Recently, Sandy and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Each year, we have made it a tradition to go spend a night at a Ritz Carlton Hotel to commemorate the occasion. The experiences there are always fabulous. But this year we decided to try something different.
Originally, the home was built on a 600-acre track awarded to Glen and Ella Davidson as part of the Great Cherokee Give-Away. Built in 1875 as a family home place, the building was expanded in 1890 and 1905 to take in paying guests. Many of these were wealthy coastal families who would visit in the summertime to escape the heat and yellow fever plague.
The home was sold off in the 1950’s to a Methodist minister as a home for orphan boys.
In 1986, Bobby and Barrie Aycock from Decatur, GA bought the Inn and renovated it. Then in 2008, Ed and Luci Kivett and their boys left Winston-Salem, NC and fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming innkeepers. They are the third family in the 137-year history to do so.
The bed & breakfast features 16-rooms and common areas. The Aycock’s have also added walking trails and an outdoor firepit.
The inn is known throughout the Southeast for its restaurant. Offering one of the finest dining experiences in North Georgia, the restaurant presents award-winning cuisine in a rustic, yet elegant, country atmosphere.
Sandy and I arrived at 3:00, which also happens to be the check in time! We were then escorted to our room by a very nice young lady named Mariah. She also took the time to show us some of the highlights of the property.
We quickly unpacked our bags, changed into our bathing suits, and wandered down to the swimming pool. This is a saltwater pool, the first I’ve ever swum in. Since our visit was near the end of July it was warm, but since we were in the mountains, it wasn’t as hot as it was at home. After swimming and reading for a couple of hours, we decided that we had time for a nap before our dinner reservation.
At 7:00 we walked down to the dining room. We were offered the choice of either eating in the dining room or out on the porch overlooking the perennial garden. We chose to go outside, and I’m glad we did! The view was beautiful!!!
Dinner was outstanding!!! I’m not just saying that. As some of you know, I was in the restaurant business for nearly 20 years, so it takes a lot to impress me. But this was way beyond what we expected!
For starters, Sandy ordered a nice glass of blush wine and I had an Oatmeal Porter from Asheville’s Highland Brewing Company. They have a very nice selection of both wines and beers.
We decided on the Lump Crab Cakes to share as an appetizer. These were sautéed and served over local “micro greens” and served with Cajun Remoulade. Really good!
Sandy chose as her entree the Rack of New Zealand Lamb. This was herb-crusted and accompanied by Jalapeno mint sauce, maple whipped sweet potatoes, and sautéed green beans. As you can see, the presentation was beautiful. Almost didn’t want to eat it, it was so pretty. Almost!
For my entrée, I picked the Shrimp & Grits. These were sautéed with peppers, onions, and Cajun Andouille sausage. It also had an apple wood smoked tomato sauce and was placed over a fried Parmesan grit cake. The presentation was also over the top.
(While in the restaurant business, one of our sayings was, “People eat with their eyes.” So the presentation is so important. It was very apparent that Chef Marc Badon and the Glen-Ella staff understand this fact and capitalize on it!)
Then came dessert! We had a hard time picking between the night’s choices:
- Classic Crème Brulee
- Molten Chocolate Cake
- Key Lime Pie
- Apple Bread Pudding
- Fresh Churned Sherbet or Ice Cream
Being that I was completely stuffed, I deferred to Sandy who ordered the Key Lime Pie. Yummy!
By then, it was getting dark, so we walked down to the firepit and had our own private bonfire for two! The crickets were chirping, the chairs were comfortable, so we just had some private time enjoying God’s splendor.
The next morning we slept in (for us…) and then went and enjoyed the breakfast buffet. Again, spectacular! Breakfast is served from 8:30-10:00 each morning, is included in the room price, and was as good as our meal had been the night before.
We then took a short hike, enjoyed coffee while reading by the pool, and checked out around 11:00.
As we were leaving, I wanted to see their conference center for a possible corporate retreat in the near future. As we walked down a sidewalk, we met one of the owners, Ed Kivett. He was working near one of the barns, but stopped and talked with us for about 20 minutes. Great guy! We also saw his two boys having fun riding around on a golf cart. Ed told us the story of how he and his wife decided to uproot their family and become innkeepers. I think he’s having the time of his life. He was a great guy who I’d like to get to know better.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable experience, and a wonderful, fifth-anniversary celebration. I’d recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a quiet, off the beaten path destination to celebrate any occasion.
When you go, please tell them that Robert and Sandy sent you!