When former world No. 1 tennis player Andy Roddick retired last year, he could have chosen anywhere in the world to kick back and relax with his wife, model/actress and former Matthews resident Brooklyn Decker.
But instead of Florida, California, or some more exotic location, the couple are putting down roots in tiny Cashiers (pop. 1,974), situated in western North Carolina on the highest plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains at 3,487 feet.
To help give back to their new seasonal home, they’re hosting the UCB Mountain Challenge at Cedar Creek Racquet Club July 27. The event, during which Roddick will take on another former No. 1 tennis player, Jim Courier, benefits the Mountain Youth Charities, which helps needy kids in the area.
At first glance, the Roddick’s decision to purchase a home in Cashiers might seem a little eccentric, until you consider the luxurious and scenic beauty of the area, about 150 miles west of Charlotte.
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The vibe is on full display at destinations like High Hampton Inn & Country Club. The rustic stone-and-wood mountain inn is situated on 1,400 acres overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. It boasts 116 guest rooms and suites in the main lodge and 17 one- to four-bedroom cottages. Accommodations are woodsy but elegant, with hand-hewn twig and mountain-crafted furnishings; many of the cottages have fireplaces and screened porches.
Originally a summer retreat for Civil War General Wade Hampton and his family in the mid-1800s, High Hampton opened as an inn in 1922. Here it’s all about unplugging – there are no televisions or telephones in the guest rooms – and settling into the area’s relaxed pace of life.
The property features tennis courts, a 35-acre lake for swimming, boating and fishing, and an 18-hole George W. Cobb-designed golf course where you can even rent a llama to be your caddy. The dining room serves Southern favorites like fried chicken and rainbow trout, along with local vegetables and produce. A European spa offers a plethora of body treatments.
Other popular accommodations in Cashiers include Laurelwood Mountain Inn, with its contemporary cabin motif in the heart of downtown. Another big draw in Cashiers is Panthertown Valley, which has been dubbed the “Yosemite of the East.” This unspoiled, 6,700-acre stretch of land in the Nantahala National Forest has a network of primitive hiking trails that wind past waterfalls, granite domes, and creeks.
Cashiers’charming downtown Village Green has a number of quaint antique shops, boutiques, and art galleries. There are also several excellent restaurants in the area. At Canyon Kitchen, located in the private, 800-acre Lonesome Valley community, noted chef John Fleer uses fresh, local ingredients. And the Cornucopia has been one of Cashier’s most popular restaurants since 1979. Summer rates at the High Hampton start at $150 a night.
About 10 miles southwest of Cashiers in Highlands is Old Edwards Inn and Spa, another upscale retreat.
Selected by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world’s best hotels, Old Edwards Inn and Spa has undergone nearly $100 million in renovations over the past decade.
Situated at 4,118 feet above sea level, the inn has a variety of plush rooms and suites, some of which have private terraces and rooftop views of downtown Highlands. For a more rustic and private setting, there are lodges and cottages, including the new Falls Cottages. The multi-bedroom wood-and-stone cottages surround a heated outdoor pool and are just steps away from a café, theater room and bar.
There are five restaurants, and guests can also enjoy the Tom Jackson–designed golf course and the elegant, 25,000-square-foot spa, which features a full lineup of body treatments and massages.
Nearby attractions include downtown Highlands, which is bustling with boutiques, shops, restaurants, and art galleries. There are also several scenic hiking trails nearby, including one that winds through Nantahala National Forest to the stunning 70-foot Glen Falls. Old Edwards Inn and Spa summer rates start at $280 a night.
Located on the shores of North Carolina’s largest private lake, the elegant Greystone Inn is less than 15 miles east of Cashiers at Lake Toxaway, a premier resort and residential community. This AAA Four-Diamond property has 28 guest rooms and several lakeside suites.
The property dates back to the late 1800s, when Pittsburgh entrepreneur E.H. Jennings founded the Toxaway Company in 1896 – toxaway is the Cherokee word for “red bird,” a nod to the many cardinals in the area – and carved into the remote and rugged land a 640-acre lake.
Jennings built the 250-room The Toxaway Inn in 1903, and for years the luxury resort attracted the rich and powerful, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and John D. Rockefeller. But the good times came to an abrupt end in 1916 when Lake Toxaway’s dam broke and the lake emptied overnight. The Depression further hastened its demise, and after sitting empty for more than 30 years, the inn was torn down in 1948 after a fire.
It wasn’t until the late 1950s that South Carolina developer Reg Heinitsh and his son, Reg Heinitsh Jr., started rebuilding the abandoned community, including refilling the lake in 1961. They later developed homes around the property and opened The Greystone Inn in 1985.
Today, the property has a full lineup of amenities, including the Lake Toxaway Country Club, Kris Spence-designed championship golf course, tennis courts, spa, fitness center, and lakeside dining room that serves seven-course gourmet meals. Nightly rates start at $380 and include breakfast, afternoon tea, hors d’oeuvres, six-course dinner and champagne cruise.