If you followed my travels on Instagram this past weekend then you know I saw quite a bit of "PINK" in Charlotte, N.C. for Liza's 5th birthday. In case you haven't heard, an American Girl store opened at South Park Mall in mid-October.
|American Girl Store at South Park Mall in Charlotte, N.C.|
This is huge news for North and South Carolina because before this store opened, Southern residents had to travel quite a ways to get the in-person American Girl doll experience. The closest place was Atlanta or the Washington D.C. area. American Girl Charlotte is the 17th store to open in the U.S. A store in Orlando will be the next store to open.
I purposely waited to give Liza an American Girl doll because as a mom who likes to travel, I thought it would be fun to make getting a doll an event. I really thought I would take her to the D.C. area or New York for that first time experience in a few years. However, with the opening of the new Charlotte store coinciding with the timing of her 5th birthday, I decided to make the experience sooner rather than later. Charlotte is an easy three-hour drive from Raleigh and even though one could do the trip in one day, I preferred not to do that.
And since you know...I'm all about the hotels, we took the American Girl experience up a notch.
We experienced the Deluxe American Girl package at the Renaissance Charlotte South Park. I like Renaissance properties because they are boutique properties, and they have their own personality through decor. Even though it's an international chain, it doesn't have that cookie-cutter hotel chain feel. That factor is important for me when I choose a hotel experience.
The Renaissance Charlotte South Park Hotel is so close to South Park Mall that you could almost walk if you don't mind lugging a bunch of American Girl Doll packages back to the hotel. Seriously, that's how good the location of this hotel is to the mall for shopping. However, finding a parking place at South Park mall can be challenging, based on what I experienced on a Saturday. I recommend splurging on valet parking because I think it would save you lots of parking headaches during the busy holiday season.
When you book an American Girl package, Renaissance Charlotte South Park makes your little one feel incredibly special. There is a special check-in for little American Girl travelers. Little guests are offered pink hot chocolate on arrival, a personalized welcome letter from the General Manager, and are issued keys that will open the door to their American Girl hotel experience.
With the basic package, priced around $169 for weekends in Nov. and Dec., your little traveler gets the special check-in we received, star pink cookies and milk upon arrival, a doll-sized American Girl bed to take home, and breakfast for 4 people in the hotel restaurant during your stay.
With the Deluxe American Girl Package, starting rates at $194 (average cost for weekend rates in November and December will be about $204 plus tax), you get a brighter, colorful experience.
It's the ultimate PINK experience.
Let me just say that this pink room wowed Liza, and at one point, she declared it was better than Disney World.
Her Dad didn't believe her, and questioned her again. She said, "the rides at Disney were really good, but the room here was better than Disney." The Deluxe American Girl Package includes everything the basic package includes, but consists of a very pink room experience plus a doll-sized robe and slippers to take home in addition to the doll-bed.
The hotel really had fun putting this package together, and it shows they went the extra mile. As a travel writer, I am fortunate and get to visit a lot of hotels, many priced way more per night than this experience. I think the Renaissance Charlotte South Park did an outstanding job putting this experience together. It is so worth it. I know some of you may be weighing the cost of the difference between the basic and the deluxe package, and are wondering if going all pink is worth paying extra.
My answer is YES! It's certainly nice to get the doll-bed,and cookies in the stay, but the pink room is what Liza is going to remember forever about this experience. Me, too, actually.
She's never been to a hotel before with pink touches at every corner. Other Charlotte hotels have also partnered with American Girl to offer official packages. Each one ranges in price, and experience.
Insider Tips on the American Girl Store Charlotte
As the holidays approach, it's only going to get busier in the American Girl store. It's about the size of a large Pottery Barn store, and it can get crowded quickly. We arrived at lunch time and you could barely walk around. It did thin out about 3:00 p.m. though.
Charlotte's American Girl store is located near Macy's, but everyone knows that now, so finding a parking space near Macys is difficult.
The American Girl Store has a doll salon, so girls are bringing the dolls they've had awhile to get their hair restyled. This means you have customers purchasing new dolls and accessories and customers waiting just for salon services. Prices for salon services range from $10 to $20. The doll can also have spa services, which would include a cleaning.
The American Girl Bistro is a must-experience. The food is excellent, and I had one of the best burgers I've had in awhile there during a very late lunch at 2:45 p.m. Customer-service is great, and employees make sure your little one and her American Girl Doll have a wonderful experience.
The bistro seats just 26 people, therefore, reservations are a must on weekends, or when school is out. If you have younger children not in school, I was told that you may be able to walk-in for lunch during the week. Prices are in-line with high-end chain restaurants. And if you don't own an American Girl Doll, don't worry. Your child won't feel left out dining in the restaurant at all. The bistro offers dolls for little ones to select to dine with them while there. There is no charge for borrowing a doll to dine.
I have to honestly say that I've become an American Girl doll fan after this experience. The dolls are designed for girls over the age of eight so I've been helping Liza dress Isabelle, and doing her hair. It's still fun to play with dolls even at the age of 45.
To plan your trip to Charlotte, visit CharlottesGotAlot. We think the city does have a lot. You can also book your stay with Renaissance Hotels directly from my website. Be sure to use the promotional code Z74.
Disclosure: This media visit was in partnership with Visit Charlotte, Renaissance Charlotte South Park, and American Girl. Our new doll was courtesy of Liza's grandmother, Ha Ha, who likes dolls as well. As with all of my travels, opinions and experiences are my own.