden bar or art room.

We continued through the lobby to an open-air seating area that had a “distinctly middle eastern” design. I was taking a picture at every step, not just for this blog, but for my own design inspiration. Everything felt so fresh and modern, but you could still see the cultural influences. It was so beautiful.The Fort Bazaar, Sri Lanka

The far end of the seating area led to an amazing courtyard, connecting all the rooms, but also providing a private outdoor space below. There were couches, tables, stools, and even candles hidden in cutouts in the walls lining the courtyard. And the greenery was incredible, we all sat down for a few minutes and just stared around us! My friends had to drag me away to our dinner reservation, but I think you’d all agree with me after seeing the photos!

The Fort Bazaar, Sri LankaAnd the rooms were no different, clean lines, unique art, and of course, more outdoor space. And the food, it was some of my favorite from the trip. The authentic dishes were a lot of lentils, fresh veggies, and hands down the best bananas I’ve ever tasted…but the flavors in these simple dishes were so memorable. I’ll have to start practicing some Sri Lankan dishes myself, but I know it will never be the same!

I’m not sure if I’ll be lucky enough to make it back to this beautiful country, but if any of you have the opportunity, take it! It’s a trip I will never forget.

The Fort Bazaar, Sri Lanka

The Fort Bazaar, Sri Lanka

Happy travels!

Mackenzie

Setting Sail

This is my first time venturing into the blogging world.  I want to set some expectations on what you’ll find here:

What I can promise:

  • We’re going to have fun.
  • We’re going to learn about an area we’ve never been.
  • We’ll learn about a place we didn’t know existed in our own backyard.
  • We’re going to find experiences.
  • We’ll learn some tools of the trade.

I’m not a writer, I’m a reader.  But – I like to try something new and want others to try it with me.  I take risks and I like discovery.  I would jump out of a plane, dive off a cliff, or try to pet a tiger before I’d volunteer to speak in front of a crowd.  I hope that I learn something about myself in this process and you learn something too.

Together, I hope we can Discover Ohio and the US  – one room at a time.

Saddle Up, Hop On, Jump In – this is going to be a hell of a ride.

This is a Room with a Viewpoint.

This is Inn Love.