by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels
By the time I rolled into the little mountain town of Cashiers, North Carolina, it was after dark. I’d been on the road for three weeks and I was dead tired. To top it off, although I’d been in Cashiers a few years earlier, I was almost totally unfamiliar with the town, had no reservations, didn’t even know where to find a hotel or motel, and was almost out of fuel. First things first, I decided. Pulling into the gas station in the center of town, I climbed out of my car and stretched to get rid of the kinks from a day of driving. While pumping gas, I scanned my surroundings and spied a cute-looking inn across the road, perched atop a hillside.
Luck was with me when I pulled into the Laurelwood Mountain Inn. The manager, Eric, was still on site through some fluke – normally he would have been long gone by this hour. I held my breath when I asked the price – from the look of the place, I expected it to be well above my budget. Imagine my surprise when he quoted me $80 per night. “Deal,” I said, delightedly. Even better, the motel provided free high-speed wi-fi.
The Laurelwood Mountain Inn has twenty-four absolutely charming rooms, suites and cabins. My standard room had a queen-size bed and was equipped with coffee maker, mini-refrigerator, cable TV, ceiling fans, air conditioner (although in the mountain air there was no need for it), and built-in writing desk. The recently remodeled room featured tongue-in-groove wooden ceilings and wainscoting with woodsy wallpaper borders adding a homey touch, and the brand spanking new bathroom had granite counter tops and a spacious shower with a great shower head that beat hot water down on my sore muscles.
What impressed me most about the Laurelwood Mountain Inn, other than the fact that is was one of the cleanest rooms I have ever stayed in, was the obvious thought that had been given to the guest’s comfort. Towels were soft and fluffy, a full complement of shampoo/conditioner/lotions were set out for my use, the bed was firm yet extremely comfortable; even the pillows were fluffy. And to my delight, when I propped myself up in bed and booted up my laptop to get my email, I found a plug right next to the bed (I am constantly amazed by the lack of electrical receptacles in seemingly modern hotel rooms).
Though I chose the most affordable room, the Laurelwood offers a variety of accommodations. Deluxe rooms have full kitchenettes and shower/tub combinations. Three lofted suites in a beautiful log building offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a full kitchen, whirlpool tub, cable TV, private balcony, air conditioning, and a large wrap around porch with rocking chairs. Finally, a beautifully isolated cabin has a private king bedroom, bathroom with tub/shower, full kitchen, living room with a romantic gas fireplace, spacious upstairs loft with two twin beds, screened back porch with rocking chairs, and a BBQ grill.
In the morning, I happened to meet one the owners of the inn, Bob Dewes. In June of 1995, after spending many years in the corporate rat race, Bob and his wife, Lise, gave up the big city life, moved to the mountains, and purchased the motel. In addition to providing wonderful accommodations, the Dewes are also experts on the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in and around Cashiers and are always happy to help guests plan activities such as horseback riding along local mountain trails, golfing, fishing, whitewater rafting, antiquing, shopping and more!
Located deep within the Nantahala Forest, Cashiers sits within a glittering emerald valley encircled by 5,000-foot high peaks. Sunshine streams down through crisp pine-scented air, illuminating the distant craggy stone faces of the surrounding mountains, and pine-scented air lures visitors into the surrounding woods, where spongy footpaths carpeted with last winter’s detritus follow rushing creeks to thundering waterfalls. I’ve tried – and failed – to imagine a destination more alluring than Cashiers, North Carolina, or a more perfect mom and pop motel than the Laurelwood Mountain Inn.
Photos courtesy of the Laurelwood Mountain Inn