A drive to Asheville, North Carolina takes seven hours from my home, but I had a family wedding to attend. The travel writer in me decided to go two days early and explore the city as I’d never been there before. The local Tourism Board (ExploreAsheville.com) arranged for a two-night stay at the Sourwood Inn. Thank you for that sweet treat.
Sourwood Inn is a hidden jewel; I passed it by twice before locating the entrance off the Blue Ridge Parkway and Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. That was after owner Susan Curtis warned me about the ten miles of winding roads I’d encounter getting there. Major hairpin turns and slow speeds, but once you find it, your cares drift away.
The twelve-room retreat sits on one hundred acres of mountainous terrain at 3200 feet elevation, however, just 15-20 minutes from downtown Asheville. The bedrooms (most have king-sized beds, mine had two Queens) are spacious and airy, and each comes with a fireplace stacked with logs and kindling. All you have to do is strike a match. The extra large bathrooms include a shower plus separate Jacuzzi tub with a large window that provides no worries secluded views. Each room also has an outdoor balcony overlooking the woods becoming an ideal spot for an afternoon cocktail or glass of wine. Guests can also book the Sassafras Cabin, a small suite nestled in the woods a hundred yards from the main inn.
I arrived in time for afternoon refreshments; they are placed in the lobby every day. You are welcome to take them back to your room or enjoy with other guests.
The common areas like the lobby, library, and sitting rooms are serenely inviting and homey. I’d call the decor refined rustic, indeed not that overly cutesy country stuff. Downstairs is a game room with a television, the only one at the Inn.
Warning, there is no Internet or television in the guestrooms. My Smartphone got access, but some do not. Sourwood was designed to be a relaxing getaway, so indulge yourself and escape the high-tech world.
Full breakfasts are included in a stay and mine were exceptionally tasty. Everything is homemade, and the breads are especially yummy. You may bring wine, beer or liquor for your enjoyment. The chef prepares dinner on selected nights, usually Thursday through Sunday by reservation only. Don’t miss these; they are bargain priced three-course gourmet meals from a fabulous cook.
If you aren’t out participating in Asheville’s array of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, camping, yoga, kayaking, and fishing, you can stay at Sourwood property and play badminton, croquet and use over two miles of mountainous trails. Asheville also offers an endless list of attractions like fine dining, spas, micro-breweries and the world famous Biltmore Estate.
Jeff Curtis, husband and co-owner at Sourwood, has a love affair with the falconry and also loves to share his passion. My niece, Sarah, joined me the second night of my stay, and she and I had an entertaining and educational morning meeting Jeff and two of his hawks. We first were introduced to Greenman, a Red-Tail Hawk, who had a hood on its head. (He’s named after a local micro-brew.) Greenman was a newly acquired Raptor and just getting used to working with people. Jeff explained how the hawks are trained and later released if captured as a wild bird. Those raised in captivity can be trained and kept for life. Falconry requires a major time commitment including finding a sponsor and apprenticing with a Master. Keepers must also pass inspections.
Jeff allowed Sarah and I the chance to don a gauntlet and hold the Hawks on our arm. They are magnificent creatures and an encounter like this makes you appreciate the species all the more. Make an appointment to meet Jeff and his hawks or hire him for a hawk walk. He also gives hands-on demonstrations for groups, sometimes at the Biltmore.
Don’t leave Sourwood before chatting with Susan Curtis, if you missed her at check-in. She is one of he loveliest Southern ladies ever. Asheville and Sourwood are the kind of place you long to revisit. In fact, Susan said 80% of their business comes from returning guests. Those numbers reinforce my opinion; the Sourwood Inn is a sweet place to stay.