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Perfectly Glorious!

blog40Lainey and I started out this past Sunday morning with good intentions. Steven has a classmate whose parents started a new church in Cashiers, and since this was the last Sunday we would be available for a while, we decided to visit. We got up early, allowed plenty of time for the drive to Cashiers, and set out eager to meet these folks and enjoy a good church service. We knew the name of the church and knew the directions. The only thing we didn’t know was the time the service started and sure enough, we arrived at the church to find the service started earlier than we expected. The pastor was already part way into his sermon and, since it was such a small church, it would have caused disruption if we walked in so late.

So we regrouped and decided to leisurely drive to Highlands, find a place for lunch and then head back home. We took the beautiful drive to Highlands but since it is still early in the season, many places were still closed. We eventually found a small restaurant on Main Street in what appeared to be a converted home. We were taken to a small room and seated at a table next to a pair of windows. We ordered our meal and as we waited, it finally struck me just how nice the day was. There was a blue ski, a comfortable breeze coming through the window, as well as wonderful company. It was for lack of a better term “Perfectly Glorious”.

Our winter and early spring, like most of yours I imagine, was adventurous to say the least. December and January were especially cold much more snowy than usual. Lately, it seems we have been getting one huge thunderstorm with high winds and tornado warnings after another. But that was all forgotten by this single moment of peace and tranquility. Spring is here and the dogwoods and tulips are in bloom. Warm air has returned and all is good
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I imagine many of you have been wondering when all the storms are going to stop. There seems to be nothing but bad news everywhere. Maybe it is time for all of us to stop paying so much attention to the news, and start paying more attention to our blessings. Perhaps we should be counting the good things surrounding us, including our family, friends, and health. I imagine if we paid more attention to our blessings, we would find our lives, much like last Sunday morning, are “Perfectly Glorious”.

Hemlock Inn will open for our new season, Friday, April 15. We hope you come enjoy our peaceful setting, wonderful home cooked meals, and genuine hospitality.

See you soon!

Mort

The Internet is great, but…

The internet is a marketing jewel. No one can argue that it is the most powerful way to get your message to the public. “Social Networking” is also growing at a phenomenal rate. Hemlock Inn has a wonderful website and has recently added Facebook too. There is no question that these two wonderful tools bring the vast majority of new business to our inn.

However, the old fashioned way still brings in a few. Today, I had two examples of this happen within a short period of time. Two nice folks walked up to the inn this afternoon and told me they rented a cabin in the area “sight unseen” and were very disappointed when they arrived. They discovered it was located on a highway, was very small, and noisy. They rode the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad today and got into a discussion with a fellow rider and told them of their frustration. The rider convinced them that they needed to stay at Hemlock Inn. So they came up, looked around and said “This is what we had in mind”. They will stay with us for the next few nights.

We were discussing this at mealtime and another guest told us of their experience. They were in the area earlier in the summer and were tubing in Cherokee. They literally ran into another tuber and got into a discussion about the area. Our guest told her new friend she was looking for a place to bring her mother where she could sit on the porch in a rocking chair and look at the mountains. The fellow tuber told her that Hemlock Inn was the place she needed to be.

For many years, “word of mouth” was the primary reason new guests came to the inn. It was the tried a true way someone felt comfortable going to a new place. The endorsement of a trusted friend was all they needed. Folks now have the advantage of “visiting” new places through the internet and can usually get a good feel for the place they are researching. But that is not always the case, as our first couple found out. Surprises are not always pleasant when traveling.

We are thrilled that we have such loyal and faithful guests that tell others of our inn. We know this happens far more than we can ever imagine and we are appreciative beyond measure. No Innkeeper could ever ask for more than a satisfied guests who shares his experience with others. Thank you all for your love and support of Hemlock Inn. It means more than you could ever dream!

– Mort

End of Summer

It’s been a while since I have written. We had a pretty good late summer surge that kept us busy for a while followed by the Francis Asbury Society Retreats in August. They have been coming to the inn for 28 years every August. We are very thankful for them. Now, schools are starting back up and things begin to slow down around here. It’s a shame too because September is one of the best months to travel. The weather is cooler (finally), the crowds are smaller, and there are discounts to be found. We are extending our own discount for the whole month of September…stay the first night at regular price and all other nights are 25% off. Can’t beat a deal like that. We also have a photography workshop September 10-13 and opportunities for watercolor and pottery as well.

October will be great as always with the wonderful fall colors. Rooms are still available though, so give us a call. Thanksgiving is filling up, but a few rooms remain. Believe it or not, Polar Express is already a hot item. Some of the First Class runs on December weekends are almost full. Plenty of other time still open. I still advise you reserve early for this great family event. It is very popular.

This economic environment has been a challenge for everyone, but we are encouraged by the support of many folks like you that continue to visit and send your friends. It has been interesting that we have heard from a number of former guests who haven’t been here in a while. They seem to be reaching back and thinking of the fun times and good memories of the inn. I got an email recently from former guests now living out west. They summed it up nicely when they said…

“Today, my husband and I were reminiscing about our lovely vacations in NC back in the 70′s….Since the 80′s, we have moved around the country but have never forgotten the Hemlock Inn. …Many times over the years when we have cooked bacon, we have been reminded of your place and the smell of cooking bacon. Staying and eating there made such an impact on our emotions….We hope to stay with you in the future when we make one of our sentimental journeys back to our beloved South. Now I need to find some golf courses in Bryson City because that is our passion. Well, golf and bacon.”

We hope to see them soon…especially since we do have golf courses in Bryson City now. We hope to see you too.

Thanks,
–Mort

Happy Anniversary……to us!

blog34July 4th is the anniversary of our country’s independence. It is an important day and should be revered by every American. I hope each of you had a great holiday with wonderful cookouts, spirited family gatherings, and reflections on the significance of this special day in our history.

But the day has added importance to us…Hemlock Inn opened July 4, 1952 so this past Sunday was our 58th Anniversary of operation. Seth and Lorene Haynie of Atlanta bought the farm belonging to Plumer Plemmons in the 40s and decided to build an inn. The original building consisted of only nine rooms and at first, was only open in the summer. The inn operated the first two years without a telephone!

Lots has changed over the years. More buildings were constructed, the spring and fall seasons were added, and more recently the winter season was too. Of course the telephone was added early on followed recently by cell phone service, internet accessibility, web pages, blogs, Facebook, on-line reservation service and more.

But lots has stayed the same. The inn has always been small by choice with only 26 rooms and cottages. Our guests like it that way and so do we. Our philosophy, which guides the way we operate the inn, also hasn’t changed. We strive to offer genuine southern hospitality, great homecooked meals, beautiful mountain scenery, and a change of pace for all our guests. We love to share the beauty and peace we enjoy here and we want to know our guests visits have been restful. relaxing, and happy.

We plan to be around a long time and hope your plans bring you our way this summer, fall, or winter. We are here to serve you!

–Mort

Friends and Family

blog33Much has been written over the years regarding the value good friends and the love of family. I am reminded of this often and have especially been aware of these truths over the past few weeks. Yesterday, I witnessed the high school graduation of my youngest son, John Thomas.

Many of you know him as your waiter here at the inn. After the morning ceremony, about 60 friends and out of town family members joined us for a big cookout back at the inn. Last weekend, we went to Charlotte to attend the wedding of my niece. All my family was there and we had a wonderful time catching up. It is such a fun time to share happy occasions with those you love.

Why do we need a special occasion to get together? It is great to gather for weddings and graduations and reunions. The question is why don’t we do it more often, even when there is no special event. Why don’t we get together just because enjoy each other’s company and want to spend time with each other? The answer I’m afraid is our busy schedules and harried lifestyles. Still, wouldn’t it be awesome just to set some time aside for those most important to us? Maybe spending time with our families and good friends should be a priority, not just something we do when a special event occurs.

We often get the chance to see reunions of families and friends here at the inn. Two couples, the Antons and Fetterlys, just left this morning. They meet here every year and enjoy each other’s company the whole time they are together. After breakfast on Sunday, they reserve their dates for next year and check out. Then they move to our patio and spend the last few hours enjoying their time together before they reluctantly depart for home. In a few days, two more of our favorite folks will check inn, Al and Maggie Romogosa from south Florida. They have been coming for years and will be with us for a few days before they are joined by their daughter , Christine, and her husband, Matthew, who now live in Alabama. Together, they will have a few days just to slow down and enjoy each other.

We see these events happen over and over. It has happened many times already this year and many others are scheduled. It is especially rewarding to witness new friendships being formed and a new cycle of reunions start to occur. “Are you coming this time next year, because if you are, we want to come too?”

We are more fortunate than most! Many of our family and friends love to come to the inn to visit. Many of our guests have become good friends as well so we always seemed to have interesting folks to visit.

You are too numerous to name, but we value each of you and hope to see you again this year. Thanks so much for your love support of our family and the inn.

–Mort

Congratulations Noelle and JT Carpenter!

blog35Noelle Puryear and JT Carpenter were married at Hemlock Inn this past weekend. We have had a few small family weddings here before, but this was the first full “destination wedding” we have had at our inn. Noelle grew up coming to Hemlock Inn every summer. When she became engaged last year, she decided she wanted to have her wedding here. She and JT wanted a classic Hemlock wedding on our front lawn overlooking the mountains she loves so much. Both the rehearsal dinner and wedding dinner were choices from our usual menu. They brought 86 friends and family from Texas and other areas to enjoy this wonderful experience with them. We are so happy for them and thankful we could be a part of this special moment in their new lives together.

For a full album of pictures from the wedding, visit the Hemlock Inn Facebook page.

Hemlock Inn is all about families and friends. Noelle grew up coming here with her parents, Mike and Claire Puryear, her grandparents, as well as her sisters. They were guests of the inn, but also friends who became like family. This is not unusual. It seemed natural for her to start her new life with JT right here. We are honored they chose us and hope we will be able to help with many other “destination weddings” over the years.

If you want more information on having a wedding at Hemlock Inn, let us know and we will be delighted to give you all the details.

–Mort

Graduations, and Pride…..Again

blog32About a year ago, I wrote a personal blog about the graduation of my oldest son, Andrew, and the overseas mission trip by my second son, Steven. This year, the roles are reversed. Last week, our family went to Knoxville to attend the graduation ceremony of Steven from the University of Tennessee’s College of Business Administration. He earned a degree on International Business and Marketing. He will return to Knoxville this fall to work for a while and plans to go to grad school pretty soon. In the meantime, I plan to use his education to help me with some business and marketing planning here at the inn.

As I write, Andrew is on a plane flight to East Asia. You may recall that Andrew graduated last year from UNC and now works full time for Campus Crusade for Christ on the UNC campus. Two summers ago, he went to Middle Asia as a student, and this year is helping lead a group to East Asia for the next six weeks. Your thoughts and prayers will be appreciated.

I don’t want to forget our third son, John Thomas. He will also graduate next month from high school and will attend UT in the fall. He has had a great high school experience and now looks forward to the next venture in Knoxville.

Pride can be a tricky emotion. Too much self-pride can result in an overbearing ego and/or other problems. However, I think pride in the accomplishments of our children is permissible. More importantly, pride in their growth as mature, responsible individuals and in the development of their character is, and should be, required. So, forgive me while a I beam just a bit.

I hope you can come visit us this year and share the wonderful events in your lives. We have some great discounts and always look forward to seeing you.

–Mort

Good Friends, Great Weather, Wonderful Wildflowers

blog30We are so fortunate to be located in one of the most beautiful areas on earth. That is especially true in the spring, when the winter brown horizon turns into various shades of spring green. The bitter cold gives way to wonderfully cool temperatures easily warmed by a good fire. The Spring wildflowers begin to bloom in late April and put on quite a show for everyone, especially those willing to walk a short ways in the woods. It is a glorious time of the year made even better at Hemlock Inn because we get to share it with a group of regular guests/friends and newcomers as well.

One of the delights we enjoy every spring is the visit of Jim and Eleanor Burbank from Maryville, Tennessee. Jim worked at TVA for many years as a biologist/ naturalist and comes to our inn for two weeks every spring to lead wildflower walks each morning after breakfast. His wife, Eleanor, also goes with the group and, as I personally found out, often leads the pack in search of new adventures “just a little ways further up the trail”. They make quite a team! Jim volunteers several days a week at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and was recently given two prestigious awards. He was selected to the elite ranks of the Volunteer Master Ranger Corp by the National Park and also was honored with the The Presidential Award for Volunteer Service.

Eleanor works just as hard with the “Friends of the Smokies”, a volunteer group that raises money for Park improvements. I also have a personal bond with them because they were Innkeepers at the Snowbird Mountain Lodge for a few years. They have to be good folks if they were innkeepers…

The walks this year were wonderful. We were blessed with great weather and the flowers were just outstanding. But there are other benefits to a walk in the woods. It just clears your mind. Not once did I think of oil spills, wild stock market swings, or sour economics. I just enjoyed the pure peace and beauty of nature at its absolute best. It is just amazing how refreshed we feel once we step away from our ever increasing hectic lifestyles. I fully realize some folks feel they cannot afford to get away this year for a break. I genuinely believe you cannot afford not to. Whether you go to the beach, visit family, or come to Hemlock Inn, you will feel better in the long run by escaping for a while.

Jim and Eleanor have left, but the Smokies remain in all their beauty calling you to relax, refresh, and renew. At Hemlock Inn, we are also waiting for you with good homecooked meals, beautiful views, and genuine southern hospitality, as well as some appealing discounts. Give us a call. We would love to see you this year.

–Mort

Cleaning Up and Clearing Out

blog27After what seems like an endless winter, spring has finally arrived in the mountains. The sun is shining and we are beginning to see sprouts of new spring growth. Although, it seems a little later that usual, the trees are showing green buds, tulips are in bloom, and the front lawn has shed its brown winter coat.

We are opening next week, on April 14. We had planned to open on the 18th, but had a few groups that wanted to come early, so we are accommodating them. Our housekeeping staff is hard at work spring cleaning all the rooms, and we have also spent some time this winter clearing some trees and opening views. This has also including expanding our trail around the entire 57 acres of the inn. However, due to the long winter with all its rain and snow, we haven’t been able to get it all cleaned up as well as we would have liked, but we hope you enjoy the expanded views and trails.

We have some attractive rates for you this year. Not only have our rooms rates decreased a little, but we also have some very inviting discounts as well. This will be a great year to return to the mountains. Check out this website for more details and give us a call.

We hope your families are well. Ours is great. Andrew is working full time with Campus Crusade for Christ at UNC in Chapel Hill. Steven will graduate in May from UT with a degree in International Business and Marketing. John Thomas is a senior and played the role of the Tinman in “The Wizard of Oz” at school. He will attend UT in Knoxville this fall.

We hope to see your family this season!

–Mort

It snowed again today!

blog25It snowed again today! That means it has snowed a measurable amount in every month for the past four months. I know it has been the same for many of you as well. It has been colder and wetter than most recent years. Our local weather reported in late February that we never reached our normal high temperature for any day since November.

As expected, many are now just sick and tired of all the snow and cold.

Just about everyone I talk to and all the media are dearly wishing for spring time warmth and sunshine. Who can blame them…Except I love snow! Now I admit it is easier for me to say that given my circumstances. I work at home here at the inn, so I don’t have to get out and travel in the mess. My children are mostly grown. It is usually not an inconvenience to me. I do have to admit that when it snowed December 22 when we were expecting a full house of happy families coming to ride the “Polar Express”, I was not particularly happy. But for the most part, I love a good snow.

Two things intrigue me. First, just watching it fall is soothing. It is like watching a goldfish swim or a kitten play with a ball of yarn.

It is restful and peaceful and in the mountains it is even more so because we have such a large field of vision to watch it fall. I can sit in my chair and for a just a while forget my “to do” list and even the economy and the hurt it is causing so many people and businesses, Secondly, I like to watch it lay and cover everything in sight. We have been cutting some trees recently, opening some views and clearing out some dangerous trees. It is necessary to do, but it creates an awful mess. The snow gently covers it all up and everything else as well.

All the scares and messes we have created over time. Sounds a lot like

grace doesn’t it? What a wonderful blessing it is to know that all my scares. bruises, and messes are covered by undeserved grace delivered by the same one who brings the snow.

This may be the last snow of the season. It is forecast to be near 60 this weekend. And while I love the snow, I also love spring and the renewal of life it brings. Spring also brings the opening of the inn.

Check our website for our schedule, rates, and discounts. Enjoy the snow, look forward to the spring, and come see us.

–Mort