by Kristy Tolley
One of the trips COVID-19 canceled for me last year was a weekend stay at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I was really looking forward to it, so when we were able to reschedule it this past spring, I was delighted. We love road trips to the mountains, and Blowing Rock is one of our favorites. I wrote about it in a previous Editor’s Escape, 3 Reasons to Head to Blowing Rock When We Can Travel Again.
Situated on 78 sprawling acres, Chetola Resort blends beautifully into the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains that surround it. Chetola is a Cherokee word meaning “haven of rest” and it’s certainly a place of refuge. Chetola’s history spans back some 175 years to its first recorded owner, Lot Estes, who purchased 100 acres for just 5 cents an acre. Over time, the property was used as a boarding house and a popular summer resort. William Stringfellow purchased the estate in the late 1800s in hopes the cool mountain air would improve the effects of his tuberculosis. Successful businessman J. Luther Snyder, purchased the property in 1926. The family often entertained and Chetola became the ideal backdrop for celebrations and events during the 1930s and 1940s.
Today guests can choose from the 42-room main lodge, the Bob Timberlake Inn or 1- to 4-bedroom luxury condominiums. The lodge and inn overlook the tranquil lake and expansive resort grounds.
The lodge is comprised of guestrooms and suites and provides a rustic, yet modern feel. Suites are well appointed with signature furniture from North Carolina artist and designer Bob Timberlake.
The lodge is also pet friendly — the entire first floor is designated just for them. Upon check-in, furry guests receive a homemade local dog/cat treat. Additionally, pet-friendly rooms include water and food bowls, as well as a mat.
The intimate Bob Timberlake Inn features eight rooms, each individually designed and decorated in the style of the 1920s through the 1940s. The rooms are appointed with Bob Timberlake furniture and artwork, as well as mementos and accessories Bob personally curated specifically for the inn. Custom moldings, period lighting and architectural treatments celebrate the Golden Age of Chetola.
The Bob Timberlake Inn is adults only, which makes for an ideal spot for couples seeking a romantic mountain respite. The inn has special private entrance and personal inn keeper who also happens to be a member of the historical society — she’s a wealth of knowledge! Guests can make use of a fully stocked pantry and there’s a cozy library upstairs that you don’t want to miss. It’s sort of hidden, so if you can’t find it, ask someone. It’s a lovely place to relax and read to your heart’s content.
We stayed in one of the luxury condominiums. It was well appointed and spacious — the perfect set up for a large family or group of friends enjoying a weekend getaway. Our condo had a fireplace, Jacuzzi tub and balcony. There was room to spread out and cozy common areas for socializing and catching up.
My husband and I enjoyed a dinner at Timberlake Restaurant and it was a real treat. I’ve noticed that sometimes vegan options are non-existent or extremely limited in hotel restaurants. That was definitely not the case here. The Impossible meatloaf is a permanent menu item, and it completely blew me away. (For breakfast, I had the tofu breakfast scramble and it was delicious, too.) My husband ordered the filet mignon, which he raved about — perfectly cooked and beautifully plated. Other menu items included Asian style duck breast, elk short loin and garlic and herb crusted North Carolina trout.
We also spent a chill afternoon sampling cocktails in Headwater’s Pub (adjoining Timberlake’s Restaurant). Though we didn’t eat, the pub fare menu was well rounded and included wings, house-made pimento dip (made with Ashe County sharp cheddar), salads and burgers (including a mushroom Impossible burger). Enjoy live music in the evenings from Wednesday through Saturday (summer) and Thursday through Saturday (rest of the year).
Things to Do
You can be as active or as laid back as you want. I do recommend booking a treatment at the resort’s spa. It was pure bliss.
Chetola Resort is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge (one of only two in North Carolina) offering fishing clinics, wade trips and float trips. You can also explore the resort’s maintained hiking trails and check out other activities like tennis and pickle ball, 9-hold disc golf, lawn games (cornhole, volley ball, ramp shot and others), paddle boating and paddle boarding.
We spent a morning clay shooting at the off-site Chetola Sporting Reserve and it was a blast. The reserve is a private club, open to only Chetola Resort guests and those with annual memberships. Our instructor was very helpful and encouraging (all are NRA-certified and specialize in a particular area). I managed to hit the clay with my first shot, which I still can’t believe.
There’s lots to explore in and around the Blowing Rock area. Spend some time meandering through the shops, restaurants and museums downtown. It’s a perfect way to spend the day. If you want to hit the trails, Chetola Resort is close to Grandfather Mountain, the Blue Ridge’s highest peak. It’s the only private park in the world designated by the UN as an International Biosphere Reserve. Other area diversions to consider include Moses Cone Manor, Tweetsie Railroad and High Gravity Adventures.
If you’re itching for a road trip, pack up and head to Chetola Resort! It earned AAA’s Inspector’s Best Housekeeping distinction last year and AAA Members receive a discount on their stay! Visit AAA.com/GoTravel and book your Blowing Rock, North Carolina getaway today!
Photo credit: Chetola Resort, Kristy Tolley