Westglow Resort and Spa
The High Life Westglow Resort and Spa is located on a 20-acre estate just outside the charming village of Blowing Rock, near Grandfather Mountain. The Relais & Chateaux property was built in 1917 as a summer retreat for writer and artist Elliott Daingerfield. Today, it’s a full-service resort that takes advantage of its prime location in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Adventure On-site outdoor fitness directors oversee the resort’s hiking and biking trips. Guests have their choice of several trails, including the rugged 5.8-mile Daniel Boone Scout Trail, which reaches the highest summit in the Blue Ridge Range at 6,000 feet. More adventurous explorers can take a full-day hike up Grandfather Mountain. The biking trips are 21-mile half-day excursions along scenic flat terrain that runs next to the South Fork of the New River. The resort also offers luxury camping trips. On these, guests embark from the head of the 13 ½-mile Tanawha Trail, which parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, winding through thick brush and evergreen forests. The trail ends at Julian Price Park Campground, where tents are already set up with a queen-size bed frame and air mattresses with 500-thread-count sheets. As you kick back and enjoy the scenery, resort chef prepares cocktails, appetizers and a gourmet dinner. In addition to outdoor excursions, Westglow has tennis courts and a state-of-the art fitness center with an indoor pool, whirlpools, sauna, steam room and aerobics studio with a full schedule of classes, ranging from Pilates and yoga to cycling.
Indulge After an adventure-filled day, you can relax in the comfort of one of six elegant guest rooms in Westglow’s historic mansion, which features a formal dining room, library and a parlor with a Steinway baby grand piano and sweeping mountain views. If you prefer more privacy, reserve a suite at the secluded Cedar Lodge across the street where all rooms have decks, Jacuzzis and fireplaces. For a little TLC, head to the luxurious Westglow spa for a massage, manicure or facial, and afterwards warm up fireside in the cozy lounge. And for a post-pampering bite, step into Westglow’s renowned Rowland’s Restaurant. The luxe spot serves up delectable American cuisine with a Southern flair, including fresh seafood and prime steaks, all alongside offerings from an expansive wine list featuring varieties from all over the world. www.westglow.com
Kiawah Island Resort
Island Escape Kiawah Island Resort, located on a small barrier island about 30 miles south of Charleston, S.C., is one of the country’s most luxurious–and fun—destinations. During its long history the island has been home to everyone from early Native American settlers to pirates to the Charleston political elite. After changing hands multiple times, the land was developed into a resort and residential area in the 1970s, with the current owners purchasing the property in 1993 and opening The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island—a 255-room oceanfront hotel—in 2004.
Adventure Kiawah Island Resort is internationally known for its golf facilities, which include five championship courses, most notably the Ocean Course, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championships. To help shave a few points off your score, there’s the Golf Learning Center, where state-of-the-art computerized video provides swing analysis and pros are on hand to offer instructional programs, private lessons and group clinics. Tennis is also a major draw at Kiawah. The resort has two tennis complexes, including the Roy Barth Tennis Center, which has 12 courts, a pro shop as well as racquet stringing and rentals. Group and private lessons and clinics are available. There’s plenty of recreational opportunities that allow you to explore the island as well. Rent a kayak and paddle along the marshes and rivers, where you’re likely to spot local wildlife including dolphins, sea turtles and pelicans. Or, rent a bike and cruise along 30 miles of paved trails or 10 miles of shoreline.
Indulge Following a round of golf or tennis or lengthy bike ride, nothing soothes the muscles like a relaxing massage. The Sanctuary Spa is an island haven and offers a full lineup of treatments, including the decadent “Head-to-Toe Sanctuary,” a 90 minute full-body massage that ends with a hot oil foot wrap. You certainly won’t go hungry on Kiawah, with nearly a dozen dining options. The Ocean Room is Kiawah’s premier restaurant, known for its South Carolina-raised, grass-fed beef. Jasmine Porch, which serves Lowcountry-style cuisine, including fresh seafood local produce, is more casual, decorated with authentic red Charleston bricks and oak-plank floors and sweeping views of the ocean. www.kiawahresort.com
Barnsley Gardens Resort
Rustic Retreat While it’s less than 60 miles from Atlanta, Barnsley Gardens Resort feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Georgia’s capital. Set among 3,000 acres of rolling hills, the property once belonged to Godfrey Barnsley, an Englishman who married a Savannah belle, Julia Scarborough, and built her a luxurious 16-bedroom manor on the property. The estate was ransacked and vandalized during the Civil War and nearly destroyed in a 1906 tornado. It eventually slid into disrepair and was forgotten for decades until Prince Hubertus Fugger Babenhausen of Augsburg, Germany bought it in 1989 and brought it back to life. The ruins still stand as a fascinating backdrop to this luxury resort, which is based around a European-style village. Accommodations at the resort, all within easy walking distance to the restaurants and amenities, include about a dozen multi-bedroom country cottages that can accommodate anywhere from 4 to 22 people, as well as 62 smaller guest rooms and suites.
Adventure A great way to see the resort’s estate is through a round of golf on the Jim Fazio-designed 18-hole championship course, which offers spectacular vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s also a golf shop on the property where you can rent clubs or sign up for a lesson. If you’re in the mood for a run or bike ride (rentals are available), a 12-mile network of both paved and dirt trails winds through the property past landscaped flower gardens and shrubbery. Elsewhere, you’ll find two tennis courts, a Grecian-style swimming pool and fitness center with cardio and weight-training equipment. There’s also plenty for the kids to do, including Bocce ball, horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, Frisbee golf, horseback riding and fishing or boating on the 10-acre lake.
Indulge Of course a genteel Southern resort is going to offer plenty of ways to unwind. At the spa you can get everything from a hot stone massages and acupuncture to a radiant skin treatment. Your taste buds are also in for a treat. The Woodlands Grill, which overlooks the golf course, has a hunting lodge ambiance with a pool table, fireplace and cozy bar. Menu items range from Black Angus filet to blackened red fish. The more formal Rice House, a historic stricture with a sun porch and exterior walls still bearing bullet holes from the Civil War, offers fine-dining selections such as pan-seared scallops, Maine lobster and seared venison. Other options include hot dogs and sandwiches at the resort’s centrally located Beer Garden. At night, gather around one of the property’s many wood-burning stone firepits, kick back in an Adirondack chair and make s’mores—the resort supplies all the yummy ingredients. www.barnsleyresort.com