When you have a busy travel schedule as I do, it’s nice to feel at home when you’re on the road. There is no place more like home than the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a recent visit was a pure delight.

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Entrance to lobby © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

My trip to The Queen City was inspired by the summer weekend getaway package, Pints and Provisions, offered by the Charlotte Ritz.  Though I wouldn’t be able to spend the weekend, I wanted to learn about the ultimate craft cocktail and beer weekend, which starts with an early 2 p.m., Friday check-in. As I sat in the lobby enjoying the area’s serene amber hue, I could hear guests checking-in at the front desk. A robust “Pop!” from the cork of the complimentary bubbly served upon arrival sounded every 20 minutes or so–an indication that the weekend festivities were underway.

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Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

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Sam Nudelman, Wine Steward © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

Those who were lucky enough to be part of the Pints and Provisions experience would have just enough time to settle into their luxurious guest rooms and to freshen up before heading down to Hidden Wine for a personal wine blending journey. Wine Steward Sam Nudelman works with each guest to create a course of varietal exploration. French wines from the Rhône and Bordeaux regions are featured, including; Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Grenache. Your personalized blend can be paired with one of the fine cheeses chilling in the humidor, with selections from Virginia, Georgia, Utah and Vermont. Pairing wines has never been more fun.

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Wine Blending Experience © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

Hidden Wine

Hidden Wine, Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

I was lucky enough to go on a private tour of the hotel. Jessica Swannie, Social Media Coordinator, was my guide and after a brief get-to-know-you chat, we discovered that we are both from Buffalo, New York! The warm arms of “home” continued to envelope me during my Ritz-Carlton journey. The Director of Sales and Marketing, Seamus Gallagher, was there to give me a heartfelt welcome.

Our first stop was at Bar Cocoa. This is Charlotte’s premier chocolate shop and Jessica’s favorite place to indulge. The Cocoa Lab at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, offers a unique variety of chocolate, pastry and dessert cooking classes, either for personal enjoyment or as team-building exercises.

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Jessica Swannie, Social Media Coordinator © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

What makes for the perfect follow-up to a decadent dessert? A handcrafted cocktail. At The Punch Room, I was introduced to award-winning mixologist, Bob Peters, who was busy creating the daily Punch Room punch cocktail. Lemons, tequila, honey and perhaps some rosemary were involved.

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Mixologist Bob Peters © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

This 19th-century speakeasy-style club seats 37 people, and by “seats,” the description means “seated.” No standing allowed. The décor is stunning: a perfect blend of classic Hollywood glam with a masculine structure and impeccably placed female-inspired bling. Books line the shelves with a purpose, with titles facing forward and including words like “Gin”, “Vodka” and “Whiskey.”

The Punch Bar Ritz-Carlton Charlotte

The Punch Room, Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

The Pints and Provisions weekend includes a mixology class led by mixologist Peters or The Punch Room’s Larry Suggs. Reservations at the club are included. Given my fondness for the speakeasy scene, The Punch Room was my favorite corner of the hotel.

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Rosemary in rooftop garden © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

The punch recipe included honey and rosemary–and where might one find such ingredients, but up in the rooftop garden.?Yes, honey means bees, and bee hives are plentiful in the picturesque garden overlooking the city. Pastry chef Crystal Broadbent is the resident beekeeper, supplying the various eateries and “gin joints” on site with the sweet nectar. The kitchen uses as much homegrown organic product as they can, another element that makes me want to keep coming back. At this point, I’m no longer homesick after my weeks of travel, for I’ve found the haven that was just what I needed.

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Rooftop garden overlooking Charlotte skyline © 2017 Sherrie Wilkolaski

The Pints and Provisions at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte weekend is filled with amazing personal touches. It’s a perfect staycation for the locals or a quick getaway from cities like Raleigh, Atlanta or Knoxville, Tennessee. My next stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, is booked for this fall. I look forward to experiencing whatever boutique luxury getaway they’ll be customizing for me.

Ohh…did I mention the late check-out option on Sunday? A late slumber, brunch in bed and then on to the spa. What a way to round out the weekend!

Pints and Provisions Itinerary

Offering a Friday and Saturday night itinerary, Pints and Provisions includes the following:

Great Wagon Road Distillery

Great Wagon Road Distillery

FRIDAY

  • Luxury accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte (two nights, Friday and Saturday)
  • Early 2 p.m. check-in on Friday
  • Special Queen City welcome amenity
  • Friday afternoon Wine Blending Experience at Hidden Wine
  • Priority seating at The Punch Room – Charlotte’s #1-rated luxury night spot

SATURDAY

  • Breakfast either in-room or at BLT Steak
  • Transportation to The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
  • Private tour of The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, recently awarded “America’s Best Brewery Tour” by USA Today. Optional lunch.
  • Private tour of the nearby Great Wagon Road Distillery, recipient of the Garden & Gun 2016 “Made in the South” Award
  • Return transportation to The Ritz-Carlton
  • Private Mixology Class with an award-winning mixologist Bob Peters or Larry Suggs from The Punch Room, with small artisan-crafted plates included
  • Custom “make-your-own” cocktail amenity
  • Evening on own to explore Charlotte nightlife

SUNDAY

  • Breakfast either in-room or at BLT Steak
  • Late 4 p.m. checkout

Priced at $549 per room per night, the two-night package is based on double occupancy and is offered through September 4, 2017. It is based on availability and subject to tax and blackout periods. For reservations, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/charlotte, call +1-800-241-3333, or contact a travel professional.

To engage directly with the hotel, visit:  www.facebook.com/ritzcarltoncharlotte.

Postscript

During my visit to The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte I discovered The Ritz-Carlton has a variety of summer getaway packages, afternoon experience packages and foodie temptations throughout their destinations. From Cleveland, Ohio to St. Louis, Missouri The Ritz is celebrating summer in style! See below for more details:

Pick Your Picnic

Pick Your Picnic The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland

Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland

The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is celebrating summer with a trio of enticing picnic options perfect for the city’s outdoor gathering spots — including beautiful new Public Square located within walking distance of the top-rated downtown hotel.

Cleveland Public Square is a newly-re-imagined 6.5-acre park space unveiled in the heart of the fast-growing Midwest city and offering a fountain, ice rink, lush lawn with natural amphitheater, walking promenade, speakers’ terrace — and public events and activities ranging from Yoga on the Green, cultural programs and live music and arts, to food truck days, poetry slams and inspiring celebrations about Cleveland and its residents.

To encourage enjoyment of this lively urban oasis, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is offering three different picnics which guests can order and enjoy not only on the Green, but also at many other Cleveland parks and summer events:

Morning Wellness Basket for Two ($85 plus tax)

Choice of two juices, bottled water, two croissants with grapes and three cheeses, house-made granola with yogurt and fresh berries, two seasonal whole fruits, two energy bars.

Exhale and Relax Basket for Two ($120 plus tax)

Choice of two sandwiches (turkey club wrap, harvest wrap, tandoori chicken pita taco, seared rare ahi tuna niçoise wrap), fresh mixed berries, chef’s selection of pasta salad, The Ritz-Carlton chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, three artisanal cheeses, Westside Market jerky and smokies, grapes, royal nut mix, bottled water and non-alcoholic sparkling cider.

Family Basket for Four or More ($145 plus tax)

Choice of four juices, bottled water, choice of two children’s sandwiches (triple-decker PB&J, crispy chicken Caesar salad wrap), choice of two adult sandwiches (turkey club wrap, harvest wrap, tandoori chicken pita taco, seared rare ahi tuna niçoise wrap), fresh mixed berries, chef’s selection of pasta salad, seasonal whole fresh fruit, The Ritz-Carlton chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, potato chips, royal nut box, bottled water.

Each Pick Your Picnic basket provides an al fresco feast and includes its own tablecloth and all necessary dining utensils. The distance between the hotel and Public Square is approximately one third of a mile, with walking or public transportation each presenting convenient access for hotel guests and picnic basket purchasers. For details or to Pick Your Picnic, please call +1-216-623-1300, extension 4124, or email the hotel picnic crew at clerz.leads@ritzcarlton.com. Pick Your Picnic is offered through Labor Day weekend 2017.

Night Hike Scorpion Hunt

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Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton-Dove-Mountain

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain offers a variety of one-of-a-kind adventures to its popular recreation program, with a focus on authentic southwestern experiences for travelers of all ability levels. It’s Night Hike Scorpion Hunt is one of it’s most popular.

Did you know that scorpions are fluorescent if observed under a black light? They also tend to venture out on balmy summer evenings, when it’s warm and comfortable under the moon and stars. The resort’s Ritz Kids Rangers have located some of these critters’ favorite haunts in nearby terrain, and they now offer regular guided tours to let guests see shining examples of this natural desert nightlife.

To learn more go to: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/arizona/dove-mountain

Eclipse Lunch

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis

Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis

Eclipse Lunch being planned for the roof of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis on August 21 – when the city is set to be in the shadow of the eclipse. To learn more about this event and more go to: http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/st-louis