Understated elegance in Charlotte

244 Rooms / 9 Suites

Charlotte’s pretension-free, laid-back atmosphere is also what makes it so attractive. That’s precisely why a resort such as the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is so popular, not only with out-of-town visitors but Charlotteans alike. It’s the property’s understated, Southern elegance — the Four-Star spa, Four-Star Gallery Restaurant and championship golf course are attractive amenities, too — that draws people here for after-work cocktails, gingerbread home contests during the holidays and bourbon tastings.

The Rooms

One might describe traditional, Southern design as chintz and monograms. And that might be accurate, but what you may not realize is that the oversized florals and seersucker accents have their place in great historic properties. Exhibit A: Ballantyne’s guest rooms. Designed by Sara Harris Bissell (the late wife of Ballantyne community founder Smoky Bissell), the 208 guest rooms were created with comfort and sophistication in mind. Four poster beds and striped curtains coupled with plaid bolsters and still lifes of floral centerpieces — all a nod to the classic, Southern aesthetic — are familiar design elements that create a welcoming feel. Large garden tubs, Elemis spa goodies and balconies overlooking the golf course complete the hospitable vibe.

The Spa

With its design overhaul in 2011, the Spa at Ballantyne has transformed from a hotel spa into a full-blown destination in the Carolinas. Gone are the white wicker chairs and floral cushions. Now, you can unwind in a chic, modern lounge area where earthy tones and a my-wish-is-your-command staff caters to your every whim. Updated treatment rooms are complemented by a revamped spa menu, which features a new line of lavender-inspired services. With the latter, spa director Alicia Howell connected with a local lavender farm to design a body treatment and massage utilizing the locally grown plant. Each service is followed by a cool honey-lavender tea that’s at once refreshing and revitalizing post-treatment.

The Food

Like the spa, the award-winning Gallery Restaurant once boasted bright, Southern yellow décor. It was difficult seeing past the ultra-traditional design even though the food was exceptional. Luckily, in 2013, the restaurant was given a major facelift, resulting in a contemporary setting where modern paintings (courtesy of the local Shain Gallery) hang above cozy, tufted banquettes and sleek dining room tables.

Chef de cuisine David Moore has created a menu — inventive American cuisine with a farm-to-table emphasis — that now complements the dining room’s feel. Dishes like the Brasstown brisket pie with bourbon-smoked bark, kobe-shi flaky crust, minted green tomato and side of barbecue sauce or the Gallery fried chicken, a contemporary twist on an old Southern favorite, featuring buttermilk-soaked local chicken, speak to the kitchen’s inventiveness.