The Ballantyne's renovated lobby features hand-painted gold accents that pay tribute to North Carolina's legacy as the first state in the country where gold was discovered. Photo by Ray Sepesy

Destination of Distinction

The Ballantyne celebrates 17th anniversary with makeover

By Michael J. Solender

For 17 years, friends, family and guests have enjoyed warm hospitality at The Ballantyne, located in the heart of one of Charlotte’s most welcoming communities.

In celebration of its anniversary, The Ballantyne — part of Marriott International’s The Luxury Collection and owned by Northwood Hospitality — has unveiled a multimillion-dollar makeover with glimmering, redesigned public spaces and guest rooms, coupled with exclusive new partnerships and elevated guest experiences.

With the makeover, the hotel cements its place as a premier gathering place for locals and visitors to relax, refresh and renew. People are drawn to The Ballantyne’s fine dining and libations, spa experiences, golf and fitness opportunities and relaxing atmosphere.

“The Ballantyne thrives as a destination authority in Charlotte,” says the hotel’s general manager, Raj Radke. “Guests enjoy both refuge and delight when they are here. Refuge in the sense that guests are away from the hustle and bustle of daily demands. And delight in the joy of discovery at this beautiful place known for attentive service.”

Raj Radke, General Manager of The Ballantyne. Photo by Ray Sepesy

Inspired by N.C. History

The foundation of the hotel’s makeover is a redesign inspired by North Carolina history.

A pair of life-sized bronze Dalmatians flank the main entry welcoming guests upon arrival — silent sentries inspired by a similar duo that once scouted these not-so-long-ago hunting grounds.

Natural light floods the lobby from grand windows, bathing an overhead art installation of five interlocking gold rings. The stately piece plays off the crisp interior of gray and white tones and hand-painted gold accents, paying tribute to North Carolina’s legacy as the first state in the country where gold was discovered.

“The soaring nature of the installation is also an homage to North Carolina being first in flight,” says Radke, acknowledging the Wright brothers’ early 20th-century accomplishment on the Outer Banks.

The state also has a history of spectacular emerald finds. Therefore, in the Great Room, brilliant green carpeting complements comfy seating. Artwork and photos also celebrate the Old North State’s history in a space adjacent to the Gallery Bar, a popular spot for socializing and pre-dinner cocktails.

More recent state history is depicted along a primary hotel corridor near the Ballantyne Ballroom and Grand Staircase. Creation of the hotel is also chronicled in images of the property as it came under development. Thanks to the display, guests find it easy to connect the softly rolling south Charlotte land and the historic county in the central Scottish Lowlands for which Ballantyne is named.

In the lobby, the re-styled bar, now called “The Ryal,” overlooks the hotel’s golf course — a favored destination among in-the-know linksters who love the course’s challenging but fair layout. The bar gets its name from a Scottish unit of currency from the time of King James IV and is a convivial spot to enjoy drinks with friends.

Also in the lobby, the check-in desk showcases a variety of intriguing jewelry boxes. Behind the desk, a butterfly installation signifies the carefree nature of travel and the flights of fancy awaiting guests when they explore The Ballantyne and its amenities.

The Great Room's brilliant green decor highlights North Carolina's history of spectacular emerald finds. Photo by Michael Kleinberg

New Partnerships

In addition to the hotel’s art and design changes, exclusive new partnerships contribute to an enhanced guest experience.

Rare Tea Company, the preferred tea for Britain’s royal family, is now the official tea for The Ballantyne’s tea program.

“We’re incorporating these wonderful teas into our traditional afternoon tea experience,” says Radke. “Our tea service is very popular with a great local following. Guests enjoy finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. We’re elevating this experience with these teas and even developing tea-based cocktails, which we are serving in unusual tumblers. They have a conical base and wobble slightly; thus, we are calling them ‘Tipsy Teas.’”

Tea is served Wednesday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and over the holidays, Tuesday through Sunday during the same hours.

The Ballantyne’s pastry chef, Noelle Gogg, is also giving her sweet creations a touch of Rare Tea Company’s teas. Her Rare Tea Panna Cotta will be offered in The Ryal as well as for lunch at Gallery Restaurant. It features black tea and spice-infused panna cotta, caramelized puff pastry, Valrhona Dulcey 32% whipped ganache and vanilla-pickled orange.

“For the infusion process using the rare tea, we love the clean bold base flavors of the black tea and how the spices achieve the classic ‘chai’ aroma and taste,” says Gogg.

Spicing things up further, Chef Lior Lev Sercarz — aka “the Spice King of New York” — is partnering with The Ballantyne to bring one-of-a-kind blends to North Carolina for hotel guests. “Chef Sercarz has created a special Ballantyne Spice Blend exclusive to us,” says Radke, “It is a salute to what is in abundance in our area and can be used in rubs, flavored oils and any number of applications.”

The creative force behind La Boîte, a Manhattan-based spice emporium, Sercarz will impart flavor and flair to the hotel’s culinary offerings as well as its spa.

“The Ballantyne blend was inspired by my visit to the herb garden with Chef Garrett (Merck) and Raj,” Sercarz says. “I loved the lavender scent combined with basil and other herbs. I wanted to blend these notes with some local, traditional inspirations of barbecue and seafood. It’s a savory-sweet blend that lends itself to simple and complex cooking.”

Another new culinary partnership at The Ballantyne involves Traeger Grills, the manufacturer of outdoor grills known for high-temperature searing and consistent heat application. Favored by skilled chefs for yielding perfectly grilled meats and vegetables, Traeger Grills delivered 12 grills and smokers to The Ballantyne’s chefs for outdoor cookouts, barbecues and poolside parties.

Establishing Traditions

Guests often remark on the warmth and hospitality they feel at The Ballantyne. To that end, the hotel is introducing new activities with an eye toward them becoming traditions, tied to both the region and its Scottish namesake.

The property’s guests are now invited weekly by the chief concierge (known formally as the “chef concierge”) to gather at the cascading fountain at the hotel’s main entrance. Each guest is provided with a Ballantyne pouch containing a penny to toss into the fountain while making a secret wish. Participants hear the story of The Ballantyne’s founder and original owner, Smoky Bissell; his fondness for fountains; and learn about the legend of wishing wells.

“Ballantyne has roots and riches that can be traced back to Scotland,” says Radke, “The wishing well ritual began in Scotland centuries ago when water was a scarce commodity. Anytime good water sources were found, people would pay homage and wish for its continued supply. It is from there we’ve picked up on this fun tradition.”

Another activity launched to coincide with the hotel’s makeover is the daily reciting of the legendary poem, “The Old North State.” Written by Leonora Monteiro Martin, the poem is an ode to the natural beauty in North Carolina. It is recited daily at 4 p.m., announced by the ringing of a bell and read aloud as a “first in freedom” toast by one of the hotel’s bartenders.

“We want our guests to share in our love for our surroundings,” Radke says, “and this is a fitting nod to the beauty found in our state and at The Ballantyne.”

Guest rooms feature 10-foot ceilings, large picture windows and plush bedding with Frette luxury linens. Photo by Michael Kleinberg

Sip a Tipsy Tea

The Ballantyne is now incorporating Rare Tea Company blends into its afternoon teas as well as tea-based cocktails. The cocktails are served in tumblers that have a conical base and wobble slightly; hence, the name for them is Tipsy Teas.

Tipsy Teas include:

  • Earl of Flowers: Botanist gin, Saint Germain elderflower liqueur, Earl Grey tea and honey syrup
  • It’s Tea Time Somewhere: Hornitos Reposado tequila, PAMA liqueur, orange bitters, Antlers tea, fresh lemon and lime juices and hibiscus syrup
  • Blossom: Draft sake, jasmine tea, lychee fruit and fresh lemon juice

The re-styled bar in the lobby is now called "The Ryal" after a Scottish unit of currency. Photo by Ray Sepesy
The Lodge, a 35-room private retreat on The Ballantyne's grounds, brings to life the history of the property as a former hunting area. Photo by Michael Kleinberg

The Lodge at Ballantyne: New Look, New Packages

The Lodge at Ballantyne is a 35-room private retreat on The Ballantyne’s grounds. Its fully renovated rooms and lobby bring to life the history of the grounds as a former hunting area.

Providing elegance without pretense, the space can be rented in its entirety by a group — from board meetings and retreats to family reunions and intimate weddings. Spacious rooms offer a luxurious feel, replete with tasteful furniture and rich leather accents.

Packages at The Lodge include a dedicated breakfast and a welcome reception. Listed below are two new packages. For more details, contact or 704-248-4070.

Bachelor Weekends

  • Two-night stay at The Lodge at Ballantyne
  • Welcome reception with craft beer from the Carolinas
  • Breakfast daily at Gallery Restaurant
  • Two rounds of golf and unlimited use of driving range, including complimentary golf club rental
  • Concierge-created map of breweries and recreational places of interest, such as Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Topgolf
  • One group whiskey dinner crafted by an executive che
  • From $950 plus tax for single occupancy

Family Gatherings

  • Two-night stay at The Lodge at Ballantyne
  • Locally themed welcome amenity in each guest room
  • Welcome reception with beer and wine or nonalcoholic beverages
  • Continental breakfast daily at The Lodge at Ballantyne
  • One cookout or barbecue family dinner at The Lodge at Ballantyne
  • From $850 based on double occupancy

The Lodge's spacious stone patio overlooks the golf course and has fire pits and a rocking-chair front porch. Photo by Michael Kleinberg


And Details

Natural light floods the lobby from grand windows, bathing an overhead art installation of five interlocking gold rings.
Cocktails featuring Rare Tea Company blends are served in tumblers with a conical base that wobble slightly. Hence, their name: Tipsy Teas.
Each guest is provided with a Ballantyne pouch containing a penny to toss into the fountain at the hotel's main entrance and make a secret wish.
The check-in desk showcases a variety of intriguing jewelry boxes and other items.
A pair of life-sized bronze Dalmatians flank the main entry, silent sentries inspired by a similar duo that once scouted these not-so-long-ago hunting grounds.