With four-star and four-diamond rankings, plus a spa, a golf course and tennis, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte offers plenty for a guest to do, that’s for sure. But when it's time to get out on the town, where would guests want to go? That’s when Carolina Kramer, the hotel’s guest-relations manager, doesn’t mind intervening. Where editor Virginia Brown recently quizzed Kramer about where to go in Charlotte and what she likes about the Queen City.
Briefly tell me about your job and how long you've been in Charlotte.
I have been employed at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte for eight months. I began as a front-desk agent and am currently the guest-relations manager. I have been in Charlotte for four years and prior to that resided in Miami and am originally from Venezuela.
What's your favorite thing about living in Charlotte?
I love the people of Charlotte—they are friendly, polite and genuinely hospitable. I also enjoy the artistic and diverse areas of Charlotte like NoDa and South End. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Charlotte was a melting pot of people from various cities and cultures.
What's an experience every visitor should have?
Every visitor should visit a local restaurant like Mert's Heart and Soul, Price's Chicken Coop or King's Kitchen for a taste of the South. Going to a gallery crawl in NoDa and picking up a pastry at Amelie's are musts. I also really love the Levine Museum of the New South which does a great job of showcasing Charlotte's roots and growth. Many of our visitors love the U.S. National Whitewater Center for year-round mountain biking, rafting and zip line canopy tours. Personally, I enjoy driving around Queens Road and Freedom Park and stopping by Pike's for ice cream, a great neighborhood spot.
How do you help visitors get acquainted with the city?
It is important for me to find out what our guests' personal interests are so I can customize an experience for them. For example, providing directions to a winery and assisting them with a personal picnic for their destination as well as recommending local spots to visit along the way. I love to share additional information regarding their interests and add in a local story about the area.
What type of events do you host at the hotel and what's the coolest experience you've had so far?
We host an array of weddings and events as well as our own monthly Scotch Society and tastings. The Indian weddings are just beautiful, especially when the groom arrives on a white horse. Often I'm more involved with more individual experiences like helping someone plan a proposal or celebratory event. My goal is to help provide a unique experience beyond the ordinary to make it a memorable occasion.
What does Ballantyne in particular offer visitors?
The Ballantyne offers leisure guests that typically travel on weekends and holidays a relaxing getaway with spa and golf offerings in a vibrant neighborhood with many shopping and dining conveniences. Business travelers love the accessibility of Ballantyne Corporate Park and enjoy entertaining their clients at Gallery Restaurant because of the upscale setting and delicious food. Guests love our restaurant and especially our desserts, hand-crafted by our pastry team. Holiday guests enjoy our popular Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Brunches which sell out well in advance each year.