Celebrate the changing color of the leaves at Highlands, N.C.’s midcentury Skyline Lodge.
The lodge’s midcentury design melds with nature.
Appalachian Mountains surround the property.
With autumn officially in full form, the call of the mountains grows more trenchant. Cooler temperatures, broken humidity and fall foliage all beckon northward, where Appalachia’s storied past awaits rediscovering. Mountain getaways throughout the Southeast welcome droves of guests, dubbed “peepers” for their eagerness to appreciate the foliage, every autumn. Highlands, N.C., is no stranger to the fall frenzy, having offered the perfect respite for unwinding and relaxation matched with an unparalleled location for fishing, hiking and climbing since 1875. This fall, Highlands welcomes back more than the peepers, and celebrates the reopening of the beloved Skyline Lodge (skyline-lodge.com) following an extensive renovation of the historic 1930s property.
Oak Steakhouse offers elevated farm-fresh cuisine.
For over 80 years, Skyline Lodge has brought a five-star guest experience to the heart of Appalachia. The property originally opened as a luxury escape for tycoons who sidestepped the 1929 stock market crash. Longtime student of Frank Lloyd Wright Arthur J. Kelsey designed the property, infusing Wright’s characteristic midcentury modern design and distinctive architectural elements such as native stone, chestnut wood and handcut cedar shakes into his own creation. The lodge later received a structural update in the ’50s and returned to welcoming guests by the ’60s with a design refresh. Finally, The Indigo Road Hospitality Group acquired the property and aimed to create an experience that is “relaxed but authentic with elevated design and lively service” for its first hotel project, according to founder Steve Palmer.
Carrie Dessertine of Mey & Co brings a fresh and modern approach to 1960s and ’70s decor.
With the lodge’s renovation under The Indigo Road, Kelsey’s original clean lines, reclaimed wood and thoughtful details meet Carrie Dessertine of Mey & Co’s fresh approach to 1960s and ’70s decor, resulting in a signature style that honors the property’s history while evoking a fresh, crisp and natural feel. Funky touches like terra cotta flooring and circular patterns meet organic and natural elements such as cork headboards and exposed stonework. Greens and neutrals marry the surrounding landscape with the property’s interiors, bringing nature’s splendor inside each of the 40 guest rooms. Unexpected gathering spaces such as a mezzanine and reading room pepper the lodge, complete with mismatched and whimsical designs that combine regional artists’ works with bespoke touches.
Oak Steakhouse, known for its beverage program and superb meat cuts, crowns the lodge’s second floor. Three vintage glass pendant light fixtures emit glowy light throughout Oak, illuminating the bar crowning the central vaulted exposed beam space and the two oversize, original stone fireplaces. As the first and only steakhouse in Highlands, Oak brings the best of Appalachia right to the table. Executive chef Kelly Vogelheim partners with local farms and area purveyors to source farmstead ingredients for her elevated cuisine. In addition to the finest cuts of certified Angus beef, favorites include the braised rabbit agnolotti with white wine, hazelnut and lavender, and the duck fat poached lobster tail with saffron risotto, pea tendril and chive oil. Executive pastry chef Anne White provides the sweetest of endings to an Oak meal with confections such as her signature sorghum caramel cake and honeysuckle sorbet.
Native stone and reclaimed wood feature prominently in Skyline Lodge’s guest rooms.
Lastly, incredible amenities top off the lodge’s striking design and culinary offerings. Panoramic views and easy access to hiking trails and waterfalls are just the start. On-site programming such as whiskey pairing classes, beekeeper workshops, painting classes and outdoor oyster roasts are all at guests’ fingertips. For the adventurer, fly-fishing and rock climbing await off-site with local guides. In the words of Larry Spelts, The Indigo Road’s president of lodging and lifestyle adventures, “Skyline Lodge is iconic—the property is nearly 100 years old and has lived many lives over the decades.” Even with the property’s storied past, we think this may be its best life yet.
Photography by: Photos by Andrew Cebulka