South Park Magazine

July 16, 2014

The Inn Crowd

Mountain views set the scene at this luxe destination

It’s a divine destination but you need not die to go. In fact, it’s very much a place for those living life to the fullest. The Swag Country Inn, a rare piece of paradise perched on a high mountain meadow at 5,000 feet near Waynesville, N.C., was created by folks who know a thing or two about divinity--- Dan Matthews, retired pastor and CEO of Trinity Church on Wall Street in NYC, and his wife, Deener, who was seemingly born to hospitality. Originally designed as a place of respite for Episcopalian clergy and laymen, it opened its centuries old doors to the public in 1982. The main inn, constructed from reassembled hand hewn logs and stone from a 200-year-old church, is timeless. A wide flagstone dog trot, designed to catch breezes, opens to views of forever. Mountains pile up like pyramids of sand. On sunny days, they kiss alabaster puffs of white, and when skies are overcast, they wear their clouds like boas. The back porch is dotted with rockers while the lush green lawn sports the occasional Adirondack. The setting inspires the decadence of the three R’s---- reading, rocking and relaxing, while the miles of hiking trails across the gravel drive beckons others to choose a hiking stick (yours to keep forever) and head for the higher country. The 250-acres that encompass the Swag join the Great Smoky National Park just paces from the screened door of the inn. In addition to the main inn, cabins on the property offer fantastic digs as well. One, appropriately named The Cabin, boasts two porches, two wood burning fireplaces, two screened doors that slap like days of old -----and your own personal sauna in a bathroom that could be on the pages of Architectural Digest. The steam shower has a view of the back porch, centered by a fireplace, and there’s even an outdoor shower on that porch for the magic combo of fire and water. Think outdoor shower in the Caribbean, just moved to the mountains. Paradise re-defined. In addition to rocking, relaxing, reading and hiking----there’s dining. Three times a day; well four if you count “high” tea in the afternoon with homemade cookies. Dinner is a multi- course affair; you select your entrée in the morning. Two long wooden tables stretch the length of the dining room where guests share convivial evenings. For honeymooners or those inclined to less socialization, tables for two perch at expansive windows while a fire in the soaring stone fireplace crackles and pops. Lunch menus are selected by guests, as is their presentation: backpack for hiking; checked paper bag or picnic basket. Breakfast is a picture perfect buffet, complete with made to order omelets. The Swag, with more than three decades of hospitality under its belt, offers a rare piece of peace April 27 through November 29 yearly. Holidays are celebrated in rustic splendor. Thanksgiving is a day to remember. But then every day at The Swag is a treasured memory in the making.

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