The Alpine Inn is a nice little bed and breakfast nussled in the mountains of North Carolina. It is located in Little Switzerland, a little hamlet about 90 miles east of Asheville, and a stone's throw from Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern part of North America. The scenery of the Blue Ridge mountains is simply spectacular, particularly from the back porch of the Alpine Inn. In addition to the scenery, the area is great for hiking, has some fine golf courses, excellent trout fishing, hunting, and is renown for gem mining.
I visited the Inn recently in order to get in some fly-fishing. It is run by a couple I know, Susan & Ron Lough, who took it over about four years ago and have been steadily improving it. As I said, the Inn is small and unassuming and is easily dwarfed by any of the hotel chains. The premise behind the Inn is simple, it offers nothing; nothing but a clean and comfortable room, peace and quiet, clean air, and a magnificent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For someone from the hustle and bustle of city life, it is a welcome change of pace. No, it's not Mayberry, but you're starting to get the idea.
I call the road to the Alpine Inn "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," as it winds around the mountain. There's no need for police to run their radar guns here as the road twists and turns in such a way as to naturally prevent speeding. Think of it is as San Francisco's famed Lombard Street, except on steroids. The idea is to start to slow down and enjoy the scenery.
Having visited the area before, I relished the quiet serenity the Inn has to offer, but I'm afraid not everyone would agree with me. On this last trip, I observed a family who had stopped for the evening at the Inn. They had two teenagers who were not initially impressed by the Inn and complained the rooms lacked air conditioning, television and phones. First, being tucked away in the mountains, the rooms are naturally cool even on the warmest summer day. Second, the scenery is such that it makes everything on television pale by comparison. And Third, cell phone reception in the mountains is just fine thank you. The teens were stressing out from technology withdrawal for quite some time, but eventually calmed down after their parents pulled out a board game which the family played outside on a picnic table. Actually, it seemed like they were having a great time after they acclimated to their new environment.
If you are looking for all of the creature comforts familiar to you in the hotel chains, the Alpine Inn is probably not the place for you. However, if you want a quiet and cozy getaway, a place where you can decompress from the rat race, the Alpine Inn is worth checking out. Then again, maybe we need more places that offer "nothing."
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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