Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tips for a great staycation...

Each year, I have a girls getaway trip with a group of my high school girlfriends.  Usually, we meet up in one of the cities in which one of us lives, and we enjoy a weekend with one another catching up and seeing the city.  We have met up in several different places- Huntsville, AL, Raleigh, NC, Charleston, SC, New York City (you can see our New York City trip here) and this year, the location we chose was my city- Charlotte, NC. 

Previous years I have been very excited to see these beautiful cities, but I was a little unsure of how much fun a "staycation" would be. As all of the planning was coming together and the date was approaching, I got more and more excited about seeing Charlotte in a whole new way.  It is very easy to lose sight of all the amazing things that are so close to where you live.  A staycation is one of the best ways to rekindle appreciation for your home city.

Here are a few of my tips for a great staycation-

1. Planning goes a long way- Whether you are with a group of friends or planning a romantic getaway with your significant other, a little planning goes a long way.  It is always a good idea to think outside the box, especially when you are planning a staycation.  Go as far from what you would normally do.  The idea is to have new experience in a familiar place.

For our Charlotte staycation, we all pitched in and reserved the executive suite at the Ritz Carlton, which was absolutely beautiful.  I grew up right outside of Charlotte, and have lived in Charlotte for 7 years.  But like many people, I live outside of the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. During this weekend, I realized for the first time, that I had never stayed in a hotel in Charlotte and normally I would have never thought to stay at the Ritz Carlton in the city where I live, but it ended up being the perfect place for this mini vacation.  Something about seeing the city from such a nice hotel, made me view it in a completely different way.    

{ the living room }

{ the master bedroom }

{ the bathroom was beautiful and spacious with a tv screen built into the mirror }

2. Decide where you want to splurge-  Most people decide to take a staycation because of budget, so it is a good idea to decide where you want to splurge and where you are willing to save a bit.

In Charlotte, the Ritz has an amazing spa that offers all kinds of services, but I was excited to find out that if you did not want to have a spa service you could still enjoy the spa area for only $20.  The spa area includes a sauna, steam room, relaxation areas, the stretching studio, the gym, the indoor heated pool and the hot tub.  I chose to save a little bit by not having a massage, so I could splurge a little more when we went out for the evening. 

3. Roll with the punches- So you have a plan now, and you want to see things that you have never seen before, but it starts pouring rain, and your plans are scrapped.  You have to roll with the punches on this one.  Make the best of what you have, because often, that is when some of the best memories are made.   

The planner of our group is Paige, who always does a great job planning new and fun excursions to take.  Well, this year we were all going to the spa for a couple of hours, then we were going to ride the light rail to South End and eat lunch at the Common Market and then go shopping at some of the vintage thrift shops.  All those plans were altered a bit when the clouds opened, and it poured rain the entire day.  We made the best of it though and truly enjoyed the spa area.  We lounged by the pool, ordered snacks and cocktails, relaxed and more importantly we started to catch up with one another...which ended up being exactly what I needed.  

4.  Travel in a different way- when you are on a staycation, a good way to disconnect from your everyday life, is to travel in a different way than you normally do.  If you usually drive, then take the subway, or a taxi or rent a bike.

I was looking forward to riding the light rail...and yes, I know that for people who ride it every day, it isn't much fun.  But, one of my favorite things about our trip to New York was how we traveled every way possible.  City travel is completely different than riding through your neighborhood.  Sometimes, it is something this small that makes me feel as if I am in a different place.  And another plus, is that you get to see things you have never seen before.  

5. Be willing to go in different directions- Maybe this isn't your first thought when you are on a romantic staycation, but it is essential when you are with a group.   There is no way for everyone to get what they want if you only have one option.  Just look at the stones we all picked up at the spa- they were meant to represent what each of us wanted from our stay in Charlotte.  Each of us picked something different...kind of funny actually.

{ As my friend Ashley pointed out "Who the hell would choose create?" That's Me : )  }

If we all came in to that weekend wanting to get completely different things out of it, the only way to please everyone is to be willing to see who wanted the same things, separate and then meet back with one another later on. 

We only had one day In Charlotte, so we stayed together almost the whole time, but in New York we separated daily- some would go shopping while others went to museums, some would go to a play while others had a late dinner.  Everyone got what they wanted out of our time together. 

5. Surround yourself with nice things- This is one of the key things I do when I am on vacation- I search out beautiful things.  I am entranced by details.  Whether it is the softness of bed linens, the design of a light fixture, the texture of a painting...I LOVE to appreciate the details in a new place.

The same can be done during a staycation.  Searching out great design and beautiful details is another thing you can do to feel like you are treating yourself.  This can be done for free by going to an art museum or watching a professional ballet company rehearsal...or you could go to a restaurant that not only inspires you by beautiful interiors, but also by beautiful food.

We went to brunch before leaving to go back home.  Vivace was the restaurant of choice, and I  loved everything about it.  Everything from the ceiling to the light fixtures to the open kitchen was visually amazing.  And the food was equally as good.

6. Appreciate the time you have together- It is important to see and do new things, but always remember why you are on this trip and appreciate the time you have with the people you are with.  I LOVE our annual girl getaways.  They are a time to reconnect, to catch up, and to make some new memories to accompany all of the old ones.

On every trip we have taken, I have wanted to see all that I could.  I wanted to be inspired as much as I could be by the new things I was experiencing.  But most of all, I wanted these new memories to include these special people. 

Well, that's it...until next year. 
I am already counting down the days : )

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