Local Insights


The St. Regis Atlanta’s knowledgeable concierge Louis Wood shares his tips for where to experience the best the city and the season have to offer.

By Gwyn Herbein

Louis Wood - SaraHanna.comLouis Wood’s more than 15 years of experience as a concierge means that he has the inside track on the best places to relax and unwind in Atlanta. Here are his recommendations for where to shop, dine and indulge this fall.

Indulge the Palate

Over the past few years, Atlanta has become a foodie’s paradise. With new restaurants opening all the time, it can be difficult to narrow down the options, but Wood has some favorite spots to recommend for traveling gourmands.

First on the list is KING + DUKE, which features fresh American cuisine and is the newest venture from local chef and restaurant owner Ford Fry. “Out-of-town guests are not going to know Ford Fry’s name, but he is extremely successful here in Atlanta,” Wood notes. For example, one of Fry’s other restaurants, The Optimist, is considered one of the city’s best places to dine. Wood assures guests that, despite the restaurant’s newness to the Atlanta area, its rave reviews are  much deserved. (404-477-3500; kinganddukeatl.com)

For more exotic fare, look no further than Umi, which boasts traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi. “Umi is very upscale and has proven to be successful even though it’s quite new,” Wood says. “Sushi is the star there and the restaurant has a sparse, modern, elegant decor, so it fits well with that cuisine.” (404-841-0040; umiatlanta.com)

Unwind at the Theater

When the weather cools down, Atlanta’s social calendar heats up. Festivals, concerts and sporting events abound. This year, Wood has several events he recommends for fall entertainment.

First is the ATLANTA OPERA’S season-opening performance of “Tosca” at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which will run Oct. 5, 8, 11 and 13. The opera’s new general and artistic director, Tomer Zvulun, who joined the staff earlier this year, will direct Puccini’s masterpiece. (770-916-2800; cobbenergycentre.com)

The season’s most exciting event, Wood says, will of course be the ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS’ performance of “Carmina Burana,” which runs from Nov. 14-16. Part of the reason this performance is so noteworthy is because, unlike Handel’s “Messiah” or Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, this is not a piece that the symphony performs with any regularity. “It’s an amazing thing to hear with the full orchestra and full chorale,” says Wood, noting that there may be a supplemental chorale and guest soloists. (404-733-4900;       atlantasymphony.org)

Shop for the Season


During fall in Atlanta, the humidity goes down, but the sun still shines bright and temperatures remain pleasant throughout the day. This transitional season is a great time to stock up on unique gifts and accessories for the months ahead.

Wood recommends THE BILT-HOUSE for unique women’s clothes and accessories. “They have three locations in Atlanta,” he says. “Two of them are in the immediate neighborhood of the resort.” Wood describes the local boutique as an eclectic little store stocked full of gifts, toys and distinctive household items. “It is different from a traditional clothing store,” he explains. (404-816-7702; thebilt-house.com)

More Atlanta specific goods can be found at LALO, which stocks an inventory of fine Italian handbags and accessories. “It is a beautiful store and is also very close to us here,” Wood says, noting that guests who shop there know that they are buying one-of-a-kind merchandise. “It is a specialty store, not in the mall and not a chain.” (404-233-9675; lalohandbags.com)

Season’s Greetings

Arbor Crest - Fall Foliage (1024x685)

Atlanta may be a booming metropolis, but it also has the advantage of being a short drive away from the Blue Ridge and North Georgia mountains. When the fall air turns crisp and the leaves start to change, guests can spend an afternoon enjoying them without being too far from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Wood recommends GIBBS GARDENS, a botanical garden located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about an hour away from Atlanta. The property, which belongs to award-winning landscape company owner Jim Gibbs, is 292 acres, making it one of the nation’s largest residential estate gardens. “It’s a wonderful garden, very impressive and amazingly maintained,” Wood says. (770-893-1881; gibbsgardens.com)

A little closer to the city is STONE MOUNTAIN PARK.  Best known as the world’s largest piece of exposed granite that features a bas-relief of Confederate figures, Stone Mountain Park also boasts golf courses, miles of hiking and biking trails, and a laser show. The sky lift that goes to the mountain’s summit is a perfect place for panoramic views of the metro area, and of course, the bright colors of fall. “It is only 20 minutes from our front door, so it doesn’t have to be a 12-hour commitment to go there,” Wood says. (770-498-5690; stonemountainpark.com)