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Jennifer Bradley Franklin

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These Atlanta brothers are Ironman athletes, disability advocates, and now, memoir authors

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent Pease

Photograph courtesy of the Pease brothers

Kyle and Brent Pease are many things: brothers, Ironman triathletes and philanthropic leaders. Now, with the release of Beyond the Finish: A Story of Passion, Brotherhood, and Relentless Determination (Mascot Books, out June 18), they can add “memoir authors” to their list of achievements.

The Atlanta-based brothers—Kyle, who has cerebral palsy, is a speaker and greeter at Piedmont Hospital and Brent serves as a coach with Dynamo Multisport in Chamblee—hosted a release book release party on May 16 to celebrate. The book tells the story of what happened after Kyle, accustomed to cheering on his athletic brothers Brent and Evan from the sidelines, asked Brent, “Can people in wheelchairs do Ironman?” Brent’s enthusiastic “Yes!” changed everything. The pair have since competed in races around the country, including last year’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, using specialized bikes, wheelchairs, and kayaks. They founded the Kyle Pease Foundation in 2011 to help improve the lives of the disabled through sports.

Here, we chat with the accomplished pair about the highlights of the book and the journey.

What do you hope someone who reads Beyond the Finish will feel?
Kyle:
We all encounter our own challenges, but over the past eight years, we have worked tirelessly to break down barriers for athletes with disabilities, including six years lobbying for a spot with Ironman, four years to enter the New York City Marathon, and three to compete in the Peachtree Road Race. We want to inspire others to chase after their dreams. There will be obstacles in your way, but they will only make you stronger. We’re living proof.

Kyle and Brent Pease
Brent helps Kyle sign copies of their new memoir at the book release party on May 16.

Photograph courtesy of the Pease brothers

How did you come up with the idea of writing a book?
Brent:
Since [launching our foundation in] 2011, we have been on an incredible journey fulfilling the mission to create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities. We made it to Kona, Hawaii last October for the Ironman World Championship, and we wanted to share our journey with others. We feel our trials and tribulations are extremely relatable and that people will enjoy reading our story.

What was the writing process like?
Brent:
We worked tirelessly with [our publisher] Mascot and [co-author] Todd [Civin] to share our story in a way that offers both Kyle’s and my perspective. This book has been more than 30 years in the making, but the actual writing process took two years.

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent cross the finish line at the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

Photograph John David Johnson / Courtesy of the Pease brothers

Can you share one of your favorite stories from the book?
Brent:
[There’s a story in the book] about me carrying Kyle down the stairs when we were kids in our childhood home. That stands out as one of my favorites. Kyle wanted to watch a game, so I took the liberty of taking him down the stairs on my own. I was five years old. My parents came down the stairs, and to their horror we were in the living room laughing and watching TV. With her jaw on the floor, my mom asked me why and how we were all the way downstairs. I matter-of-factly responded with, “Kyle wanted to watch TV.”

Kyle and Brent Pease
Kyle and Brent prepare for the swim portion of the Ironman World Championship.

Photograph John David Johnson / Courtesy of the Pease brothers

You hosted 150 people at the book launch on May 16. What did it feel like for so many to come out to support your project?
Kyle:
Since we decided to write the memoir, the support we’ve received has been overwhelming. The launch event at Big Sky in Buckhead was another example of the unbelievable encouragement we’ve received. We’re beyond humbled and so grateful for our support network of family, friends, fans, and the triathlete community.

Read the book: Beyond the Finish is available for pre-order on Amazon, and proceeds from sales will support the Kyle Pease Foundation.

In honor of the Super Bowl: Tiny Doors ATL’s first “not-so-tiny” door

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Tiny Doors ATL creator Karen Anderson outside the “not-so-tiny” door at Hotel Indigo Midtown

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

Karen Anderson, the creative mind behind Tiny Doors ATL’s 15 diminutive art installations around town, is best known for her 7-inch-tall creations. But, in honor of Atlanta hosting the biggest night in football, she worked with Hotel Indigo Midtown to create her largest work to date: a 14-foot tall, 8-foot wide “not-so-tiny” door.

“It’s been really cool [to create], and to me, it’s still on-brand for Tiny Doors ATL, because it does the thing that the tiny doors do,” she explains. “It changes your perception and gets you into a moment of wonder and whimsy. It’s about playing with scale and getting people to use their imagination. Instead of the doors making you feel big, this door makes you feel tiny.”

The partnership with Hotel Indigo came together just a few weeks ago when parent company IHG Hotels & Resorts brought the idea to Anderson as part of it’s Home Team Hospitality program, which hosts free events at its hotels around the city during Super Bowl. After drawing inspiration from Hotel Indigo itself, Anderson teamed up with Ferris Entertainment Group to construct the oversized door. Seven staffers teamed up to construct and install the door, made of wood, Bondo wood filler, and a giant handle, before painting it Pantone teal, one of Hotel Indigo’s signature colors. “I thought that teal was so gorgeous, and I don’t have a door that color. It was really fun to do it large,” Anderson says.

At Thursday’s door unveiling, actor Nick Cannon, another of IHG’s Home Team Hospitality ambassadors, stopped by to pose for a few photos with the artist on the door’s enormous welcome mat. For Anderson, seeing the excitement the door has generated has been its own reward.

“It’s been great to watch people go down there, get excited, and get really creative [with their photographs]. To me, that’s a measure of success,” she says.

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Anderson and Nick Cannon

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

Though vastly different in size and scale, this “not-so-tiny” art installation does have a few things in common with its tiny kin. “They’re all free to visit, they’re public, and they’re wheelchair accessible,” Anderson explains.

While Hotel Indigo’s door installation is designed to be temporary—only through Super Bowl weekend—there’s already talk of extending it into something more long-term. “This door takes up more physical space than my entire project [of tiny doors around town]. I like the idea of it having a big impact and standing alone,” Anderson says, adding that it likely wouldn’t change the direction of the rest of her signature artwork. “I can’t see myself doing a lot of big doors, but I really do love this one.”

Tiny Doors Giant Door Super Bowl
Installing the door

Photograph courtesy of Tiny Doors ATL

See the larger-than-life art installation and photo opp at Hotel Indigo Midtown, located at 683 Peachtree Street Northeast.

First Look: East Fork pottery opens its first location outside of Asheville in Atlanta’s Westside Provisions

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
The Atlanta location of East Fork opened on December 21.

Photograph courtesy of East Fork Pottery

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at recreating a Bacchanalia-style meal at home, you can be one step closer thanks to the opening of East Fork in Westside Provisions District. It’s the brand’s first outside its hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

The brand was founded in 2009 by Alex Matisse (the great-grandson of artist Henri Matisse), his wife Connie, and potter John Vigeland. The trio pooled their resources to build a wood-burning kiln on an old tobacco farm 30 minutes outside of Asheville and began making large-scale pottery. In 2016, East Fork began making the plates, bowls, and serving pieces that have become their signature. That same year, they opened their flagship store in downtown Asheville, adding in a curated mix of other artisan-made home goods, jewelry, and apothecary items.

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
The Westside Provisions District storefront

Photograph courtesy of East Fork Pottery

East Fork Pottery AtlantaEast Fork Pottery AtlantaOpening a second storefront in Atlanta seemed a natural next step, explained brand manager Erin Hawley just moments before opening the doors to the public on December 21. “Atlanta has always been an inspirational city for us. It’s such a cultural hub of the South. We always come here to eat great food and find great shopping,” she said. “Asheville is coming up in a lot of ways, but Atlanta’s always a city we’ve looked to for inspiration. We also have a pretty big customer base here already, so it’s been a smooth transition.”

Since the stoneware items are made to be durable—all are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe—East Fork has developed a loyal fan base with restaurants, including Atlanta’s Bacchanalia. The handmade pieces are crafted by one of 18 potters working in the North Carolina factory and are made with iron-rich clay which produces a speckled effect. The dinnerware pieces are regularly offered in Eggshell (a soft natural white), Morel (taupe) and Molasses (chocolate brown), in addition to other seasonal offerings, all designed to work in harmony with the other colors.

East Fork Pottery Atlanta

East Fork Pottery Atlanta
Glaze options at East Fork

Photograph by Jennifer Bradley Franklin

“Our colors are neutral, and even when we do brighter colors, they’re still soft in a way that can live in your home for a long time so you wouldn’t tire of them,” Hawley said, noting that the vignettes set up in varying degrees of formality and in different color combinations around the store are designed to inspire customers.

Visitors to the 1,700-square-foot WSP shop will notice that, while artisan-made goods are an East Fork signature, most of them are made in North Carolina (plus a few from California, Texas, Japan, and New York), there’s hardly any Georgia representation just yet. It’s coming, though. “As we know the city more, we want to do some Atlanta collaborations and carry products made here,” Hawley explained. Notable exceptions include select apparel items from Tomson, Georgia’s State The Label, and hand-dyed silk scarves by Atlanta-based Lindsey Glass, under her brand name IN & OF. Glass will also serve as East Fork Atlanta’s store manager.

East Fork Pottery AtlantaEast Fork Pottery AtlantaShoppers can peruse wares in the bright, neutral retail space, designed in collaboration with North Carolina-based Shelter Collective. Aside from the pottery pieces, standouts include hand-hewn baskets by Dan Barber, a former boatmaker from Oregon; textiles from Garza Marfa in Marfa, Texas; and flatware from Japan’s Lue Brass.

Southern Baked Pie Company’s Amanda Wilbanks explains why “pie is timeless.”

Southern Baked Pie Company
Amanda Wilbanks, founder of Southern Baked Pie Company

Photograph by Gill Autry

It’s hard for Amanda Wilbanks to remember a time when baking didn’t symbolize love and family. The 31-year-old Gainesville-based Southern Baked Pie Company founder and newly minted cookbook author’s earliest memories are filled with time spent in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother. “My mom made dessert every single night, whether it was angel food cake with berries and homemade whipped cream, brownies, or pound cake,” she recalls. After earning a degree from the University of Georgia, she moved to Atlanta and then to Gainesville. And it was her mother-in-law who taught her to make French pastry dough, just before her husband’s birthday. “She said, ‘Let’s make Alex’s favorite pie for his birthday’ and started pulling flour, sugar, and everything out of my cabinet and making it from scratch,” Wilbanks says. “That’s where it all began.”

The birthday pie was a hit, and in September 2012, Wilbanks started experimenting with other pies for fun. Later that month, Alex came home with news: he signed her up to sell pies at a Lawrenceville festival. “That was on a Tuesday,” she recalls. “By Thursday I had business cards, made up a name, bought a tent, and [that weekend] sold pies for $4 a slice.” She sold out, made plans for more festival appearances and at each, she encouraged new fans to write their email address on a notepad for updates. That December, she made almost 500 pies out of her home kitchen, fulfilling orders and shipping them to clients. “Right after Christmas, we said, ‘Let’s lease a space and try and turn this into a business’,” she recalls of how Southern Baked Pie Company was born. The Gainesville location was later joined by outposts in Buckhead and Alpharetta, and the company continued to ship signature sweet and savory pies around the country.

Southern Baked Pie Company
Inside the Buckhead Southern Baked Pie Company

Photograph courtesy of Southern Baked Pie Company

Just last month, Wilbanks got to add cookbook author to her resume with the release of Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie. Like many things about her business journey, serendipity put her cookbook on a fast track. Her friend—designer, author, and Southern Living contributor James T. Farmer—suggested she consider publishing a cookbook filled with her most popular pies. “I thought, ‘I don’t know why anybody would want to publish a book by me, but it sounds interesting,’” Wilbanks says. Despite her reluctance, Farmer connected Wilbanks with his editor. One book proposal later, she had a deal and spent a few months in late 2017 writing and testing recipes, and the book of more than 70 beautifully illustrated recipes was released in September.

Her sold-out schedule of book signings scattered around the South and an ever-growing following at her three physical bakery locations speaks to the appeal of pie, though the dish has yet to experience the crazed fan following that has been focused on doughnuts, cupcakes, and popsicles in recent years. “Pie is so versatile, you can eat it with any meal,” says the mom of two boys. “You can do quiche, chicken pot pie, or a sweet pecan pie [all with the same crust]. The possibilities are endless. It’s one of those nostalgic dishes that brings back memories. Pie is timeless.”

Always looking for what’s next, she recently launched a culinary and lifestyle website, amandawilbanksbakes.com. There, she releases recipes (for pie and other dishes) and shares her schedule of book signings. Here, she shares a seasonal favorite recipe. “If you’ve ever had a pineapple casserole in the South, you will forever remember the taste. The mixture of sweet pineapple and rich, gooey cheese is unexpectedly delicious,” she says. “I love this dish for fall and football season because it travels beautifully, and is wonderful served at room temperature.”

Southern Baked Pie Company
Pineapple casserole pie

Photograph courtesy of Southern Baked Pie Company

PINEAPPLE CASSEROLE PIE
Reprinted with permission courtesy Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie (Gibbs Smith, 2018).

Serves 8

1 recipe SB Pie Dough (see below)
2 (20-ounce) cans chunked pineapple 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Place into a 9-inch pie plate and flute; prebake the dough (see below for instructions).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain pineapple, reserving ½ cup juice. Combine flour, sugar, and pineapple in a bowl and toss to coat. Layer pineapple mixture and cheese in pie crust. Pour reserved pineapple juice over the filling. Sprinkle crushed crackers over the top and pour the butter over the crackers. Bake for 40 minutes until lightly browned.

SOUTHERN BAKED PIE DOUGH (SB PIE DOUGH)

Makes dough for one single-crust 9-inch pie

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup water

Cut the butter into small cubes. Combine butter and flour in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour. Add the salt and sugar. Continue to work the butter into the flour until the mixture has a consistency of course-ground cornmeal. The cubes of butter should now be smaller than the size of a green pea.

Add the water, all at once. Continue to work the dough until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and press into the shape of a disk. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to chill.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to desired size on a lightly floured surface.

Tip: The trick to making delicious pie dough is using cold ingredients. I even chill my flour, salt, and sugar. Starting with very cold butter and ice cold water will make a world of difference when it comes to the texture of the dough.

For prebaked dough:
A prebaked dough means that the dough is fully cooked, and is used when the filling of a pie recipe will not be baked (such as this one).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out dough to desired size and place in pie plate or tart pan. Dock (prick) the dough with a fork on the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Place in freezer for 30 minutes before baking. This helps set the dough.

Remove dough from freezer and line the inside of the dough with parchment paper, completely covering the dough. Fill the pie plate with dried beans. The will ensure that the dough maintains its shape.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and return the pie plate to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before adding filling.

Big names, big giving

 

One of Atlanta’s most famous sons, Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” Decades later, thousands of Atlantans volunteer, raise funds, and donate to causes. You don’t have to look far to find local celebrities—from rock star chefs and business moguls—who leverage their fame for good.

The well-known Georgians we profile here have a deep personal connection to the causes they champion, contributing countless hours, funds, and leadership to worthy nonprofits around Atlanta. From medical research fundraising to supporting farmers to fostering the next generation of Atlanta’s entrepreneurs, these personalities are serving their communities in big ways.

Malcolm Mitchell

Malcolm Mitchell

Football player might be the first thing that comes to mind when fans hear the name Malcolm Mitchell, but author is one of the NFL wide receiver’s favorite descriptors. “Writing is a product of my reading,” says the Valdosta-born former Georgia Bulldog. “When I began to read books, my mind began to transform.” Mitchell brings his love of reading to students with his Atlanta-based nonprofit, Read with Malcolm, through which they receive a copy of his book, The Magician’s Hat. “I tell kids, ‘Whatever you want to be, there’s a book that can help you accomplish it. I’ve experienced it myself,’’’ says the Super Bowl champion, who plans to write two more books with Scholastic.

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely

If anyone’s qualified to offer advice and encouragement to budding female entrepreneurs, it’s SPANX founder Sara Blakely. “I want to pay my success forward and help as many women as I can,” says Blakely, who started the hosiery and shapewear business out of her apartment in 2000. One way she’s helping is through a partnership between the Sara Blakely Foundation and Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation. In 2017, they gave 10 women entrepreneurs a year of mentorship and grant-funded development. After a year, all 10 are fully self-employed and nine have doubled their revenue. “I think it should become a model for other cities,” Blakely says of the program, which welcomed its second class of entrepreneurs this summer.

Jovita Moore

Jovita Moore

WSB-TV anchor Jovita Moore has delivered the news to Atlanta-area households for 20 years, but her heart is often with families who don’t have a home. “I have a soft spot for babies,” the mom of two says. “No woman should come out of the hospital and have no place to go.” Moore serves on the advisory board for Our House Atlanta (formerly Genesis), a homeless shelter for newborns and their families that provides accredited childcare while teaching moms to become self-sufficient. Moore also enlisted beauty experts to provide twice-yearly pampering days for new moms. “Talk to these women, and you realize it’s by the grace of God that you’re not in the same situation.”

Brad Guzan

Brad Guzan

Star goalie Brad Guzan helps Atlanta United FC rack up wins, and as an ambassador for Atlanta United’s Special Olympics Unified team, he coaches and cheers on those athletes. Guzan, who moved with his family from England last year, wasted no time joining the league-wide initiative, working out with players at practices and supporting them at games, both in Atlanta and on the road. The best part? “To see the smiles on their faces,” he says. “It’s been great to get involved with their team and represent what Atlanta United stands for.”

Laura Turner Seydel

Laura Turner Seydel

Laura Turner Seydel doesn’t wear a cape, but she plays a superhero-like role as board chair for the Captain Planet Foundation. The Atlanta-based organization, started in the 1990s by her father, Ted Turner, funds youth projects in every state and 23 countries. By creating hands-on tools for educators—from school gardens to habitat restoration challenges to endangered species assistance programs—she hopes to inspire others to care for natural resources. “It’s so important we pass this along to the next generation, but we won’t have a cadre of environmental stewards unless we give them the opportunity to take action.”

Ford Fry

Ford Fry

Chef and restaurateur Ford Fry knows all about delicious food and the ingredients needed to produce it. “I have a heart for the farmers,” he says. “It’s such a difficult job.” That passion led him to become an avid supporter of Georgia Organics, promoting sustainable agriculture and providing healthy, locally grown produce for food-insecure families. Each July for the last 10 years, he’s brought together farmers from around the state and noteworthy chefs for his Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival, a tasting event that benefits the agrarian nonprofit. “It’s really a party for the farmers,” he says of the festival, which has raised more than $500,000.

Kristian Bush

Kristian Bush

Music is a defining force for Grammy Award–winning musician Kristian Bush, who helps pass it on through his support of Girls Rock Camp (ATL). The nonprofit hosts weeklong summer music camps for girls ages 10 to 16, using drums, guitar, and keyboard workshops to develop their self-esteem and express themselves. “How do you empower a girl? The only sword I have is music,” says the dad of two, who makes up one half of the band Sugarland and regularly donates instruments and equipment. “Anyway I can support empowering girls, I’m in.”

Jenn Hobby Rivera

Jenn Hobby Rivera

The best day of Jenn Hobby Rivera and daughter Reese’s lives happened just 17 months after their worst day. In August 2016, the baby was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor at the base of her spine. She received four rounds of chemotherapy and surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Egleston hospital, and in January 2018, it was gone. Now, the Star 94.1 host is raising funds for research. “We don’t want other families to go through this. If we can fund research, we can either end childhood cancers or improve treatment.” Reese’s MaGIC Fund (named for the Malignant Germ Cell International Consortium, which Atlanta doctor Thomas Olson created with surgeons and oncologists worldwide) has raised $125,000 to date.

Hidden under Delta’s new uniforms is another Atlanta brand: Spanx

Sara Blakely Spanx Delta Air Lines
Spanx founder Sara Blakely takes a selfie with designer Zac Posen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Photograph by Chris Rank/Rank Studios; courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Spanx founder Sara Blakely knows first-hand how important compression garments can be. “I got a blood clot in my leg two years ago after a snow skiing accident,” she says. “So I learned a lot about the importance of having some compression when you fly.” That experience—well, and the fact that the Atlanta-based brand is a worldwide leader in the foundational garment industry—made Spanx the perfect hosiery and support partner for Delta Airlines’s new uniform project with fashion designer Zac Posen. The uniforms, which were three years in the making, debuted worldwide today with more than 64,000 Delta employees making the switch overnight.

Delta new uniforms
Delta employees sport their new uniforms at Tuesday’s launch event in Atlanta.

Photograph by Chris Rank/Rank Studios; courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Sara Blakely Spanx Delta
Sara Blakely speaks at the Atlanta launch event for Delta’s new uniforms.

Photograph by Jennifer Bradley Franklin

“Every woman wants to look beautiful from the inside out and the foundation is so important,” says Barb Lilland, who has worked on Delta’s airport customer service team for almost five years and participated in the cross-divisional uniform committee to ensure that all employee groups were heard in the process. “Partnering with Spanx meant that all of our uniform groups were going to have great foundational garments so that the uniforms would look gorgeous.”

Spanx joined the uniform revamp project nearly three years ago but kept their involvement under wraps until the debut this week. Female Delta employees will wear Spanx graduated compression shaping sheers hosiery, men can wear compression crewnecks and tanks, and all employees will have access to the brand’s compression socks. The sheer hosiery is also available in seven skin tones. “It was a great collaboration because Delta is a very diverse group of employees and we’re global,” Lilland says. “So Spanx was able to make sure they’ve got something for every skin tone in the Delta family.”

Spanx
The Spanx hosiery is available in seven different skin tones.

Photograph courtesy of Spanx

So far the response to the new uniforms from Delta team members has been positive. At a fashion show at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to debut the uniforms this morning, Blakely chatted with a few employees, including a mother and daughter flight attendant pair. “The mother said she hadn’t worn a dress [to work] in 15 years,” Blakely says. “She said today was the first time she’s had the confidence to put the uniform on and wear a dress because of Spanx. She looked amazing.”

Delta new uniforms
Zac Posen and Delta CEO Ed Bastian

Photograph by Chris Rank/Rank Studios; courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta new uniforms

As someone who will wear the Spanx- and Zac Posen-designed uniforms (manufactured by Wisconsin-based Lands End) to work every day, Lilland is happy with the finished product. “When we first started talking to Zac Posen, we said we wanted to compete on an international level, even in our uniforms. I think he hit it out of the park,” she says.

Beyond what the new look will mean for the thousands of Delta employees worldwide, Blakely notes that the launch is a great testament to the power of Atlanta-based brands. “It’s so exciting. There’s so much happening in Atlanta,” she says. “I love it when homegrown companies collaborate and support each other. No pun intended.”

Delta new uniforms
Delta employees show off the new uniforms during a flight on Tuesday.

Photograph by Chris Rank/Rank Studios; courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta’s new Asanda Spa brings luxe massages and facials to Atlanta’s airport

Asanda Spa Lounge Delta Sky Club Atlanta
The Asanda Spa at JFK Airport in New York. Atlanta’s Asanda spa opened in January.

Photograph courtesy of Asanda Spa

If a relaxed mind, refreshed skin, and calm muscles aren’t exactly the first things that spring to mind when you think of a visit to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (just named the world’s busiest for the 20th year in a row), the new Asanda Spa Lounge in Delta Sky Club Terminal E might change the way you look at traveling out of ATL.

The spa, which soft-launched quietly in January, offers a variety of treatments for travel-weary guests, ranging from a 10-minute foot and leg massage ($30) to a 45-minute facial using products customized to each guest’s unique skin care needs ($65). “We like to say ‘arrive at calm,’ creating an oasis that is really an arrival point.” says Asanda Spa managing director Gene Frisco, who is based in New York and has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality and spa industry.

Asanda Spa Lounge Delta Sky Club Atlanta

While full-service departures and arrival lounge spas might be requisite in European, Asian, and Gulf State hubs, it’s a more novel concept stateside. Atlanta’s new Asanda Spa is the third in Delta’s domestic portfolio, following those in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, both opened in 2016. The addition of more luxury offerings, including upgraded culinary options in the lounges, is part of Delta’s overarching loyalty strategy. “We recognized that there was an unmet need among our most premium travelers, so we doubled down on our investment for the look, feel, service, and food in our clubs and now on additional offerings like the spa,” says Sandeep Dube, Delta’s vice president of customer engagement and loyalty. “It’s paying off. In just a few years, we’ve gone from being on par to exceeding [expectations].”

While the spa is diminutive, tucked into a 20-foot-wide space adjacent to the club’s shower facilities, it also features a full-service retail store stocked with skin care items from Comfort Zone and hair products from Davines, both from the same Parma, Italy-based company that produces products void of silicones, parabens, colorants, and animal derivatives. The Comfort Zone products are used to customize facials, which are administered in a private, full-service room by an esthetician.

Asanda Spa Lounge Delta Sky Club Atlanta
Products on sale in Atlanta’s Asanda Spa

Photograph by Jennifer Bradley Franklin

For travelers looking for a truly transporting experience—before they ever set foot on a plane—the Dream Weaver treatment (starting at $30 for 25 minutes), designed by alternative medicine doctor Deepak Chopra, packs a relaxation punch. Clients sit in an supportive zero-gravity chair, wearing light glasses and noise-cancelling headphones, as the coordinated light and sound program takes them through guided meditation. “If you think about the Delta brand, it’s fundamentally around transportation, but it’s a really high-tech company,” Frisco says, noting that clients can feel rejuvenated largely without “trying” to meditate.

Asanda Spa Lounge Delta Sky Club Atlanta
The Dream Weaver station at Seattle-Tacoma airport

Photograph courtesy of Delta Air Lines

So how can you take advantage of these luxe accommodations? First, you’ll need to gain access to the Delta Sky Club in Terminal E, then you can either check availability on the spot at the Asanda Spa Lounge or make an appointment online in advance. The spa is open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. And one huge perk if you happen to be a Delta Diamond Medallion member—you can receive complimentary select services through July 31.

Spotlight on Fearrington House Inn

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Photograph courtesy of Fearrington House Inn

Fearrington House Inn

There’s undeniable comfort in a resort that feels organic, not contrived. It puts me at ease in a way a cookie-cutter hotel never can. The Fearrington House Inn, tucked into the sylvan landscape just outside Raleigh, is such a place.

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Photograph courtesy of Fearrington House Inn

The inn is the centerpiece of Fearrington Village, a mixed-use community that began as the vision of developer R.B. Fitch and his late wife, Jenny. He acquired the eighteenth-century Fearrington dairy farm in 1974 as the foundation for the development, which he modeled after the English villages he’d fallen in love with while serving in the Air Force. The couple turned the rambling farmhouse into the Fearrington House Restaurant in 1980, hoping to obtain the prestigious Relais & Chateaux designation awarded to fewer than 530 properties worldwide. Since  Relais & Chateaux only accepts restaurants paired with lodging, the Fitches added an inn; they’ve been Relais-certified ever since.

Because the inn was not part of the Fitches’ original plan, its thirty-two guestrooms and suites were added in phases. No two are alike, though all have stately furniture, Frette bath towels, and Kingsdown pillow-top featherbeds. Some accommodations, like mine, feature free-standing jetted tubs and private gardens (mine even had a koi pond). Little touches are woven into the experience—gratis cruiser bikes, afternoon tea, and nightly truffle and port turndown service.

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Photograph courtesy of Fearrington House Inn

Considering Fearrington’s roots and history, it’s no surprise that food is a real highlight here. The Fearrington House Restaurant is AAA Five Diamond–rated and features the exquisite culinary styling of Chef Colin Bedford, who hails, not surprisingly, from England. He applies classic European techniques to Southern ingredients (some of which are grown on the property). Pastry chef Paola de Maayer’s jaw-dropping Valrhona chocolate soufflé still makes appearances in my dreams. For something more casual, the Goat sells coffee roasted on the premises, gelato, and light bites, while Roost Beer Garden offers brews and wood-fired pizzas. You’ll also find casual Southern fare at the Granary, housed in the former farm’s grain-storage building. Vestiges of the working farm still remain, including adorable heritage-breed cows, goats, and chickens, as well as a robust vegetable and herb garden.

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Photograph courtesy of Fearrington House Inn

Visiting Fearrington House Inn was like stepping into a Monet painting. Natural beauty abounds, with creeping jenny, lavender, lantana, and knockout roses flourishing in the shade of mature oak trees. It’s hard to believe the inn wasn’t part of the original plan, that it was simply a gorgeous afterthought. From its sprawling gardens to its mismatched guest rooms, it is perfectly imperfect, leaving me as relaxed as the place itself.

2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, North Carolina • (919) 542-4000 • fearrington.com

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