Old Edwards Inn
Picture the Carolinas, and riverfront and oceanfront towns often come to mind. Yet magnificent, rolling vistas are a feature both states share. Old Edwards Inn and Spa, for instance, has bragging rights to breathtaking views in the Blue Ridge Mountains — and an impressive history.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the inn has undergone more than $85 million in renovations.
In November, workers broke ground on 22 new guest rooms and an outdoor heated mineral pool. Scheduled for completion in early 2013, the Falls Cottages will bring the inn’s room count to 90. The new mineral pool will be the third swimming pool. A second was added in 2009 when Old Edwards Golf Club at Highlands Cove was also added.
Improvements have been ongoing since 2001, when Art and Angela Williams of Palm Beach, Fla., purchased the restaurant and inn. They’re following in many other couples’ footsteps. Once known as the Central House, the inn dates back to 1878.
Past proprietors have included David Norton and wife Martha “Mattie” Adams (known as Uncle Dave and Aunt Mattie); Uncle Billy Potts and wife Martha “Mattie” Ammons; and Police Chief J. Grover “Diamond Joe” Edwards and wife Minnie Zoellner.
The Williamses turned the property into a luxurious getaway.
“It’s a beautiful true-to-form renovation in the areas that matter,” said sales director Melissa Delany of the improvements. “It’s just gorgeous.”
Rooms boast original artwork and sumptuous fabrics. Some
cottages have terraces; others have screened porches. A red brick and stone facade on the site of the original property pays homage to its roots. Antiques are generously sprinkled throughout the inn.
Less than three hours from Greenville and Columbia, S.C., and Atlanta — and a little more than three hours from Charlotte, N.C., and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn. — the property is easily accessible by car.
“But it’s also tucked away and off the beaten track,” Delany said. There are plenty of places for socializing and brainstorming. “I can have a corporate group stay four nights and give them a different place for dinner every single night.”
Smaller groups often hold brainstorming sessions by the pool or on comfy sofas by a fire. “There are tons of nooks and crannies,” Delany said. Formal meetings and larger groups gather in the Edwards Conference Hall, which can seat up to 120 in five rooms. The hall has a business center, complimentary wireless Internet access and two private terraces.
A mile from the inn, the 33-acre Farm at Old Edwards, for up to 250 guests, includes a three-bedroom period farmhouse,ideal for small retreats, and a glass-enclosed events pavilion.
Old Edwards Inn is clearly a place where business meets pleasure. It was voted the leading hotel spa in North America by Condé Nast Traveler’s readers in 2010.
You don’t have to hop across the “pond” to experience Downton Abbey-like ambiance. You need only book an event at the Graylyn International Conference Center, a manicured 55-acre property with an imposing manor house.
This is Old World luxury. Built by Nathalie Lyons Gray and her husband, Bowman Gray, former president and chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the home took seven years to build, beginning in 1928.
“The Gray family set out to make their home the showpiece of the city, where they could entertain hundreds — something we still do today,” said Tina Fullard, director of marketing.
Rich appointments include 15th-century French carved doorways and Louis XV paneling, imported from Paris.
Now owned by Wake Forest University, Graylyn boasts an updated infrastructure and modern amenities. The property, which opened as a conference center in 1984, has 96 guest rooms peppered throughout the estate, from the original Manor House to Bernard Cottage, where the Grays stayed during the manor’s construction, to the French cottage-style Mews, which will reopen this month after renovations.
The Mews, originally a working farm, has 35 guest rooms, a private business center, a dedicated hospitality manager, some 2,000 square feet of meeting space and a private dining room.
“Groups can really feel as though they have a hotel to themselves,” Fullard said.
In addition, there’s a 1,620-square-foot space and a 1,296-square-foot conference room in the Manor House, along with unique breakout spaces. Bernard Cottage, ideal for private meetings, and Management House, which has four meeting spaces and a terrace courtyard, are other options.
A boutique conference center, Graylyn caters to meetings. For example, it has its own team-building program.
But guests will also feel like they’re being treated. Credit the Grays’ gracious influence. From the platter of Mrs. Gray’s cookies put out each afternoon to the butler staff to the stuffed Scottish Terriers (Butter and Scotch).