09 February, 2017

EVOkE Romance in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Le Meridien Hotel

Photo Credit: Le Meridien
I just got back from four days in Charlotte, NC for the day job.  I knew it was going to be a fun meeting but the weather, food and hospitality of the town completely captivated me.

We all remarked that the food was exceptional, especially for a large group.  Come to find out Chef Oscar la Fuente brings flavor to both the Sheraton and the adjoining Le Meridien, more later on that venue.  

Chef Oscar was born in Peru to a German mother and Spanish father. So much diversity informs his leadership and adds a special dimension to the food.  As a conference attendee, I appreciated every tasty bite.  As a snarky Northern Californian, I usually love the opportunity to diet at conferences. Not in Charlotte as all the meals at the Sheraton were delicious, fresh and served with cheer.  I didn't do a lot of Instagramming, which is probably for the best #selfincrimination. Yes. I did have dessert at every meal

Photo Credit: Le Meridien
Photo Credit Le Meridien
The venue itself is very comfortable with great lighting, space and best of all comfy chairs.  It has 62000 total square feet of meeting space in 27 different venues that will accomodate small groups as easily as larger conferences.  

Our group got a lot done and were super comfortable doing it. I chalked it up to the best in southern hospitality that the service was nice.  I stayed at the Sheraton, so on my daily walks for exercise, to enjoy the great weather and to source forgotten items at the nearby Target, I admired the adjacent Le Meridien.

I returned home with a desire to return to Charlotte for fun. Clean,  well organized and walkable, Charlotte has a vibrant dining scene and a lot to recommend it for tourists and meeting planners alike.  Between the lines of my packed agenda was a sneaking suspicion that I was missing out on some cool spots.  I was right.  Emily Potts of the Heron Agency sent me a note to confirm what I had missed out on this trip.  She was nice enough to send my inquiries to Chef Oscar for experienced and tasty advice on finding the romance of Charlotte:
Photo Credit: oscarlafuente.com

BCL: What is your favorite things about Charlotte?
Chef Oscar: It has the feel of a big city, but the values of a small town. It is a blend of old and new. Over the past few years we’ve grown and the options for entertainment, sports, dining and recreation are second to none. It really is the perfect place to raise a family. And last, as someone who grew up in Toronto, you can’t beat our weather!

BCL: Best survival strategy for Valentine’s Day?
Chef Oscar: If you’re smart, you’re showing your partner how much you care throughout the year, so there is less pressure on Valentine’s Day. Having said that, I’m a guy, so I know expectations can be high. My advice: plan ahead – don’t wait until the last minute. And be creative! Dinner and flowers are nice, but a personal touch will get you extra points!

BCL: What season is best to visit?
Chef Oscar: Each season offers diverse benefits and we’re lucky that we can enjoy being outdoors all year round.  Personally, I love the fall season. I love that we can jump in the car and within a couple hours be in the mountains for the changing leaves and fall festivals in places like Asheville.

BCL: What are some must see places to sight see?

Chef Oscar: Some people may say the obvious: our museums, sports arenas, the lake or the White Water Rafting Center. I would say that if you truly want to experience the flavor (no pun intended) of Charlotte, you carefully plan your visit to include many of the unique and highly rated restaurants on the foodie scene.  Also, Charlotte is becoming quite known for their craft beer community. I highly recommend visiting our local breweries!

Photo credit: Le Meridien
If you are in the area, don't miss this cool spot :Le Méridien Charlotte, 555 S. McDowell Street, 

They are offering a a Valentine’s Day-inspired Unlock Romance Package. Available for booking Friday, February 3 throughSaturday, February 18, this package is perfect romantic getaway.  The bundle that starts at $300,includes a comfortably modern guestroom overlooking the Charlotte skyline, a savory three-course prix-fixe dinner in Evoke, and other amenities like wifi and parking that will make your stay great.  Chef Oscar's food will delight you.  Don't miss the dessert bar.