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Atlanta’s Gem – Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

It was to be a busy eight hours on the ground. So I needed to make sure I was going to be well taken care of. You see, I wanted to make the best use of my trip to Rome and Barcelona and flying Delta from Seattle required a layover in Atlanta. So I decided to take the red-eye into Atlanta and see some clients and potential clients before heading on to the rest of my trip.

I booked a suite at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta as it was the best location for my meetings. I was not thrilled about staying in a “downtown” hotel, even a luxury hotel had me a bit concerned. Yes, I was wrong!

I landed at 6:30am and got my rental car by 7am. When I pulled into the hotel valet, the doorman opened my car door with a warm “Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta Mr. Matthews”. The stress began to fade. The front desk agent was just as warm. More stress fading. Within minutes I was checked in and an escort greeted me to take me to my suite. I was now stress free!

The suite was like walking into a fine southern home. The kind I grew up around. I had a spacious living room to meet my clients and a bedroom that was behind french doors. This hotel is perfect for business and leisure travel as well.

Four reasons why I love this hotel:

Service: It is hard to beat! From “hello” to “good-bye” this was some of the most attentive service I’ve received. They have a team of service focused staff that will attend to your every need. Tip: The club lounge staff and food is the best!

Location: CNN, Coca-Cola, and the Atlanta Aquarium are all very close! The hotel is in the center of downtown and you can get anywhere quickly. The freeway is just three blocks away. So no need to stay outside of downtown!

Atlanta Grill: Award-winning showcasing grilled steaks, chops, and seafood along with Southern-inspired cuisine. Warmly inviting, club-like setting with large murals and vintage photographs, such as the Gone With the Wind premiere and historic Georgia Tech games. Two private dining rooms and a more intimate “cheater’s booth” also available. Seasonal outdoor dining on New Orleans–style veranda overlooking famous Peachtree Street. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily. Sunday brunch.



Atlanta Grill


 Lumen Lobby Bar: Lobby bar with a modern vibe offering a new twist on traditional cocktails with sophisticated gelatin and plates for sharing. Live jazz, Latin, and Flamenco Tuesday through Saturday.



Lumen Lobby Bar


For what its worth, the trip was a success. Two of the potential clients are now clients. I owe a lot of that success to the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta!


Eat, Pray, Love – In London (And the countryside)

I was recently in London hosting some of our top travel agent clients. I had a bit of free time one day so I set out to see two hotels I knew I MUST see and dinner at the new “it” restaurant in London.

Eat: Shaka Zulu – So a dear friend recommended I take our clients to London’s new “it” restaurant Shaka Zulu. When I went to their web site, I immediately thought it was not a good idea. You see, because I’m African-American, I did not think it was a good idea that I take my top clients, who all happened to be Anglo-Americans to a restaurant whose theme was an African tribal leader! One conversation with the sales manager and I quickly changed my mind. However, I still had to check it out prior to taking my top clients there. So I went it a day prior with my colleague that was in town with me. Shaka Zulu is in the Camden section of London actually in the center of the Camden Market. Once we were greeted by the hostess, we were taken to a section of the bar where the sales manager awaited us. The drinks are so fresh, you hardly know that you are consuming alcohol. These bartenders are atrists! There is a two story statue of Shaka Zulu in the bar. Because it was a Saturday night, there was a DJ mixing the right music to set the mood. You see, Shaka Zulu is restaurant, bar, and part night club. The staff primary goal is to create a beautiful experience. They are so good, you don’t realize that there is a team of people taking excellent care of you. The food was PERFECT! Hands down one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Secret: The beef is from the Queen’s own working farm, Sandringham. Shaka Zulu is the FIRST & ONLY place that has authorization from the Queen to say they have beef from her farm. So the next time you are in London, have drinks and dinner here. You won’t regret it!

Pray: Four Seasons Hampshire – I have always dreamed of having an English country estate. Now that I’ve been to the Four Seasons Hampshire, I don’t have to spend all that money on one. You see, the Four Seasons Hampshire is a perfect English country estate. Spend the day riding a horse, walking the trails or shooting skeet! Once you have finished your outdoor activities, duck into the spa that used to be a horse stable and get rejuvinated. I call it a rejuvination stable! The rooms are just what you need after an active day: Serenity!

Love: The Savoy Hotel London – Originally opened in 1889 The Savoy quickly gained a reputation as THE luxury hotel in London. Closed in December 2007 for what was to be a £100 and 1 year renovation, quickly became a £220 and 2 year renovation. This was due in large part to structural work that had to be done. It was worth the wait and the money spent! The Savoy is still The Savoy, only better. The rooms are beautiful & elegant and YOU are the celebrity, not the rooms. The lobby is grand. The American Bar is classically “American”. I had the best martini of my life. The General Manager, Kiaran MacDonald, greeted me just as he had just greeted Jude Law & Guy Ritchie, who happened to be there having a drink. The Savoy is a Tina Turner sang, “Simply The Best“!

Isabella & I at her school garden: http:

Isabella & I at her school garden:

A Date to Remember

It all started very innocently, our dear friends Trevor & Tracie gave us a massive gift certificate to Canlis. They did this because they know we not only enjoyed good food, but needed a fancy night out alone. I was a bit apprehensive about going again because the last time we were there a year ago, we were seated near people who drove us crazy. On the left was a local TV anchor whose voice drives me insane. On the right was a couple who berated each other the entire dinner and talked openly about wanting a divorce. Mind you, this was our Anniversary!

My first preferred “date night” was postponed because my wife want to go to the salon prior to us going. So I took to Tweeting about my excitement of going as I thought I could get some joy from it since we were not going when I wanted to go. I quickly found that Canlis is active in the Twitter community and we engaged in exchanging Tweets!

Heather went to the salon, I rushed home from the office to pick her up and off we went. From the moment we arrived and was greeted by the valet, we were instantly reminded why we loved coming to Canlis. Don’t worry about a valet ticket, they remember who you are and what you drive. Our server Siri greeted us and we knew at that moment we were going to have a great experience. She was professional with the perfect balance of personal. We chatted about the family dinner Canlis has for all the staff prior to opening. Her three-month old daughter and our kids. We felt like we were reconnecting with an old friend and not having our order taken.

The food was so delightful, we simply shared ooh’s, aah’s, and our food with each other. I can only say it was FANTASTIC! The wine list is to die for and the setting is unmatched in Seattle!

For the first time I shared with my wife about my happiness I was finding in my new job. How this was my dream and how much I appreciated her supporting me living my dream. A dream that started in December of 2005. To now be living it was beyond joy for me. I owe my success in large measure to her greatness and love!

We discovered on the desert menu that they offer our FAVORITE Starbucks coffee (Casi Cielo) brewed in our FAVORITE way, Clover brewed. A brew process Starbucks created and only available in some 16 stores in the entire US! Siri also advised us that Casi Cielo is a blend that was created specifically for Canlis and has a limited public release. Yes, that release has ended and we discussed our sadness at not being able to get it in the stores any longer this year.

Mark Canlis came over to greet us and let us know that I had actually been Tweeting with his brother who also co-manages the restaurant and manages their Social Media engagement.

When we walked outside, our car was there! On the dash was a bag of Casi Cielo and a note from Siri that read: “Hope this makes for a great Saturday morning!” Yes, Siri it did. But not just because of the coffee but, also because of your excellent service and the great food at Canlis.

What I know for sure is that restaurants are most often good for one thing, at Canlis they are GREAT at all they do!

The View

View from our table