North Carolina is known for its beaches on one side and mountains on the other but, until recently, Charlotte hasn’t come into its own as a tourist destination. It has now, though, and the Ritz-Carlton is an ideal base.
Stay in the luxurious presidential suite: with its LEED-gold certification for environmentally friendly features, the hotel is a deft combination of eco-chic and luxury. You’ll be fixated on the luxury here too: there’s an entire dining room, kitchen and butler entrance in here.
There’s rumours that Justin Bieber has stayed in this hotel, but discreet staff members won’t confirm this. But they’re happy to give a tour of the ways in which the Ritz-Carlton is eco-conscious. The hotel uses sustainable materials everywhere, from the bamboo floor in the fitness centre to uniforms made from recycled plastic.
In the lobby, guests can rent a hybrid car, then fuel it at the Ritz’s charging station and park it for free.
Head to the roof with sous chef, Greg, to see an eco-innovation: a garden with concrete pads for two resident beehives and some 100,000 bees.
Here there are multi-coloured, low-lying sedum plants designed to insulate the building and limit rainwater run-off.
Greg and his colleagues harvest about 32kg of honey each year for the signature Rooftop Honey Brandy Sour cocktail, recipes in the kitchen and spa treatments.
Kids Clubs: Mother Nature – the leader of the children’s eco-friendly programmes – will stop by to do tuck-ins for young guests on request.
Spa: Try the Green Your Body Eco-Treatment, or if you haven;t any time, try the sauna with lovely eucalyptus mist and the Experience Shower. There’s a digital dial that adjusts the water temperature to your preferred degree – and delivers water from 16 jets on three sides.
You’ll also be surprised at the little touches from the hotel, including bags of peanut-butter cookies in your car for the ride home, to ease the transition.
Top tip: For many families this break will require babysitting at key points, but the Ritz concierge can arrange that. The Ritz also offers ‘luggage-less’ travel and keeps clothing safely stored for people who stay here frequently.
Travel time: Flights from London to Charlotte take 9 hours. It’s 15 minutes from the airport to the hotel.
How to get there: US Airways flies from London Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas; from £667 return for adults and £593 for children. British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Charlotte Douglas; from £650 return for adults, from £578 for children.
Best time to go: Spring and autumn (March to May and October) are the best times to visit when there are less crowds – the city is a popular destination with families so gets very busy during the school holidays, not to mention very hot in July and August.
The hotel: The Ritz-Carlton (+1 704 547 2244) offers family suites from £300 per night.