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High Hampton Inn & Country Club

Updated on August 23, 2017

A Wonderful Family Vacation

When five generations of a family return to the same spot for vacation over a period of ninety years, you know there must be something special about it. High Hampton Inn & Country Club in Cashiers, North Carolina is the very place to which I refer. Five generations of my family, from my great-grandparents down to my son, have wiled away many a summer hour on the golf course, in the lake, on the trails, or just enjoying the fresh mountain air that surrounds this piece of Heaven. If you are looking for a rustic mountain resort with plenty of activities, look no further. It doesn't get any better than High Hampton Inn and Country Club.

(Photo from my personal collection, taken on my vacation in July 2012)

Activities - Do as much or as little as you please.

The lake at High Hampton. (Photo from my personal collection)
The lake at High Hampton. (Photo from my personal collection)

Where to begin? There is something for everyone. If you want to play a round on the gorgeous mountain golf course, you can loosen up at the driving range beforehand. Take a lesson from the pro, if you like. Tennis lessons are also available, or you can hop on the court and start hitting balls, if you don't need a lesson. There are numerous hiking trails on the resort property, and they mostly wind around the two most prominent mountains bordering the property. One loops around the lake, where one can swim, rent a paddleboat, or go fishing. (You can see the lake and boathouse in the picture, taken a few summers ago from the front porch of our cottage.) The spa is just down the road and offers whatever indulgence you might want after a long day on the trails.

If that sounds like too much physical exertion for your vacation, and you prefer to relax, there is plenty to keep you happy at the inn. On the porch, there is a ping pong table and a funny little game with a hook and a ring on a rope that might keep you occupied for hours if you are a determined person! Fancy a game of croquet? You can ask for the croquet set and take it out to the lawn that overlooks the lake and mountains. The front desk also has a nice collection of board games for rainy day play in the lobby. Exercise classes such as aerobics and pilates are offered almost every day in a room downstairs in the inn. Still sound too "active?" There are plenty of red rockers on the porches wrapping around the inn for you to sit and read a book or enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view. There are also various classes offered such as quilting, Bridge, and painting. If you're not opposed to leaving the grounds, you can take an excursion on horseback, go rock climbing, or enjoy the shopping in nearby Cashiers and Highlands. There are also waterfalls and trails all over the area.

Early morning on the golf course.

Photo from my personal collection, taken in July 2012. We were taking an early morning hike on one of the trails and enjoying the view as we skirted around a few of the fairways. I am the fourth generation of my family to have played this golf course. My son is the fifth generation of my family to enjoy High Hampton, but we will need to wait a few years before he can enjoy the golf course!

A lovely place to spend your summer vacation . . .

From my personal collection.  Taken on vacation July 2012
From my personal collection. Taken on vacation July 2012

This is the back of the inn. I took this picture from a spot where I sat in one of the red rocking chairs and read a book. It was mid-morning, and the temperature was just right - about 70 degrees. I lost count long ago of how many times I have visited, but it definitely feels like home to me.

Children's Activities Program - (Picture from my personal collection...my husband and son playing while I sign my son in for the day.)

From personal collection: picture of my husband and son.
From personal collection: picture of my husband and son.

If you go during the summer months, there is a children's program for the kiddos. They play games, go on hikes, swim in the lake, sing songs, and more. From early morning until mid afternoon, your children will be entertained with events that match the theme of the day. The children's program is open for a few hours in the evening, too. They eat dinner, watch a movie, and cap off the day with a visit to the llamas or a hayride. Our son loves the children program and asks to go back all the time!

They meet in a small house near the lake that is decorated to delight the children, and to live up to its name: Noah's Ark.

They do have a sign-up sheet in the inn for each day, as there is a limit on how many children can join the program per session. There are always enough counsellors on hand to make sure everyone is safe and having a good time. Children must be at least 3 years old and fully potty trained to participate in the children's program.

Donkey Cart Rides - One of the many great traditions at High Hampton

From my personal collection, July 2012 trip
From my personal collection, July 2012 trip

The children love the donkey cart rides. At designated times each week, the gentlemen in this picture bring Ed and Fred (the donkeys) up to the inn and hitch them up to the cart. About six or eight children can ride at one time. They love it! My son saw a picture of children riding the cart in a brochure and talked about it incessantly for about a year. Finally, when we took him to High Hampton for the first time, he had his long-awaited donkey cart ride. He was not disappointed!

The front door of "my mountain home"

From my personal photo collection.  Taken July 2012
From my personal photo collection. Taken July 2012

When I drive up to these doors, it feels like coming home. In fact, I can remember at least one time when I flung my car door open and said to a bellman, "I'm home!" When I have considered buying a little mountain retreat, I always stop myself, thinking, "But I would never go to High Hampton if I had a house in the mountains." That notion makes me so sad, and I again ditch the idea of buying a mountain house. High Hampton is "my mountain home."

I have been to High Hampton so many times (over the course of about 30 years) that I've lost count. My great-grandparents came here and brought my grandfather and his brothers. My grandfather, in turn, brought his children and grandchildren. Now, I return with my husband and son. My husband and I even spent our honeymoon here! It's truly the most special place to vacation that I can imagine. And a very large part of that is the connection that I feel to this place. Home.

Accommodations - A rustic place for the upscale traveler

Photo from my personal collection.
Photo from my personal collection.

High Hampton is not for everyone, as their website will tell you. I don't know of any other place like it. The guests are people who are typically able to visit middle-to-upscale destinations and resorts, and High Hampton is definitely upscale in its service, the dining, and the abundance of amenities. Yet the surroundings at High Hampton are decidedly rustic. I would describe the inn as "upscale rustic."

There are no televisions or phones in the rooms. Dcor is simple and attractive, but very comfortable. There is no air conditioning, with few exceptions. You can either stay in one of the rooms in the inn, or you can stay in one of the cottages. We have done both, and we like both arrangements for different reasons. Since all of the meals are in the inn, it's convenient to stay right there and walk downstairs to eat. Few of the cabins are so far away that you would want to bring along your bike and ride to the inn for meals. Some people prefer that, though, for the sake of peace and privacy. Remember, with no air conditioning, everyone's windows and doors stand open much of the time! The whir of a box fan may be your only sound buffer against the crunch of gravel under early morning hikers' feet outside your window (if you want to sleep in!). We find that the rooms in the cottages tend to be more unique - some cozy, some huge, some oddly-shapen, some with a living room, some that accommodate two, and some that accommodate five. This is part of the charm, to the folks who return time and again. The rooms on the second floor of the inn tend to be more uniform with each other, and are about the size of a regular hotel room. The third floor of the inn is air conditioned, and the rooms are delightfully different from one another. The picture above is the sitting area in our room on our last stay. (The room looks much better when not cluttered with our cooler and other personal items!) It's one of the larger rooms, with a sitting area, and has a funny-shaped little hallway leading to its funny-shaped door. Yes, that is the door on the right side! We loved it! In fact, we may request the same room when we go back next time.

What kind of traveler are you? Do you like uniformity and predictability? Must you have your television and phone? If you answered yes to these last two questions, you might not like High Hampton. But if you love the outdoors, if you like rustic places, and if you are family-oriented, you will love High Hampton!

What's your preference? - Rustic or posh?

Personal collection - my son said, "The beds are made of trees!"
Personal collection - my son said, "The beds are made of trees!"

What kind of accommodations do you prefer?

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Making Memories

From my personal collection, July 2012 trip.
From my personal collection, July 2012 trip.

(In this picture, from left to right: My dad, the fishing guide, my son, and my husband) My father went to the Orvis store in Cashiers and purchased a fishing lesson for my son. The Orvis guide came right to the High Hampton grounds to give my son the lesson. My son was actually able to pull in a little fish (which he likes to say was HUGE!). They released it, of course. In this picture, you can also see the Honeymoon Cottage off to the right, which is one of High Hampton's more remote cottages. At the top, you see one of the fairways on the beautiful golf course.

Find out more . . .

Don't just take my word for it . . . visit the High Hampton website and learn more about this special place.

Excellent Service and Dining

From my personal collection.
From my personal collection.

It begins with the friendly faces at the front desk. Whether you are calling to make your reservation, making special requests, or checking out, they are always ready to help. They truly care about making your stay memorable. Much of their business comes from returning customers (like my family), so they take very good care of their guests. In the dining room, you will most likely have the same two or three waiters or waitresses serving you for the duration of you stay. These servers, like the bellhops, may be students on summer vacation from one of the nearby universities. They are always ready with a smile, and may automatically fill your glass with your preference of water or tea when they see you enter the dining room.

When you arrive at the inn, you are assigned a table in the dining room. This will be your table for the remainder of your stay. This is actually wonderful thing, since you don't have to wait to be seated. It keeps things running efficiently. If your whole party does not want to eat at the same time, that's not a problem. You can come and go. Early risers can have their oatmeal and coffee and make their exit long before late-sleeping brothers or cousins wander half-lidded up to the buffet to load up with eggs, pancakes, fresh fruit, cereal, biscuits and gravy, French toast . . . OH! And before I forget, the local sausage is out of this world.

All three meals of the day are buffet-style, although you can request some things from the kitchen. You can begin with soups of the day, then work your way down to the salad bar. Moving on to the main course, veggies, and starches, your plate will be full before you get to the end of the line. Everything is good. There is so much food on the buffet table, and sometimes it's hard to choose. You can always go back for seconds, though! The dessert table always has five or ten things from which to choose, whether it's apple pie, key lime pie, cheesecake, German chocolate cake, pudding or strawberry shortcake. They are all delicious. We find that when it's time to eat one meal, we are often still full from the last meal! It's certainly possible to eat only healthy amounts of healthy food while there, but my husband's and my self-restraint seem to be left at the door when we enter the dining room.

Did I mention that all this wonderful food is included in the price of your stay? It is! And there is no tipping at High Hampton. The service is excellent just because they truly appreciate their guests.

An Anecdotal Adventure

from my personal collection
from my personal collection

The last time I visited High Hampton, there were a great many small thunderstorms in the area over the course of a couple of days. We saw a couple of very close lightning strikes on the grounds. One knocked out the phone service for a day, but it was restored on the second day.

Another knocked out the power for several hours one afternoon and evening. It wasn’t just the inn that was without power, though. It was almost the entire county, from what I understood. My family and I were staying in a room on the third floor of the inn. There are no windows in the hallways up there, and because guests were trying to trap their remaining cool air in their rooms, no light filtered in from open room doors.

Not even five minutes after the power was lost, a bellman with a flashlight was roaming the hallway asking if everyone was all right. In coming and going from my room over the next few hours, I saw him at least twice more, patrolling and making sure everyone had what they needed. In the meantime, people were driving up to the inn to check in, confused by the number of people milling about and the lack of lighting! Bellmen and desk personnel were ushering them in and checking them in anyway, not allowing the power outage to stop business as usual. Still smiling, but in the glow of emergency lights instead of regular lighting, the staff were as welcoming and friendly as ever. Fielding plenty of questions about when the power would be back on, they gave update after update.

The dinner bell rang, and guests filed into a candlelit dining room. The dress code was relaxed, since it was a bit warmer in the inn than usual. Without fans cooling the rooms, the gentlemen would have been a bit warm in their coats and ties. I wondered whether people would be disgruntled with the situation, or grumbling to one another about the humid air. Well, that was far from the case! The kind of people who go to High Hampton love nature, are prepared to go without air conditioning, and usually have somewhat of an adventurous spirit anyway. So, the dining room actually took on a party-like atmosphere! It was downright merry! Instead of grumbling, the attitude seemed to be more like, “Well, isn’t this fun? It’s an extra adventure!” Many ladies (like me) had their wet hair pulled back into a bun because they couldn’t use a hairdryer. If some of the foods were not available, I don’t recall. But the whole place generally had an upbeat, roll-with-it spirit. I have to credit that, in part, to the staff’s great attitude, too.

After dinner, but before we went to bed, the power was restored. Since we were staying in one of the air-conditioned rooms on the third floor, we were mighty glad! But all in all, that’s one of my funniest memories of High Hampton.

Traditions and Family Reunions

From my personal collection.  The table in the lobby where afternoon tea is served.
From my personal collection. The table in the lobby where afternoon tea is served.

Each afternoon, tea is served in the lobby. Take it with lemon or sugar or however you like, but don’t forget to pick up a cookie. That brings me to another tradition at High Hampton: Milk and cookies at bedtime. This was something that fell by the wayside and was not done for many years, but the current owners have brought it back. What a delight! Another tradition that has been restored is ringing the bell in front of the inn at dinnertime.

There is a dress code at High Hampton. I find this refreshing and all too rare in today’s world of flip-flops and anything-goes. While the dinnertime dress code has been slightly relaxed recently, guests are still expected to look presentable. Gentlemen no longer have to wear a coat and tie every night (only some nights). I believe a golf shirt and sportcoat are now acceptable on most nights. But be aware that the dining room always enjoys a certain state of decorum. Ladies wear dresses or nice pantsuits to dinner. Children are expected to dress likewise. You might see girls wearing their church dresses and hair bows, and boys usually look sharp in their seersucker or similar.

After dinner, there are usually games in the lobby such as Bingo or Horse Races (with antique toy horses) for the children.

No t-shirts are allowed. In the lobby, wet bathing suits and tank tops are prohibited at all times. Personally, in a world where dress codes are tossed out the window more and more frequently, I appreciate the inn's simple standard.

When I was young, my grandparents would take all of the family (sixteen of us) to High Hampton for a few days in July. Per my grandparents’ rules, we could come and go as we liked at breakfast and lunch, but we were expected to eat dinner at the same time. High Hampton hosts a great many family reunions. When you visit, you will see several long tables in the dining room that have been pushed together to seat a family of twenty or so! There is almost always a big family group there, and usually one that is returning over the course of generations. My grandfather usually gave us all the chance to go on an excursion together. One year, all the cousins had tennis lessons. Another year, we all went horseback riding. Many times, we shopped in Highlands, NC.

How about you?

From my personal collection.  hallway
From my personal collection. hallway

Do you have a favorite vacation spot where you return frequently?

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Please leave me a comment and let me know you were here! - Do you like mountain vacations?

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    • CamelliaPenny profile image
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      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      @MarcellaCarlton: Thank you!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I do love the NC Mountains and High Hampton is so beautiful

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      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      This lens was delightful. Well written and some parts were funny!