This post was produced in partnership with The Swag.
There are hotel stays and then there are hotel experiences. The latter is an immersive, one-of-a-kind experience that makes you never want to leave. It’s one that from the magical moment you enter to the glum feeling you get packing your bags to checkout, you know you’ve stumbled on something special. Hotels that evoke these feelings are few and far between, but at The Swag — sitting at an elevation of 5,000 feet and on 225 acres of private land that borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — rustic luxury and Southern charm mesh for the ultimate all-inclusive experience.
While a trip to this area normally has travelers thinking to stay in nearby Asheville, The Swag provides an immersive mountain getaway, far from the crowds and with opportunities to appease any traveler’s wishes. This hotel features expansive, private hiking trails, back porch lounging complete with the subtle sound of hummingbirds and a stunning mountain backdrop, a treehouse, cooking classes, an extensive library, racquetball, badminton, and the list goes on and on. Combine all of that with its award-winning cuisine, spacious rooms, accommodating hosts and unparalleled ambiance and you have the makings of a perfect vacation at The Swag.
The Swag provides a wide array of rooms and suites, and you can't go wrong with either. We were fortunate to stay in "Matthew's suite," which included a private sauna, copper bathtub, outdoor shower, a separate living room with a fireplace and a sitting room. Let's just say we could have used a rainy day to fully enjoy every nook and cranny of our suite to its fullest.
Another benefit of the suites and the entire hotel is how everything is laid out. You never feel on top of anybody, and our suite felt like an oasis unto itself. With fresh-ground coffee in the morning and sweets awaiting us after dinner, it took some motivation to actually venture out of our tranquil suite. (Side note- many of the rooms have already been renovated and the rest are scheduled to be updated this winter, which can only be more luxurious than what we experienced).
The People & Cuisine
Whenever you are at a small hotel, especially one in which you share meals and drinks together, you hope for like-minded individuals that share your appreciation of the surroundings. The Swag not only understands that but creates unique experiences to elevate these opportunities. Sunday brunch, for example, starts off with everyone around the buffet-style table listening to the chef talk about some of the highlights of the meal and where they sourced certain ingredients. Every dinner starts off with drinks and appetizers on the back deck overlooking the mountain sunset. Lunches are packed for your long hikes or to be enjoyed in the gardens.
What makes these moments even better is how good it all tastes! Southern cuisine meets a mix of farm-to-table and healthy lifestyle is how I would describe it, where you never leave a meal hungry and are always saying to yourself "one more bite.” From made-to-order omelets and perfectly fried chicken to Swag bars and ribeye steaks, The Swag provides it all and allows you to hand-pick your meals the night before. Always in season and never rushed, a dining experience with like-minded people in a dining room overlooking the mountains is the perfect way to start or end a day at The Swag.
The gracious staff make every effort to not only create such experiences, but they cater to your every whim in a non-overbearing way. Which trails should you hike? Just ask and their travel guide will help you out. What's the history of The Swag? In comes the GM to talk to you about that. Where’s the closest hammock to spend the next few hours in silence? They can tell you that, as well! With impeccable ‘round the clock service, The Swag oozes southern charm and hospitality at its finest.
The Smoky Mountains Trails
The Swag not only lives thousands of feet above the rest of the world in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it has its own set of park hiking trails that cater to every level of adventurer. Furthermore, the resident hiking guide is more than happy to discuss each and every trail and what best suits you, but for us, having empty trails with vistas out of a fantasy world is what separates The Swag.
One only needs to travel a few feet to get onto the well-marked trails and explore the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. We would walk for hours and not see a soul- other than a family of turkeys and more bird species than we knew existed- each trail provided an experience that scratches every adventurous itch we had that day. For someone that is unfamiliar with the Smoky Mountains, I was floored at its natural beauty and exquisite trails, which were welcome surprises.