One of the most luxurious and restful small country hotels in the nation isn't quite where you'd expect to find it: in eastern Tennessee on the doorstep of the Great Smoky Mountains. But that doesn't stop sophisticated travelers from making repeat visits to Blackberry Farm, a 1,100-acre, 44-room Relais & Chateaux property where guests are encouraged to slow down and leave life's cares at the door. Here's the place to enjoy a guided wildflower walk, paddle a canoe on Walland Pond, or simply relax in a rocking chair on a shady veranda overlooking the Smokies. Combining Southern hospitality with English country charm, the resort offers splendid accommodations (plush feather beds, antique furnishings, lots of floral chintz) as well as its unique brand of "Foothills Cuisine," an artful blend of haute cuisine and country food. The meals -- three squares a day, including a gourmet picnic lunch and a sumptuous five-course candlelit dinner -- have established Blackberry Farm as a culinary destination. There's also a full-service farmhouse spa and an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing school on site, with a stocked pond at the resort as well as hundreds of miles of productive trout streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Horseback riding and mountain biking are available for more active guests.
|A view from Blackberry Farm. Robin Hood|
Still tempted to tee it up? Blackberry Farms is convenient to several fine area golf courses, including Laurel Valley, a short but beautiful layout known for its stellar mountain views; Landmark Golf Club at Avalon, a rolling, wooded, Joe Lee design set in an upscale golf community; Egwani Farms, a roomy, well-conditioned course with smooth greens; and, further afield, River Islands, a stellar Arthur Hills-designed course with four holes located on islands in the middle of the French Broad River.
Blackberry Farm is located 30 minutes from the Knoxville airport and is within a day's drive of a majority of the nation's population. Room rates for two guests, including three meals daily and all pantry snacks, start at $395. There is a two-night minimum. Details: 865-380-2260; www.blackberryfarm.com.