“It’s a surprise,” he said with twinkling green eyes as he tucked me into the passenger seat and gently closed the door. My ridiculously huge grin gave away my glee… I do love surprises!
We drove for an hour and a half, winding our way across the state border and into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, arriving at the über charming town of Highlands.
“Look how beautiful that building is!” I said, staring at the castle-like stone building sprawled across several blocks
“That’s where we’re going,” Kary said.
The building was the Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a luxurious European-style resort nestled in a plateau of the mountains. It was named by Conde Nast as the Top Hotel Spa in North America.
The next few hours engulfed me in the most extravagant pampering experience of my life. I was indulged in whirlpools, fluffy robe, massages, prosecco, lunch (in our robes) on the terrace, you name it. Can you say S.P.O.I.L.E.D.?
“What did I do to deserve all of this? I asked.
“We made it,” he said. “We’re celebrating.”
His nearly four month deployment in Korea had not been easy, but we’d been determined to turn the time to our advantage and deepen our relationship. Thank God for Skype, email, and private messaging! And (reluctantly have to shout out) to USPS for – albeit slowly – delivering my bi-weekly care packages filled to the brim with homemade brownies and cookies, and numerous non-edible treasures to remind him of home and the fabulous life we live and would resume upon his return. Keeping his morale soaring became my #1 priority.
We climbed the steps and were immediately drawn in by the roaring fireplace and old world charm of what would historically be called the “keeping room.”
Let the pampering begin!
Some of the features to enjoy at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa:
Since I did not know where I was going, I did not bring anything at all with me. Not to worry… the huge, glitzy women’s salon was equipped with all manner of hair dryers and straighteners, shampoo, lotions and nail services. It also has a relaxingly warm whirlpool that I dipped into before donning my fluffy robe and heading to the lounge.
Upon arrival, you’re given a fluffy robe to change into, a steaming cup of hot tea (I chose Chai), and led to cozy lounge area, where you can sit in front of the fireplace, or, as I chose, on a cushy chaise in front of windows that look out to the mountains or over the roofs to the quaint downtown below.
The Bliss Massage is indulgence times two. The dimmed couples’ suite has two tables, soft music, candles, and aromatherapy. Each person chooses what style of massage they want and they are applied side-by-side by individual masseuse or masseur.
Rainfall and Swiss Showers
The Swiss shower has 14 shower heads; the Rainfall Room is an exotic steam chamber with a variety of self-applied aromatic washes, scrubs and detoxifying mud which individuals or couples can take into the shower for rainfall or pulse-point rinses.
The Spa Café
Following our pampering, we walked hand-in-hand to the café for a light lunch of pumpkin soup, plate of cheeses, scrumptious chicken salad, and bubbly glass of prosecco. Visitors have their choice of sitting in the outdoor terrace by the stone fireplace and turrets, or the indoor patio surrounded by windows.
The Inn has rooms that are fitted with period antiques, European bedding, plush robes, rainfall showers, and private terraces with rooftop views.
After our half-day luxuriating in the spa atmosphere, we walked along artsy Main Street, window shopping and browsing the antique treasures, funky art glass sculptures and other boutique shops, before resting with a steaming cup of India Monsoon Malabar coffee and sigh-worthy maple fudge.
With renewed energy, we drove over to Whitewater Falls. The Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Carolina is photogenic at any time of year, but right now, the leaves were just barely past peak, but still tenuously hanging on to the last splashes of vibrant color.
The viewpoint for the falls is just a short uphill hike, with benches strategically placed at beautiful overlooks for anyone needing to catch a breath.
“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, it is that they seize us.” ~Ashley Montagu