I don't know who wouldn't want to hot tub with Mr. Redford no matter how senior he might be. He has led quite a storied life as an actor, director, producer, entrepreneur, environmentalist and philanthropist. Unfortunately I missed my chance to rub elbows with the icon by 24 hours, when last year he spent some time at Old Edwards Inn & Spa, the Relais & Châteaux European-style hotel set in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains of Highlands, North Carolina (about 2 hours north of Atlanta). Apparently he discovered Old Edwards when filming his movie A Walk in the Woods which is set near here on the Appalachian Trail. Well, as rumor has it, Mr. Redford spent an evening sipping champagne in the resort's hot tub tucked away in an outdoor grotto. I was in that same hot tub only the evening before. Bummer. Timing is everything.
You never know who you might bump into these days in the quaint town of Highlands set among lush forested mountains, let alone at Old Edwards. Between Josh Brolin, Brooklyn Decker, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Barbara Streisand, and most recently Usher, this is a hot little destination for celebrities as well as us common folk. The town is filled with things to do from hiking, nature walks, yoga, fly fishing, zip lining, shopping, golfing, ice skating, eating, drinking, taking in the arts, and plain old relaxing. From live music in the park to curated art to swanky culinary and wine events, Highlands has a lot to offer for a town with a small population of only 3,200 in the winter and 18,000 in the summer.
1. Book in advance a Signature Facial or massage at the spa at Old Edwards Inn & Spa
2. During the week, scale the moderate hike at Whiteside Mountain for incredible views. On weekends, seek a less crowded path and head to Scaly Mountain ten minutes by car south of town. Check out Highlands Aerial Park to experience zipping or swinging through the forest (reservations required).
3. In the summer months, rent a canoe to take out on Lake Sequoyah for a romantic, easy ride. In the winter, rent ice skates at the town's outdoor rink and sip hot chocolate fireside.
4. Dinner at Madison's Restaurant located in Old Edwards Inn.
1. When booking at Old Edwards request a cottage for a little more privacy.
2. Wednesday and Saturdays find live bluegrass at the local pub, The Ugly Dog.
3. Summer and Fall are the busiest seasons, so make sure to book room, restaurant and spa reservations way in advance.
Photos provided by Old Edwards Inn & Spa.