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Culinary Travels
Rediscover world-class wineries, a fairy tale town, and one spectacular lake.

By Jan Walsh

In the February 2012 issue of this column, I shared the perfect Napa Valley trip. Picking up our suitcases where that trip left off, we take the top down on the convertible for a scenic drive to Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. This weekend we revisit our Sonoma County favorites.

We combine the best of Napa Valley into one perfect trip.
By Jan Walsh

Touring Napa Valley is a yearly pleasure. Typically I repeat very little in order to have new experiences. But this year instead of new, past favorites are synthesized into one wonderful trip—luxury accommodations, legendary wineries, sensational cuisine, and a convertible.

Discover great restaurants, awesome views and interesting tourist attractions.

By Jan Walsh

Kevin and I take a couple’s weekend to Chattanooga. Making better driving time (less than three hours) than expected, we arrive in time for lunch in the city—rather than on the road as we had expected. Yet this unexpected pleasure also creates a problem. I have not researched where to have lunch and quickly begin to do so on my iPad.

A weekend at The Ritz Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation pleases all.

By Jan Walsh

Family time is precious. Yet with busy schedules, it is difficult to find time to be together as a family. Yet when I mentioned a weekend at the AAA-5 Diamond Ritz Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation, schedules suddenly freed up a bit.

A weekend at Barnsley Gardens is long enough to fall in love.

By Jan Walsh

Weekend escapes are my favorite travel. And I recently spent the perfect weekend escape at Barnsley Gardens. I arrive knowing little about the property and leave two days later in love with this place.

High Hampton Inn offers a rustic mountain escape.

By Jan Walsh

If you like camping out, try “camping in” at High Hampton Inn & Country Club, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Since 1922 High Hampton Inn has hosted families who want to get away from the hustle and bustle and simply enjoy what life used to be—before we were “wired.”

Listed on National The Register of Historic Places, the property is reminiscent of the camps of the Adirondacks. The Lodge was constructed of local materials in 1932. The lobby boasts a huge stone four-sided fireplace. Beyond the Inn’s guest rooms are mountain cottages, for couples or large families. Some have fireplaces and screen porches, and all have fabulous views. For honeymooners or couples on a romantic getaway, the secluded Honeymoon Cottage is highly recommended.

Blackberry Farm’s chef Adam Cooke brings the farm’s fare to Ritz Carlton’s Atlanta Grill.

By Jan Walsh

The Ritz Carlton, downtown Atlanta is hosting a program to show off the culinary skills of renowned young chefs from the Southeast. These dinners will take place on several chosen weekends over the summer, with a different chef preparing dinner at Atlanta Grill.

The chefs—ages 27 and 32—and their cuisines are featured at Atlanta Grill on selected dates throughout the summer. Bennett Hollberg, chef de cuisine, will collaborate with each of them create a four-course dinner menu, with wine pairings recommended by Silvio Garcia, hotel sommelier. “This is a unique opportunity for guests to meet the young chefs who are making an impact on the culinary scene now, and who will be leading the future dining experiences in the region,” said Chef Hollberg. “We’re excited to be working together, and guests are going to enjoy great dining experiences.”

The Ritz Carlton, Buckhead, debuts new spa and spa level guestrooms and suites.

By Jan Walsh

Leave it to The Ritz Carlton, in Atanta’s Buckhead to add not only a spa but also spa level guestrooms and suites—for ultra convenience. I recently enjoyed a weekend of rejuvenating solitude in a ninth floor, executive spa suite and the tranquil pleasure of a customized spa treatment.

Arriving under the portico of this renowned hotel, we are met by the valet, and our gracious doorman, James Wilson—who has worked at this hotel for 25 years. Wilson opens the doors for us and welcomes us with a friendly and dignified Southern hospitality. Inside the lobby are massive, crystal chandeliers sparkling above gleaming paneled walls, jeweled toned oriental rugs and velvet upholstered English antiques. Fresh touches of live plants and magnificent arrangements of fresh cut flowers dot the lobby—and the entire hotel. The lobby is open to the lounge of the same décor with a focal point of a roaring, marble fireplace in the lounge.

Stars are “regulars” at The Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge.

By Jan Walsh

During a stay in Santa Monica, California, my husband Kevin and I take a day trip to Beverly Hills. Here we window shop Rodeo Drive and lunch at The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Situated atop 12 acres on Sunset Boulevard, this “Pink Palace” is a short and convenient distance from Rodeo Drive.

We arrive early for lunch—allowing us time to walk around the property and are greeted by valets in waiting at the porte-cochere. Walking up the famous red carpet towards the entrance of the hotel, I quickly realize that a stay here WILL be on my next California itinerary. 

The hotel’s restaurants have long been the place to catch a glimpse of celebrities lunching together. But—as on all of my trips—my email communications have no respect for legends. So I walk through the Hollywood Lobby, where Sidney Poitier danced barefoot past the ever lit, oak-burning fireplace, outside to a small, shady secluded patio in the Citrus Garden.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa's presidential suite is fit for a princess.

By Jan Walsh

Enjoy a romantic getaway without traveling at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. A stay at this award winning property offers the opportunity for spa treatments in the 12,000 square foot spa, breakfast in bed, lunch at The Clubhouse Restaurant, drinks at JT's, dinners at Brock's, and for golfers, the third longest golf course in the world, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

My husband and I recently enjoyed such a fairy tale, which included a stay in the Cahaba Presidential Suite, located on the sixth floor. More than a suite, this place should be a condo. Double doors open to a massive foyer that leads to a two-story, beamed ceiling parlor and dining area, seating eight. Above the flickering gas flames of the fireplace is a flat screen television. The fireplace is flanked by built in bookcases housing a collection of the classics. Jewel tones of ruby reds and golden yellow tones of the rich carpets and plush upholstery contrast with the mahogany toned bookcases, mantle, and ceiling. Live green plants and colorful fresh flowers add a personal touch.

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