A Romantic Hideaway on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography courtesy of the Richmont Inn.
Imagine a Smoky Mountains inn, hidden high atop an eleven-acre ridge, surrounded by the quiet beauty of a forest and the fresh mountain air, gourmet breakfasts served while you watch the morning mists and sunshine reveal the glory of the Smoky Mountains, complimentary coffee and dessert served each evening by romantic candlelight under the stars at this Smoky Mountain bed and breakfast, a décor of English antiques and French paintings, wood-burning fireplaces, spa tubs for two, beautiful music piped into your room, super plush canopy beds and sitting areas with splendid mountain views.
It’s all waiting for you at the luxury Richmont Inn in Townsend, Tennessee on the peaceful side of the Smokies.
I first discovered the Richmont Inn in 2005 and my memories of this lovely inn never faded. This past Thanksgiving weekend I had the pleasure of returning to the Richmont Inn, where this time I felt pampered in the Chalet adjacent to the inn.
History of Richmont Inn
Jim and Susan Hind were “corporate dropouts” when they opened the Richmont Inn in October, 1991. Having grown up in the shadows of the Great Smokies, the Hinds wanted to honor the history and culture of the mountain people, many of whom gave up their land and way of life for the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The Hinds have done this through the architecture, room names and décor in the Inn’s main building. It is designed in the style of the historic Appalachian cantilevered barn, the hallmark of the Great Smokies.
The Chalet, a stone’s throw from the Inn, opened in 2009. “Barn burnt down but now you can see the moon.” That quote by Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet, was told to Jim and Susan by his daughter, Angela, to cheer them up. It became the basis for their positive attitude toward building a new luxurious Chalet to replace a more rustic lodge. Along with a café, gift shop, chapel, potting and wood sheds, the Chalet completes the envisioned theme of an Appalachian village.
“Our corporate careers and family experiences took us to the other side of the mountain and prepared us for these 26 years of innkeeping,” say Jim and Susan. “When guests walk through the door with tense expressions, we understand. We’ve been there. It makes us strive to pamper them!”
Rooms and Suites
In the main house there are 10 deluxe rooms. The first and second floor rooms are uniquely appointed with fine antiques, artwork and colorful fabrics. While romantic music fills the air, these luxurious rooms nurture the mood with their splendid views, whirlpools for two, and wood-burning fireplaces.
The third floor rooms are in an area called “Sacred Ground.” With its Native American décor, this space is dedicated to the memory of Native America, particularly the Cherokees. This area is well-suited to groups of 6-8 people occupying its three rooms and socializing in the larger Nancy Ward room.
Four luxurious suites may be found in a private chalet. On my recent visit I was a guest in the Kensington Suite, where Lord Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, has stayed. This suite is decorated with some of the furniture of the estate where Princess Diana is buried.
You may wash away your stress with a rainhead sprinkler and body sprays in a sensual glass-enclosed shower that is large enough for two, soothe your muscles with a state-of-the-art massaging spa tub, and relax with a glass of your favorite wine or bottled water from the in-room bar and fridge. My view of the Smokies from a rocking chair on a private balcony was spectacular! I enjoyed listening to the music of my choice on a Bose Satellite Radio and drifting off to sleep enveloped in comfy micro-fiber sheets.
A meeting/conference room is in the Chalet and there is a Great Room upstairs with a huge living room and a fabulous view.
Dining at the Richmont
The Richmont Inn serves a “sit down and relax” full breakfast with a delightful variety of international cuisine. The menu changes daily. Breakfast is served at private tables in the Main Building dining area at 8:15 am or 9:15 am, depending on the guests’ needs.
When I was at the inn in November, homemade seven-grain granola, crunchy shredded whole grain wheat with a choice of dried fruits, hot ambrosia oatmeal, yogurt, freshly squeezed orange juice and hot coffee were served. Entrees include French Baked Eggs, Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes with maple syrup, Scottish Eggs with piping-hot Cheddar and Chive scones, and French Toast l’Orange made with homemade croissants and stuffed with rum-soaked bananas. Favorite accompaniments are the inn’s signature bacon and a selection of fresh fruits or freshly baked breads or muffins.
A four-course classic fondue dinner is served in the Cove Café at 7 pm only on Saturdays by reservation. “We have worked closely with several top restaurants in Geneva, Switzerland and with the manufacturers of authentic Swiss fondue utensils to bring our guests the classic Swiss fondue dinner,” said Jim Hind. Wine paired with each course is a favorite, or order a bottle of wine or beer from the restaurant’s extensive list. Visit www.richmontinn.com/dining for the Swiss Fondue Dinner Menu. At peak season a Country French dinner is served.
Customized catered luncheons or dinner for groups, with wine pairings, are available in the Chalet Dining Room.
A complimentary Candlelight Dessert and Coffee is served nightly in the Main Building Dining Area for the inn’s guests from 8-9 pm. Freshly made by the inn’s chefs, desserts change seasonally and may include such treats as the Crème Brulee Kahlua dessert, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Strawberry Cassis Souffle or Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake, served with decaf coffee or a glass of champagne or a dessert wine. On special occasions musicians perform for the guests while enjoying the dessert and coffee.
The kitchen will prepare a Gourmet Picnic while you’re out on a hike sitting by a stream or enjoy it in theprivacy of your room.
Packages and Other Amenities
The inn offers several packages: a Smoky Mountain Vacation Package, Summer Midweek Special, a Weekend Rendezvous for Two or a Romantic Package for Two, Family Fun Vacation Package or a Golfing Holiday. The Chapel in the Woods (open-air gazebo) is a charming setting for a wedding.
Springtime in the Smokies
The concierge at the Richmont Inn will assist you in planning hikes on the property, scenic drives, picnic and fishing areas and he will recommend the most popular restaurants near the inn. The Richmont Inn is located within 20 minutes of Cades Cove National Park, 10 minutes from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and 10 minutes to Townsend. Visit the inn’s website for resources to help plan your stay. The 75 varieties of wildflowers on the inn’s property, the flaming azaleas that bloom on Gregory Bald at Cades Cove are very popular (5000 feet high), and read on the Smoky Mountain website about the synchronized lighted fireflies.
Be sure to visit the Smoky Mountain Heritage Center 10 minutes from the inn and the Townsend Visitors Center on Highway 321. The staff there will offer directions, maps, sample itineraries and suggestions on what to see and do in the Townsend area (800.525.6834 or www.smokymountains.org and www.townsendchamber.org).
What to Know
220 Winterberry Lane, Townsend, TN 37882
Innkeepers: Susan and Jim Hind
Member of Select Registry
Directions: From Nashville take I-40 East, then I-75 South to Lenoir City exit. Turn left onto US 321 North to Maryville. Turn right on Old Tuckaleechee Road and then the first paved right (Laurel Valley Road). Go .8 mile, proceed directly to the gate house, bear right through the stone entrance to Laurel Valley. Stay on road to crest of hill, then turn left into Richmont Inn.