Western N.C. inns range from posh to rustic

As my family and I began our trip to the mountains of North Carolina, I found myself haunted by flashbacks of sixth-grade summer camp. I’ll admit it: Even though I’ve been on several fun camping trips over the years, the prospect of the whole “rustic thing” left me less thrilled. “I think I should turn this car around,” I joked, as we headed toward the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, N.C. My friend Bruce Hensley, who handles public relations for the inn, had been urging me to check out the place for a while. When I finally took him up on his offer, everyone in my family assured me the trip would give me a chance to “find myself.” And I did. My family’s time in Cashiers offered me and my family an escape from electronic gadgets, from malls, from traffic. It gave us time to bond. The beauty of the region and the peace it affords its visitors really is good for the soul.

A summer retreat for everyone

The three-hour drive from here to Cashiers (pronounced: Cash-ers) is an easy one, but the higher elevation that brings with it cooler temperatures makes it feel a world away from Atlanta. After a tour of the open, friendly lobby of the High Hampton, we headed to our room. Rooms at the inn are decked out in a rustic mountain motif, and the facility features natural wood in a board and batten pattern.

Life in the mountains

What I loved most about the High Hampton is that it reminded me of the charm of the old South. I donned my dinner jacket to dined family-style with my Southern friends in the high-ceiling dining room. The buffet-style meal included such mouth-watering selections as London broil, baked ham, grilled trout and mango shrimp. I knew my daughter, Caitlin, would enjoy the buffet, but I worried about her adapting to life without cable TV. But after realizing she wasn’t going to get to watch the latest episode of Disney’s “Hannah Montana,” she quickly focused on the inn’s activities for children. The Kids’ Club, open to those ages 3 to 10, offers swimming, hiking, nature walks, games, arts and crafts, donkey cart rides and picnic lunches. Caitlin loved every minute of it.

When nature meets civilization

We left the rustic charm of High Hampton after a few days and made the 30-minute drive to an inn where luxury is the order of the day. The Greystone Inn on Lake Toxaway pampers you from the moment you pull up to the curb. We arrived just in time for afternoon tea, dropping our bags to indulge in English tea and flaky scones. Afterward, Nik Flores showed us around the property, and then to our cottage. He pointed out the king-sized bed, pull-out bed, standing shower and garden Jacuzzi tub. I was impressed, and that was before I discovered the cottage’s screened porch with a view of rolling hills nestled against the breathtaking Lake Toxaway.

A world of options

After orientation, we enjoyed hors d’ouevres such as scrumptious puff pastry with a sweet Thai sauce, and drinks. But we were careful not to overeat before dinner, prepared by executive chef J. Keith Morrison. We feasted on corn chowder soup, mouth-watering halibut over potatoes, chicken smothered in guacamole and dessert that included a chocolate pecan pie topped with sweet raspberry dressing.

On the last morning of our trip, we tried to choose from the inn’s range of activities, such as golf, volleyball and mountain biking. We decided to go tubing on Lake Toxaway. Caitlin did great, but I can’t say the same for myself. After enjoying the waves for a few minutes, I went overboard, losing my sunglasses in the process. I’ll bet one of the walleye fish will enjoy the shades.

More info

The Greystone Inn www.greystoneinn.com 1-800-824-5766

The High Hampton Inn www.highhamptoninn.com 1-800-334-2551

N.C. Facts

Lucy Armstrong Moltz came to Lake Toxaway, N.C., to build a mansion in the early 1900s. In 1985, innkeepers Tim and Boo Boo Lovelace restored it and named it The Greystone Inn.

The Greystone Inn is home to a premier spa where guests can receive to a variety of treatments, such as Active Contour Eye Treatment and an Anti-Aging Skin Treatment.

The High Hampton has been a summer retreat since the early 19th century. The aristocratic Hampton family traveled here to escape the summer heat and mosquitoes.

Cashiers, N.C., is located in a dry county. The High Hampton is able to serve alcohol under the Sports Club License, a 1994 state law that allows them to pour beer, wine and spirits.

The High Hampton Inn has a 5,500 square-foot fitness center with a spa and multi-use room for Pilates, yoga, cardio equipment and more.


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