Options for both abound at High Hampton Inn.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my two grown kids have the same mom. The differences between them are many but perhaps most glaring when it comes to traveling together. My daughter is content to sit for hours on a beach chair and read, breaking up chapters with a dip in the water. My son wants to go-go-go: Hiking, seeing the historic sites, paddling a canoe are just a few things that entertain him.
So an excursion to High Hampton Inn, the historic resort tucked into western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, was the ideal choice. For a few days, the kids got to indulge their preferences; I got to enjoy both.
For both the laid-back and the gogetters, it’s important to know that the only thing you don’t want to miss at High Hampton is the food. The resort runs on meal time, so the only reason to leave the lakeside lounge chairs or finish a round of golf is to head to the communal dining room. Breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are included in the stay, and the array of options is impressive. Early morning sees chefs custom-making omelets, while diners pile their plates with waffles, pancakes, various egg dishes, meats and sides. Lighter fare includes hot and cold cereals, yogurts and fruit. An entire table is loaded with croissants, toasting breads and pastries. Servers keep the beverages coming; diners only have to pace their trips to the buffet. The scene shifts for lunch and dinner, when full-course offerings start with soups and salads and finish with an elaborate dessert spread of cakes, pies and custards. After just one day, taste buds are primed to respond when the bell announcing the next meal is rung.
In between dining, the laid-back can leisurely stroll along a gravel path to visit the resident donkeys, tame enough to trot to the fence for an apple treat. Settle into a seat on the deck overlooking a waterfall and scroll through the latest bestselling e-book without any distractions. Take a dip in the 35-acre mountain lake, or, for a different perspective, hop into a paddle boat and pedal around the water. An afternoon can be whiled away with a massage and mani/pedi at the spa, followed by a nap in a soft, duvet-covered bed. Just say, “Ahhh.”
Meanwhile, the high-energy crowd has other options for burning off that big breakfast. Gear up for a game of volleyball, tennis or croquet. Hike along one of the eight mountain trails through the thick forests, carpeted with rhododendrons and mountain laurels. Blow off some serious steam jogging up the 4,681-foot high Chimney Top Mountain where the views (I hear) are stunning. Go for it.
By late afternoon, it’s time to unwind with a cocktail on the patio of the tavern. But after dinner, there’s still some activity left. Join other guests around the roaring fireplaces in the rustic lobby for a game of bingo, or grab a box from the game cabinet and start a Pictionary challenge. As a throwback to the resort’s historic roots as a hunting lodge, the guestrooms have no TVs (there is one in the lobby), and Wi-Fi is spotty. Guests are invited to fall back on those old-fashioned pastimes of group games, conversation or simply sitting on the porch and counting fireflies.
Both of my kids agreed one adventure was worth the energy required. They spent almost two hours with the resort’s falconer who taught them how to handle and call two large hawks. Both agreed the encounter was the highlight of the stay. So everyone was happy. Many pages were turned, early morning runs in the mountain mist were invigorating, and the aroma of the resort’s signature fried chicken still lingers in all our memories.
THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU GO
History: A resort since 1922, the Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Latest news: The resort provides the backdrop for the three-hour, ABC remake of “Dirty Dancing,” starring Debra Messing.
No air conditioning: However, even in the hottest month, the mountain breezes can drop the nighttime temps into the 60s.
Dress code: When dining, guests may not sport tank tops, cut-offs, bathing suits, bare feet or hats. At dinner, denim in banned. Gentlemen need jackets; on Friday and Saturday, a tie is also required. The dress code extends to the lobby area as well.
Kids’ activities: During the summer, special programs for youngsters and teens provide supervised games and outings.
Location: High Hampton is 60 miles southwest of Asheville and about 2 miles from Cashiers, North Carolina.
HIGH HAMPTON INN
1525 Highway 107 South
Cashiers, N.C. 28717
STORY: H.M. Cauley