Excellence is rare but wonderful. Don’t you just love to be “wowed” and impressed?

I was reminded of this yesterday while eating lunch with one of my truly excellent friends, Lisa Winans. We were celebrating her birthday at The Umstead Hotel, a place consistently rated high by many publications and sources.

From the minute you drive up to the door, excellence abounds.  From the put-together men who take your car and say, “Hello, welcome to the Umstead,” to the smiling young woman who graciously answered my question in the gift shop, to the man who offered me a drink while waiting for Lisa…at every turn I was wowed.

Then came lunch, not much more pricey than many other spots, but far more delectable, beautiful, with service extraordinaire!  We kept gasping at each little moment, our palates did too!

We both felt lavished by how wonderful and delightful it was in every respect, the rich conversation likewise.  We summarized, “This is our new spot, and let’s do the spa next time!”

Two nights before at Angus Barn, a similar experience of excellence…Owner, Van Eure, greeted us with warmth, the surroundings were lavishly beautiful (I felt like a child oohing and aahing over every corner decorated for Christmas) all topped off with a surprise appetizer gift of delectable ribs arriving as we sat down.

So few aspire to true excellence. Seldom do experiences and people exceed expectations. Which begs the question, “Why?”  And motivates the reminder of “How.”

Here are a few ways we can strive to be excellent…

Be Early — Before someone looks for you or expects something from you, show up, deliver, give, lavish.

Go Above and Beyond — So obvious yet so rare…exceed expectations, be creative and go the extra mile (better yet, two), sometimes the smallest gestures leave the biggest impressions.

Ask — What would you like? How can I serve? What would bless you deeply? Do you prefer this over that? Observe and be alert to others’ preferences, meet them and exceed them time and again.

Sacrifice — Here’s a novel concept, not human nature but God’s nature, and one I want to emulate. Less for me more for you, not because I want to, but because excellence demands it.

Do others think of you as excellent?  I hope so, and you can be.

So thank you excellent people who create excellent experiences. You’re a rare breed indeed!

Lovely Lisa and the starter salad, can’t see it from the photo but it tasted and was arranged like a mini work-of art.

This Umstead lobby Christmas tree was stunning, artsy-shaped and filled with fresh amaryllis, uniquely beautiful, we enjoyed staring for awhile.

Many simple but elegant arrangements tucked in various corners all throughout the hotel, along with their noteworthy art collection.

With two excellent men at Angus Barn on Sunday night, my husband Ron and our dear friend Dr. Dave Martin who spoke twice over the weekend and instigated these latest ponderings on excellence.

Picture won’t do this tree justice, high to the ceiling and stunningly beautiful, at Angus Barn.

Delightful displays at every turn…

Remembering Umstead excellence…

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