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Hidden Gems By Jasmine Ford
  • I was one of many Americans brave enough to go outside during the midst of the pandemic. Call me crazy and judge me if you must, but I stumbled across a true gem while playing outside – where the Ritz Carlton collides with the Marriott. I knew that my husband would be in for a unique birthday staycation.

    The planner in me just couldn’t settle for anything, so I booked a luxury hotel in Buckhead Atlanta for nearly a fraction of their normal rate. The Whitley looked simple and sophisticated, and that was honestly all I needed. Who says you can’t splurge sometimes and treat yourself – just do it! I was beyond excited and to make the weekend even more fun, I booked our hotel stay for Friday at the County Inn & Suites just outside of Suntrust Battery Park. If you can’t get out and about, the least you can do is hop around the city and have your own adventure. It truly doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.

    What was the most glorious moment of our Friday night stay at the Country Inn & Suites? Eating carry out and playing “never have I ever” with Jack Daniels and Dos Equis. There is something quite hilarious about asking your lifelong partner if they’ve ever had a one night stand? It is trash entertainment for sure, and if you have lived through the years, then you too shall end up drunk before the game is finished. Being able to sleep in without hearing your crying toddler on a Saturday morning is nothing short of lovely. Did I mention that my husband had no clue what we were doing, or what I had planned? He was just going with the flow and living his best carefree life. No sense of time or any responsibilities to hold us back from living. We enjoyed our free hot breakfast in the lobby and went back to our large suite to enjoy a morning cocktail. Indulging in marijuana with the car rooftop open settled me into the day. Oh what you didn’t know? I am 4/20 friendly and proud of it. Mamas, I am the friend that won’t shame you. It’s rare that we take a moment to just slow it down and tap into our needs. Appreciate the simple greenery that we were blessed with on this Earth.

    Saturday morning we rode all over the city listening to playlists curated by yours truly. We made a pit stop at a random Publix and grabbed to-go StoK coffee. Hubby kept trying to convince me to get Starbucks, only to find out that they were closed, but you live and you learn. I would have settled for McDonald’s coffee anyway. It felt like we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse movie seeing everyone in masks and people being weirded out by others getting too close. After we hurried up out of that movie scene I was so anxious to head into Buckhead. Just being on the streets without the crazy Atlanta traffic was a relief. Things felt lighter. As I pulled my husband’s car into the Whitley he looked over at me and said, “I’ve been here for a work conference. I always wanted to check this hotel out.” Keith was literally cheesing from ear to ear and I was enjoying every moment of it. As soon as we settled into the room we took note of the breathtaking city view. The luxury amenities made it feel like home, and the abundance of restaurant options left us well fed. Red Lobster and your local Chinese carry out was all we ever needed. Don’t over complicate quality time looking for specific dining options.

    A few glasses of whiskey, and suddenly Truly seltzer becomes the perfect cocktail mixer for a bottle of Winking Owl cabernet. Where are all my Aldi grocery shoppers at? Raise your hands up high because a budget friendly competitor to Trader Joe’s is what we love to see. Later on we sat on the couch and gazed at the sky as the sun fell over the city of Atlanta. After a fun night like that, nothing compares to incredible service and a late hotel check out. I stood away from the reception desk as my husband took care of the transaction and I was in complete fascination of the artwork near the front entrance. We were having such a grand time that we forgot to take in the picturesque scenery. Although I am not sure who painted these luxurious pieces which are located throughout the hotel, it certainly left a lingering feeling of curiosity that makes me want to return. I am also plotting on how I can purchase those pieces and add them to my ever growing artwork collection. Generational wealth is what we are building over here. Get into it!

    After we rolled out of the parking lot, we took a ride over to Flying Biscuit in Brookhaven. Our old stomping grounds right outside of Chamblee Tucker. The Whitley was a treat and it felt damn good to give my husband a special birthday treat in the midst of a pandemic. For all of my Marriott members, this is the place for you, so go ahead and take advantage of those special rewards. You won’t be disappointed whether you are visiting Atlanta for the first time, or just looking for some local fun.

    And for any of you that may be judging me for breaking social distancing rules, note that I may be one of future Americans filing a claim for COVID related illnesses due to going outside before it really opened back up. You know, like those mesothelioma commercials? In the words of Future, “fuck it, mask off!” Life is meant to be lived well and it is the risk I will take!