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A Sweet Stay at Sourwood Inn

July 21, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

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 from driveway

Sourwood Inn from driveway

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.

Main Lobby of the Sourwood Inn.

Main Lobby of the Sourwood Inn.

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.

Corner fireplace in my guest room, Sourwood Inn.

Corner fireplace in my guest room, Sourwood 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.

Afternoon at Sourwood Inn.

Afternoon at Sourwood Inn.

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 , the Falconer and his Hawk

Jeff , the Falconer and his Hawk

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.

Sarah holds a hooded Hawk

Sarah holds a hooded Hawk

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.

Vibrant skyline at sunrise Courtesy of Asheville CVB.

Vibrant skyline at sunrise Courtesy of Asheville CVB.

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.

 

Sourwood Inn
810 Elk Mountain Highway
Asheville, NC 28804
828 255 0690

Amenities Add Up for St. Francis Inn Guests in St. Augustine, Florida

July 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Amenities Add Up for St. Francis Inn Guests in St. Augustine, Florida 

St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, FL

St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, FL

 

A Hotel Review: St. Francis Inn

 

St. Francis of Assisi gave up all the trappings of a privileged lifestyle to follow God. Not necessary for guests at the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, Florida. In fact, the St. Francis Inn lavishes lodgers with more amenities than one might pray for.

 

The cozy Bed and Breakfast, located in the oldest section of America’s oldest city, offers a bountiful breakfast buffet for a few hours each morning (time depends of day of the week).  Guests do not need to sit and eat with others in the dining room unless they choose to. Lodgers have the option of using a tray to take their breakfast goodies out to the courtyard, into their room, or for that matter anywhere they choose.

Full Breakfast Buffet

Full Breakfast Buffet

 

Afternoon snacks include hearty hors d’oeurves plus wine, beer, ice tea, soda or flavored water. Cucumber and melon flavored water were beautiful displayed in glass containers when I visited. Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks remain available throughout the day.

 

Room at the St. Francis Inn

Room at the St. Francis Inn

Desserts are offered each evening from 8:00 – 9:30pm.  The scrumptious baked items are masterful homemade creations by Janice, the chef at the Inn. She makes special birthday, anniversary or other occasion delights upon request. Her chocolate covered strawberries are some of the best I have ever tasted.  And, late night snackers may help themselves to chips and soda.

The St. Francis Inn Beach Cottage

St. Francis Inn Beach Cottage

But St. Francis extras don’t stop with food.  Guests at the historic area inn are offered the option of exploring St. Augustine Beach, about 8 miles away, with access to reserved parking, beach chairs and full bath/shower facilities. This is a real plus in my mind because beach parking can be difficult. The Inn also offers beach sleeping options. Reserve their Beach Cottage and you’ll get 2 bedrooms, full kitchen, living and dining room, plus indoor Jacuzzi.

 

Complimentary high speed WiFi runs throughout the inn and the St. Francis has their own solar heated swimming pool. Guests also have complimentary use of bicycles in the Old City, free tickets to the Lighthouse and 50% off discounts for tours of the Oldest House.

 

A special promotion in 2013 gives Inn guests who stay for two nights Sunday thru Thursday at regular rates a complimentary admission (valued at $59 plus tax per person) for a two-hour Segway Through History ride. Advance reservations are required but this is a way cool way to see America’s oldest city.

 

Innkeepers Joe and Margaret Finnegan maintain a generous spirit and like to spoil their guests with abundance. Guests clearly feel welcome and many find they simply must return to re-experience the charm of the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine.

 

Cozy Room of the St. Francis Inn

Cozy Room of the St. Francis Inn

279 Saint George St, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Toll-free: 1-800-824-6062
Tel: (904) 824-6068 • Fax: (904) 810-5525
Email: info@stfrancisinn.com
Mobile Site: stfrancisinn.mobi

 

My stay at the St. Francis Inn Beach Cottage arranged by Leigh Cort Publicity.

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