There's nothing like a long weekend at the beach…
…especially if you're lucky enough to stay in the Coastal Living Beach Home, on Bald Head Island. Toss in 8 of your best friends, a private chef, glorious weather, a mystery to solve and you ™ve got the recipe for some fantastic memories!
My good friend Terre and I plan events for people all over the world.
From corporate retreats and incentive trips to golf outings and anniversary soirees; as event planners, we ™ve done a little bit of everything. But each year in the fall, we treat ourselves and our friends to a spectacular four day get away.
In January, the invitations arrive detailing the theme, location and activities. Each guest is responsible for her own transportation to the area, but after that, we take over with lavish meals, fantastic accommodations, interesting side trips, and special trinkets for everyone. We try to head to places that aren't the typical destination, and then include events that the normal traveler couldn't arrange for themselves.
One year our theme was Unlock the Mysteries of Santa Fe. Each guest received a vintage skeleton key in the mail, and when they arrived at the resort, their key unlocked a trunk that revealed a special gift. As I recall, that weekend we did a GPS Scavenger Hunt in the mountains, took a class at the famed Santa Fe School of Cooking, and were special guests of the Georgia O ™Keeffe Museum, partaking in a private dinner in the gallery. The final night we arranged for a recording artist to serenade all the ladies with a private concert in one of the suites. We ™ve been to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina for Candlelight, we stayed at the Hotel Del Coronado for a Black and White weekend, and last year our theme was Red Hot Montreal.
This year Terre and I decided to try something different. Instead of staying at an exclusive inn, we made arrangements to rent the Coastal Living Beach Home. With beds for 15, 7 bathrooms, large gathering spaces and 3000 square feet of covered porches overlooking the ocean, it sounded like just the ticket! The invitation instructed our group that this year there would be no need for the cha-cha shoes or fancy jewelry. (They didn't believe us, by the way.) This year sweatshirts, cozy sweaters and warm pajamas were the things to pack. Along with the invite, came a culinary murder mystery novel which our guests were to read prior to departure. Terre and I planned the entire weekend around the recipes and intrigue from this book.
We welcomed the ladies in Wilmington, North Carolina on Thursday evening for a special dinner at Deluxe restaurant. The Basil Garden Gimlet kicked the evening off in high fashion while Thomas, the establishment's manager and Trinity, the chef, took every care to customize a menu for us that included perfect wines for each course. After dinner, we hopped in our private shuttle and headed to the ferry. (Side note for all of you Jon and Kate fans/haters ¦our driver gave us some behind the scenes scoop on Kate whom he had driven around last summer. All I will say is this; it appears that she looks out for number one more than numbers 3-10.)
We boarded the ferry to our island home, and once there, hopped into golf carts. The weekend was all we had planned and more. The ladies golfed, shopped and hit the spa. We hopped on a tram for a private tour of the island and climbed to the top of Old Baldy lighthouse. We hired an artist who set easels on the front porch, and instructed us all as we recreated in acrylics, a scene from the island. We played games, lots of Bananagrams, and took countless walks on deserted beaches with dolphins splashing and feeding nearby. One day we broke into teams and created videos! Let's just say, none of us will ever win an Oscar, but they were oh so fun. On our final evening, a chef from the food network cooked a delicious meal as we drank, sang songs from the 70's and 80's at the top of our lungs, and remembered all of our earlier trips.
On Sunday, as we boarded the ferry back to reality, our friends begged us to give them a hint of where next year's trip would find us. But Terre and I were still on island time, and frankly, it's hard to imagine a better place to share a weekend with your closest friends.