Retreat to the Mountains

Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, North Carolina offers a retreat as smooth and serene as a Carolina mountain sunset.

Written by Joe O’Donnell

A weekend stay at Old Edwards Inn and Spa is more than a quick vacation; it’s a retreat, an escape, from the day-to-day world when you really need one.

That escape begins in the Hummingbird Lounge.

On the second floor of the original main building of Old Edwards, the Hummingbird Lounge is a richly wood-paneled room, outfitted with comfortable chairs and couches. Two bartenders work the room delivering drinks and tri-part metal bowls of homemade chips, candied nuts and olives to snack on. When you lean back and sip a martini, in this luxurious place in the heart of a North Carolina mountain town, you feel like you’ve reached the summit of relaxation.

Reaching that summit is a pleasant four to five hour drive from Birmingham, through Atlanta and Gainesville to the north Georgia mountains and then up to the Blue Ridge Plateau and the town of Highlands.

Old Edwards Inn and Spa is woven into Highlands, NC community and culture. Right in the heart of downtown Highlands, this European style resort offers a mountain retreat with luxury guestrooms, suites, cottages, and vacation homes, as well as farm-to-table restaurants and a destination spa. There is an 18-hole golf course at the Old Edwards Club with dramatic mountain vistas.

One of the most enjoyable and relaxing things to do while at Old Edwards is to stroll up and down the main street of Highlands, poking your head into the wide variety of shops that line the pavements. Galleries, clothing shops, and more make for great window-shopping.

Highlands is an extraordinary town that has been welcoming visitors to the mountains since the late 19th century. In fact, the original building of the Old Edwards complex dates to 1888, when it served as an inn. Art and Angela Williams purchased the property in Highlands and developed Old Edwards beginning in 2001. Today Old Edwards has been named the #26 Top Hotel in The World by Travel+Leisure Magazine; #23 Hotel in The U.S. by TripAdvisor 2016; Business Insiders’ 2016 Best Hotel in North Carolina; and #16 Top Hotel in The United States by Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016.

The hotel now serves as a linchpin to a world of mountain pleasures for travelers, from mountain hikes, lakes and waterfalls to music venues and art and antique galleries. A destination for vacations, romantic retreats, girlfriend getaways and special events, Old Edwards Inn is a place to relax, rejuvenate and celebrate.

Beyond the main hotel complex in downtown Highlands, Old Edwards has also developed sister properties, Half-Mile Farm and 200 Main.

Half-Mile Farm has luxury guest rooms for guests age 18 and over. Surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and an awe-inspiring quiet, the Half-Mile Farm has an expansive great lawn and lake views with fireplaces and balconies in guest rooms and a beautiful courtyard. It is just a few minutes away from downtown Highlands but it feels like a country retreat.

New this year, the property has a full bar with craft cocktails, beer, wine and light bites. Wake up to a daily chef-made breakfast included in your stay, paddle a canoe or stand-up paddle board on the private lake, or enjoy a row around the lake, and refresh in a heated mineral pool.

Right in downtown Highlands, 200 Main is a rustic chic location that is a perfect take-off spot for nearby hiking trails or the restaurants and shops downtown. Relax by the fire pit or swim in the heated outdoor mineral pool.

The main Old Edwards Inn and Spa European-Style resort cascades along several acres in the heart of the pedestrian-friendly downtown. Guests arrive to a Champagne greeting, dine on local farm-fresh fare at several on-site restaurants, and relax among rejuvenating amenities, including two outdoor heated mineral pools and whirlpools. Each guestroom, suite and cottage is hand-decorated in European style elegance and comfort. Guests enjoy valet parking, complimentary WiFi, cozy robes and slippers, heated Carrara marble bathroom floors, Frette linens, fireplaces and balconies. Old Edwards special events and weddings take place at The Farm—a lushly landscaped haven one mile from downtown Highlands. Smaller events are held at guest estates, The Springhouse, Half-Mile Farm, and Edwards Hall for catered corporate retreats.

Within the oldest portion of Old Edward’s is the resort’s signature restaurant, Madison’s.  Dinner in this restaurant is one of the most intriguing and relaxing experiences you can have at Highlands.

Locally sourced farm to table cuisine is the key to the menu at Madison’s. The restaurant is well-staffed and beautifully designed for comfort. Comfortable benches and chairs make the whole experience extraordinary.

The cooking staff creates the menu from sustainable ingredients, in many cases from the resort’s own greenhouses and gardens. The menu itself is inspired by the finest and freshest ingredients from North Carolina producers, farmers, and growers.

Exciting dishes like Painted Hills beef ribeye, pecan crusted Springer Mountain chicken and sunburst trout are on the menu, as are seasonal variations.  The 48-hour braised beef short ribs with root vegetable risotto, braised greens, aged cheddar, poached farms egg, roasted winter roots is a great example of the comforting sophistication of the menu.

Equally sophisticated is the wine list and the professionals overseeing it. You can pair some wonderful wines from Madison’s extensive list.

Some of the tables in Madison’s overlook the Wine Garden, an alfresco dining spot fronting Main Street. Beyond the Wine Garden, a new Neapolitan pizza restaurant will be opening this fall.

From food to relaxation in luxurious style, Old Edwards has the recipe for an incredible weekend away from it all.



Leave a Reply