Skyline Lodge resurfaces once again as a mountain refuge.
Perched at 3,700 feet in Highlands, North Carolina, Skyline Lodge fits organically among its mountain surroundings, despite undergoing various refreshes in its lifetime. Its story begins in the 1930s when the property debuted as an escape for wealthy individuals who survived the 1929 stock market crash. It was owned by Howard Randall who commissioned Arthur Kelsey, a student and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, to design the building. The 20-room retreat was constructed of chestnut, local stone and hand-cut cedar shakes. Following Randall’s death, the Lodge shuttered in 1938. A group of investors purchased the disrepaired property in 1965 and launched a midcentury modern reprise that added 21 rooms and a restaurant with a redwood interior and oversized stone fireplaces.
In its present-day iteration, the 40-room Skyline Lodge is owned by The Indigo Road Hospitality Group that renovated the property and reopened it in 2021. This is the first foray into the hotel industry for Indigo, which oversees restaurants throughout the South, including Alpharetta’s Colletta and Oak Steakhouse and Atlanta’s O-Ku. Indigo Road enlisted Carrie Dessertine of Portland, Maine-based Mey & Co., whose resume includes Atlanta’s Hotel Clermont, to infuse a retro mountain vibe. Skyline’s style is playful, but it still honors its 1930s origins and midcentury additions.
Check in at a stone-clad coffee bar before retreating to your accommodations. The cozy guest rooms feature camp-style blankets, wood paneling and sleek furniture with upgraded amenities, such as bathrooms with heated penny tile floors. A cafe table showcases a Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle and selection of Tea Forté and Mozza Roasters single coffee brews. Prepare a warm beverage and relax on the private outdoor balcony while listening to the sound of rushing water from Big Creek below and taking in the scenic surroundings—50 acres of old-growth conifers and hardwoods surround the property. For more active pursuits, take a walk to Pinky Falls or drive to Rangers Falls Trail. Whatever you do, save time for cocktail hour on the turf green (the location of a pool in a past life). When the temperature drops, cozy up to an outdoor fire pit or, if you booked a room with a fireplace, enjoy a warm blaze indoors.
For its flagship hotel, Indigo debuted Oak Steakhouse’s seventh location. The elegant, meat-centric restaurant has proved a culinary hit (see below).
Whether you’re a regular visitor to the area or a part-time resident, there is no arguing the magnetism of Skyline Lodge’s location. Its perch overlooking the western North Carolina mountains ensures its place as a sought-after refuge for another lifetime to come.
OAK STEAKHOUSE: A Destination All Its Own
During a visit to Skyline Lodge last winter, my husband and I enjoyed stellar service and a lavish dinner at Oak Steakhouse, which was buzzing with diners despite it being the “down” season.
The meal began with appetizers: scallops with couscous dressed with a spicy arrabbiata sauce and oysters Rockefeller topped with bacon, spinach, Hollandaise and bread crumbs. To prepare for hefty entrees, we split the chopped iceberg salad with marinated cherry tomatoes, baby beets, bacon, pickled red onion, compressed apples and blue cheese dressing. Next came the venison Wellington with mushrooms, prosciutto, carrot puree and hunter’s sauce, and an 8-ounce filet mignon, both cooked to perfection.
Sides of grilled broccolini, drunken mushrooms and pecorino truffle fries rivaled the main courses, and we feasted until our bodies forced us to throw in the towel. I stared longingly at the dessert menu offering Southern caramel cake, dark chocolate soufflé and Highlands mint chip ice cream topped with crushed peppermint. Next time, I’m coming just for dessert.
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.