Over the past several years, Atlanta has been our favorite city to visit. The city is only two hours south of us, an easy drive on I-75. However, traffic is horrendous in and around Atlanta, so we try to avoid the city during the peak rush hours from 7 to 11 in the morning, and from 3 to 7 in the evenings. Atlanta is very cosmopolitan. You can find everything there – specialty food stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Costco, Asian markets and more. Another reason we like Atlanta so much is that we get to see our dear friend who had moved there from the northeast a few years ago. Every time we visit him, we would discover another park, a new supermarket or a new restaurant. Our ritual always includes visits to the Korean supermarkets and restaurants in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta, where we get a fix on Korean and other Asian food.
Our visit to Atlanta last July was a little different. My husband’s sister and her son were in town for the US Fencing National Championships. We spent four days in the heart of the city with them. We discovered a different Atlanta. One that was not especially friendly.
At least not the concierge at the Omni Hotel. They were not only unfriendly, they were downright rude! You would think a concierge is there to help the guests. When asked where to park our car and how much it will cost, they told us $30 at the hotel. There was no mention or suggestion about the parking garage across the street that was charging only $12 a day (as opposed to 24 hours, so be prepared to pay for 2 days if you park overnight, which is still cheaper than the hotel).
Located within the CNN Center complex, the Omni Hotel is in close proximity to Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center, where the fencing competition was taking place. Right next to the Omni Hotel is the Centennial Olympic Park. While the hotel has great views and nice amenities, like a good size lobby with comfy chairs and Wi-Fi access, the swimming pool was a total disappointment. We had come to Atlanta with the idea of relaxing in the pool after watching some fencing competition or walking around Atlanta on a hot summer day. To get to the pool, you had to walk from one tower to another and take the elevator to the sixth floor. Can you imagine our surprise and disappointment when we opened the door to find a tiny swimming pool filled with kids? The area was so small and crowded there was hardly any room to walk around, let alone find a chair to sit in. This is a hotel with 1,070 luxurious guest rooms and suites, mind you. Did they not think some of their guests might like to relax at the pool?
A dip in the pool would be nice after a walk in the Centennial Olympic Park. This 21-acre park is beautifully laid out with the Fountain of Rings as its centerpiece. You can sit on one of many benches to watch the children play in the Fountain of Rings, an interactive water fountain synchronized to songs and music. The park has a visitor center, a café, a playground, water gardens, sculptures and commemorative plaques honoring the 1996 Olympians. Every November, the park is transformed into a winter wonderland, with dazzling holiday light display and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Next to Centennial Olympic Park is the famous Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca Cola museum.
We drove to Stone Mountain to watch the spectacular laser show one evening, but not without stopping at one of our favorite barbecue joints first. We ate at D.B.A in the Viriginia Highland neighborhood, about 10 minutes from the hotel. The ribs and pulled pork were finger licking good; our Southern California guests were impressed.
So we didn’t get to relax at the pool, but we had a fabulous time showing our relatives around Atlanta. Y’all come visit too!
The Omni Hotel