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with author

Amy Lyle


In this August 2017

Issue 207



Celebrating 200 Reasons We Love The Northside


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Amy Lyle Local author Amy Lyle has learned the art of laughing at her own mistakes, missteps and miscues. The busy mom of four shares a few funny life lessons from her book, “The AmyBinegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures” with us.

St. Barths Famous as a destination for exclusivity and privacy, St. Barths enticed us via charter flight to experience the West Indies-style guest cottages of Le Guanahani.

Playa Del Carmen Nestled between the dense Riviera Maya jungle and Playa del Carmen’s longest stretch of beach, Mahekal Beach Resort is the only one of its kind in this part of Mexico.

Puerto Rico The St. Regis Bahia Beach doesn’t feel that far from Buckhead, but its romantic setting as a former coconut plantation along the sparkling Caribbean coast is far different from any fast-paced Atlanta address.

Turks & Caicos Island hopping is even more tempting when it includes a taste of the Caribbean Food & Wine Festival, an annual event each November that brings top American chefs and winemakers together.

Naples The Edgewater Beach Hotel, a haven nestled in a neighborhood in upscale Naples, Florida just might be the best girlfriends’ getaway you haven’t booked — yet.



EDITOR’S LETTER 6 Local author Amy Lyle | COUNTING ON 14, 56 Photo courtesy of Andrea Ferenchik TWO-HUNDRED 58 MINUTES IN OFF THE PAGE 66




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Editor’s LETTER

PointsNorth Atlanta Atlanta PRESIDENT / CEO Witt Beckman PUBLISHER Carl Danbury Jr. EDITOR Heather KW Brown CREATIVE DIRECTOR Robin Harrison SENIOR ART DIRECTOR Shannah J. Smith


CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Jennifer Colosimo CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bre Humphries Colleen Ann McNally Amy Meadows Rashida Otunba

My Parting Shot ON A RECENT TRIP TO JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming, I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time. Initially shaky, I eventually caught on and fully embraced the proverb “You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Starting with a restaurant review of Kyma as a freelance writer to my current role as Editor, Points North Atlanta magazine has been my target of choice. For 13 years, I’ve curled up to edit interesting articles from more writers than I can count, written countless features of my own and traveled more places than I ever dreamed possible. The people whose stories I’ve penned and the places that have graciously welcomed me have changed who I am as a writer, as well as a person. When I first met local author and comedienne Amy Lyle, I knew she would be one of those people and after you read her profile on our pages this month, you’ll understand why. Settle in for a few laughs and learn how Lyle thrives in what she calls “failing forward,” then buckle up for jetsetting journeys that promise to put you on island time. Passports aren’t always necessary for sandy sanctuaries, of course, as Naples, Florida, easily enables an extended stint at water’s edge and one you’ll likely have a hard time leaving. The same can be said of this magazine, and though it isn’t easy for me to walk away, I do so with an enormous amount of gratitude — both for the opportunity to tell your stories and for those who have faithfully read them. Signing off using my newly acquired archery skills, I’m aiming confidently and letting go quickly. After all, a different bullseye awaits.


ALL POINTS INTERACTIVE MEDIA CORP. 568 Peachtree Parkway Cumming, Georgia 30041 770-844-0969 ©2017 Points North Atlanta All Points Interactive Media Corp. All rights reserved. Points North Atlanta is published monthly by All Points Interactive Media Corp. The opinions expressed by contributing writers are not necessarily those of the editor, the publisher or of Points North Atlanta. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without prior consent of the publisher. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION: Points North Atlanta offers a 12-month subscription for $15. Visit for details.


Please Recycle This Magazine


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for Amy Lyle. Nearly 350 people had converged on the Polo Golf & Country Club in Cumming on May 15 to celebrate the launch of her highly entertaining and totally relatable memoir, “The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures.” She had worked with friend and strategic marketing expert Kristin Ingmire, owner of Hi Impact Consulting, to plan the event. In attendance to lend support was an impressive group of local women. She acquired a host of prizes to give away to enthusiastic guests, who each brought a health or beauty item to be donated to The Place of Forsyth, a local charity. Lyle had even encouraged attendees to download the Amazon app to their phones ahead of time so they could purchase her book in real time during the event. There was a bona fide buzz in the air. It was everything Lyle had imagined and so much more — except for one small glitch. “I had a launch party for my book, and I sold no books,” Lyle recalled with a laugh. “It was kind of fitting considering what the book is about.” An issue with either the venue’s network or the app itself caused the digital mishap. But Lyle took the “failure” in stride, brushing it off with her signature self-deprecating wit and a well-honed sense of perspective. It didn’t hurt that the next day, nearly 500 orders poured in to Amazon for the book. The 46-year-old mother of four teenagers had only started writing it seven months prior, thanks to a rather unusual series of serendipitous events.


How comedy writer Amy Lyle turned bumps in the road into stepping stones written by AMY MEADOWS

photography by ANDREA FERENCHIK


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“I have this motto: ‘I’m not a failure. I’m just having a little bit of trouble right now. You have to choose what to do with your pain, with your failures. You have to survive.” AMY LYLE

FROM CORPORATE AMERICA TO COMEDY WRITER Amy Lyle never planned to be a writer. She grew up in the very small Appalachian town of Marietta, Ohio, and moved to the Atlanta area right after college, due, in part, to a “big boyfriend breakup” while studying at Ohio State University. For years, she worked in sales and management in the staffing industry and eventually as a corporate sales trainer for one of the largest staffing companies in the world. She married and had a daughter. Then everything changed. She divorced after eight years of marriage and found herself as a single mother. And when she felt the most challenged by life, she turned to her upbringing for inspiration. “The town I grew up in is like a lot of small towns. It’s on the river, and many of the factory jobs have gone away. There’s a struggling middle class. We didn’t even have a mall; you had to drive to another state. It’s a town of survival,” Lyle explained. “And it changes you when you grow up in that kind of environment. You can think woe is me, or you can look for the funny in things.” Lyle has always taken the latter route, searching for the humor or lessons in the situations she has faced. “I have this motto: ‘I’m not a failure. I’m just having a little bit of trouble right now,’” she said. “You have to choose what to do with your pain, with your failures. You have to survive.” Eventually, Lyle met a father-of-three, Peter, who became her second husband. “I’ve been married for 20 years. Not to the same people, but 20 years nonetheless,” she joked. The couple blended their families and set out to raise their four children 10 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

together. Lyle decided to leave Corporate America and become a stay-at-home mom — something she considered to be a huge privilege. The opportunity also freed up time for her to volunteer with a local ministry and that’s when things got really interesting. About five years ago, at the urging of her kids, she tried out for an acting part in the ministry’s children’s program. “It was very American Idol-ish. It was very, ‘We’re still auditioning. We’ll call you.’ But I got the part,” Lyle said. Almost every week since, she has shown up on stage for a comedic opening to a children’s play, wearing everything from a grape suit to a Moses costume. Soon thereafter, she asked who wrote the plays for the ministry and was told that she could submit a writing sample. For the last three years, she has been a contract playwright for the organization, writing mini-comedic plays for the church. That experience encouraged Lyle to consider more involved writing opportunities, including reworking a screenplay with a friend for a local writer. When her friend could no longer work on the project, Lyle decided to go it alone and work on her own screenplay under the mentorship of content editor Rodney Henson. When she completed the screenplay — a physical comedy that she describes as “Bridesmaids meets Bad Moms” — Henson gave her the green light. “‘You’re ready,’ he said,” Lyle explained. “And he told me to call an entertainment lawyer.”

THE CALL THAT CHANGED IT ALL With a finished screenplay and big dreams (including having someone like Judd

Apatow, Ben Falcone or Elizabeth Banks direct her film), Lyle called the entertainment lawyer recommended by Henson. It didn’t go well. “He said, ‘You’re nobody. You don’t know anybody. You don’t have any money. I won’t represent you.’ And I said, ‘Well, that makes me sad,’” she offered. “He said, ‘Just call me back tomorrow.’ And he hung up on me. The whole thing was very L.A.” Lyle did, in fact, call back the next day. The lawyer told her that she wouldn’t be able to just sell a film. She needed press coverage for her movie or to have someone of clout read the screenplay and give it a ranking, which involves reviewing the plot, character development and more. With no idea about how to approach the process, Lyle turned to Henson, who connected her with Kat O’Brien, a comedienne with The Second City; O’Brien read the screenplay and ranked it for Lyle. With the ranking in place, Lyle called the entertainment lawyer one more time. This time, he told her that she needed to have a fan following. “He said, ‘You have to write a book,’” she noted. “I asked him what I should write about, and he said, ‘Write what you know!’” Then he hung up on her again. Lyle had to figure out how to pull a book together in short order. “I’ve had a lot of failures, so I thought that’s what I should write about,” Lyle said. Fortunately, she actually had a place to start. When she turned 40, she started a humor blog. In all, she had between 40 and 50 blog entries about the missteps, blunders and gaffes she had encountered throughout her life. There were stories about her worst birthday ever (her 16th); the time she had an anxiety attack after signing her divorce

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS AMY LYLE’S BOOK? Since releasing “The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures,” Amy Lyle has received e-mails and social media posts from people everywhere. Many fans have included photos of where they are enjoying the book and the destinations have been impressive. From Lake Como in Northern Italy to the Great Wall of China, Amy Lyle’s book is traveling the world! So where will you take it? Go to for contact information and let her know where you’re reading her memoir. Include a photo and let’s see where the book ends up next.

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12 IN 2016

papers and ended up watching “Big Momma’s House 2” with her best friend, Sharon, after the EMTs left; when she had a major wardrobe malfunction at the gym; and when her blended family ended up with a one-eyed guinea pig named Kia Doughnut. There were many others. “I had taken the blog down, but it was a nice base of stories. They weren’t in chronological order, but they were related,” she continued. “I ended up with a 50,000word manuscript.” After hiring a copy editor, who cut the manuscript to 41,000 words, she explored the option of self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform. “There was this sense of urgency,” she observed. She worked with photographer Andrea Ferenchik, a friend and previous neighbor, to design the book cover, for which Lyle had very specific ideas. “We had lunch, and Amy told me about all of the crazy stuff she wanted to do,” Ferenchik related. “She wanted to have her skirt tucked up into her dress and have toilet paper hanging off the back of her outfit. They were just these ridiculous scenarios — the more ridiculous the better. So we went into the studio and brainstormed. She put on costumes, and we had loads of fun. We laughed a lot. But when I said we should do a nice headshot of her with food in her teeth, she said, ‘I like my teeth. That’s where I draw the line.’” “I have enjoyed this book so much,” Lyle remarked. “I’m so glad that entertainment lawyer suggested it because miracles have come out of writing it.”

FROM “FAILING” TO “FLOURISHING” Lyle recently sent a copy of her book to the lawyer who helped start it all. She attached a gift tag that said, “You told me to write a book. Now let’s sell the film to Judd Apatow.” “I love the fact that Amy knows exactly what she wants and is taking precise steps to get there,” Ferenchik said. “The book really shows her sense of fun. But even though it’s funny and self-deprecating, 12 | POINTS NORTH | August 2016


there are heartfelt moments. She may have failed at times, but she’s learned from it. And other people can learn from it too. They can read what she wrote and say, ‘I can relate.’ ” “The cool thing about Amy is that she’s this great, normal person. She’s quirky funny, and when you meet her for the first time, you just want to hang out with her and be her girlfriend. She puts this great energy out there,” Ingmire said. “She’s also talented, and she has put a lot of blood, sweat and energy into what she’s doing. The success will come. She deserves that. And I think she’s on her way.” While Lyle awaits her call from Hollywood, she is enjoying her new career as an author. The feedback she has received so far has been both humbling and empowering. She has received e-mails from

people from all walks of life, explaining how stories in her book have impacted them and how they’ve laughed. “It’s so touching that someone would take time out to tell you how much they love your work,” she remarked. “It’s not Tolstoy or Dickens. It’s a funny, entertaining book. That’s what I know. I love the classics, but there is a place in the world for a good, funny book.” Bringing laughter to people is one of Lyle’s greatest pleasures and why she also does standup comedy, which she fell into 10 years ago when her sister sent a VHS tape of her to “The Search for the Funniest Moms in America.” While she didn’t make it onto the nationally televised show, her set at a Roswell comedy club made her fall in love with the experience. “I tell my husband it was the best five minutes of my

life,” she said. “He always asks, ‘What about our wedding?’ And I [reiterate], ‘It was the best five minutes of my life.’” Today, she often performs “clean, suburbia comedy” at Atlanta’s beloved comedy spot, The Punchline. “It’s about kids and dogs and the dishwasher not being unloaded,” she added. “It’s very relatable to moms.” And that is Lyle’s goal: to be honest and relatable through her work. By sharing her own trials and tribulations, she hopes to speak to people and give them the inspiration to keep going. And she hopes they’ll do it with a smile. “Everybody has failure. Nobody escapes it. It’s what you choose to do with it that matters,” she advised. “You have to get up. You have to pick yourself up and move on. You have to fail forward and keep learning.” PN

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Counting ON ...


PURE JOY. written by HEATHER KW BROWN THE TRUE MEANING OF JOY in the words of Margaret Flowers is “Jesus. Others. Yourself. And that’s the order in which my life’s footsteps are all about,” said Flowers, the executive director and founder of Genesis Joy House Homeless Shelter, Inc. This philosophy has propelled Genesis into making history as the first transitional housing facility in Houston County for homeless female veterans. The mission of

Genesis, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to facilitate social change and empower veterans and communities by providing transitional housing, enrichment programs and counseling services to improve quality of life. The goal, Flowers explained, is to help these women move toward self-sufficiency and return as productive members of society. To date, the program has placed 125 female veterans in permanent housing and jobs. “All my life, I’ve been a part of different churches and different outreach committees. God put all of us on the planet for a purpose, and if you find your purpose and walk in it, you’ll realize, it is to help others,” she shared. Currently, the goal is to complete the shelter — a rundown property, outfitted with a duplex house in the front and studio apartments in the back. Once the doors to Genesis Joy House officially open, it will accommodate up to 22 female veterans, all of whom have to apply for the program and are given a timeline of 90 to 120 days to regroup, reset and re-enter society with a renewed outlook on life. Extension stays may be available depending on circumstances. To learn more, to volunteer or to help, visit PN



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Beach Hopping



SUMMER MAY BE WINDING DOWN, but it’s the perfect time to plan ahead. We scouted favorite coasts from stylish St. Barths and magical Mexico to trendy Turks and Caicos with a bonus stop in Puerto Rico for good measure. What we discovered are resorts to fit any whim. Whether you prefer your seat on a direct flight or to island hop via a charter plane, it’s no surprise that reservations at these tropical getaways fill fast.



Bonjour, St. Barths: Le Guanahani

WITH A DEEP INHALE, I FELT THE TINGLE OF CITRUS AND FLORALS, of lemon, jasmine, ylang-ylang and sage, mixing together with the omnipresent fresh sea air. Just steps away stretched the white sandy beach between St. Barths’ Grand Cul-De-Sac and Marigot Bay, but I was staying dry inside while a steady stream of rain fell outside. The raindrop-splattered view through the portrait window of vibrant green ferns and fuchsia bougainvillea looked as if a watercolor painting had

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come to life. Playing peek-a-boo beyond the lush vegetation were 18 pristine acres and 67 multi-colored, West Indies-style guest cottages of Le Guanahani (meaning “welcome” in an indigenous island language), including the one I called mine for a little while. I took another invigorating inhale. The custom blend of BODY BLISS essential oils I was creating could improve creativity when applied to pulse points — or so I was told by the brand’s producer Nick James during an aromatherapy lesson. James was invited to Le Guanahani from his home in Sedona, Arizona to lead a wellness weekend and train the staff at the hotel’s sophisticated Spa by Clarins to incorporate BODY BLISS in treatments. Throughout the aromatherapy session, each participant was encouraged to add their choice of energy-infused gemstones into the vial of blended essential oils. I felt drawn to the shiny, dark blue Goldstone and the green Aventurine, and spooned a small scoop of each into my container. Together, they seemed to mimic the mesmerizing color of the Caribbean waves lapping the hotel’s private beach. Collectively, the stones were thought to attract good fortune and promote positivity, harmony and happiness. Outside, the quick tropical rainstorm was passing and St. Barths’ sunshine started to stream through the window. The rest of the afternoon was wide open, and with a quick reassessment of the view around me, how could I argue with James’ methods? 18 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

WELL-TO-DO Wellness is a well-regarded statute at Le Guanahani, both to guests and managing director Martein van Wagenberg, who places his guests first. Under his leadership, the hotel’s penchant for well-being extends beyond the expected yoga classes, watersports and fitness center. One offered wellness package is also customizable based on a guest’s intended goal: to rest, to engage or to cultivate. During special pre-planned weekends, the hotel hosts experts like James as well as Chaya Mueller Bronstien, a licensed massage therapist and psychic reader who led Osho meditation sessions each morning during my stay. If these offerings don’t sound particularly unique, let me back up. St. Barths is famous for its status as a destination for socialites and celebrities, Parisians and yachtsmen alike. The former are drawn here for the island’s privacy and exclusivity; the landing runway is a mere 2,170 feet long and is ideal for private planes and eight-seat charter flights. Since the 1950s, these types tend to congregate at the buzzing scene on Nikki Beach’s Eden Rock, the island’s first hotel — a short ride away by moped or Mini Cooper from the quieter, family-friendly Grand Cul-De-Sac. Le Guanahani maintains its own fleet rentals, including bright orange Mini Coopers for those who want to brave the winding, craggy roads and explore the vistas of nearby St. Maarten across the island’s

GETTING THERE Founded in 2001 by brothers Eric and David Zipkin on the principle that every flight deserves the highest quality aircraft, crew and service, Tradewind Aviation offers scheduled shuttle service throughout the Northeast and Caribbean on its modern fleet of Citation Jets and Pilatus PC-12s. With the added safety of a second pilot on board, the airline primarily operates scheduled service from Westchester County Airport to Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Boston and Stowe in the summer and throughout the Caribbean including San Juan, St. Barths, Anguilla, Nevis, Antigua and St. Thomas in the winter. Tradewind also operates on-demand charter service to virtually anywhere in the world.

dense 9 square miles. Don’t forget to stop often and assist any turtles crossing the road, as is customary among the friendly locals. Another sight to see is Gustavia, a busy port tracing back to the days of Swedish and French colonization during the 18th century. The charm of the island is very much due to the endurance of that era’s architecture, although today Gustavia’s seaside streets are packed with shops from the world’s most luxurious retailers, including Hèrmes, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Cartier, Prada, VILEBREQUIN and the list goes on. No doubt, the high style is significantly influenced by the native French-speaking population. Traces to this history can be found in the food, too, and I didn’t once question the “wellness” of indulging in a buttery croissant each morning along with a coldpressed juice.

COURSE OF NATURE With such dazzle and vibrant nightlife, many St. Barths visitors might not be game for a meditation session on Saturdays at 7 a.m. Awaking to the morning light and a waterfront view, however, made it a little easier to get myself moving. Before leaving my turquoise cottage, I applied a

small drop of my custom blend to my temples. After a short stroll through the foliage, I found myself lounging in a small circle of other guests beside the private pool of one of the hotel’s 10 signature suites. One of my favorite parts about Le Guanahani was its chosen design motif: the Panama hat. Guests pick up on hints as soon as they enter the lobby, and they discover the versatility, the shelter, the enduring fashion and the connotation to an adventurous spirit in the hotel’s two onsite restaurants, Indigo and Bartolomeo. Like the top-notch service of the hotel staff, the design concept was executed both tastefully and playfully. The Caribbean sun was already rising and warming the air around us, while I closed my eyes and actively focused on Chaya’s instructions — a tough exercise after the full sensory engagement of the past few days. Then, when she read an excerpt from the Darshan Diary “The Rainbow Bridge,” she had my full attention: “When you pass by the side of a rosebush, the rosebush does not bother whether it likes you or not. Its fragrance is available to you as much as to anybody else. Its fragrance is available to the birds, to the animals, to the trees — and unconditionally, without any expectation in return. Its fragrance is available even when there is nobody present to enjoy it, appreciate it. It simply goes on releasing its fragrance; it is its nature. That’s how love has to be: your very nature…” PN


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Encantado, Mexico: Mahekal Beach Resort


photos courtesy of MAHEKAL BEACH RESORT

THE LAST TIME I WAS IN MEXICO, I went from the Cancún International Airport to a resort and then back to the airport. This time, I promised myself I would go beyond the resort’s walls and explore a little more local flavor. Easy for me, guests at Mahekal Beach Resort are ­encouraged to do just that and local flavor is built into its DNA. A fleet of patiently waiting bicycles greeted me upon arrival and a path to the public beach passes through the middle of the resort. Just steps away on Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) is block after block of boutiques, patios and street vendors bustling with retirees, young families and honeymooners alike. Nestled between the dense Riviera Maya jungle and Playa del Carmen’s longest stretch of beach, spanning 920 pristine feet, Mahekal (meaning “magical” in the ancient Mayan language), is the only resort of its kind in all of Playa del Carmen. Unlike nearby high-rise or corridor hotels, there is no sign of elevators here — nor do the bohemian bungalows and open-air lobby need them, as they aren’t any taller than the palm trees surrounding them. From a first glance, I could see a very different Mexican vacation was in store and couldn’t help but grin. But, what didn’t initially meet the eye was exactly what the resort’s name suggests. Mahekal is deeply rooted in Mayan traditions and located amid a landscape of cenotes, which are natural pits or sinkholes typically with underground springs.

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GYPSY MINDSET There are resorts you retreat to if you seek anonymity and solitude, and there are resorts better suited for those that don’t mind the serendipity that derives from socializing with fellow travelers. Mahekal shines brightly in the second category. In fact, the main bar, Boli’s, (one of the resort’s five restaurants and bars) is named for one of the beloved concierges who has been on property for decades. His friendliness is contagious, and I imagine he could be credited with setting the tone for not only the staff, but guests as well or, he is perpetuating that tone. The resort’s story dates back 50 years, when a local Mexican family built six thatched-roof palapas on the beach for backpackers to rent and Playa del Carmen wasn’t yet the tourist destination it is today. Every penny of the family’s profit was invested in constructing more bungalows, and over several decades, the family incrementally built more than 100 individual palapas. In March 2016, Mahekal completed a three-year, $16-million reimagination, and since garnered 22 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

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i­ nternational attention, including recognition by Travel + Leisure’s The World’s Best Awards 2016 list as one of the Ten Best Resorts in Mexico as well as a nod from Travel Channel as one of Mexico’s hottest destinations. Curated by local Mexican architect Hilda Espino and creative genius Todd Fiscus, the interior redesign was heavily inspired by the book “GypSet Style” by Julia Chaplin — a jet-set, gypsy lifestyle — as well as colorful, Mexican accents and handcrafted touches. This idea is embodied throughout Mahekal, from f­ abrics to bright orange ping-pong tables and cobalt blue billiard tables. Each thatched bungalow — from the treehouses to the garden-view palapas to the ocean-front haciendas — is outfitted with a hammock on its terrace. When I was first shown to my casita, I opened the sliding doors to the terrace. The steady sound of the rolling waves lapping below nearly muffled the noise of beachgoers on the nearby sand. Depending on the tide, it almost seemed the suite was floating over water. I sat on the hammock to take it all in, when a couple from Canada strolled by and greeted me as if we were already friends.

IMMERSION IN CULTURE AND CENOTES This collective culture isn’t to say that one can’t find peace and quiet at Mahekal. Case in point: an afternoon spent at Revive Spa. With options like the Sweet Happiness Treatment, which incorporates the use of Mexican cocoa as a re-mineralizing, antioxidant and antidepressant with a delicious natural chocolate aroma, you might choose

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to stay much longer than an afternoon. If so, consider the signature 5 Senses treatment. A therapist taps into all five of the guest’s senses, using various techniques of massage to give the skin a healthier and more radiant appearance. The spa is laid out in a round configuration, subtly pulling from the philosophy of the Mayans and their calendar — just one of the many historical influences guests can discover with a closer look and open mind. For another taste, make plans to dine at the Mayan Culinary Casita, inspired by the ways this ancient civilization prepared and ate their meals using chefs and staff who still speak the language. Gathered around large clay pots and heated pit ovens, we watched the chefs prepare lime and chicken soup, steam fresh fish, harvest cocoa and cook tortillas. A refreshing glass of xtabentún — anise liqueur made in Mexico’s Yucatán region from anise seed, and fermented honey produced by honey bees from the nectar of xtabentún flowers — is a must to toast the special meal.

MAGIC BY THE MOON By now, I had gotten my feet wet in the local flavor, but my goal for this trip was immersion. For those that 26 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017


wish to dive deeper into Mayan history, there may be no better way than to go underwater in a cenote. These natural pits, or sinkholes, are abundant in the Yucatan Peninsula, known for its underground river and cave system. Resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock is exposed blue groundwater and life underneath. Visiting a cenote is an off-property excursion, but Mahekal’s onsite Vida Aquática Dive Center can coordinate and guide your group every step of the way. In operation since 1983, it’s one of the oldest operation dive centers in Playa del Carmen and was named for the second year in a row as Mexico’s Diving Company of the Year by the Luxury Travel Guide Awards. That can make a gal breathe a little easier when zipping up a wetsuit and adjusting a scuba mask for the first time. The knowledgable guides not only keep safety front of mind, but provide insight into the mystic and sacred role cenotes may have played into Mayan culture. For those that want to experience a cenote sans the wetsuit, make your excursion to Alux Restaurant, named for mischievous Mayan elves believed to arise during moonlight searching for places with magic to hide. You can party in Playa until the sun comes up, but when our group emerged from the cave around midnight, a full moon hung in the sky above us and lit our drive back to Mahekal. Magical, indeed. PN

From Italy and New York City for You in Atlanta’s Northside • Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday • Dinner reservations are strongly encouraged

DINNER RESERVATIONS: 770.772.6456 Parties and Catering: Your Place Or Ours? Call Brie at 678-491-8768

11730 A Jones Bridge Road • Johns Creek •

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Puerto Rico: St. Regis Bahia Beach

W photos courtesy of ST. REGIS BAHIA BEACH

WHEN I HEAR “ST. REGIS,” I think of the towering jewel on West Paces Ferry Road in the crown of Buckhead’s skyline, and, in particular, of one December dinner with my family. My sister was flying home from six months in France and from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, we headed to the hotel’s restaurant for a reunion and rare celebration. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of night. I had drifted into this old memory on the ride to St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort from San Juan International Airport. As we passed through Rio Grande, much of what I saw outside the car window felt familiar (car dealerships, Walgreens and TJ Maxx), despite the fact it was my first time to Puerto Rico; however, as we approached the front gates of the resort, the scene before me could not have been more ­different from the St. Regis Atlanta’s fast-paced address. “This,” the driver said as the gates parted, “is where people come to get away from it all.”

NATURAL AFFINITY As the car entered through the gates and followed a long road of flora and fauna, I could see why. The resort borders the 5,000-acre Espíritu Santo River State Preserve, and in the distance loomed the 28,000-acre El Yunque National Rain Forest — the only tropical national forest on U.S. soil. More than 100 billion gallons of rain are estimated to fall on El Yunque each year, creating a lush forest with a variety of animals and plants, including more than 240 species of 28 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

trees, 50 species of ferns and 20 varieties of wild orchids. While zip lines attract adventure seekers, I had a different agenda in mind: pure pleasure. The first AAA Five Diamond resort in Puerto Rico, the St. Regis Bahia Beach was built into the romantic setting of a former coconut plantation along the sparkling Caribbean coast. Upon arrival, guests cross a koi pond and enter the beautifully appointed Plantation House to check in, an average routine that is anything but average here. The plantation heritage is represented by an abundance of refreshing coconut water and Remède Spa incorporates both coconuts and sugarcane into its signature treatments. Of course, when many people hear “St. Regis,” they may think of its iconic butler service; however, refined relaxation isn’t the only standard savvy travelers should expect.

REGAL RITUALS Inside the Plantation House, guests can enjoy the routine of a fine cocktail below the St. Regis Bar’s magnificent, colorful mural. For first-timers, the bartender may bring Puerto Rican-born artist Arnaldo Roche Rabell’s “The Long Awaited Voyage” into conversation while shaking, stirring and pouring.

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Intended to be as much a visual experience as it is thought-provoking, the bar mural tradition began in 1932 at the first St. Regis in New York. Above its legendary bar, Maxfield Parrish’s beloved “Old King Cole” began its reign as arguably the hotel’s most famous guest. This conversation starter is just the beginning. For instance, each evening, all are invited for a 6 p.m. champagne toast to the passing of another beautiful, tropical day into the night yet to unfold. If that night includes the finest single malt whiskeys or rare scotches, sure, you can find those here. Just don’t be too quick to overlook the Bloody Mary, even in the evening hours. Today, this tomato-and-vodka cocktail is a common stalwart among brunch menus and flight attendant offerings, which tends to muddle its history. The St. Regis New York takes credit for popularizing the drink among America’s elite, although it was, and still is, called a “Red Snapper” when ordering under “Old King Cole.” Like the murals, each St. Regis property throughout the world has its own spin on the classic cocktail. Atlanta’s “West Paces Mary” reinvents the old standard with added spices and a Southern twist of Tomolives; St. Regis Bahia Beach serves up the “Encanto Bloody Mary” by sourcing local ingredients, “Mojo Criollo” and Aji Chili sauce, with a garnish of crushed fried plantains.


If spice and spins are your thing, follow your appetite to the second story of The Plantation House. At Fern, you can savor a curated selection of Jean-Georges’ acclaimed cuisine with a greatest hits menu of dishes from his international portfolio of restaurants, plus new introductions and ingredients sourced from Fern’s hydroponic garden. Expect simply grilled preparations accompanied by bold condiments in a setting that is at once sophisticated, hip and yet, has a children’s menu. From my banquette seat, I took in the message of the graffiti-like artwork on the opposite wall 30 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017


MORE REASONS TO — “Todo Bien” — as a young family of four dug into the avocado pizza, made with jalapeño, cilantro and lime. With each creative course, I felt farther away from convention. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are ample opportunities to explore the menu, but be sure to save an appetite for a visit to Beach Club, too. Overlooking the oceanfront Robert Trent Jones, Jr. golf course and pool esplanade, Beach Club recently partnered with leading Puerto Rican chef, Jose Enrique Montes, to offer guests inspired regional fare without having to leave the comfort of the resort. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and working in kitchens across the Southeast, Montes missed the “island vibe,” the people and the waves. He returned home to open his first restaurant in 2007 with a focus on fresh, local and organic produce. In the decade since his splash, Montes has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation award in the “Best Chef: South” category each year since 2013, marking the first time in history a Puerto Rican chef has been recognized for the award. A bite of his take on vegetable stew with toast and Parmesan offered a comfort that I didn’t realized I craved. When the plate of lamb loin, orange-pickled onions and chickpea purée arrived on the table, the colorful presentation was almost too pretty to eat. To Montes, the flavors are bright, tropical and diverse, and while his restaurant “Jose Enrique” has a strong foothold in the city and is completely urban, the “Beach Club” restaurant has a calming sense to it. With welcoming rituals, no passport necessary and a chef that the American South is content to call their own, the St. Regis Bahia Beach doesn’t feel that far from Buckhead. But to taste Montes’ dishes with views of the Caribbean Sea and El Yunque on the horizon, that is something you can’t find anywhere else in the world — not even at another St. Regis. PN

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Cheers, Turks and Caicos: Caribbean Food and Wine Festival


photos courtesy of GRACE BAY RESORTS

IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER which sensation I encountered first — the sound of drums, the touch of tribal paint on my face or the taste of a cool Cabernet Sauvignon. I was caught in a riptide through a sea of people as soon as we entered Parallel23’s domed, outdoor dining room at The Palms Turks and Caicos resort. Amid the chaos and chatter, a waiter handed a small card to me, indicating an assignment to the Green Tribe. In the candlelight, I peered closer to read the message: We are the people who don’t fit in a box or stay between the lines, but whose integrity is greater than any rule book and whose loyalty is stronger than blood. “This is going to be my favorite stop,” I said to myself. I had thought the same a few times along our Gourmet Safari, beginning with a cocktail reception at the chic Gansevoort Hotel, followed by a first course under Coyaba Restaurant’s gazebo and a second at Seven Stars. By sunset, my second night of the 2016 Caribbean Food and Wine Festival was just heating up. I found my tribe’s table and took a seat. A menu at my place-setting revealed seared ostrich tenderloin Wellington with persimmon salad, spiced demi glace and truffles chestnut purée. Parallel23’s chef Lauren Callighen’s dish was an easy conversation starter among other festival-goers and a perfect pairing with the Lail Vineyard’s 2009 J Daniel Cuvée. A few tables away, in another tribe, sat Robin Lail,

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whose great-granduncle founded the Napa Valley vineyard in 1879. Suddenly, the crowd went quiet as waiters appeared, heralding plates. In step with the rhythm of the drums, the waiters fanned out among the tables until there was one standing behind every seated guest. With a final beat the drum, each plate was laid on the table in sync. I picked up my fork with less hesitation than curiosity. I had never tried ostrich before, and while the festival was only halfway over, I craved to know what others surprises were in store.

IMPORTS OF IMPORTANCE Spoiler alert: the Ostrich Wellington was delectable, although I couldn’t clear my plate because I was saving room for dessert. There was still one more stop ahead on the Gourmet Safari, and it was back at Grace Bay Club, the resort where I was residing during my time on Turks and Caicos. Grace Bay Resort’s COO and Principal, Nikheel Advani is the co-chairman of the Caribbean Food and Wine Festival, a unique celebration that gathers top chefs from around the globe with the beautiful backdrop of blue waters and a healthy of infusion of island time. The festival’s name could be misleading if attendees are seeking local flavors alone. Just as bottles from Lail Vineyards as well as Eric Wente and 34 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

his ­family’s wines were flown in from California, so was the ostrich. Even though she has called Turks and Caicos home since 2006, chef Callighen originally hails from St. John’s, a small city in Canada’s province of Newfoundland. For the 2016 lineup, Callighen was joined by such esteemed visiting chefs and restaurateurs as Shawn McClain and husband-and-wife team Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla. McClain broke onto the scene at Trio restaurant in Evanston, Illinois and later received James Beard Foundation recognition for Spring as well as other restaurants in the Chicago area. Together, Blau and Canteenwalla operate the restaurant development company Blau + Associates, as well as the wildly successful Honey Salt restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada.

WHEN TO GO The dates have been set! See what Grace Bay Resorts and the Caribbean Food and Wine Festival team have cooked up for Nov. 2 through 5 and enjoy another helping of globally inspired dining. Follow along the festival’s Facebook page for ticket sales and exciting updates on headlining chefs and winemakers, including Bravo’s “Top Chef” contestant, Tiffany Derry alongside Tuck Beckstoffer Wines.

While I might not have been able to pick one favorite stop, this much is clear: with this level of talent and collaboration converging in Turks and Caicos, the evolution of the Caribbean Food & Wine Festival has heightened the islands’ culinary scene to a new level.

GRACEFUL RELAXATION After the night’s progressive dinner, rest, relaxation and hydration were in store before the festivities continued. With this balance in mind, Grace Bay Club again made for an ideal homebase. Opened in 1993, Grace Bay Club is the flagship property of Grace Bay Resorts, a boutique developer and operator of high-end, luxury resorts and branded residences. The brand has grown along with the

islands’ popularity, and includes an ownership stake in the management of nearby West Bay Club as well as The Residences, a micro-resort with exclusive luxury beachfront villas — all in Turks and Caicos. Grace Bay Club itself has come a long way since its inception. Through an ongoing design with celebrity interior designer Thom Filicia, Grace Bay Club has been August 2017 | | 35


For those that like to see and be seen, Infiniti is the place. You’ll never know who might be among the crowd, playing coy in a cabana or being photographed on the beach. Riding the wave of renown, Grace Bay Resorts plans to expand its award-winning brand and services across the Caribbean destinations and Latin America, with a target of 10 properties in the next few years. Like a Gourmet Safari, I sensed a growing temptation in wanting to visit them all.

­ nifying the resort’s different offerings of accommou dations and onsite dining with his celebrated style. The aesthetic is both sophisticated, yet playful, from family-friendly suites to Infiniti (formerly Anacaona), the open-kitchen concept with a contemporary approach to international cuisine. The Infiniti Bar is also the longest bar in the Caribbean at 90 feet long and stretches from Grace Bay Club to the shores of Grace Bay beach itself. 36 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

If you’ve instead had your fill of pomp and circumstance, don your flip-flops and head to the Island Street Jerk Festival. This fun, family-friendly event showcases local entertainment, expert grilling and barbeque techniques and a little more of that local flavor for the enjoyment of residents and tourists alike. After all, when on Grace Bay Beach, even the world’s best chefs all kick off their shoes. PN



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Florida is at the newly renovated Sheraton Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach. The conveniently located, yet secluded, bayside property ­offers the best of all water worlds with multiple beachside experiences and water sport activities. Relax under the palms on the private bay beach while the kids hunt for hermit crabs or take an exclusive YOLO® paddle board for a tour around Grand Lagoon. If the water’s calling your name, climb aboard the Shell Island shuttle boat for a short cruise across the bay to the island and help spot the dolphins with Captain Jeff along the way. Spend an hour, or all day, among the natural beauty


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Beachside ESCAPES


of the sea oats and sand dunes of Shell Island and frolic in the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s just the sand, the water and you.

Back at the resort, there’s a lot to do as

well. Choose from 36 holes of championship golf, including the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida or spend the day at the full service Serenity Spa. Water sport rentals, a bay side pool deck, YOLO® bicycles, five tennis courts and dockside pick up for chartered fishing or scuba trips are all at the AAA Four Diamond Sheraton Bay Point Resort. | 850.236.6000

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Beachside ESCAPES


Adults-Only Pool, which features a luxury cabana with

privacy seekers will find the ultimate sanctuary for ro-

poolside beverage service. Guests can also take advantage

mance. The Inn boasts 36 intimate rooms, luxury ameni-

of The Henderson’s excellent fitness center offering a

ties, charming gulf-front terraces as well as complimentary

variety of daily classes to enjoy, with everything from yoga

beach chairs and umbrellas, bicycles, gourmet breakfast,

to indoor cycling. For the ultimate in relaxation, Henderson

picnic boxed lunches, late afternoon drinks at the “Tiki” bar

Park Inn guests can book spa services including massages,

as well as wine, chocolates and roses upon arrival. Guests

facials, manicures, pedicures, mineral scrubs and more.

at the Henderson Park Inn now have the best of both

Dine on property in the evening at BeachWalk Café, Des-

worlds: the serenity of their beachside luxury boutique

tin’s only fine dining located directly on the emerald waters

hotel and access to the wonderful amenities next door at

of the Gulf Coast and offering unique dining opportunities

The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort.

with “Toes in the Sand” and “Sky View Deck” overlooking

The Inn’s sister property, The Henderson, is home

the sugar white sands and glimmering waters.

to two beautiful swimming pools. Couples will love the or 866.398.4432

August 2017 | | 43


Beachside ESCAPES



Prince Beach & Golf Resort on beautiful St. Simons Island. This historic oceanfront resort exudes Southern hospitality, as evidenced by seven consecutive TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence. Choose from a variety of accommodations, from oceanfront rooms to villas and resort residences. Enjoy dining and drinks at ECHO, the island’s only oceanfront restaurant. Experience a getaway close to home, with memories to treasure forever – from a romantic weekend for two, to golf outings or a family vacation. | 912.638.3631


Edgewater Beach Condominium is the ultimate vacation playground in Destin. With a touch of the French Riviera, the resort rises majestically beside the sparkling 44 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017


emerald waters, pristine white sands and fiery sunsets of Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast. Its unique architecture is

EDGEWATER BEACH CONDOMINIUM The ultimate vacation playground in Destin.

a landmark, offering luxurious, yet casual, one-, two- and three-bedroom condos with private balconies overlooking lushly landscaped gardens and two shimmering pools (one heated in the winter months), children’s pool and hot tub. Enjoy nearby boutique and outlet shopping, fine dining, spectacular golf and sport fishing, beautiful sunsets or just relax in the Florida sun. Take advantage of the resort’s many amenities, including the poolside Tiki Bar, free high-speed wireless Internet, free beach setup (not available in the winter months),

• Luxurious one, two and three bedroom condos with private balconies. • Two shimmering pools (one heated in winter months), children’s pool and hot tub.

free indoor and outdoor parking, free use of the state-of-the-art fitness center and children’s playground. | 850.837.1550

800-822-4929 August 2017 | | 45

A Seaside


Following sandy footprints to Edgewater Beach Hotel written by HEATHER KW BROWN

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photos courtesy of EDGEWATER BEACH HOTEL unless otherwise noted


IKE TOES IN THE SAND, beach destinations can sink deep into the soul. Whether

it’s the sound of seagulls, breaking waves or one’s company, solace found on the shoreline often results in a resurgence of spirit. A beachside escape, for me, has never been about how much I carry to the water’s edge, but rather how much less I carry away. All it takes is finding the right beach to settle your soul and wild idyllic, island hopping isn’t always feasible once the school year has started. This thought arrived with the presence of our cabana boy who, as if on cue, inquired into our needs. I turned to my friend who was so relaxed she could barely shake her head and then mimicked her reaction in assurance that Edgewater Beach Hotel had envisioned anything we might need and rendered us as low maintenance as possible.

112 Number

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12 IN 2017

BEAUTY BECKONS Home to a recent redesign that has created a sleek and sophisticated setting, Edgewater is the only all-suite hotel on the beach in Naples, Florida. Situated on 7 miles of its own whitesand beachfront, this charming respite not only has the most expansive accommodations of any in the area, it has been welcomed into Preferred Hotels’ LVX collection of distinguished luxury properties. That said, the laid-back, unpretentious flair belies its 30 years of barefoot refinement, relying instead on greetings as warm as ocean breezes and freshly baked cookies that regularly inhabit the lobby. Further setting itself apart from most beach hotspots, Edgewater is quietly tucked into a Naples neighborhood, yet resides minutes away from high-end retail shops found on Fifth Avenue South. Complimentary transportation via electric trolley is available from the hotel into town. Calling one of the 125 suites home for a few days was perfect for a girlfriends’ getaway. Seconds after walking through the door, we were beckoned to the balcony, where a view

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Edgewater Beach Hotel is quietly tucked into a Naples neighborhood, yet resides minutes away from high-end retail shops found on Fifth Avenue South. Complimentary transportation via electric trolley is available from the hotel into town.


August 2017 | | 49


of the ocean and endless opportunity to slow life’s pace awaited. As two moms, our retreat was long overdue and our destination of choice was spot on. Evidence beyond our balcony exists in the Serenity Suite, a specialty suite equipped with all things tranquil, including views of the Gulf of Mexico, a PranaSleep® mattress, an in-suite massage table, yoga mat, a complimentary set of aromatherapy lotions and oils and a selection of meditation, yoga and wellness CDs, DVDs and books. Dining at Coast, the onsite signature restaurant, proved to be yet another treat. Our ceviche appetizer, grouper and snapper entrées were almost as memorable as the view from our table. Turns out, such unexpected pleasures are precisely how Edgewater exceeds expectation. Seaside Dining, an exclusive culinary occasion that can be booked upon request October through May, is another example. This private sunset dinner at a table set by the sea includes a custom menu, butler-style service, a Champagne toast and a guaranteed return visit.

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CHEF’S CHOICE Sans pets or families, our attention turned toward an in-room wine tasting, paired with cheese selections chosen by Executive Chef Bill Zimmer. Originally on board as executive chef in 2013, Zimmer was promoted to director of food and beverage in 2014 and is currently at the helm of the hotel’s entire culinary program including Coast, the pool and beach service, in-suite dining and wedding, meeting and event catering. Though the temptation is not to venture away from Edgewater, the lone concession should be Osteria Tulia. Undoubtedly the best restaurant in Naples, the restaurant’s namesake comes compliments of its Sicilian-born chef and partner Vincenzo Betulia, who won a Best Chefs of America Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015. His dream of opening his own restaurant took many years in the industry and a single vacation with his family to Naples, where he fell in love with the area and, ultimately, secured a chef’s position in the Naples dining scene. He opened Osteria Tulia in January 2013 and neighboring Bar Tulia in December 2014. No surprise then that the heart and soul of Osteria Tulia resides in its hand-crafted pasta dishes. Start with the warm house-made ricotta

Tuesday, August 29th 11 a.m.-1 p.m. or 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. North Point Market Center Please choose afternoon OR evening time slot. RSVP by August 22, 2017 to confirm your attendance

BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY EARLY AND RECEIVE A DISCOUNT! • Tr y O u r Fes t i v e H ol i d ay B u f f ets •


August 2017 | | 53

12 IN 2017


served with grilled apples, walnuts and chives or the wood-charred octopus with pickled cabbage, pine nuts, sultanas and cipollini crema, then settle in for an incredible Italian meal. The night of our reservation, the evening ­special included a sampling of the chef’s ­popular pasta dishes. Choosing to participate was a wise choice. So too, was our decision to dive into the hotel's Milk & Cookies Bar, which appeared in the lobby every day, complete with glass jugs of milk and containers filled with soft oatmeal, chocolate chip and sugar treats for dipping. Apparently, pampering one’s palate is all part of vacationing in Naples.


Aside from coastal cuisine and basking beachside in a luxury cabana, the property also offers bicycles for cruising nearby paths, two heated pools, kayaks, paddle boards and a friendly concierge to arrange local activities. For us, that meant a sunset sail complete with picnic and wine aboard Sweet Liberty, a beautiful 53-foot Gold Coast Yacht. As the largest sailing catamaran in Southwest Florida, the Sweet Liberty is consistently rated a top activity for locals as well as visitors to the area, with a variety of cruises to choose from such as shelling, sunset or sightseeing tours. With picnic basket in hand, we followed the dock to the boat slip where our floating chariot, captain and crew pushed off and steered us toward the Gulf of Mexico. The round-trip cruise takes about an hour or so and provides plenty of sights, including mangroves and wildlife. On water or beside it, we couldn’t get enough of the ocean and found ourselves gravitating back anytime we could. Staring into the expansive view at the endless horizon, I tuned into the ebb and flow of the ocean and pondered … until suddenly, it was quiet and a sense of calm conquered what had been an otherwise restless mind. Funny how the waves seem to sweep more than sand and shells out to sea, leaving room to appreciate time well spent at the water’s edge. PN PHOTO COURTESY OF SWEET LIBERTY CATAMARAN

August 2017 | | 55

Counting ON ...





EVERY WOMAN KNOWS THE RIGHT PIECE OF JEWELRY CAN BE EMPOWERING, perhaps bolstering confidence or stirring up feelings of love. But when the jewelry in question is Life Beads, it’s not just the women wearing them who get a boost; they also offer hope to the women who created them. In partnership with Abaana’s Hope, a comprehensive family village in the Kinene community of Northern Uganda operated by U.S.-based Four Corners Ministries, Life Beads make it possible for the Acholi women of Uganda to support themselves, a feat that is otherwise unattainable in their corner of the world. “I love the Life Beads program because it provides an opportunity for these women to use their skills and abilities to feed and educate their children,” said Julie Mobbs, who, along with her husband and three children, left their lives in Buford to serve with Four Corners full-time. “The program has instilled confidence in these ladies and has given them a joy that only comes from God’s goodness and love.” These unique beads are handmade from recycled paper and crafted into brightly colored necklaces, bracelets and earrings in a variety of fashionable styles. Profits go straight to the artisans themselves. To peruse these strands of hope, visit Life Bead’s popup shop at Living Stones Church on Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Cumming on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m., or visit PHOTOS COURTESY OF LINDSEY TRAUGER PHOTOGRAPHY BOUTIQUE & EDITING

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Nodding to their ever-changing charm and steady draw, we’re highlighting ways to spend 200 minutes in a different Points North Atlanta community for each of our 2017 issues. Whether you spend all 200 minutes in one place or divvy it up to discover several, enjoying your time in this neighborhood starts now.


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This longstanding landmark has evolved and attracted many can’t-miss spots to take up residence in and

alongside it. Despite the traffic tragedy that is Ashford Dunwoody, this area provides plenty of reasons to fight it and once you’re in a parking spot, what comes next will






114 NUM BE R




IF I ASKED YOU THE NUMBER ONE THING THAT POPS into your head when someone mentions the city of Dunwoody, what would it be? In reality, I probably don’t have to, because I can guess … it’s Perimeter Mall. It’s also the hometown of radio and TV personality Ryan Seacrest and the site of one of the first DOT-built diamond interchanges. On a personal note, it is where my husband and I lived as newlyweds. For that reason, I tend to view it through rose-colored glasses despite having moved away more than five years ago. Years later, I realize what a gem this little pocket of Atlanta still is. In fact, there is so much to do in DunPERIMETER woody’s neighborhoods that the CVB creMALL The Cowfish ated their own bucket list to help you make Sushi Bar & Grill the most of your time. With a weekend to fill, that seemed like a good place to start checking things off of my own. So, from Q iconic restaurants, treetop treats and artful finds, exploring present-day Dunwoody can be Q a place everyone can enjoy.





leave you far too satisfied to worry about the drive home. This point is especially true if you’ve chosen to spend your time dining at the iconic McKendrick’s Steak House. Serving one of the best cuts in Atlanta for more than two decades, they’ve perfected the art of the white tablecloth dinner and deliver more than just succulent, ice-cold seafood towers and sizzling steaks. In fact, if you don’t name the lobster mac and

cheese as one of the reasons to go there initially, you’ve obviously missed something. My tip? Make reservations for a Friday night to avoid the corporate crowd, which keeps the place buzzing Monday through Thursday. For something more casual, but just as legendary, Alon’s Bakery and Café sits right next door. Opened in succession of its flagship Morningside location, this bigger, bustling version of the

Spruill Center for the Arts

Alon’s Bakery & Cafe

Brook Run Park


August 2017 | | 59

Two-Hundred MINUTES IN ... D U N WO O DY

The Cowfish

café provides ample seating indoors and out to meet friends for light bites, big meals, coffees or the universal favorite, a slice of Midnight Cake. “Some time ago, there weren’t a lot of options [in Dunwoody] and now it is a thriving community focused on offering quality products, elevating the offerings and destinations creating experiences for residents. Dining is important here, just as it is in every neighborhood,” said Alon Balshan. “I have had customers tell me they remember when there were only cow farms where we are now. That was long before we opened, of course, but you can get the idea of the transformation. The area has really grown and I’ve enjoyed seeing it all. It’s exciting to be a part of

60 | POINTS NORTH | August 2017

this center of activity.” Inside the mall, you can rest your weary feet at The Woodhouse Day Spa. Trade shopping bags for a lush robe and slippers, sip tea instead of chugging a Diet Coke and delight in choosing from an extensive menu of relaxing services meant to counteract the effects of what’s happening out there in the hustle and bustle. It’s hard to resist the signature Four-Hand Massage, which enlists two therapists to work in choreographed movements for the ultimate relaxation experience. If you don’t have the luxurious 80 minutes for me-time, opt for the Lavender and Seaweed Sugar Scrub pedicure that helps you shed those mallwalking miles via warm, volcanic stone massage

and refining scrub.



BURGUSHI ON THE BRAIN Speaking of great things in the mall, my favorite place to meet friends for lunch is The Cowfish. One of their five locations in the Southeast, this vibrant food niche combines two of my favorite things for something that you literally can’t get anywhere else. You can start with classics (crispy calamari, blackened tuna nachos, Parmesan bacon truffle fries), but make sure you’re cleared for the takedown of some serious

fresh-to-order stacks. Such stacks should include the brave, yet justified, decision to sample the “burgushi,” a modern sushi roll made with creative combinations of traditional burger components. Unable to resist this curious fusion, I went straight to The All American Bacon Cheeseburgooshi for the seasoned all-natural Angus beef, two kinds of cheddar cheese, bacon and onion all wrapped in soy paper and potato strings, then flash fried. Standard toppings added, it all sat on

Butterfly Festival

top of their magical Cowfish sauce. Another favorite is The Nature Boy’s Wooooo–shi Buffalooooo–shi roll, a hearty serving of sautéed chipotle bison with a fried green tomato, grilled onions and feta cheese coated with tempura flakes. A little spice on top and my mealtime mind was blown. The best part about The Cowfish, though, is that this menu is curated to tempt anyone’s tastebuds — be they adventurous or conservative. If you decide to keep land and sea separated, you’ve got countless choices from both

the burger, sandwich and sushi lists. Giddyup.



THE VILLAGE LIFE Things get quieter as you make your way from the mall, but that doesn’t mean they get boring. If you can break away from the tempting dinner tables that Dunwoody offers for just a couple of hours, they

just might get even more interesting, especially this month. In the area that’s referred to as Dunwoody Village, the 19th takes flight with the city’s 24th annual Butterfly Festival at the 22-acre Dunwoody Nature Center. Hundreds of live butterflies will delight children and adults beneath three enormous butterfly tents, in addition to live animal encounters, a birds of prey show, scavenger hunts, face painting, interactive games, educational booths, crafts, live music, food and more. The only snag in this net is that last year’s event

attracted more than 3,000 attendees, so if these winged wonders are on your bucket list, get your tickets now. Speaking of being entertained, The Stage Door Players Theater has done so since 1974, when its performances were a community project put on by the area’s Woman’s Club. Now, it’s a fully functioning, professional theater with a packed calendar of plays, musicals and more. If you’re just reading about it for the first time, you’re in luck as the next show on the marquee is “Dial M for Murder” and it kicks off next month. Of course, if your outings bring you back to the dinner table — and no one blames you if they do — then this pocket offers almost too many to make it an easy decision. For something exotic, snag a seat at Co’m Dunwoody Vietnamese Grill for a fusion of French, Thai and Vietnamese flavors. Or, savor something fresh and made-from-scratch, like the Chicken Club or Glenda’s Garden sandwich from Wright’s Sandwich Shoppe, which has been open since 1984 and still serves many of the same tried and true recipes. Burgers and hot dogs from Village Burger’s original location (they’ve got one now in Johns Creek) prove perfect handheld meals. If an Italian experience is what you crave, then indulge in plenty of red sauce and family style meatballs from Carbonara Trattoria or try the latest menu from chef and restaurateur Ricardo Ullio, the man responsible for Sotto Sotto in Inman Park — one of the finest Italian trattorias west of Naples. His Novo Cucina delivers brick-oven pizzas,


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Two-Hundred MINUTES IN ... D U N WO O DY

E. 48th Street Market

like the sweet and spicy Salsiccia with roasted peppers and sweet Italian sausage, authentic pasta dishes like the savory Tagliatelle ai Funghi and 18 daily flavors of creamy gelato.



PARK IT Across the city, one dinner table lets you take matters into

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your own hands. Vino Venue lets you enjoy shareable bites and self-poured wines in a chic atmosphere that’s perfect for fun dinners with friends or unique date nights. The space offers wine and cooking classes throughout the week as well as different dinner pairings on the weekends, such as this month’s Parisian Bistro Classics, the Southern Comfort Series: S ­ ucculent Seafood or the Entertaining with Ease: U ­ ltimate Steak Night. Read about our own

hands-on experience online at We know it’s hard to get away from the idea of good eating (and drinking), but one of the best parts about this little neighborhood is the green space and you can get off the beaten path then you’re in for a real, fresh-air treat. Brook Run Park spans 102 acres of green grass, multi-use trail, dog park, community garden, Veteran’s Memorial, skate park, children’s playground and more. In fact, that “more” may be your ticket to unexpected adventure in the city with Treetop Quest, an adventure course with more than 50 obstacles and 12 zip lines soaring to heights of 55 feet. Back on the ground, the multi-use trail system connects Brook Run Park to Pernoshal Park and Georgetown Park, making park hopping as appealing as a pub crawl. Even if the adventure doesn’t lead you to break a sweat, we know your appetite can appreciate Food Truck Thursdays with some of the best trucks and live music.



A FAMILY AFFAIR Even farther off that beaten path, you’ll find yourself in a little borough on the outskirts of Dunwoody that you could miss completely if you’re not en route to Dunwoody Country Club or dam fishing on Kingsley Lake. The reason you’ll find yourself there is for the edible treasures that the Augello family provides at E. 48th Street Market. In business since 1986, this quaint Italian market also packs up meals you can take home, making it a “mom” staple as well for more than 30 years. Prepare your eyes to match your stomach when you see the stuffed cases of specialty Italian antipasti, aromatic spices, classic family size pastas and decadent desserts for the first time. The friendly hospitality and multitude of unique items create an aura, almost, that makes

you hungry on impact. Or maybe that’s the smell of freshly baked Italian bread. Either way, finding a reason to indulge comes easily.

panels to watercolors, mixed media to ceramics, jewelry and metalsmithing, among others.

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GOOD VIBES Circle back to the land of shoppers and steaks, and you’ll spot Spruill Gallery’s motivational landmark that has inspired good vibes since 2009. The story here is that local artist Jason Kofke erected the quote, “Everything will be ok” on the side of an old seed house. “The message was simple, but its impact was profound and now years have passed and the art installation (now a replica) still serves as a mural of encouragement and positivity for visitors and locals alike to contemplate and resonate in the message that sets Dunwoody apart from the rest of Metro Atlanta,” said Kimberly Franz, marketing director for the Dunwoody CVB. Who knows ... it may even help you get through rush hour. The gallery itself boasts a curation of artwork from students, teachers and emerging artists of all ages with special keepsakes available for purchase. Through the 19th, you can catch the tail end of this year’s Spruill Arts Student & Faculty Juried Exhibition. After taking a year off for renovations, it returned to the gallery with more than 90 artists showcasing mediums from fabric



Amidst five boroughs of good food and outdoor activity, you may choose to ditch getting back in your car in lieu of kicking your feet up for the night. We couldn’t agree more, as Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter offers a boutique option for a hotel stay. Open across from the mall, but tucked away from the sights and sounds of 285, the property boasts culinary and comforting experiences to add to your bucket list. A calendar of special events adds even more entertainment to a night out compliments of eclectic, artful décor that makes happy hour as chic as any downtown spot. Globally inspired dining at Portico or casual eats from the lobby’s Longitude 84 just might convince you to make that night out something you do inside the hotel … in fact, once you see the outdoor pool, you may be enticed to forgo a day anywhere else altogether. Again, we wouldn’t blame you. We might have been tempted to do the same. PN lemeridienatlanta


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If we hunt down all of the answers successfully, a treasure box awaits. And maybe another book. And a sweet treat to share.” HEATHER KW BROWN From Tried & True – Decatur, June 2016

SOMEWHERE BACK IN TIME, a graduate of the esteemed school of media and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill walked into our offices in then remote Cumming, light years away from her previous outpost – Hollywood. She didn’t look all glitzy, glamorous or giddy like a starlet, but rather exuded a more straight-to-the-punch, let’s-getthis-done amicability. Perhaps that’s why she departed the Left Coast? She would be closer to her Wilmington, N.C., family, closer to her alma mater, could watch her beloved Tar Heels basketball team at a normal hour rather than at 4 p.m. Pacific time, and might have been a bit uncomfortable with superficial L.A. O.K., she likely came back east because her husband got a particular marketing job he craved, but that’s why she has always commanded respect. She plays an enormous role, sometimes as second fiddle and often behind the scenes, in many things she does without pounding her chest like a Tar Heels’ freshman hoops star demanding, “Look at me!” Many who know her get this: specifically her husband, her closest friends, her mom and me. There are probably others, specifically those she has written about for the past 13-plus years.

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Her first story for Points North Atlanta was a restaurant review about Pano Karatassos’ Kyma (March 2004). We understood early on that she possesses a delightful knack for describing food and tablescapes without flowery, overblown amplification. Her ability to drop us onto Printers Row in Chicago for a travel piece, or to describe what a long distance runner might encounter when opting for trails rather than roads: “the metronomic beat of shoes pounding the pavement is replaced by less rhythmic but more satisfying soundtrack of crunching leaves, splintering sticks and shifting stones.” Got it.

As a lady of action, she gave birth to two beautiful children, a son in 2005 and a daughter in 2008 during her tenure, yet always found time to dive headlong into any writing assignment, or editing page upon page of hastily conjured works of others (like mine for instance). She reveled in our action-adventure editorial series, “64 Genuine Adventures,” which was published from November 2010 through June 2011, and always suggested more features just like it. Along the way she endured every month with barely audible protestations. She introduced us to a shoe diva in Sept. 2012. She endured our numerous bridal issues, which she despised, but always provided the escape artist in each of us to be wistfully transported to destinations like Sea Island, Del Mar, Boise, Jackson Hole, Spokane or even Smyrna. If you’ve ever tried to describe the natural wonders of Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and Bar Harbor to a sightless friend, you

understand the depths of her literary gifts. She paints a landscape with a understated brush. We likely will see her work grace the pages of this magazine in the near future, but this issue marks the close of her daily association with Points North Atlanta. She has been an integral part of our team for 161 consecutive issues, through at least two recessions, 13.5 years, and managed enough contributing writers and photographers to staff two-dozen magazines. While her writing career is by no means over, but her allocation of time on a daily basis comes to an end. As the school year returns to its regular schedule and the each weekday’s shadows lengthen, the children will now be on two different schedules and in two different schools. We know that Heather KW Brown will be heard from in many ways in the future. Few questions remain, but in her prose we forever see wisdom, simplicity and descriptive elegance. PN

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Off the PAGE



LOOKING FOR A FUN NIGHT OUT? Head to the Metropolitan Club on Aug. 19 and join the Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET) in celebrating its 25th Silver Anniversary season with the Gala Cabaret. Believe us, there’s a good reason why Roswell and surrounding residents have been settling into their seats to watch these performances for the past 25 years.



JOIN 500 MILLION PEOPLE worldwide to witness the historic solar eclipse on Aug. 21. For the first time in 38 years, U.S. citizens from coast to coast will be able to catch this spectacular sight. The eclipse’s journey across the U.S. will begin in Oregon and finish its course in South Carolina. While the eclipse is expected to impact the U.S. for a total of one hour and 33 minutes, spectators in Rabun County will only be able to spot it at 2:35 p.m. and only for 2 minutes. Individuals wishing to attend must wear protective eyewear to prevent eye damage. — Rashida Otunba

Georgia Ensemble Theatre



11 to 26

LOOKING FOR ANOTHER MUSICAL experience closer to home? Be sure to catch Act3 Productions’ presentation of “The Robber Bridegroom.” Based on Eudora Welty’s novella of the same name, this musical tells the story of the handsome gentleman Jamie Lockhart, who transforms into a robber by night. Lockhart’s world of deception is altered when he falls in love with Rosamund, the daughter of a rich planter. The show will run from August 11 to 26. Tickets for general admission are $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Reserved seating tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. — Rashida Otunba

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July 2017 Sam Collier So grateful to be featured in Points North Atlanta magazine this month! #AgreaterStory

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Points North Atlanta 2017 August Issue