A heavenly retreat on Lake Toxaway in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains
By Hope S. Philbrick
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Greystone Inn offers a relaxing atmosphere with modern luxuries and superior service—it’s won the AAA Four Diamond award for 26 consecutive years. It’s the kind of place adults go to treat themselves: Among our fellow guests were couples celebrating their first, 15th and 60th anniversaries, honeymooners, a family reunion, and a couple on their seventh getaway to the inn.
Though the landscape is now dominated by Lake Toxaway, in the late 1800s the area was simply forest with a river running through it. The 640-acre lake—which is about three miles long and one mile wide with 14.5 miles of shoreline—was created by entrepreneur E. H. Jennings and was the first man-made lake in the Appalachians. The Greystone Inn is not the first inn on its shores: “In 1903 The Toxaway Inn was an impressive six-story building with 250 guest rooms,” says Clark Lovelace, general manager of The Greystone Inn, which has 33 guest rooms. “The Edisons, Fords, Vanderbilts, Firestones and Rockefellers stayed there.” But The Toxaway Inn’s heyday was short lived. On August 13, 1916 extreme rains flooded the region, wiping the dam away and emptying the lake overnight. Without the lake attraction, The Toxaway Inn stood empty until it was torn down in 1948. In the 1960s, Reginald D. Heinitsh, Sr. purchased 9,000 acres with the vision of re-creating the Lake Toxaway and developing a new mountain community around it.
The Greystone Inn is housed in a mansion built in 1915 for Savannah’s Lucy Armstrong, who lived in it until 1963. During the 1970s it served as the community clubhouse. It became The Greystone Inn in 1985 after a $5 million renovation.
“I grew up working here,” says Lovelace, whose parents Tim and Boo Boo opened The Greystone Inn when he was 10. “I came back five years ago so my parents could retire.” Among his current duties is piloting the 26-passenger “Miss Lucy” Hacker Craft each evening as guests sip champagne and listen to his historical tales about inn and lake community. “It’s a favorite part of my job,” he admits with a broad smile.
The relaxed mood and friendly tone we found onboard the champagne cruise was consistent throughout the country inn. From the front desk to the dining room, service was exceptional.
One morning we toured the new Kris Spence-designed golf course. The 6,600-yard, 71-par course is “challenging yet playable for all levels,” said Christine Jarrett, golf pro. In the afternoon we cruised around the lake on a pontoon boat. Had we been more energetic we might have played tennis, gone water skiing or hiked up Mount Toxaway. But we preferred lounging in front of the fireplace in our room.
The satisfaction of each gourmet meal was rivaled only by that of drifting off to sleep in the cozy bed while listening to tree frogs.
Whether your visit will mark a milestone or you’re simply looking to relax, a getaway to The Greystone Inn can cure what ails you—and that alone is reason to celebrate.
What To Do…
Afternoon tea, a champagne lake cruise, hors d’oeuvres, multi-course gourmet dinner, evening turndown service and breakfast are included with the cost of accommodations. Guests also enjoy complimentary access to lake activities, ski boat with driver, mountain bikes, tennis courts, health and fitness center, the Tom Fazio-designed golf learning center and hiking trails. Golf green fees are also complimentary at certain times of the year. Treatments at Sothys Signature Spa are available for an additional fee.
Standard rates start at $290 per night November through April. Standard rates are $360 Sunday through Thursday or $410 Friday and Saturday from May through October.
The Greystone Inn
Lake Toxaway, NC 28747
800-824-5766 or 828-966-4700
-Photos Courtesy The Greystone Inn
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.