Nestled within South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains sits Hotel Domestique, a charming boutique hotel owned by legendary 17-time Tour de France cyclist George Hincapie that’s ideally situated on nearly 30 acres of grounds and vineyards. It’s no wonder this intimate, culturally-styled property attracts active travelers who are not only seeking sophisticated respite away from the hustle-and-bustle-laden tourist traps, but also outdoor adventures that invigorate the mind, body and soul.
Popular with active celebrities, professional athletes, executives and discriminating vacationers, alike, Hotel Domestique is a great option for those who desire a serene and relaxing escape, and certainly for the energetic traveler seeking memorable excursions. Indeed, this unique chateau-like hilltop property is a countryside refuge offering comfortable and well-appointed accommodations, personalized attention and ample activity options—all in pristine surroundings emblematic of the region in which it’s situated.
Inspired by the international travels and tastes of the adventurous Hincapie, himself, Hotel Domestique excels in convergent interests. The hotel’s rustic architecture and old-style furnishings match the pastoral landscape and outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As well, the property is replete with luxury: sophisticated décor elements, indulgent linens and uncompromising cuisine reflect just some of the sumptuous amenities that guests enjoy…many after a long and satisfying day outdoors.
While the hotel features much in the way of Old World styling, it also boasts decidedly modern features as well. For its part, technology is utilized to a great extent to enrich the guest experience. For example, GPS systems are used in various ways, from offering statistics like how many feet you’ve rock climbed to suggesting bike routes that fit your comfort level. In every room, an iPad Concierge acts as a guest directory, allowing guests to view recommended activities, information about the property, important points of interest and other interesting facts. Before one even checks into Hotel Domestique, the staff is in touch via email, or telephone if needed, in order to best understand the person who will be staying and begin planning the best possible experience at the location.
Of course, the fall season is an especially fantastic time of year to visit South Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountain region, as the vibrant foliage is in full effect and the heat has moderated. A drive, or refreshing bike ride, through the nearby countryside will reveal magnificent colors and contrasts you’ll not soon forget. Given its ownership, it’s no surprise the hotel offers a selection of high-end bicycle rentals for those wanting to immerse themselves in nature in this way. Trek bikes are among those available, and a bike valet is at-the-ready to provide guests with professionally customized bike routes designed by hotel staff. Sometimes, George Hincampie himself even joins in the fun through the property’s “XD program.”
If biking is not your activity of choice, fear not! The hotel also has a beautifully designed pool and a studio for Yoga and Pilates for those who prefer to stay on-site. For the adventurers, nearby hiking, rock-climbing, fishing, golf and more can be readily arranged. If adrenaline is your thing, the hotel can set you up with other activities like a whitewater kayaking adventure or a BMW Driving Experience.
For some vacations, R&R is the name of the game and physical pursuits are not on the agenda. Maybe shopping is your sport of choice? Notably, Hotel Domestique is just a short scenic drive away from neighboring Asheville and Greenville. Both cities offer award-winning cultural pursuits and cuisines, as well as sight-seeing and shopping.
Speaking of cuisines, after a full day of “vacationing” guests often opt to stay put and enjoy the culinary delicacies the hotel has become known for. Its Restaurant 17 provides an amazing gastronomic experience coupled with genuine hospitality, and Executive Chef Greg McPhee utilizes seasonal ingredients intended to excite and incite the palate. Chef McPhee notoriously puts an emphasis on “real food,” using only the freshest provisions that are procured directly from local farmers every day. Because ingredients fluctuate with the day’s bounty, a new and creative menu is developed daily—the produce received is never exactly the same and, thus, neither are the meals prepared. The locavore-minded menu is highly influenced by, and based on, European styles, again as personally experienced abroad by Hincapie. This is readily evident in the delectable, complimentary European-style three course continental breakfast extended to guests daily.
Regardless of your choice of activities, your entire stay at Hotel Domestique will harken you back to a time when warm, respectful and highly personalized service was the standard. The philosophy of the hotel is also decidedly European, where guests are treated like family and “proper” hospitality is practiced like it was “in the good old days.” The small size and intimacy of this hotel lends itself easily to creating a very homey, welcoming environment–setting itself vastly apart from the other chain properties. The extensive planning and relationship building undertaken by the hotel is intended to ensure that each visit is unique, just like its guests, and that they can enjoy the most tailored and pleasurable experience possible.
“Above all else, it’s the personal touch and the people that set our hotel apart–both the staff and guests,” said a spokesperson for the hotel. “Wonderful conversations are had and genuine friendships blossom in the authentic and affable atmosphere cultivated by every employee, and welcomed by the guests. Because those staying with us feel so comfortable and at home, it’s easy for them to engage with other guests as well as the genial and helpful staff. The result is a convivial dynamic that’s a lot of fun. Indeed, we encourage our highly trained staff to be themselves…we just don’t believe in scripted lines and service that actually take away from the personalized experience. You won’t find the same experience anywhere in the state. There’s nothing like us.”
So if you have a relaxing getaway in your sights, definitely consider Hotel Domestique where you can surround yourself with outstanding scenery and niceties both indoors and out, stellar foodstuffs and customer service that’s second to none.
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***