The Best in Hotels, Food and Travel in North Carolina and Beyond

So, there are 365 days in a year. Some days are exciting and some days are just plain ole' boring. 2014 was a year of personal challenges, blessings, and exciting journeys. I did a quick rewind this morning over hot water and lemon (A new weight loss gimmick I'm trying for the new year) to come up with my 2014 Best in Hotels, Food and Travel.  I've had a great travel year, and I thank everyone who worked with me this year to help me promote my love of travel.

Best Overall 2014 Hotel Stay: Fearrington House Inn

The Overall Best of 2014 in Food and Travel; Fearrington House Inn

Picking the absolute best for me is difficult because I curate my "Pack Your Bags" hotel stays very carefully so most of them are always very good. To come up with the overall best hotel stay,  I rated food, decor, ambiance, relaxation factor, bathrooms, hotel grounds and amenities, overall satisfaction, staff performance, and the desire to return.

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel; Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, N.C.

The 2014 Best Overall Hotel Stay goes to the Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, N.C. You can read my Pack your Bags on this property, but my stay was top-notch, and when I factored in the gourmet cuisine at this Relais-Chateaux property as well as the beltie cow cuteness, it got the top honor.

Cute  Beltie Cows: The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel

To walk in my footsteps at this hotel, book the Gourmand Experience, and enjoy Chef Colin Bedford's tasting menu with specific wine pairings. Also, visit the Spa at Fearrington while visiting Fearrington Village, and have a pedicure. You will love the bright and airy shabby chic salon. After your spa treatment, grab a coffee and light lunch at the Goat.  Don't eat too much because you will have afternoon tea at 4 pm. Make sure you make your reservations for later in the evening for the tasting menu because after afternoon tea, you will have about eight courses to eat.  (And I wonder how on earth I let 10 pounds creep up on me this year.). After a nightcap of high-end sherry, you will retreat within your luxurious bed linens, and wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to eat the best pancakes you've ever tasted.

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Fearrington House Inn

If you love  delicious food and quaint accommodations then put the Fearrington House Inn on your future check-in list. It's so worthy of a stay whether you live close-by or are traveling a long distance.

Best Family Hotel Stay: Primland Resort

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Primland Resort in Va

Even though Fearrington House Inn is kid-friendly, we did not have the kids with us on that particular hotel stay. Not having kids on that trip did not skew the overall results though, but it did cause me to name the Best Family Hotel Stay in 2014 as well this year. This honor goes to the Primland Resort in Dan of Meadows, Virginia. You can read about our experience in my Pack Your Bags feature, but this was a great family getaway for us. We took an ATV ride, fished, hiked, and even got pampered since this spa welcomes children. There is a lot to do here for a family who likes nature. I'm not very outdoorsy, but with an award-winning spa on site, it makes the perfect vacation spot for an outdoorsman like my husband, and his princess. It also has complimentary afternoon tea and s'mores by the fire. That's a win in my book. The hotel rooms are modern gorgeous, and the bathrooms are so fantastic that you never want to get out of the rainfall shower or oversized soaking tub. I discovered that I do like nature getaways, but I like it luxury surroundings.

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Primland Resort

To follow in our footsteps, be sure to do a Native American spa treatment and book a Blue Ridge Suite. If you can choose only one activity to do, book the ATV ride with a guide.

Best City: Savannah, Georgia 

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Savannah, GA

We took our first trip to Savannah, Georgia in 2014 and our time there was not long enough. I definitely want to go back. I fell in love with the architecture. We really did not do that much sightseeing, but we ate well. I thought the Tomatoes and Okra at the Public Kitchen and Bar was heavenly.

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Public Kitchen and Bar, Savannah, GA

To follow in our footsteps, stay in the Savannah historic district. We chose the Holiday Inn and Express. Book the Savannah Sampler package, enjoy complimentary breakfast, a location where you can walk anywhere, and three historic tours. And to really follow in our footsteps, stroll down the street to Moon River Brewing Company and enjoy a pint or two.

Best Educational Trip: Jekyll Island, Georgia and Jekyll Island Club Hotel 

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel: Jekyll Island Club Hotel: Best Educational Trip

Only my family can turn a hotel stay into an educational opportunity, but we did just that when we stayed at the historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel this summer. You can read more about our stay in my Pack Your Bags feature, but the history of this island is fascinating. We enjoyed exploring and relaxing. Our favorite spot to relax in the morning and in the evening was our sun porch.

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel; Jekyll Island Club Hotel

I was really pleased with the cuisine at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel,  and thought the afternoon tea was exceptional. It was my first time experiencing a buffet tea.

To follow in our footsteps, consider the Jekyll Island Heritage Tour package that includes buffet breakfast, afternoon tea,  historic hotel tour, admission to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and the historic trolley tour. To get a sunporch, be sure to book the annex building.

Best Hotel Package: The Renaissance Charlotte South Park Pink American Girl Experience

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel ; American Girl Experience

One of my travel highlights was one that I experienced with my daughter, Liza. We visited the American Girl Store in Charlotte, dined in the bistro, and checked into the The Renaissance Charlotte South Park Hotel. You can read about our pink experience on the blog, but this was probably the most fun travel experience I've had in a long time mainly because Liza was so excited. The pink room was over the top, and she just couldn't contain her excitement. It was a lot of fun. We didn't have the guys with us so it made for a perfect girl's weekend.

To follow in our footsteps, book the American Girl Deluxe Pink Experience. Take time to dip in the indoor pool at the hotel, have a drink at the bar, spin around on the fun chairs, and enjoy the thrills of being surrounded by dolly pink.

Best Professional Trip: Marche Region of Italy

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel; Marche, Italy

I went on my first solo press trip without the family in October. Seeing the Marche area region of Italy, and meeting travel colleagues were priceless experiences. I still have one more post to write about one of the cities we visited. Italy is just beautiful and I cannot wait to return with my family one day.  Highlights for me was a visit to Gradara, taking a selfie in an 18th Century Murano Glass mirror,  and a private wine tasting at Tenuta Carlini Vineyards. 

The Best of 2014 in Food and Travel/Tenuta Carlini Vineyards

We also made some fun family memories at Topsail Beach, the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Raleigh, The Renaissance at North Hills in Raleigh, the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, and Emerald Isle, N.C. I happily recommend all of those places, too.

What's in store for 2015? 

I'm not sure yet. You can expect some more North Carolina travel, and at least one major U.S. city. I have several hotels on my curated list for 2015 so we'll just have to see where the new year takes us.

Happy New Year! May you have a rich and blessed 2015.


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