We’ve seen it a dozen times: That post–Blackberry Farm glow that comes over guests after spending their days hiking, horseback riding, picking lavender, and eating one incredible meal after another at the 68-room inn in Walland, Tennessee. It’s an experience the owners hope to build on at Blackberry Mountain, their first new project since the original property opened 40 years ago. There will be 13 cottages, six cabins, and a 17,000-square-foot lodge—and it’s all set to open in late 2018 just 20 minutes away, on 5,200 acres (more than half of them protected) in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The property’s focus is on fitness and wellness, with 30 miles of trails for hiking and biking, tree and rock climbing, meditation, yoga, and Ayurvedic spa treatments. Those who want to sleep in the great outdoors can rent camping equipment and take it to the backcountry; newbies can opt for a more guided experience with prepared meals. As for the dining, the food at both on-site restaurants will be as thoughtful and local as at the Farm—only with a more casual approach to fine dining.
According to proprietor Mary Celeste Beall, the expansion was a long time coming—something she and her late husband, Sam (whose parents founded Blackberry Farm back in 1976), had talked about doing for many years. Here, she tells us how it came to be and what we can expect. Let the daydreaming begin.
When did the idea to open this resort first come about?
“Blackberry Mountain has been a shared vision and dream of our family. After hiking, exploring, and riding through each part of the property, we all knew there was something so special, it needed to be shared with not just with guests today, but generations to come. Before my husband passed away in early 2016, we had clearly defined the best way to approach the property and were planning to break ground when all of the plans were complete. As we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Blackberry Farm in 2016, it felt like the perfect time to take all that we have learned over the last 40 years and apply it to Blackberry Mountain.”
What will the accommodations look like?
“The design of the cabins and cottages is something I am very excited about. The cabins are perched at the very top of the mountain. We used old logs from a larger cabin we had found in the area years ago, and the interiors mix modern luxuries with a rustic, cozy feeling. The interiors pay homage to nature as we were inspired by the colors and textures of the forest and the sky. And the views are incredible. We really want our guests to feel the connection to the mountains and the natural beauty that is all around them.”
Describe your ideal day at Blackberry Mountain.
“Oh, my! That is a tricky task to fit it all into one day. It truly depends on the season and if I was with my children or not. I try to find a balance, so I would say my ideal day would start with a morning hike to our yoga platform for sunrise yoga looking out over the mountains. Getting into the woods early is like first tracks when you are snow skiing. You have a chance to see the forest wake up.
“I would hike back to the Hub, the home of our fitness facility, and join in a morning session of either spin or Pilates. After grabbing a quick smoothie or homemade protein bar, I would gather up my kids for their adventure of choice: mountain biking along the creek, canoeing in the pond, hiking to the waterfall, or getting our creative juices flowing in the art studio.
“For lunch, we would hike up to the Firetower, where we could enjoy a casual but delicious meal together. We may work up a sweat hiking home from lunch, so hitting the pool would be refreshing before I slip into the spa for a massage and the kids run off to Camp Blackberry.
“I would wrap up the day at the Lodge to enjoy the sunset with a cocktail before joining friends for dinner at Three Sisters. Who knows where the night will lead after dinner—stargazing in the field or at the Library with a nip of moonshine or a digestif.”
Rates at Blackberry Mountain start at $895 per night, and include dinner, breakfast, all pantry snacks and nonalcoholic beverages, daily fitness classes, and a guided morning hike. Guests of Blackberry Mountain and Blackberry Farm can visit and participate in activities and dine at either property; a partnership with Lexus means you can easily drive between the two.