Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rest, Relaxation & Romance in the Great Smoky Mountains

I opened my eyes to take in the most incredible view, after a heavenly night of sleep in a bed that felt more like clouds massaging my tired, stress filled body. Still in a sleepy haze, I caught a glimpse of sunlight twinkling in the water.

I bounded from bed, and with one quick swoop of curtains, revealed an enchanted forest carved by a bubbling mountain stream.

It looked like a magazine picture through the floor to ceiling windows, beckoning me to "rise and shine," with a soft whisper.  

For a moment the lyrics of an 80's song popped into my head, "I was kissing Valentino by a crystal, blue Italian stream."

But, unlike the Bangles' song, this wasn't just another "Maniac Monday," and I wasn't dreaming. My husband opened his eyes, as he heard me marvel, "Wow, what a view!"

Our Guest House, #308
We were waking up at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, in a beautiful guest house at Butterfly Gap Retreat.

We had found the 3 R's, rest, romance, and relaxation, right in our own backyard in Maryville, Tennessee. I couldn't wait to start the day and explore the beautiful property, which you could see from nearly every angle of our weekend home.

The view was such a fantastic surprise because we arrived to Butterfly Gap around sundown the night before. Storms delayed our weekend getaway by a couple of hours, and a tornado threatened to ruin it all together.

The drive to the couples' retreat was an adventure in itself, and I couldn't help but think what visitors from other states must think while driving up these curvy mountain roads, dotted with farm animals, rolling hills, and the occasional vehicle yard art.

From the time we reached the twinkling lights adorning the gate of Butterfly Gap Retreat, I felt welcomed, and relaxed. Once the gate closed behind us, it was as if we'd entered our own little private, paradise.

If you're thinking rustic mountain cabin, think again. The 6 modern guest homes are like art, the perfect juxtaposition against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The expansive property showcases nature at its best, boasting a private lake, acres of forest for exploring, and breath taking views. It's a popular spot for one-of-a kind weddings, and it's easy to see why.

What a beautiful place to take a walk!
The rare hideaway is family owned and operated. The service you'll receive will have you feeling as if you're part of the family. We were greeted by property owner, Becky. Her smile and enthusiasm is contagious.

Mandy & Becky delivering breakfast.
Becky's daughters, Mandy and Laura, help her run the retreat, and they think of everything to make your stay memorable, and relaxing. Each morning they deliver a homemade, mouthwatering breakfast right to your door.

I'm still dreaming about the french toast, with cheesecake yogurt, and strawberries we had on our last morning there.

Best of all, privacy is yours! For a couple with 2-young children, and demanding, stressful, all consuming jobs, it was just what my husband and I needed.
After a very stormy, but romantic first night, we spent time hiking through the woods, watching the sunset from the overlook, and just relaxing and enjoying each other's company, unplugged from the rest of the world.

Don't take my word for it, I'm a local. But, apparently travelers from all over agree with me. Our little retreat has been featured in a little magazine, you may have heard of, Southern Living, and it's in the book, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die:  A Traveler's Life List.

Sunset was awesome!
Sunset from overlook
A beautiful change of scenery is just what we needed to recharge and prepare for another manic Monday. Those hectic days in the office will have me day dreaming about my next escape to Butterfly Gap Retreat.