“It’s been in the works for eight months,” shares Ralph Vick, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee situated in Greensboro, Georgia, about 75 minutes east of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Vick is talking about the hotel’s inaugural Live at the Lake Cultural Series in late October, which featured six-time Grammy Award winner Amy Grant and some of her closest cohorts. The “Dirty Dancing”-esque property, with 251 rooms and 18,000 square feet of meeting space along the tranquil banks of Lake Oconee, served as the backdrop for the one-of-a-kind inspirational weekend. Vick shares how he enlisted the property’s director of meetings, a Nashville music guru and others to create the pilot program.
Don Donahue, owner of Nashville-based Donahue Entertainment, has been procuring talent for The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds’ summer concert series for several years, with help from Vick. “The two of us have been bouncing around this idea we call Access to the Extraordinary as a highly interactive experience for a smaller group of guests,” notes Vick. The gist? “An exclusive group has the opportunity to get to know an extraordinary talent in a major field on a one-on-one basis.” Donahue has a personal connection with Grant, who also lives in Nashville, and got the ball rolling.
The attendee list topped out around 65 people—a mix of couples, girlfriends, mother-daughter duos and solo attendees, many of whom were Grant’s insiders. A diverse group traveled in from around the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington state, Nashville and, of course, Atlanta, to attend.
Guests attended two- and three-hour sessions, and while Vick and crew wouldn’t reveal the subject matter of those closed gatherings, “they were about letting go of the past and thinking about the future,” he says. The sessions were facilitated by Leslie Satcher, a songwriter for Nashville’s top talents; Tricia Rose Burt, playwright and frequent guest storyteller for The Moth, a nonprofit storytelling organization; and Grant. The trio facilitated the groups in a comfortable, casual setting.