A Romantic Getaway in the Smoky Mountains
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography courtesy of Christopher Place Resort, Red Oak Marketing & Leah Bullard Photography.
On a beautiful cold late December day I traveled from Asheville, North Carolina to Christopher Place Resort in Newport, Tennessee. In the distance the Smoky Mountains were capped with snow.
Immediately when you exit from a busy highway onto a quiet, winding road leading to the inn, you know that you have entered another world. While I thoroughly enjoyed the amenities and fine restaurants of Asheville, the quietude and tranquil setting of Christopher Place Resort was welcome.
“A lot of people come here with the idea of doing a lot of things, but when they arrive, there’s almost a sigh of ‘Ah, we don’t have to go anywhere,’ said Marston Price, Jr., owner of Christopher Place Resort. “They think ‘we can just be with each other. This is what we needed.’ It’s almost therapeutic.”
When Marston and his wife, Anne, first visited what is now their inn, they went through the woods, then turned the corner and it was a wow experience. “Anne and I had looked all over the country—the South, New England and the West Coast— for an inn that would meet our needs, but none of them gave us what we wanted from an inn as well as the lifestyles we were seeking. There was such a sense of peace when we arrived. While having a glass of wine on the front veranda, which faces the Smoky Mountains, we said ‘this is it, this is home.’”
Marston was born in Seattle and raised in New England (His father is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut.) Marston sailed professionally for seven years and worked all over the world on sailboats. “Yet we chose this place in the hills of Tennessee, which is very far from the water.”
His family owned an inn, which was built in 1817 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Marston restored the inn and under his guidance it achieved National Historic Landmark status. “It was a money pit,” stated Marston. “Eventually we sold it to a financier from London. However, from that beginning I developed a great love of homes and history, and I started an historic home restoration company with offices in Boston and Seattle. I lived in Newport, Rhode Island for four years. I restored homes all over the country, but I missed having that sense of ownership.”
History of Christopher Place Resort
The secluded structure that has become Christopher Place Resort was built as a single family residence. The owner before Marston and Anne Price bought the house purchased it from the FDIC in August of 1994 with the idea of opening it as a luxury inn for romantic retreats. Massive renovation and redecoration were necessary as time, weather, and vandalism had taken their toll. After nine months of renovation, the mansion re-opened as Christopher Place Resort.
When the Prices purchased the property, the resort had been operational for nearly ten years. “We purchased a lifestyle,” said Marston.
There are ten oversized rooms, including four suites. Added to the inn is Woodland Escape, a woodsy retreat featuring a Queen bed and a wood-burning fireplace. I stayed in Margaret’s Room, a stately master bedroom on the third or top floor of the inn with a view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a spacious room with a King bed, sitting area with reading chairs, direct TV and DVD and a remodeled bathroom including a six-jet shower.
My guest room was warm and inviting, and after a short nap (I had gone non-stop through the holiday season, then traveled to Asheville, N.C.), a friendly employee delivered a pot of hot chocolate to my room. What a luxury! Sipping a mug of hot chocolate while reading a good book in a lovely peaceful room overlooking the Smoky Mountains is my idea of heaven! Adjacent to my guest room were a convenient kitchenette and a library/game room.
Art and Antiques
The Prices are pleased to share a fine collection of art and antiques that has been gathered through generations in Europe and in the United States. Ask the innkeeper for a handout that is helpful as you tour the home. In the foyer are John McRay boat prints on the staircase and a Dutch painting. In the cozy library are a Henry Ducleaux Impressionist painting and a portrait of Andrew Jackson above the fireplace. This portrait is believed to be the only portrait of Andrew Jackson that was painted in Europe. (The Price family home, Cloverbottom, is located in Nashville next to Jackson’s Hermitage estate. Jackson’s horse track was in Cloverbottom.)
Four Zuber Amazon scenes are the focal points of the dining rooms. Zuber wallpaper is among the most coveted decorative elements in the world of haute design. American icons like the Vanderbilts and Henry Ford installed Zuber in their homes, and you will find Zuber wallpaper in many fine Natchez, Mississippi historic homes.
In the second floor foyer are a stunning painting representing Hickman Price’s living room at his residence—High Tide, Newport, Rhode Island, and a portrait of Marston’s maternal great-grandmother.
The Game Room on the third floor is filled with family photographs from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Marston’s maternal grandfather, Lynn Bartlett, was the Assistant Secretary of Education under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and his paternal grandparents also worked under those administrations.
A friend and I dined in the inn’s formal dining room—The Pinnacle Restaurant—near the fireplace. The four-course seasonal candlelit dinner prepared by the talented chef, Karen Valentine, was divine! My meal, served with wine by the innkeeper, consisted of the following courses: artichoke-lemon pesto crostini, mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette, roasted pork chops with fig sauce (my favorite entrée) over risotto with roasted acorn squash (fabulous!), and dessert was cappuccino cheesecake and coffee.
The restaurant, which is closed on Sunday and Monday, is open to the public. Reservations in the dining room are required at last 24 hours in advance. Dinner, served at 7 pm, is $40 per person. “Time Magazine” compliments the inn’s award-winning wine list. Special dietary needs are gladly accommodated.
Marston’s Library Pub is a casual atmosphere serving cocktails and wine by the glow of the fireplace.
Breakfast for the inn’s guests is served in the breakfast room adjacent to the kitchen and the formal dining room. I indulged myself and ordered Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit.
Weddings and Receptions
Christopher Place Resort is a popular Smoky Mountain venue for weddings, receptions and rehearsal dinners. “A lot of people choose our inn for weddings because of the privacy offered,” said Marston. “We have 200 secluded acres that overlook nothing but mountains and forests. Guests truly have a sense of peace here.”
In the winter, weddings are held in the grand foyer with the Tiffany chandelier. Guests may relax and enjoy cocktails in the library bar. Receptions are held in the formal dining room. Winter weddings are typically held around 4 pm so there is still some daylight. Summer weddings are often held facing the mountains or by the pool. “Last year we had over 70 weddings,” stated Marston. “Weddings are held throughout the year. On a recent weekend three weddings were held at Christopher Place Resort,” he added.
Debra Coffey is the wedding planner for the inn. She works on all aspects of weddings and receptions. You may leave her a message at 423.623.6555.
What to Know
Christopher Place Resort
1500 Pinnacles Way
Newport, Tennessee 37821
800-595-9441 or 423-623-6555
Room Rates: $180-$330.
Romantic Getaway and other packages offered. Voted the area’s best B&B. Named one of the 10 most romantic inns in America, one of the 12 best locations for a fantasy B&B wedding, and a winner of BedandBreakfast.com’s Best of the South. Member of the Select Registry. Four Diamond Resort for 23 years, the second longest in Tennessee.