Tucked away in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is a world class resort known as Blackberry Farm. Quite deliberately, the proprietors have neglected to post a sign on the highway marking the turn off to this intimate resort destination. Privacy and tranquility are indeed the hallmarks of a stay at Blackberry Farm.
Blackberry Farm, reached by a meandering country road and charmingly enclosed by a white wooden fence, is in fact a majestic 4200 acre property bordering on the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. With these famous mountains as a backdrop, Blackberry Farm itself boasts gorgeous rolling hills, babbling streams, thick clusters of trees and wide meadows where horses graze. Accommodations and services are housed in elegant, country style buildings that blend perfectly into these idyllic Southern surroundings.
Upon arrival for our week-long, early December holiday, we drove up to the tree-bordered entrance road to Oak Cottage where we were promptly and warmly received under a porte-cochere. The impression given by the courteous staff upon welcome is that any and all needs will be met with attentiveness and pleasantness. We found this impression to hold true from the start to the finish of our stay.
After checking in, we and our luggage were chauffeured in one of Blackberry Farm’s motorized carts to our lodgings. (Because of the size of the property, and the hilly terrain, these vehicles are a handy way to get from place to place. By phoning the reception desk at Oak Cottage, you can arrange to be picked up and delivered promptly to other locations on the property.) Luxurious rooms are available in the Main House, a stately, county manor style building, where the dining room is also found. There are more rooms in the neighboring Guest House, both just across the way from Oak Cottage. More private cottage suites are also available in Holly Glade, a secluded, treed space at the bottom of the hill descending from the Main House. Each cottage in the Holly Glade contains two separate units with their own private covered porch. A Holly Glade cottage suite is particularly impressive with its king sized canopied bed, spacious sitting area, large bathroom complete with roomy whirlpool tub, and a generous walk-in closet. Though quite large, the overall impression of the cottage suite is one of cozy luxury due to the rich, colorful fabrics of the furnishings and draperies, the homey antiques and, in no small measure, the wood burning fireplace. A generous woodpile is located just outside of your door should you wish to build a fire. (Of course, a staff member will gladly light the fire for you !) Even the small touches throughout the suite reflect the attention to detail characteristic of Blackberry Farm. The fridge and pantry are well-stocked with complimentary gourmet snack fare, and high-end Aveda beauty and bath products grace the bathroom.
Little could be better than sitting by a roaring fire on a pillowy soft sofa gazing out at the Smoky Mountains from the cottage’s picture window. However, should you manage to leave the comfort of your room, there is plenty to do at Blackberry Farm. You might explore the property by following the paved path, either by foot or by renting a motorized cart for a modest hourly fee. We decided on an initial driving tour, to get a sense of the magnitude of the property as well as spectacular vantage points for future strolls. As well, we noted the occasional hammock and pairs of adirondack chairs placed strategically for your repose during a pleasant walk of the grounds.
For those guests seeking more movement than rest, several unpaved hiking trails have trailheads leading off of the main paved road. Their level of difficulty is noted on the property map, and you might choose to take along your gourmet boxed lunch, provided each day, for refreshment.
Besides exploring Blackberry Farm by foot, a host of other activities are available. Horseback riding and fly fishing on the picturesque Hesse Creek can be done year round. (Fly fishing lessons are available, but should be booked prior to your arrival.) Tennis courts and a heated outdoor swimming pool are open, weather and season permitting.
If you have come to Blackberry Farm for relaxation, you will find it in its ultimate form at the Farmhouse Spa (an Aveda Concept Spa). Massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, makeup consultations and other treatments are offered with superior service in the most incredible surroundings. The converted farmhouse is outfitted with cozy couches, wood burning fireplaces in private treatment rooms, and huge windows looking out onto the mountains. And, of course, only scrumptious, all-natural Aveda products are used. (Again, it is wise to book spa treatments well ahead of your visit to avoid disappointment.)
At the center of any stay at Blackberry Farm is fabulous food. We took our meals in the welcoming, genteel Main House Dining Room. An incredible view of the valley can be enjoyed through the large window at breakfast, where freshly squeezed orange juice and hot buttermilk biscuits are also highlights. In the evening, we enjoyed a roaring fire in the massive stone fireplace, chasing away the chill of the cooler December days. Sumptuous five-course dinners were served with impeccable presentation. Besides excellent beef, lamb and chicken dishes, the chef skillfully incorporates local recipes and ingredients such as grits, fresh trout and, of course, blackberries into the gourmet menu. Our knowledgeable sommelier breathed life into the impressive wine list, drawing from their 8,000 foot wine cellare, making excellent wine suggestions to highlight each of our exquisite meals.
Overall, Blackberry Farm is well worth visiting for those seeking serenity in their surroundings, luxurious amenities and excellent service.
We give Blackberry Farm 5 Stars – Outstanding!
For more information or to make reservations, visit www.blackberryfarm.com