Archive » April 28, 2011
GOLF & TRAVEL
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
The beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains is mostly experienced by those lucky enough to own or have access to private homes and cottages. There are a few lodging options, and perhaps none with the history of the High Hampton Inn and Country Club. Just a couple of miles from the heart of Cashiers, N.C., this is an ideal spot for family gatherings but equally as nice for visitors passing by the area.
The historyThe property’s name comes from Wade Hampton, one of the South’s wealthiest men who owned the estate during the mid-1800s. Hampton is perhaps best known for his Civil War exploits where he rose to the rank of Major General. Later on he became governor of South Carolina and also served as a U.S. Senator during the difficult reconstruction years. Back in those days “Hampton Place,” as it was known, was a family retreat from the hot, muggy summer weather of the South Carolina low-country.
The lodgeSet on more than 1,400 acres the High Hampton Inn and Country Club has an estate feel to it. The property is surrounded by various peaks in the Blue Ridge chain and has numerous lakes and streams. Once on property, guests rarely leave with golf, boating, swimming and hiking taking up the day’s activities.
The High Hampton Inn reminds me of The Ahwahnee in Yosemite Valley or the El Tovar at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is a classic old-style lodge that houses the main dining room and lobby area where guests gather several times a day. The Inn features the American plan for dining, and guests are still required to wear a jacket for dinner. In case you forgot yours, they have plenty of extras on hand.
The inn sits atop one of the hills on property, and as such affords some great vistas especially out the back looking over the lake toward the golf course. With an elevation of 3,600 feet, the hills’ climate is cool all summer in stark contrast to the low-lying land of nearby Georgia, South Carolina and the rest of North Carolina.
The activitiesThe Golf Course at High Hampton was designed in the 1920s by well-known architect George Cobb. It features bent-grass greens and plays 6,012 yards from the tips. This makes the layout very “family friendly” though it is somewhat hilly. The scenic 8th hole is the signature and can be seen from much of the property.
This 137-yard par 3 was cutting-edge stuff when laid out and is still fun to play. The course also features a fine practice area for extra preparation during the day.
Hampton Lake is no doubt the most popular place for children of all ages. This 35-acre lake is the center of water sport activity and features a wading pool, swimming area, sandy beach, two docks and a swim platform. This is also where you start out for sailing, canoeing, rowing and pedal boating. As with all mountain lakes you will find the water very refreshing, even in the middle of summer.
Hiking is big here with eight well-marked North Carolina mountain trails offering a variety in skill levels. The most rewarding is probably the one leading to the peak of Chimney Top Mountain at 4,618 feet. Those who make the journey will be rewarded with an outstanding vista of the Cashiers Valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains framing the view.
The Spa and Health Club is the newest addition to the High Hampton Inn. Signature treatments include the Warm Stone Massage, Clay Body Masque or the Body Polish. The Spa features the world-renowned Eminence skin care line, an all-natural, hand-made organic line. For more details on the Inn, visit HighHampton.com.
The journeyThere are several paths to this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but most will go through the Atlanta Airport. Air Tran offers excellent service from LAX to Atlanta, and I really like their Business Class service. This upgrade is comparable to First Class on other airlines but at a fraction of the cost.
Air Tran also features some of the best aircraft and pilots in the business, a fact passed on to me by a pilot with years of experience. Visit AirTran.com for more information.