The scene is a familiar one: hotel guests lounge beside the outdoor pool as staff members filter around, offering refreshments or collecting clients for a spa treatment. However, at Pet Paradise, the pool is bone shaped and all the guests are dogs. This luxurious scene is one cat and dog owners can find at this boarding and daycare facility that has been owner Fred Goldsmith's pride and joy for a decade. The animal lover was inspired to start his own pet hotel when he simply couldn’t find a place he was comfortable leaving his bichon frise when he went on vacation.
Fred made Pet Paradise to his exact specifications, and the pet hotel's amenities reflect the loving care he lavishes on his own beloved pup. Dogs and cats can luxuriate in spa-quality grooming treatments or burn off some energy during group playtime. In the evening, pets can settle into plush bedding and feel safe knowing that the dedicated live-in staff resides just a bark away. Nocturnal kitties spend the night exploring their own private six-level cat condos while gentle spa music fills the air to keep them entertained. In case of any emergencies, Pet Paradise keeps veterinarians on-call, and in the event of a snack emergency, each staff member is a certified bacon cook.
Inside the family-owned indoor playground of HippoHopp, kids glide down slides, explore playhouses, and navigate their way through obstacles courses. Free air hockey and foosball keep kids of all ages busy, and play castles and age-appropriate activities entertain youngsters in the area reserved only for toddlers. The facility buzzes with a variety of structures that encourage sensory-play as well as motor skill and social development. All of these play perks have earned HippoHopp the 2012 and 2013 title of Best Party & Event Planning Place in Atlanta, as deemed by Kudzu.
While mini minds keep busy with excitement, free WiFi and magazines are available to parents, who join their children at the bistro-style caf? for healthy snacks such as mango peach smoothies for breakfast, fresh-ground fair-trade coffee served weekday mornings until 10:30 AM with biscotti. Healthy choices for kids include organic, gluten-free, and diary-free menu items. Along with encouraging health-conscious exercise in kids, the staff at HippoHopp maintains an eco-conscious space by cleaning its facility with nontoxic, biodegradable products.
Father-and-son team Robert and Fred Lee worked as homebuilders for years before going into business selling lights in 1965, so they knew how quickly something impressive could rise from a humble foundation. Sure enough, Lee Lighting, their small family company, grew to include a vast online retail shop and one of the largest lighting dealers in Texas. They've even purchased Savoy, a company that designs fixtures to bring cheer to dining rooms and make rooms full of ventriloquist dummies less terrifying.
Lee Lighting stocks shelves with a diverse selection of indoor lamps from brands including ELK Lighting, Quoizel, and Hudson Valley. Staffers certified by the American Lighting Association move beneath the dazzling crystal sprays and faux candles of chandeliers. They suggest outdoor lighting to transform backyards into regal terraces. They also stay abreast of lighting trends to help patrons select lights that will stay in style.
Buckhead Nail and Toe Spa's staff have spent more than two decades helping others keep their skin and nails looking sharp. Inside the spacious salon, rows of extra-wide orthopedic pedi thrones—each outfitted with heat and massage features—line the floor, and gauzy white fabric hangs above pedicurees as they ease toes into large basins of water heated to their preferred temperature. Joining the spa's nail care services and large collection of polishes are plenty of skin-care options—custom facials and massages, eyelash extensions, and waxing treatments with low-temperature, anti-irritant wax—that serve to summarize the rejuvenating possibilities. To ensure a safe and bacteria-free experience, the staff of Buckhead Nail follow strict sterilization guidelines and wear special bacteria-vision goggles to locate any trespassing microorganisms.
On a 6-acre farm in rural Georgia, Bella Cucina owner Alisa Barry and her team of chefs cook produce from their organic garden into small batches of artisanal sauces, spreads, and olive oils. Their "unbelievably delicious" artichoke-lemon pesto earned a spot on Oprah’s O List in 2004, and Atlanta: 365 Days, 365 Thing To Do calls the full roster of sauces "mouthwatering."
But the food is only one part of Barry’s mission to empower gourmands. She also stocks shelves with dozens of Italian cookbooks that brim with slow-food recipes and designs a line of ceramic cookware that respond to junk food by defensively sealing their lids.
In 1975, four friends with hearts full of the great outdoors decided they needed a place to get gear indoors. This quest for adventuring equipment lead Bubba Sloan, Gerald Marshall, Denny Mays, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Outfitters as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead, while Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids. The store kits out customers for safe communing with nature with tools and togs from manufacturers including The North Face, Patagonia, and Big Green Egg, whose verdantly painted smoker grill creates hot meals in the midst of a long trip or particularly boring wait in the airport. Meanwhile, guides lead expeditionary parties along on waterborne trips down the Middle and Upper Ocoee’s burbling banks, recapturing the sun-dappled fun that inspired the store's creation in the first place.