Blue Ridge R&R

Old Edwards Inn and Spa specializes in rejuvenation

February is the perfect time of year to fully appreciate the warmth of the cozy indoors. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina sits Old Edwards Inn and Spa — the heart and soul of Highlands, N.C. Surrounded by temperate rainforest and renovated with rejuvenation and relaxation in mind, it’s the perfect place to hibernate during the winter season.

Highlands was once meant to be a beautiful and restful place for the dying to spend their last days on earth, according to Old Edwards Inn and Spa Director of Marketing and Public Relations Amanda Sullivan. The would-be deceased, however, found themselves recovering instead of drifting away. Many even went on to lead fuller lives than before. “The North Carolina mountains just have this healing power all their own,” says Sullivan. “There’s just something about the mountain air — it’s such a peaceful and rejuvenating atmosphere.”

Sullivan likens a stay at Old Edwards Inn and Spa to a visit to a favorite aunt who resides quietly in the English countryside. Its origins date back to the early 1880s, with the property passing through the hands of several different owners until the early 2000s. “It’s created in the old Europe style,” explains Sullivan. “It has a sense of being cobbled together over the years, though many of the renovations have been done only in the past few years. It has a sense of discovery around every corner. You keep going through a little gate and you find something new.”


The Bistro at Wolfgang’s

474 Main Street

reopening Feb. 13 just in time for Valentine’s Day


470 Dillard Road

Ristorante Paoletti

440 Main Street

Each room is spacious with fine Italian linens, snug robes and slippers, complete with large soaking tubs in the bathrooms. Southern Living magazine even lauded it as one of “The South’s Coziest Inns.” Of course, with inviting common areas located throughout and a world-class spa mere steps away, guests may not stay in their rooms for long.

The inn is heavily influenced by its healing surroundings, from the gorgeous views to the lush foliage of the local temperate rainforest to the cascading waterfalls. Sullivan says the spa facility itself, available to all in-house guests, is constructed from native wood and stone taken from the region. Many of the treatments — from massages and body polishes to acupuncture and hair services to facials and pedicures — involve herbs and botanicals grown locally in Highlands. “People really refer to the talent and skills of our spa staff,” says Sullivan. The inn’s coziness even reaches to the outdoors with two heated mineral pools, and this year Sullivan says one will have a winter enclosure around it for added warmth. “It’s a mineral pool so you don’t get all that chlorine,” she says. “It’s an amazingly fresh feeling.”

When guests want to venture beyond the walls of Old Edwards, the town of Highlands offers plenty of small-town entertainment. “Highlands is a really cute and charming town,” Sullivan says, highlighting the quaint shops and local businesses, each with a considerable amount of character. “Old Edwards is a huge part of downtown Highlands as we grow.”

Because of its location in a temperate rainforest as well as its diverse ecosystem, Highlands is also home to a Biological Station and Nature Center. If the day is mild, guests shouldn’t miss the beauty of the Nantahala National Forest, the views from the southern plateau of the Appalachian Mountains and, of course, that rejuvenating mountain air.

Old Edwards Inn and Spa 445 Main Street, Highlands, N.C. 28741


Driving Distance: 157 miles or 3 hours




Go for a stay-cation at The Chattanoogan Hotel in downtown Chattanooga, which is offering a two-night Winter Getaway. The promotion includes the first night’s stay at the hotel’s best available rate and the second night at the amount of the high temperature of the day. If the temperature never rises above freezing, the second night’s stay is free.

For more information or reservations call 423-756-3400 or visit www.chattanooganhotel.com.



Travel to Charleston, S.C. to experience the Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition, a larger-than-life festival that celebrates the conservation and preservation of wildlife. Through the visual arts, this event strives to spread awareness and raise funds with three full days of auctions, dinners, workshops and more. Space for some of the festival events is limited.

For more information visit www.sewe.com.