Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of The Southeast

Written by Patti on June 4th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Just when I think life can’t get any better, I turn a corner and a wonderful surprise pops up. Yesterday was one of those days, but instead of one surprise, it was twelve in the form of the amazing Public Relations staff of the Southeast Ritz-Carlton Hotels.

It was my genuine pleasure to attend a special media luncheon as the guest of Sandra Ryder, Area Director of Public Relations, Atlanta. When I arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, I was greeted warmly by each staff member I encountered. They embody the epitome of hospitality.

The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead

Escorted inside by the gracious doorman, I was met by Alison Kendigelen, Public Relations Coordinator and Sandra’s right hand.  I was a bit early (how could there have been no traffic?) but I would prefer to be early rather than late. Alison and I had the nicest visit, discussing all the excitement afoot at The Ritz-Carlton this weekend.

Alison Kindergelen, Public Relations Coordinator, Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

This weekend is the first installment of the Young Chefs of the Southeast, at The Ritz-Carlton, Downtown Atlanta, featuring Chef Adam Cooke of Blackberry Farm, whom I spoke with last week.  I will be sharing the interview with you next week, along with photos of the dinner. You really must go and meet Chef Cooke- his Relais Gourmand rating within the Relais Chateaux organization is one of the finest accolades a chef can receive. This is an exclusive chance to experience a world class chef without traveling to Walland, Tennessee.

Chef Adam Cooke

Another way to experience The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead is the Glamour Girls Brunch this weekend, which I will be attending Sunday with bestie Holly. This stellar event brings an occasion to dine at one of our city’s most exclusive dining rooms, and there will be goodies as well. Manolo Blahnik note cards (what better way to write your thank you notes?), 10% off spa services at the hotel, and samples from Kerstin Florian’s signature line of Caviar spa products! I would love it if you joined me.

Lunch guests have arrived and Alison introduces me to Valerie Lipscomb, Travel Industry Sales Manager, and Liza Adler Kubik, Director of Public Relations at The Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. You can drive to this marvelous getaway, just 75 miles from Atlanta. Money you save on airfare will afford you some pampering at the spa – doesn’t that sound lovely? I sense a road trip coming on! Viewing their website is an exercise in relaxation, so I can only imagine the puddle of happiness you would melt into by staying there. And after getting to know Valerie, the consummate southern belle, and lively Liza, I know the two of them have something very special cooked up for you. How about s’mores by the campfire or a dip in the infinity pool that overlooks the lake?  Exactly like summer camp, the way the Rockefellers would have imagined it.

Time for S'mores Around the Campfire at Reynolds Plantation

This Is Unlike Any Summer Camp I've Ever Seen - Wow

Take a peek at Valerie & Liza, and meet our next Ritz-Carlton dynamic duo, Donald W. Stamets, Hotel Manager and Christine DiRocco, Director of Public Relations at the uber-luxurious The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach.

Liza, Christine, Donald & Valerie

Donald and I became immediate best friends.  It doesn’t matter where we would have met, we were destined to be buddies. We share a love of cuisine, wines, rescue dogs and a wicked sense of humor. Same with Christine – these two had me in stitches and I cannot wait to spend more time with them both.

As for their property, I am convinced that once you walk through the doors of The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, you instantly transform into a supermodel. Yes, it’s true. Well, maybe not entirely true, but after an afternoon at their Eau Spa by Cornelia, I am sure you will feel exactly like Giselle Bundchen. The 42,000 square foot Water Garden includes a Self-Centered Garden meant for pure hedonistic pleasure. Need more? How about a facial with precious stones and caviar? You will glow, you will be reborn. Who says being self-centered is wicked? Even if it is, you deserve a bit of wicked fun, don’t you? The pinnacle of luxe glamour, here. After a day at the spa, how about taking in a polo match? It is all so civilized, Darling. Go, and rub elbows with the Trumps. This is Palm Beach.

The Cornelia Lumina Facial - Tres Glam!

The Lounge - Love The Whimsical 300 Glasses Chandelier

Are the kids hounding you to go to Disney World? How about loading up the kids and grandparents and stay at The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando? Grandma and Grandpa can take the little ones to the park and you can get a massage while laying in a hammock. How does that sound? Spectacular, yes? Here’s a review of the hammock massage via The Fashionable Housewife. I had a chance to visit with Jason Scott Coletta, Account Supervisor with Laura Davidson Public Relations, the firm that represents The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando (their Director of Public Relations is on maternity leave).  Jason also told me about the hotel’s rooftop herb garden where you can visit with your spa technician and gather herbs to create your own personalized body scrub. That sounds heavenly to me.  I also loved the idea of Hemi-Sync, a type of audiotherapy in which you are bathed in “guided meditations, affirmations, creative visualizations, and other tools to help you rewrite the program of aging”. Rewrite the program of aging? Sign me up! Of course, there are many fun activities for the children on the property – an adventure course, kayaking, and eco tours; and for Dad, fly-fishing and golf on a golf course designed by Greg Norman. You all may never make it to see Mickey.

Jason and Me

Picture Yourself Poolside

Moving down further south, we stop at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Director of Public Relations, the darling Suzanne Willis, helms the quintessential beach escape. With features like their own private beach, feather beds dressed with goose down pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets, fine dining, world class golf and packages that include a chance to run away to the circus (museum), you need only pack your swimsuit and toothbrush.

Time to check in with Miami, land of the beautiful people. I adored meeting Michelle Payer, the Area Director of Public Relations for all The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Miami. Michelle is dazzling, which fits, as she represents some of the world’s most glittering real estate. One of the most unusual hotel packages can be found at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach – Charm School for girls!  Beginning on June 19, you can treat your favorite young lady to an amazing day of pampering mixed with learning the social graces.

Charm Camp is an innovative etiquette program with an updated twist designed to teach teenage girls 13-18 the basics of modern-day manners, beauty, makeup, poise, style and verbiage, as well as healthy eating habits with hands-on time in the kitchen led by Ritz-Carlton chefs, and a choreographed dance routine taught by the Miami HEAT dancers, who will share insight into their ambassadorial roles. Open to hotel guests and the public, the half-day, five hour charm school (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) is $175 per teen and limited to 15 young ladies per class. The desired result is to polish skills teens can put to use while in the South Beach “glam capital” or incorporate into their everyday lives back home.

The first Charm Camp is June 19, with two additional classes slated for November and December. Reservations required. What I wouldn’t have given to attend such an event as a young girl. The Ritz-Carlton South Beach is also home to Chef Jeff McInnis, who you will remember from Bravo’s Top Chef, season five.

The Lobby - The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach

If South Beach isn’t your thing, how about The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne?  I was thrilled when I learned about their BMW Driving Club (what a great surprise for Father’s Day!)

The Ritz-Carlton BMW Driving Tour heads to Key Biscayne, providing guests complimentary access to one of nine models from the renowned automotive brand, including its flagship sedans, convertibles, SUVs, as well as the eco-friendly mini convertible for those who enjoy luxury driving in small packages. These smooth, yet athletic vehicles are perfect in which to tour the nearby beautiful Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park or the site of President Nixon’s former Winter White House on Key Biscayne; Miami’s many attractions including the Art Deco-lined streets of South Beach or the charming Spanish-style Coral Gables; and beyond to Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

Vehicles in the Driving Tour fleet include:
7 Series 750Li
6 Series 650i Convertible
5 Series 550i Grand Tourismo
Z4 Roadster
X5d (diesel)
3 Series 335d (diesel)
3 Series 335 Convertible
MINI Cooper S convertible

Let’s head north a bit to The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. The charming Jorian Weiner, Manager of Public Relations and I chatted about the passion the staff shares for their Nature’s Wonders Program. What other hotel can boast 11 aquariums?

Visit the exciting new Nature’s Wonders Center where guests are immediately transported to another world. The sanctuary is complete with eleven aquariums hosting numerous fish, crabs, mollusks, jellyfish, alligators and an eel. Inquisitive minds will also discover a small lab filled with microscopes, slides and Petri dishes – all the tools to help a budding marine biologist explore a world not seen by the naked eye. The Nature Vision Theater, where National Geographic specials, Discovery programs and Disney movies are shown, serves as a retreat where the entire family can take a break. The Nature’s Wonders program provides rewarding hands-on, interactive learning and fun in an assortment of nature-themed activities. These daily programs include: nature walks, boat rides, guest speakers and field trips. Samples of rotating topics include: observing wildlife, the mangroves, sea turtle nesting, alligators, dolphins and beach combing.

Pair this with nine restaurants and rates starting at $119 at The Golf Resort and you have the perfect family vacation.

Cruising up the coast of Florida, we stop at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, the holiday spot for the well-heeled.  Joe Murphy, the gracious Director of Public Relations and I spoke about this esteemed property and it would be the perfect respite for those seeking southern charm and relaxation. Each room offers a private balcony and a view of the ocean. Being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean sounds divine, doesn’t it?  Love golf?  The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island offers a professional 18 hole course right outside its doors. Do you feel the stress melting away?

Laissez les bons temps rouler! We are now in New Orleans, one of the most spectacular cities in the country. And to match this stunning destination is the absolutely stunning Char Thian, Director of Public Relations of The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. Gorgeous Char and I had a chance to talk about everyone’s favorite southern city. Where else would you find a Crawfish Concierge or Recovery Services, with a selection of hangover remedies on the weekends? It’s okay – it’s New Orleans, you are bound to have at least one teeny hangover or you are not doing it right. Russell, the hotel’s Recovery Concierge will take great care of you. With room rates starting at $199, you have to experience the hospitality of New Orleans. Do it right and do it at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans.

Take A Perfect Break in The Courtyard in New Orleans

Whew! That was a whirlwind tour. But I have some more treats for you, Darlings. Let me share the indulgence that The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead showered on us yesterday afternoon. First, the magnificent table dressings.  Four separate themes – all equally fabulous. You know how I love table dressings.

The Glamorous Spa Table - This Is Where I Chose To Sit

Set with glasses for each course and white orchids suspended in glass for centerpieces, this was the ultimate in style.  Can you see the lush drapery? Remind you of our Easter Tent? On a much grander scale, of course. This is The Ritz-Carlton!

The Spa Table Centerpiece

The second table was the Cuisine Table, sumptuously hand painted and anchored by an elaborate centerpiece laden with flowers and fruit. Scrumptious.

The Cuisine Table

The Cuisine Table Centerpiece

The playful Vacations Table under an umbrella held beach balls in its chairs. Such fun!

Love The Fresh Blue & White Tablecloth

Lastly, the bridal table would be any betrothed’s fantasy. Decorated in lush tablecloths and a gorgeous topiary in the center, one has to feel like a princess. Or a prince.

Isn't This Table Just Dreamy?

And then there is the matter of the food. Oh my, the food. Paired with wines for each course, we began with The Spa Experience – Restore

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Smoked Salmon Terrine

Minted Creme Fraiche

The Delicious First Course

The second course was The Vacation Experience – Explore

Seafood Melange with Coconut Emulsion

Bordeaux Blanc, Baron de Lafite, France 2008

Looking Exactly Like Seafoam - The Amazing Coconut Emulsion

Third course from The Cuisine Experience – Indulge

Kobe Beef “Culotte”

Morel Mushrooms, Wild Asparagus, Beef Jus

Rhone Blend, Margerum “M5” Santa Barbara California 2007

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza Argentina 2007

Luscious Third Course

The dessert course had us clapping our hands with glee. The Celebrations Experience – Inspire

Le Petite Wedding Cake

(our own individual wedding cake, garnished with sugared flowers and raspberries)

Truly, The Piece de Resistance

No detail was overlooked, from the white glove service to wonderful Bernard, our steward. It was a first class experience that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy.

I can’t even begin to thank the incredible, marvelous, fantastic princess of The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, Sandra Ryder, for this entry into her world. As the summer progresses, I look forward to visiting these amazing, extravagant properties and reporting back to you.

Let me leave you with one last photo from the day – the group (minus Liza and Valerie – sorry to have missed you!)

From Left:  Jorian, Sandra, Me, Char, Donald, Michelle, Joe, Christine, Suzanne and Jason

Thanks for indulging me, Darlings. I hope your weekend is divine!

xoxo, Patti

Today blogging to (what else?) Putting on the Ritz


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Judi Fleming says:

    We LOVED having you visit us at RCRP!

    Please keep in touch, and come again soon….my love, judi

  2. Patti says:

    Judi – You are the jewel of the Ritz-Carlton! Thank you for taking the most amazing care of us. Hugs, Patti

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