Admitedly, I'm a recovering workaholic. I work a lot and sometimes allow that to define who I am. But sometimes I hit a wall. Hard. If you've been there, you get it.
I woke up last week and realized that summer was over and I didn't take a vacation. And as I work more towards finding a better work/life balance, I needed to put my foot down. I needed a break but I (still really a workaholic) didn't have enough time to get away.
Living in Raleigh, North Carolina, we pride ourselves as being "close to both The Mountains and The Coast." But I started thinking, what does that really mean? I came up with this....
For those of us who live here (Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel HIll, Apex, Wake Forest, Morrisville, etc. - which is the RTP area), we feel an incredible amount of pride about where we live. So if we love it here, why do we pride ourselves on the vacation spots that are 2 and 4 hours away?
There's really a TON of stuff to do here so I decided to take a personal challenge (spelled w-o-r-k-a-h-o-l-i-c and maybe not quite recovering yet) to:
find a great spot to get away from it all
relax and feel rested
not take too much time
not spend an arm and a leg
and become a tourist for a weekend!
Maybe that was a tall order, but I figured, why not try?
So, I jumped on Google and found what looked to be a great place for the price. It was the Doubletree Suites in Durham. I love hotels that are suites because you can hang out in your room and not be on the bed - which tends to make me tired. :)
The hotel was just about 20 minutes from my house. That meant more relaxation time and not so much drive time. And at Doubletree, they give you those super yummy warm cookies when you check in. Perfect!
I've never really just gone to a local hotel for the weekend so I was excited to try a staycation.
I got to the hotel and I have to say, I couldn't believe I didn't know about this hotel before! They had this great little lake in the back with a walking path around it. Paddleboats, An indoor/outdoor pool. A sauna. A gym. A volleyball court. Basketball, Tennis court. Bicycles to use. And everyone was so friendly.
I settled in and ordered some room service because, well, why not? It was a vacation, well a staycation, but my summer vacation! The food was really good and it hit the spot! I went downstaris, took a walk around the lake, got into a paddleboat and then went over to the pool for a bit to relax. I took a dip, jumped in the sauna and then started talking to this really nice woman (I talk to everyone!) who was also from Raleigh. She was staying there for her 10 year-old daughter's birthday. It was a slumber party for her and 2 of her friends and she said it was cheaper to do this, the kids were completely entertained and she didn't have anything to clean up afterwards. :)
I decided to go up to my room for a while to rest a bit before the evening and on the way to the elevator, I met a family who was in town for the weekend scouting schools for their daughter. They live in West Virginia but have always thought that this would be a great place for her. That day, they'd been to UNC, Duke, NC State and Meredith College. I assured them that they were making a great choice because there were tons of local colleges here. She said she was leaning towards Duke and I told her that she'd love it.
When I got to my room, I looked out the window which faced the water and I was blown away by the sunset. I stood there to watch all of it and I didn't want it to end. It really seemed fitting for my vacation weekend.
I really felt as if I was being told, LOOK! THERE'S A WHOLE WORLD OUT HERE THAT YOU'RE MISSING! OPEN YOUR EYES!
And the best part was that I really didn't need to go that far to find it.
For the evening, I decided to head over to Raleigh to see what was going on downtown which was only about 20 minutes from the hotel.. The Raleigh Nightlife has really exploded in the last few years. There are tons of great restaurants, nightclubs, bars and art galleries and really, there is something for everyone. If you haven't checked out Glenwood South on the weekend and you like an active spot, go. There are kid friendly restaurants as well. Raleigh is a college town and there are lots of young-minded, hip, pretty people to mingle with.
How Is it Already Sunday?
I woke up Sunday morning and I still really felt like I was on vacation so I went to work out a bit and stopped in the restaurant for their buffet breakfast. So often, at hotels, you get some cereal, a waffle and a piece of fruit which is nice but to me, that's not vacation breakfast. This buffet was killer! And delicious! There was everything that you could want, with lots of healthy options as well.
Afterwards, I headed back to the pool to relax before it was time to get back to reality. I brought a book I've been trying to finish but instead, I just sat and thought about my life as I watched a few kids bouncing around in the water with their parents.
Sometimes we're not really sure why we're lead in a certain direction. I've lived in North Carolina for 16 years and sometimes I forget what an incredible place it is. Like many others that helped our region grow to be one of the top rated places to live and work in the country, I moved here for work. What I didn't realize then, was that it would be one of the best decisions I could have made.
And all it took was a few nights in a great hotel down the road to see that! Try it sometime. It's so worth the time. And if you stay at this hotel, you'll be happy you did!