April 16, 2019

Have you ever just happened upon and experienced a serendipity moment?  A period in time or circumstance that made you say, “why have we not done this before?”  Where have we been.  Well, that happened to my wife and I this past weekend.  We visited Madison, Georgia and stayed at the Farmhouse Inn.  The pictures you will see were taken by me as we walked the grounds.  Let’s first see just where Madison, Georgia is.


Madison is located about an hour and one-half from Atlanta as you go east on Interstate 20.  According to the 2000 census, it is a town of approximately four thousand permanent residents and is the county seat for Morgan County.

The first town lots in Madison were sold in 1809 so this is an old town.  As the cotton economy of the county expanded, so did the population of Madison. Many of the wealthy plantation owners who lived in the county began building town houses.  Many of these Antebellum homes have survived and can be seen on the walking/driving tour of the historic district. In 1844 the first of three great fires struck the community. The county courthouse, begun in 1809 and finally completed 15 years later, burned to the ground. However, most of the county records were saved. In 1869 the entire business district burned after fire broke out in Albert Shaw’s furniture store on South Main Street. Twenty-six (26) businesses were destroyed. The heat was so intense that many of the salvaged goods placed in the middle of the street burned also. In this fire, the city hall and all the town records were destroyed. The community began rebuilding immediately; however, it took ten years before all the lots burned in the fire had buildings on them.  Madison’s Antebellum homes and Victorian homes, as well as its tastefully restored downtown, offer a wide range of shops, tastes, sights and services that delight visitors from this country and abroad, as they travel along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, the Georgia Antiques Trail and the Historic Heartland travel region.


The description above gives you a very brief understanding of the town itself. Now let’s take a look at where my wife and I stayed.

As you approach the facility you can certainly see the one hundred (100) acres that constitute a working farm.  Cows, chickens, goats, turkeys, a peacock, and most of the animals you would expect on a farm.

This is the driveway as viewed from the guest house.

I know the picture below looks very rustic but the interior was clean, comfortable and “up-to-date”.  The owners of the facility completely renovated an actual farmhouse barn and constructed a dining area, kitchen, common space and rooms.  I have no idea as to how much money they spent on the reconstruction and refurbishment of the overall complex.  I would say close to one million dollars.

There were two rooms in the barn and twelve rooms in the “Common House” adjacent to the barn.  The two JPEGs below will show the main guest house and the walkway to the guest rooms.   These digitals will give you some idea as to the layout of the overall complex.

No farm would be complete without a garden, or gardens.

No garden is complete without a scarecrow.

On the grounds of the Farmhouse Inn is a Baptist Church established in the early 1800s.  It is still a “working” church with services every Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  The view below is looking at the church from the garden.

The interior is just as you might expect, Spartan, but with air conditioning.

The exterior of the church.

One HUGE surprise, was dinner that night at the 220 Restaurant in downtown Madison.  We were tired but hungry.  As you can see, the dining area is absolutely exquisite with every detail being considered.  The food was gourmet—absolutely gourmet.  This was really a surprise coming from such a small town.  I expected BBQ, fast food and meat-and-three diners.  Not Madison, Georgia.  Great dining and we did not break the bank.  They also had a marvelous wine selection.


You never know what you might find when you take a long weekend but this time, my wife and I were certainly surprised.  We will definitely go back.  I would love to have your comments.




March 23, 2019

If you follow my posts you know I love to talk about Chattanooga.  Chattanooga, or Ross’s Landing, as it was known in the days of the Cherokee Indians, is in east Tennessee and situated on the Tennessee River.  My home town.  One of the great things about Chattanooga is the amazing number of events the city offers and hosts AND the great number of really unique home-owned restaurants.  My wife, shown below, and I visited one of those unique restaurants this past Friday—MATILDA MIDNIGHT.  Let’s take a look.

Matilda Midnight is located in the Dwell Hotel at 120 East 10th Street—right downtown.  From the Dwell, you can comfortably walk to just about any location in Chattanooga including the Northshore and the Southside.  Both are rapidly growing areas hosting retail shops, wonderful dining and events at Coolidge Park, the Walnut Street Walking Bridge, Riverwalk, and other really interesting venues in the downtown area .

A picture of the Dwell is shown below.

Three very interesting and unexpected facts about The Dwell Hotel let you know you’re entering a facility that is wholly original: Colorful treats prepared by an in-house pastry chef magically find their way to your room each day; the hotel’s  sixteen (16) rooms all feature a unique design complemented by vintage furniture and curated art pieces; and the hotel is the realization of a dream that has lingered in the mind of owner Seija Ojanpera since she was a little girl, the evidence of which can be found in journals from her youth. Today, that young girl is a first-time hotelier who is ensuring that guests have a truly unforgettable experience in her dream-come-true property. Chattanooga’s first luxury boutique hotel presents an interior which exudes the energy of Old Hollywood and South Beach, while its exposed brick and limestone outer shell gives a gentle nod to Chattanooga’s industrial heritage. The result is a swanky take on midcentury modern that creates a luxury-meets-retro feel, with each room evoking a journey into another era. Meanwhile, nightlife now thrives at The Dwell thanks to its boldly imagined cocktail bar, Matilda Midnight.

Shown below is the small lobby where a guest checks in and discover information about the city.

My wife and I went directly to the bar where tapas are served from four P.M. till well into the evening each day.  The bar is fairly small with somewhat limited seating but extremely well stocked as you might expect, or at least hope. One thing very evident is the number of paintings and sculpture located within the bar area itself. You can see that from the JPEG below.

You can get a better idea as to the size by the following JPEGs.  I might note, we always eat fairly early, and we were there about 5:10 in the afternoon.  When we left around 6:45, the place was full with just about every seat taken.  Definitely a meeting place for after work individuals.  The empty seats in the digital pictures really gives you an incorrect impression.

Seating is very comfortable and quite intimate.  Areas shown below are duplicated within the bar itself.

I mentioned paintings.  They are numerous.


The alcove area below is a very comfortable place for guests to relax and “chill” as my grand-kids might say before going out on the town.

The menu is REALLY interesting with the fascinating cover as shown below.

The wine list is completely adequate as are the dishes or “cravings” shown on the right side.

You never outgrow you need for a 5:30 P.M. hamburger.  That’s what I had and it was “fully loaded”. My wife had four (4) wrapped chicken rolls with curry sauce.  They were equally delicious.

One distinctive thing about the Dwell, it’s tucked away on an unobtrusive, somewhat narrow, very quiet street. One would never know it was there.  That’s one of the charming things about the Dwell.  You will find other boutique hotels in Chattanooga such as the new Moxy and the new Edwin.  All located in areas that most non-tourists would never realize exist.   Both the Moxy and the Edwin have marvelous bar areas and great food just as the Matilda.



This blog was inspired by an article published in “Business Finance”, written by Eric Krell, 3 October 2012

 Corporate relocation has been transformed in recent years, giving rise to new threats and certainly new opportunities.  Traditional three-year expatriate assignments are not the only options now available and desired by companies needing talent in a quick and effective manner.   We are all aware of those countries where travel is prohibited by our federal government; i.e. North Korea, Iran, Cuba, etc. but there are other countries that have made the list of “highest-risk destinations.  The International SOS is a global firm that provides local expertise, preventative advice and emergency assistance to clients with employees abroad.  The highest-risk countries on their list include: Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Mexico and Russia.  (Having been to several countries in the Middle-East, I would definitely say that any country in that region MUST be included as a very risky destination.)  The nature of international business risks is changing, as is the male/female ratio of international business travelers.  A recent International SOS survey indicates that European-based international travelers reported a higher occurrence of threats related to travel-related infections and road accidents during the past three years.   Global business involves more germ-related illnesses and much more aggressive driving relative to conditions in the United States and Canada not to mention threats involving kidnapping and ransom.

The number of female business travelers is rising at a tremendous rate.  Women now comprise forty-five (45) percent of the corporate travel market.  International SOS reports a twenty (20) percent increase in the number of female travelers calling its centers for medical and travel-security advice from 2011 to 2012.   

A 2012 KPMG survey of one thousand one hundred and fifty (1,150) senior leaders in mid-sized companies in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico find that:

  • Seventy-five (75) percent of mid-market executives believe global expansion is integral to their company’s growth strategy.  That figure is up fifty-three (53) percent in 2009 and thirty-seven (37) percent in 2007 previous KPMG surveys on the topic.
  • Eighty (80) percent of U.S. mid- market executives think their global expansion plans have been successful in the last two years.
  • Seventy-eight (78) percent of U.S. executives say they plan to increase non-domestic revenues from foreign operations and customers.  This is an increase of sixty-six percent from 2009.

The allure of global operations is boosting the frequency of international assignments. Fifty-seven (57) of the one hundred twenty-two (122) mobility managers indicate they expect to increase relocation volumes during the next two years.  This fact was reported by Cartus 2012 Trends in Global Relocation.  This travel generally involved three categories, as follows:

  1. Commuter Assignments:  Travel between home and destination countries for a specified number of work days per month.
  2. Extended Business Travel:   International travel of o ne to three weeks in duration.
  3. Rotational Assignments:  A series of two or more assignments, which last one to three months.

It is imperative that risk management personnel develop specific strategies relative to travel by their most valuable personnel.  The following list is an excellent place to begin:

  • Increased awareness
  •  Plan with key stakeholders
  •  Expand policies and procedures
  •  Conduct due diligence
  •  Communicate, educate and train
  • Assess risk prior to every employee trip
  •  Track traveling employees at all times
  •  Implement an employee emergency  response system
  •  Implement additional management controls
  • Ensure vendors are aligned

I think, for health reasons alone, traveling “solo” can be tremendously risky. One of the huge issues existing in today’s global travel is the inability to communicate.  (How many U.S. citizens speak Mandarin or Cantonese?)  At any rate, pre-planning is an absolute necessity.

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