Southern Hospitality


Once known primarily as the tobacco state, North Carolina has garnered a more positive reputation over the past few decades and has come to be known as an ideal southeastern respite for travelers looking for a laid-back locale. And for those wanting to experience some local flavor and fun, Charlotte, NC, is anything but a sleepy southern town. Known for its sporting events, fine dining, and active nightlife, this mini metropolis has much to offer locals and visitors alike. And after a day exploring and a night on the town, they can find respite at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, which recently underwent substantial renovations to the 18,000-square-foot Spa at Ballantyne. “Our hotel exudes elegance and true southern hospitality,” says spa director Alicia Howell. “We wanted the spa to respect the traditional design and luxurious feel of the hotel while integrating modern touches.”

Changes to the 18-room spa include upgraded equipment, more spacious and tranquil lounge areas, new lighting in the rooms, new earth-toned accents, upgraded treatment beds with built-in mattress pads, and new linens. In addition, the spa added personal touches to help clients feel even more comfortable, such as towel and robe warmers and chromatherapy in the massage rooms that offers changing colored lights based on each guests’ element. Beyond that, the spa unveiled a new menu inspired by the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire. The menu aligns each service with a corresponding element that guests and therapists can work together to customize. To represent earth, the spa offers the Chakra Journey Massage ($125, 50 minutes), which uses seven aromatherapy oil blends attuned to each of the body’s seven vital energy centers to establish a deep state of relaxation. Air is represented by the Oxygenating Trio Treatment Facial ($115, 50 minutes), which includes a customized peel for all skin types. The facial helps promote healing and rejuvenates sluggish, stressed skin depleted by toxins, pollutants, allergens, improper diet, and sun damage. Body treatments represent water, such as the Four Elements Signature Wrap ($170, 80 minutes), while fire is represented by salon services. In addition, the spa also offers signature services that pay homage to the Native Americans of the area, such as the Dance of the Butterfly ($110, 50 minutes), which is inspired by a Cherokee dance. The Four Elements Experience ($110, 50 minutes; $155, 80 minutes), however, really captures the spa’s philosophy, according to Howell. The multi-sensory massage incorporates the elements to create a balancing effect upon the mind, body, and spirit. “This treatment offers a sense of balance and renewal and is truly multi-sensory, featuring music, scent, and chromatherapy to match each element.”

While the hotel attracts visitors from all over the country, most of the spa’s clients are locals from the greater Charlotte area. “Our guest composition is about 83 percent local, which is really unique,” says Howell. “Many of our guests are repeat visitors who come to our spa on a regular basis.” To recruit new clientele, Howell and her staff offer seasonal treatments and promotions regularly. The spa also has a last-minute Relaxing Rewards program, which was created to target certain times and fill open appointments. “We try to attract as many clients as possible using a variety of methods,” says Howell.

Accommodating up to 300 clients a day, the spa employs 78 staffers, 30 of whom are full-time. According to Howell, the staff plays a major role in the reason why the spa has such a high retention rate. “In addition to relaxation and quality services, our guests are looking for quality staff,” she says. “Our staff members have more than 800 years of experience in the spa and hospitality industries collectively.”

In spite of the fact that the spa’s renovations have proved to be a hit among guests, the current state of the economy is still a concern, says Howell. “As the economy remains a challenge, the expectations for guests continue to rise, while there is still a focus on ensuring that our services remain affordable,” she says. “Of course, we want to make sure our spa is always considered a high-value, must-have experience compared to our lower priced competition. This means we always need to exceed expectations. Our spa will always look to improve services and work hard to best serve our guests. After all, they are the reason we are here.”


OWNER: The Bissell Companies, Inc.

SPA DIRECTOR: Alicia Howell

OPENED: April 2002



78% female, 22% male


20,000 square feet;
18 treatment rooms



aromatherapy, Ayurveda, body treatments, chromatherapy, couples’ treatments, energy work, eyelash and brow tinting, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, makeup application, massage, microdermabrasion, nailcare, nutrition consultation, prenatal services, reflexology, salon services, waxing, yoga



Dance of the Butterfly ($110, 50 minutes), which includes a full-body massage, and The Four Elements Experience ($110, 50 minutes, $155, 80 minutes)



Healing Abhyanga Massage ($200, 80 minutes), which features Shirodhara using traditional Indian herbs and spices and warmed herbal oils



Ayuroma, Body Bliss, Clear My Head, Earth Solutions, Éminence Organic Skin Care, FarmHouse Fresh, Golden Moore, Nioxin, OPI, PCA Skincare, Ready Care Industries, SkinCeuticals, Wella



Caldera, Cosmopro, JTE Salon Systems, Lemi, Micros, Oakworks, Open Activity Network, SpaEquip, TY Robes



LS3P Associates (Charlotte, NC)