The home of country music, jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, the sounds of the south USA are instantly recognisable and conjure up fond memories. Combined with a rich historical narrative of riveting and poignant tales, this region makes for an unforgettable destination.
Here, Travel Concierge Ann shares with us her love and passion, both for the Southern states and her guests, along with her highlights of Southern Grace, a luxurious journey from Nashville to New Orleans.
“Southern hospitality and southern manners are real. Everyone is made to feel very welcome, and each location is incredibly unique and fascinating,” she tells us. “We stay in four different cities. Each has its own unique culture, identity, history, music, cuisine and vibe.”
The beauty of the southern states, elevated
So much more than a tour guide, Ann is your personal destination expert, tailoring your journey every step of the way. With 22 years of experience, and a deep knowledge of the Southern states, she tells us why the role of a Travel Concierge so special.
“I’m available 24/7, ready to offer advice, solve any problem or answer any questions. And, no matter what piques a guest’s interest, I use my expertise and experience to personalize their tour.”
With more one-on-one time with each guest, due to our small group journeys, your Luxury Gold Travel Concierge is able to get to know you intimately. “Whatever you’re interested in, maybe a particular type of museum, cuisine or activity, I’ll find something for you, tailoring your free time to match your needs.”
Discover this on: Southern Grace
America’s musical identity, made personal
“The states that we visit on Southern Grace all played a really big role in southern culture and the music that America listens to,” Ann explains of the sounds of the south. “What a treat to see the birthplaces of country music, rock ‘n roll, blues and jazz.
Exceptional and exclusive music of the south experiences feature throughout the tour, setting the rhythm and soundtrack of your journey.
“I’m very interested in music and its history,” she says. “Everywhere we go in the south, there’s certain genres that are popular and famous in that area. So, as we pass through, I will play that kind of music and talk about its relation to the history of the region.”
“I love setting contests for guests to guess music and lyrics. It’s very upbeat and provides a contrast to some of the darker history of this area, which we also examine in depth at points on this tour. I want guests to feel educated but entertained at the same time.”
For travel inspiration: USA destination guide
Your song recorded for all time at Nashville’s Studio B
“Our music experiences are top drawer, and a chance for our group to record a song at Studio B is a very exclusive experience,” says Ann. This famous studio is where Dolly Parton, Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Charlie Pride have all recorded, icons of the sounds of the south. “When you visit, you know you are standing where musical icons once stood. You’re standing on hallowed ground.
A CD is pressed for each guest as a treasured keepsake of their recording. “This is one of those special things that Luxury Gold does,” says Ann. “Hundreds of people that go through Studio B every day, but only exclusive groups are able to do their own recording. Realistically, we sound pretty bad,” she laughs, “but it is so much fun!”
Read more about icons of the sounds of the south: Brenda Lee: The pop icon who inspired some of the biggest names in music
Best seats in the house at the Grand Ole Opry
“A slice of music history, the Grand Ole Opry has been going strong for 102 years,” Ann tells us. And when you are there, you realize why. A live radio programme and a variety show, the quality is unmatched, and it remains a flagship sounds of the south venue.
“With Luxury Gold we have amazing seats and guests are mesmerized from the beginning,” she says. “The cool thing about the Grand Ole Opry is that they have modern country, old country, bluegrass and gospel. They might have some rock or a comedian mixed in. It’s an amazing variety show, and for many, the highlight of the tour.”
Pay homage to ‘The King’ at Graceland
“Going to Graceland is really a meaningful thing for people to do, almost a pilgrimage, even for those that were not fans of Elvis’ music,” Ann says. “It’s a very personal tour, going through his home, as it was in the 1970s. You get a glimpse into what life was like at home for such an iconic figure.
“We also visit the famous Sun studios in Memphis, known worldwide as ‘The Birthplace of Rock’n’roll’. It is the discovery location of musical legends and genres of the 50’s from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis; from Blues and Gospel to Country and Rock’n’roll.”
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Gastronomic delights, tailored for you
“The southern states are a foodies dream, and the cuisine varies a lot on this south USA tour,” Ann explains. “In Nashville, hot chicken is really famous, and you must try a real sweet confection called the Goo Goo Cluster. Once you get to Memphis, it’s all about BBQ – the sizzling sounds of the south. And then in New Orleans, it’s the famous jambalaya, gumbo and crawfish.”
A keen lover of gastronomy herself, Ann’s passion and knowledge enhances your dining experience every day. From carefully chosen restaurants and dining experiences, to expert suggestions in your free time, she’ll ensure your culinary journey is tailored, satisfying and explorative.
“In both Memphis and New Orleans, guests have free evenings. For these I have a hand-picked selection of great restaurants that they can easily walk to. Anything I recommend I have been to myself, so I know it is of the highest standards of food and service. I’ll have menus ready for you to sample and will make the reservations. I’m all about the details and will even walk you there if you want.”
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VIP BBQ to fine dining
“One highlight culinary experience, in Memphis, is our backstage pass to one of the city’s oldest and most iconic BBQ establishments,” says Ann. “Central BBQ is so acclaimed, the line goes stretches out of the door. However, in true Luxury Gold style, we’re greeted and ushered straight into our own private dining room.”
“After a wonderful BBQ lunch, your grilling expert is waiting to meet you. You’ll leave understanding why BBQ is so important here and very different than it is in other parts of the United States.
“In contrast, when we dine at the sumptuous Monmouth plantation, we dress up to the nines. The stunning dining room makes you feel like you are stepping into the old South. There is such wonderful attention to detail in the preparation of food and how it is served.”
Chic cocktails to Personalize Your Day
“Cocktails are a big deal in the south, and Bourbon is of course a very southern alcohol,” Ann says. “Having an elegant drink before dinner, not just beer or wine, is very much part of the culture.”
To embrace this decadent slice of culture, while in Natchez you can learn from a master with a mixology class at Dunleith Historic Inn. Alternatively, you can choose to take a private tour of the grounds and interior of a stunning antebellum mansion. Just one example of the frequent opportunities on Southern Graceto personalize your day.
Here you have the choice between two experiences, both thoughtfully curated with the Luxury Gold guest in mind. “Each offers a different lens through which to explore your destination,” says Ann, “and offers a further opportunity to tailor your tour.”
An intimate look into history
Along with its musical history and exceptional cuisine, the American South has a deep and often dark history to tell. And on Southern Grace there are opportunities to explore these historical sounds of the south through intimate and moving experiences, guided both by Ann’s historical knowledge, and by Local Experts.
Prior to the American Civil War (11861 – 1865), the Southern states heavily relied on an agrarian economy built on large-scale plantation agriculture, primarily cotton. This reliance led to a massive demand for slave labor. Subsequently leading to the expansion of the transatlantic slave trade and the establishment of a brutal system of human bondage. As tensions escalated between the Southern slaveholding states and the Northern non-slaveholding states, the issue of slavery became a primary catalyst for the Civil War.
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“Covering 1800 acres Frogmore is a cotton plantation that dates back to the 19th Century. The family that now owns it are focused on educating people,” says Ann. “Not just how they raise cotton then compared to now, but also educating on what was life was like for slaves. The owner, Lynette Tanner, has edited a book all about slave life. Over 2000 former slaves were interviewed in the 1930s, and so she’s edited this book offering a personal and intimate insight into what life was actually like.”
“Frogmore is still a very successful cotton operation, and cotton is such an important crop. It kind of built the South and so learning more about it is very fitting when you are visiting the region.”
All bookended with magnificent stays
Exceptional days turn into decadent nights, with spectacular hotels providing an oasis of rest and elegance. From the national landmark Monmouth Inn in Natchez to the timeless sophistication of the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, rest assured that your luxury experience continues 24/7. With our porterage your luggage will be in your room when you arrive, and your room keys ready and waiting.
“The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is outstanding,” says Ann. “Built in 1925, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. You know you are someplace special when you step inside, it’s jaw-dropping. And you are sure to enjoy the ‘March of the Peabody Ducks’. This daily, whimsical event really delights our guests.”
“Elegant in every way, the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans is a magnificent hotel. A live jazz trio plays every evening in the bar. With three nights here, some people never want to leave. They have such a great time right here at the hotel!
“Monmouth Historic Inn in Natchez is an exquisite example of an antebellum mansion. Each room unique with period furnishings, you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1800s when you arrive. Quiet, peaceful, tasteful, elegant. It’s a kind of respite from the big cities of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.”
Learn more about this magnificent hotel: Why New Orleans’ Ritz Carlton Hotel is a cut above the rest
To experience the sounds of the south for yourself on our luxurious south USA tour, take a look at our Southern Grace small group journey.