Charlotte luxury can be tough to define. Despite our brand being bound to the term and multiple mediums dedicated to dissecting what luxury means to Charlotte, a succinct meaning for the concept can be hard to pin down. At its most abstract, luxury has a vaguely golden sheen, an elusive idea often summoning images of hand-and-foot service and all things outside of some arbitrary, subjective price range. But that seems at best too restrictive, too narrow to build a whole magazine on. At worst… well, it just seems too unattainable.
In our book—and we have, for all intents and purposes, written the book on what this means to Charlotte—luxury is malleable. It can be both impossibly out of reach and all-too-accessible, depending on what it means to you. You can find it in a grand ballroom setting with pricey cocktail dresses and hors d’oeuvres, or in a fiery sunset on Lake Norman, next to the people who matter most. In short, it’s too broad, really, to label once and for everyone.
So this year, we’ve made our approach more roundabout, compiling some of our favorite instances of luxury in our own spheres. It’s a list of ways in which we individually manage to live our best lives. To start, we have our favorite ways to refine your recreation.
Peninsula Yacht Club: A fixture of lake-area tradition since 1995, the Peninsula Yacht Club is the be-all-end-all of exclusive social organizations on Lake Norman. The club and its sprawling marina are a boon for Peninsula-dwellers—and, honestly, members from all over—but the sublimest amenity here is the Nopkehee yacht. Designed by the renowned team at Joubert-Nivelt and constructed off the west coast of France, it’s all very 007. This headturner of a vessel can be booked for all the important occasions—from lake picnics to those all-too-important meet-the-parents dinners. But we recommend an evening cruise for no reason at all, complete with sunset hues and boozy cocktails.
RK Motors Charlotte’s Showroom: At RK Motors Charlotte, over a hundred classic American automobiles are available for viewing at any given time. It’s one of the best window-shopping experiences in the state. What more do you need to know?
Land Rover Experience: You haven’t really experienced the extreme luxury offered by a Land Rover vehicle until you’ve taken it off road and maneuvered your way in and out of a few deep muddy ruts. That’s what Biltmore Estate’s Land Rover Experience is for: If you don’t already own one of these awe-inspiring machines, these wooded trails will probably win you over.
Carolina Grace Luxury Yacht Charters: This is how to properly host an event this summer. Whether you’re looking for a teambuilding exercise outside of the office or to just entertain family and friends, a luxury yacht from Carolina Grace definitely isn’t going to hurt your reputation. Plus—10 percent of everything you spend on private yacht cruises goes to charity.
Metrolina Auto Group: One of the largest independent luxury and exotic car dealers in the nation is right here in Charlotte: With inventory way up in the millions, Metrolina’s showrooms have plenty of flashy machines for potential buyers to ogle at—and take for a test drive.
Richard Petty Driving Experience: Offered just up the road at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is the NASCAR fan’s dream. What’s more, the experience is tailored to you: The options include everything from a ride-along to multiple solo race sessions. You just need a license… and some nerve.
Stephen Pierce Wakeboarding School: It’s a sport that definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. Wakeboarding is one of the most exhilarating things we’ve done on Lake Norman, though it takes some resolve to get up on that board the first time. Whether you’ve dipped your toes in before or you’re completely new to it, professional wakeboarder and instructor Stephen Pierce is the guy you want showing you the ropes (and what to do with the rope). He’ll ensure that trailing one of his Malibu Wakesetters is a ton of fun, but he’ll also keep you safe.
BMW Driving Experience: In Greensville, South Carolina’s nearby Greer, you can partake in the full BMW driving package. It’s a true VIP experience, made with the most dedicated BMW enthusiast in mind. Your vehicle is delivered to the BMW Performance Driving School Delivery Center, after your complimentary one-night hotel stay at the Greenville Marriott the night before. The Performance Center hooks you up with lunch, professional driving instruction, and a tour of both the BMW Zentrum museum and Manufacturing Plant.
NASCAR Driving Experience: Whether you’re a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast or not, the opportunity to partake in the thrilling drive around Charlotte Motor Speedway is one for the books. But, if you’re like us, and perhaps need a professional to take over to calm your nerves, you can also ride shotgun as a driver buckles you up and shows you how it’s done.
Catawba Queen: The Catawba Queen, a beautifully-kept, custom-designed replica of a Mississippi Riverboat, provides a dinner cruise that allows for, arguably, the prettiest dinner view in our area. The Queen’s captain will take you out on the open water, well-equipped with aits fully functional bar and the chef-served buffet.
Carolina’s Boat Club on Lake Wylie: The Carolina Boat Club is an exclusive private club, for boat lovers without a boat of their own. It’s possibly the best way to enjoy beautiful Lake Wylie: Members can boat on the lake for only about half the cost of actually owning and keeping a boat in a marina. With membership to the club, there’s no upkeep, no hassle, and you’ll get unlimited access to a variety of boats, depending on your mood: There are runabouts, fishing boats, pontoons, and cabin cruisers, to name a few.
Piedmont Puddle Jumpers: A joint venture brought to Lake Norman by two Piedmont-based flight schools, the Puddle Jumpers offer various flight lessons for those in the Charlotte area looking to try their hand at aquatic aviation—and yeah, that’s the appropriate term for this kind of experience. If luxury is best defined as “the good life,” then cruising through the air at sunset, over Carolina greens and blues, only to land and drift on our state’s largest lake… That’s probably up there.
Belmont Rowing Center: The Catawba River has been a haven for serial hobbyists for years, but only recently has it become a spot for the proliferation of that most Ivy League of sports: The Belmont Rowing Center is a nonprofit working to expose Charlotteans—of all ages—to the classic watersport. If you’ve got kids, start them early… but if you’re just looking for an exhilarating hobby on the water, look no further.