Check In & Shop

A cushy room, great meals, and someone to carry your bags. We've discovered the secrets to great holiday shopping.
Jennifer Mckenzie Frazier, Annette Thompson, and Cassandra M. Vanhooser; photography Meg McKinney / styling Rose Nguyen

Get caught up in the spirit of the season this year by heading to one of the South's best shopping destinations. We've chosen Galleria Dallas, Atlanta's Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, and Tysons Corner Center near Washington, D.C., as three ultimate holiday spots. You'll find delicious dining, fabulous shopping, and luxurious lodging in each. So treat yourself this year with the gift of ease. It'll be the best present you've ever received.

Galleria Dallas
Texas is known for all things big. This mega-mall offers no exception. Since 1982, the Galleria has been one of the top shopping destinations in Dallas. Thanks to a newly finished renovation, it's even better than ever.

Shopping as a sport. You could get locked in this gigantic mall for a week and not realize a day had passed. Macy's and Nordstrom anchor the Galleria Dallas. While swanky shops such as Rolex, Celine, and Gucci take up lots of space in the center, you'll also find quite a few one-of-a-kind boutiques that make this mall special.

Sleep in the mall. The lovely Westin Galleria Dallas calls the mall home. This means if you shop here, you'll be steps away from your room. One of the best parts about the Westin is the services offered by the concierge. You can drop off your packages, and the hotel will deliver them to your room. If you don't feel like schlepping them on the airplane, they'll even handle shipping them for you. Rates begin at $119 a night; (972) 934-9494.

The dish on dining. You can grab a slice of pizza or a pretzel or feast on a gourmet meal. It's your choice.

We think The Oceanaire Seafood Room ([972] 759-2277) in the Westin takes first prize in Galleria dining. Choose from a full assortment of raw oysters and fresh seafood, including sea bass, swordfish, and live lobster.

Dallas: Three to See
All of the shops in the Galleria Dallas offer fabulous finds, but here are three we think are particularly unique.

  • Nixon's Top Dog Bakery & Boutique: Dress your dog in a snappy jean jacket or a hot pink feather boa collar. This is the place to buy your mutt an outfit that will land him a coveted spot on the "best dressed" list.
  • Russian Island Gift Shop: This interesting little store sells Russian imports that cost from $1 to in the hundreds. Pick out a Fabergé egg, a Soviet medal, nesting dolls, or handmade Russian jewelry as a gift for the person who has everything.
  • Ylang-Ylang: This sleek jewelry boutique sells designer items that you'll see scattered in fashion magazines and on celebrities. See collections by Cathy Waterman, Me&Ro, and Dana Kellin, among others.

 

 

Atlanta's Lenox Square
Heralded as the icon mall of the South since 1959, Lenox Square and its upscale counterpart, Phipps Plaza, continue to improve. Alongside favorite shops, you'll find couture boutiques, white tablecloth dining, home decor stores, and a Tiffany & Co. thrown in for glitter. There are more than 350 total stores. So let's get shopping.

It's a package deal. Call for a shop-and-stay deal at our favorite nearby hotels: the handsomely remodeled JW Marriott Buckhead Atlanta (1-800-613-2051), the new Westin Buckhead (1-800-937-8461), or the elegant Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead (1-800-241-3333). With the Legendary Shopping Package, guests receive a room for two, breakfast, parking, and a $25 gift card for either Lenox or Phipps; from $189 at JW Marriott and from $219 at the Westin. The Bloomingdale's Package substitutes a 15% off gift certificate plus a Bloomingdale's gift card; from $209 at JW Marriott ($50 card) and from $255 at Westin ($65 card). The Ritz-Carlton teams up with Saks Fifth Avenue to offer deluxe rooms, breakfast, parking, and a $50 Saks gift card starting at $319. Getting around. Try the free BUC Shuttle. The 22-seat buses visit hotels and malls every 10 minutes.

Food for thought. Shopping requires sustenance! We adore the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus for a girly luncheon spot, but the French onion soup ($5) at Brasserie Le Coze in Lenox sets the standard. You'll like The Clubhouse at Lenox and The Tavern at Phipps for a sit-down sandwich or salad meal. Splurge on dinner at BluePointe; try the peanut-crusted grouper in curry ($20).

Take a load off. Instead of lugging purchases at Lenox and Phipps, call the hotel's concierge desk to arrange delivery of the packages from the stores to your room. Relax at the movies. Take in a movie at AMC Theatres Phipps Plaza's 14-screen complex.

Atlanta: Three To See
All of the shops in the Galleria Dallas offer fabulous finds, but here are three we think are particularly unique.

  • Bloomingdale's: Atlanta's newest department store, which sits in Lenox Square, wows with designer labels.
  • Frontgate: We love to wander around Frontgate in Phipps Plaza to find furnishings for our homes and gardens.
  • MacKenzie-Childs: Whimsify your home decor with tableware and furniture from this shop at Phipps Plaza.

 

 

Terrific Tysons
Just a few years ago, Tysons Corner, Virginia, had but one store--a simple butcher's shop. Today, it has blossomed into a glittering big-city suburb with some of the finest shopping outside of New York City.

Paradise found. Located just 14 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C., Tysons Corner has three different shopping areas, each with its own personality. The elegant and luxurious Tysons Galleria caters to upscale customers with stores such as Neiman Marcus and Burberry. Across the street, shoppers find Tysons Corner Center more casual. This mall offers more than 250 shops anchored by Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, L.L.Bean, and Hecht's. The ultraexclusive Shops at Fairfax Square count only eight tenants, including Gucci and Hermès. In all, shoppers may choose from nearly 400 stores.

Sweet dreams. Splurge on a weekend at The Ritz-Carlton,Tysons Corner. Many elements make this hotel special, but an unparalleled level of customer service tops the list. The concierge will store your bags while you shop; wrap your packages; and address, stamp, and mail your holiday cards. Shopping packages start at $269 per night. Call (703) 506-4300 for reservations. Other fine choices include Hilton McLean ($69-$319; [703] 847-5000), Embassy Suites ($79.95-$289.95; [703] 883-0707), Tysons Corner Marriott ($89-$299; [703] 734-3200), and Courtyard by Marriott ($66-$239; [703] 790-0207).

Shuttling around. It's possible to walk between the malls, but you have to battle the elements and cross busy thoroughfares. Avoid this mess by parking your car at the hotel and taking the shuttle. Most offer free service, either on demand or at regularly scheduled intervals. Taxis service the area as well. The mall or hotel concierge can help you arrange transportation. Parking perks. Not staying over-night? For just $5, you can drop your car off with the valet at Tysons Corner Center and have it retrieved when you've finished shopping.

Teatime. Even if you choose to stay at another hotel, treat yourself to afternoon tea at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. It's an elegant and relaxing way to avoid midday shoppers crowding the malls. For $28, you get a selection of tiny sandwiches and sweets, plus your choice of tea. Dine divinely. Chains dominate the food scene, but there are a few exceptions. Maestro at The Ritz-Carlton takes top honors with heavenly Italian cuisine. Try Bombay Tandoor for Indian food and Morton's, The Steakhouse for a savory slab of beef. For lunch, Neiman Marcus Cafe and Cafe Nordstrom offer a nice change of pace.

Tysons Corner: Three to See
All of the shops in the Galleria Dallas offer fabulous finds, but here are three we think are particularly unique.

  • Teavana, Tysons Corner Center: Select your favorite from more than 100 different kinds of tea harvested around the world.
  • Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, Fairfax Square: A trip to this spa makes the most wonderful gift--for yourself or your special someone. The Red Door Signature Spa Experience costs $230 for a half-day, $475 for a full day.
  • Chanel: Stop by the newest store at Tysons Galleria to see what's in style.

 

Lighten the Load
Before you leave home, decide whether you plan on lugging your purchases back with you or if you want to ship them. Here are some tips.
  • Don't bring wrapped packages on an airplane. They'll just unwrap them in security.
  • Pack an empty collapsible bag. You can fill it with your purchases.
  • Shop early and late, and rest at midday. This will help you to avoid the madding crowds.