TodayApril 15, 2022

The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina

Home away from home

When I walk into a hotel, the first thing I think is, if I had this kind of money what idea would I take from this hotel and put it in my house.  The first thing I would want you to notice when you walk in my door is how impeccable everything is, the attention to detail. The second would be what inspires me as an individual.

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Welcome to Ann Goodnight’s house, also known as The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina

Goodnight and her husband, SAS CEO, Jim Goodnight built the Umstead Hotel on the edge of the SAS Campus, one exit off of Interstate 40 and just minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The flowers are in full fall bloom in the foyer. Look past the flowers and the first piece of art you see is a Dale Chihuly taking center stage in what is aptly named the Chihuly room. Each room is perfectly orchestrated with renowned artists from around the United States, with a focus on North Carolina.

Just as in a home, there are no little white cards by each piece of work. There is a featured gallery artist, Orr Ambrose while I was there, and you can get a brochure of her work, with prices at the Concierge desk, but this curated art collection is a private collection.

It’s the little things that tell you this hotel is managed by a woman; the robe pockets are on the side where your hands naturally hang, there is a black washcloth that says “makeup” on it, something every woman I talked to thought was ever so clever. The complimentary pen has a rubber end, an ode to the many software and computer nerds that stay at the hotel while doing business across the street at SAS.

Before you pack up and leave all the beautiful Gilchrist and Soames half-used shampoo and conditioner behind, look in the top middle drawer in the bathroom. There is a clear bag that explicitly says “cosmetic bag, TSA liquid bag compliant.”
From their home to yours.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.