6.22.2017

NC Lawmakers Consider a Brunch Bill that Would Benefit the Hospitality Industry #FreetheMimosa

As I told you earlier this week, my family rarely goes to brunch unless I'm traveling. I went to brunch locally a few weeks ago on a Sunday in downtown Raleigh and ordered a bloody mary. I ordered that drink for a few reasons. Personally, I love the tomato-based, spicy cocktail. I rarely drink them so it was a treat for me. Also, mimosas and bloody marys are a traditional part of a brunch menu. I was at Pizza La Stella to help promote the restaurant's brunch menu for future visitors to N.C.  That's what I do. I market experiences.

Mimosas.



I rarely drink an alcoholic beverage during the day. But, if I'm traveling then I escape the ordinary. My travel days become extraordinary and special. Had I arrived at brunch before noon that Sunday, I could not have ordered a mimosa or bloody mary due to ABC Beverage laws until 12:01 p.m. But, that could change if a new law is passed. The North Carolina Brunch Bill is a pending legislation that would empower local governments to allow restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks two hours earlier, at 10 a.m., on Sundays. HB 460, otherwise known as the Brunch Bill, would update North Carolina’s existing ABC laws to provide a high-demand service to the state’s residents and visitors.

Bloody Mary


North Carolina's hotel and restaurant caters to travelers. By allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold at 10 a.m on Sunday for brunch would increase revenue tremendously for this industry. 

Blue laws, banning certain things on Sunday for religious reasons, are quite controversial. And in some cases, it's not just alcohol that is banned. It's also pots and pans. Sometimes, cars. It varies from state to state. 

As a person who encourages visitors to our state, I am an advocate for the hotel and restaurant industry. I like options. If I am dining for brunch at 10 a.m, I may stick with coffee, but I like to be given the choice and freedom to order what I want especially if I am traveling or attending brunch for a special occasion. 

Jim Beley, the General Manager of the Five-Star Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina offered some insight from the hotel industry. 

Exterior of Umstead Hotel and Spa


"I think our Sunday morning meal period volume would pick up significantly if we were permitted to start alcohol service at 10 a.m. instead of 12 noon. What I see as fair within the bill, is counties can opt-in to the Sunday service of alcohol if they choose to do so. I am a Christian man, who would not think of drinking any alcoholic drink or meal prior to my attending our Church services on Sunday morning. I think most feel the same as I do; if your intent is to attend and worship in Church, no drink will stop you."

Beley says that many of the guests of the Umstead are out of state visiting for a family occasion of a graduation, wedding, Easter or special day. He says these guests are often disappointed to hear that they cannot serve any alcohol until 12:01 pm. 

The wedding industry has the biggest impact on the restaurant's Sunday volume. He stated,  "most weddings are held on Saturday nights followed by a Sunday morning meal for the family. We are regularly asked why we cannot offer Bloody Marys or Champagne and orange juice with their Sunday meal; some respond with “that’s ridiculous.”

Exterior of Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge


The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, N.C. also supports the NC Brunch Bill. "Our top priority is to deliver exceptional service to our guests, many of which visit us from out of state, and we want to meet their needs," stated Peter Grills, General Manager. "The ability to serve alcohol earlier on Sundays would provide more options for our guests, which is always a benefit."

The NC Brunch Bill will Free the Mimosa.


What's your opinion? To ‘Free the Mimosa’, stand behind the Brunch Bill by signing the petition at www.ncbrunchbill.com and spreading the word to reach NCRLA’s goal of 10,000 signatures. You can also join the conversation on social media by using #FreeTheMimosa.


Editorial Content. Not a paid ad. 

6.21.2017

Hotel Getaway Deals and Ideas: Sizzling Rooftop Pools in Nashville to Sleek Style in Charleston, SC

Summer certainly makes me want to travel. Most of you already have your trips planned out for this year, but it's nice to get some ideas for future stays. I'm excited to share with you that I' am an official affiliate partner with several Hotel brands directly and several hotel/travel booking agencies. You can book your hotel stay and travel adventures from this blog.These affiliate links take you directly to these websites where you are guaranteed the lowest rates. Travel affiliate marketing became a natural path for me in order to continue to bring editorial content on the blog. I started this blog six years ago with the topic of hotels being one of my strongest passion and interests. Frankly, it just makes me happy so this is a good fit for me.

I'm not a travel agent so I do not book hotels for you, but I can help answer your questions. I'm connected to travel bloggers all the world who live in these cities. I'm hoping to have some destination guest posts in the future.  My expertise will continue to be in North Carolina and with hotel brands. My @OutaboutNC community is over 12,000 strong.

My first offer is a one for future travel from my affiliate partner Hotels.com. This is a great one because you get a $100 rebate and have until the end of the year to book your vacation or getaway.

Hotels.com: Save big NOW on all hotel bookings with Up to a $100 Cash Back Rebate with code REBATES17! Book by 12/31/17, Travel by 1/31/18.

Celebrate the 4th and save 10% off select hotels with code SPARKLERS. Book by 7/4, travel by 9/30.

Nashville, Tennessee is a sizzling destination these days. Summer is no exception. If you love music then Music City USA may be the perfect family trip for you. The newly opened Westin in downtown Nashville has a rooftop pool with spectacular sky views.  Visit the Starwood website for the latest package and promotions.

Nashville skyline at Westin Hotel
Westin Nashville Rooftop Pool and Bar, L27.



Known for its beautiful architecture,  historic charm and extraordinary cuisine, Charleston, S.C. is ranked high as a favorite travel destination. Just in time for the summer season, the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel has a new sleek look. Designed by P3 Design Collective, the hotel boasts 162 home-inspired guest rooms, 4 luxurious suites, creative meetings and events space, an outdoor saltwater pool, an energizing fitness center, and a quintessentially Southern lobby.


New Lobby at Renaissance Hotel in Charleston
Photo courtesy of Isaac Maiselman

 The guestrooms look beautiful, and Renaissance Hotels always have a boutique feel and the wallpaper in the bathroom reflect this brand's eclectic nature.

New Guest Room at the Renaissance Hotel District Charleston
Photo courtesy of Isaac Maiselman


Unique wall paper at the Renaissance Charleston property.
Photo courtesy of Isaac Maiselman


We are thrilled to invite guests into the redesigned Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel to have them experience our fresh new look and feel,” said General Manager Brian Wander. “The new features, local art, and overall design speak so highly of our hotel’s emphasis on Southern hospitality and tradition while also fitting into the charming city around us. While we’ve updated a lot of the hotel through this redesign, this hotel is still rooted in history.”

In my opinion, the Marriot brand always takes it up a notch with its restaurants. 1KEPT is the hotel’s new restaurant and bar concept featuring a dining room, a full lounge and bar with hotel lobby access, plus a beer garden and front patio. The menu features New Southern flavors while incorporating sustainable seafood and hyper-locally sourced ingredients with highlights such as the Chicken Schnitzel & Herb SpƤtzle served with caramelized onion cream, braised red cabbage and kale and the Duck Confit served with sauce soubise, pickled shallots, asparagus salad and candied lemon zest. The bar’s Moscow Mule is cold brew-infused for a twist and the Summertime at the Farm combines tequila, fresh lemon juice, and cold pressed carrot juice for a refreshing new take on a classic Southern cocktail. 

1KEPT opened this month with breakfast service from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and lunch and dinner service from 11:30 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Bar closes at midnight.

Charleston and Nashville are both on my lists to visit in the future. Book these properties on our Book at Hotel page, or find a property that suits your travel needs and budget. 


Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links. 

6.19.2017

North Carolina Ranked 4th Best State to Take a Summer Road Trip

I've said for a long time that North Carolina has a lot going for it. We have the mountains, the coast, vineyards, golf courses, history, delicious food, and a diverse culture. There is no shortage of things to do here. WalletHub recently ranked North Carolina as the 4th best state to take a road trip this summer. It was a top state for road trip travel ranked behind the states of Oregon, Utah, and Washington. In this study, Wallethub compared the 50 U.S. states based on 22 key metrics to find the most fun, scenic, and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations. The data set ranges from the number of attractions to road conditions to costs. N.C beat out Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia as the best Southern state to take a road trip. 




Source: WalletHub




North Carolina is divided into very specific regions. The terrain is different all over the state. We have  over 70 public airports. If flying in on an International flight then Charlotte, N.C, or  Raleigh, N.C. are your best bets for cities to arrive into with the least amount of connecting flights. You can rent a car and be on your way to see North Carolina.



Arriving in Charlotte, known as North Carolina's Queen City, will put you closer to our mountains and piedmont regions. From Charlotte, you about two hours from Asheville, N.C. and the scenic Biltmore Estate. Charlotte has a great amusement park called Carowinds, professional sports team,  NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum. and an outdoor rafting center.  It's also close to the quaint town of Salisbury, NC where the popular drink Cheerwine was invented.

Arriving at  Raleigh-Durham-International airport will bring you closer to our coastal regions and Piedmont. From Raleigh, you can get to Wilmington, N.C. in two hours, the Southern Outer Banks in three hours, the Brunswick beaches in three hours, and the Outer Banks in three and half hours. The towns of Greensboro and Winston-Salem are just over an hour away.  Kitty Hawk is known as the place where the Wright Brothers were first in flight.

Love to relax around vineyards and enjoy wine? Then you may want to visit the Greensboro-Winston-Salem area and visit the Yadkin Valley vineyards. It's the only area in North Carolina where the soil can grow grapes comparable tho those found on the West Coast and in Europe. This is area is now producing some award-winning wines.

Love Craft Beer? North Carolina ranks high in craft beer production. You can go just about anywhere in our state and find a local brewery. Asheville, N.C, Charlotte, and the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill areas have the most breweries in a concentrated area.

Do you love  PBS and the show, "A Chef's Life?" then take a road trip to Kinston, N.C. and dine at Vivian Howard's restaurant, "A Chef and A Farmer.".  Reservations are a must, and if you want to go a weekend night, you need to make those reservations several months in advance.

Love history? We have historic sites in almost every town in North Carolina. Raleigh is our state capital.  New Bern, N.C. houses Tryon Place, the former NC Governor's Palace when we were a colony. New Bern is also the site of where the drink Pepsi was created. The waterfront towns of Edenton and Beaufort had pirates walk the streets. We have battlefield sites, and even a museum devoted to actress Ava Gardner, who was born in the North Carolina town of Smithfield.

If you are a golfer, you may want to visit our Sandhills region in Southern Pines where some may say there are more golf courses than people.  That's not really true, but this terrain is filled with sand, pine trees, and is home to a PGA golf course. Southern Pines is located about 30 minutes from NC Zoo in Asheboro, N.C.  This area is also known for its beautiful pottery.

Ideas for a road trip in North Carolina is endless. I also love the mountain town of Blowing Rock where you can walk across the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through our North Carolina mountains. You can hop on it near Asheville, N.C and take it the Boone area. The Indian reservation, Cherokee, N.C. takes you to the Smoky Mountain National Park. In Franklin, N.C., you can take a scenic rail ride on the Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Map  of North Carolina _Great State to Road Trip

I am not a travel agent, but I know North Carolina well. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Visit my OutaboutNC social community to see where locals like to go and you can also follow my own Instagram account.

Visit the blog's Book a Hotel tab on my site so you can begin to plan your North Carolina adventure now. You will be glad you came to visit. Request your map from NC DOT. 

These are some North Carolina cities that you may want to make for your hotel base:

Charlotte, N.C
Asheville, N.C.
Highlands or Cashiers, N.C.
Cherokee, N.C.
Boone, N.C.
Blowing Rock, N.C.
Winston-Salem, N.C.
Greensboro, N.C.
High Point, N.C.
Durham, N.C.
Chapel Hill, N.C
Raleigh, N.C.
Southern Pines, N.C.
New Bern, N.C.
Wilmington, N.C.
Southport, N.C.
Kinston, N.C.
Edenton, N.C.

Happy road tripping!



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