Don’t lag, get to The Swag!

The view from Gooseberry Knob on the property of The Swag.

Have you been to The Swag? Alan and I booked a weekend there recently to celebrate our wedding anniversary — and to check it out because the resort is a new client of Moxley Carmichael. We were blown away. (But in a calm, relaxing, renewing kind of way!)

Every evening at cocktail time, a cheese and charcuterie display is offered.

The Swag, purchased earlier this year by Knoxvillians Annie and David Colquitt, is a 250-acre mountain retreat near Waynesville, North Carolina. It abuts the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful views of the ever-changing mountain vistas. Its 14 rooms, fine dining and spectacular vantage point at an elevation of 5,000 feet recently garnered it a ranking in the Top 15 U.S. Resort Hotels list by Travel & Leisure. The Swag also landed in the top three on the list of Top 10 Resort Hotels in the South.

People often ask us to compare The Swag to Blackberry Farm in nearby Townsend. I always tell them that there really is no comparison. I love Blackberry Farm and go there every chance I get for fundraisers and special events, but I describe Blackberry Farm as upscale “rustic” — with quote marks around the word. It’s really not rustic at all. That’s just kind of its theme. It’s really over-the-top elegant.

Everyone gets his or her own hiking stick to use and take home.

Whereas The Swag truly is rustic. It’s comfortable. The food is gourmet, but it is not pretentious. The Swag’s hospitality is warm and genuine. It is authentic. Its major, major claim to fame — and nobody can top it in this category — is the property itself. And the unmatchable scenery that literally changes with every passing moment.

The Swag brings out something good in its guests, too. Everyone just breathes out for a little while. The barriers come down and you find yourself feeling comfortable and quietly getting to know your fellow visitors. It puts you in a natural good mood. I did not expect that.

We did make one mistake and I urge you not to do the same thing. We left the property on Saturday night to go into Asheville to see the Chihuly exhibit at Biltmore and to have dinner at a highly recommended eatery in downtown Asheville. We should not have done that. Although we loved the Chihuly and the restaurant (and we will tell you about them later in this post), we should have stayed at The Swag.

Here’s the deal. The cost of your room includes three meals. You should take them there. Not because of the money, but because leaving The Swag for the evening kind of breaks the magic. So, take it from us: don’t leave!

Due to heavy traffic getting out of Knoxville, we arrived Friday night just in time for appetizers. (And the previously pictured cheese/charcuterie display.)

And sunset.

We entered the dining room and were taken to our table. Upon looking around, we noticed three different couples whom we knew from Knoxville!

Dr. Lynn and Georgia Blake. He’s retired as the longtime medical director of MEDIC Regional Blood Center. This was their first visit to The Swag, as well.

Tony and Jan Thompson. They actually live in Maryville, but we knew him from when he worked at First Tennessee Bank. He’s with Pinnacle Bank now. This was their eighth visit to The Swag.

Dr. Wesley Dean, second from left, is with Summit Medical Group, a valued Moxley Carmichael client. His wife, Tammy, is beside him. With them are their friends Bobby and Cathy Roberts. This was their third visit to The Swag.

Candy roaster squash soup with spiced pumpkin seeds started dinner. Wow, I loved it.

Stracciatella: burrata, local tomatoes, cucumber and dill. Yum.

The all important (at least to Alan!) bread offerings.

Because we were running late, while we were on the road, The Swag had texted us the dinner options and asked us to select our entrees and desserts. We both picked swordfish. It was served with heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn and arugula pistou, and it was fantastic.

This Pouilly-Fume was a good match with our meal.

Alan thought he’d died and gone to heaven because they had one of his favorite desserts: peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

I couldn’t resist the chocolate lava cake with raspberries and whipped cream.

This cute little vase on our table had a note attached saying it was an anniversary gift for us. How sweet.

Saturday morning dawned overcast, but it didn’t concern us in the least.

The morning view from the porch of our room, which was called “The Hideaway” — and which I forgot to take photos of! (Check The Swag website.)

As we headed to the Main House for the breakfast buffet, we saw one of the two resident cats enjoying her breakfast, as well!

(A naturalist once told me, “If you ever get the chance to be reincarnated, don’t come back as a ground squirrel. They are everybody’s prey!”)

Cute chickens welcomed everyone to the buffet table.

We chose a table with a view.

After breakfast, as we set out for a nice little hike, we saw some turkeys on the property. (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)

Awww. Sweet vista. Things like this pop up all the time at The Swag. Tree houses, hammocks, rocking chairs, swings.

And gazebos. Like this one at Gooseberry Knob.

Isn’t it pretty?

What a view!

On with the hike! Wildflowers.

A pond.

Lily pads.


Swinging bridge.

We went back to the Main House to grab our picnic lunch.

And then, even though it had started raining, we decided to visit the garden.

Lots of cutting flowers flourish there.

Like these.

And these.

Meet Roger.

Butterflies loved it, too. (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)

At “tea time,” snacks are put out.

But, soon, it was time for us to head down the mountain and into Asheville, about 45 minutes away. Note: If you want to see the Chihuly show at Biltmore, you need to go soon. It closes on Oct. 7.

This large Chihuly piece is outside Biltmore.

This display is inside.

Here’s a view from Biltmore’s patio.


A wooden boat with glass balls.

My favorite ones are in the conservatory. I like them best because they are extremely ornate.

We were there at dusk so we could see all the landscape art in the light and in the dark.

Looks like flames, doesn’t it?


The restaurant we had heard about is called Rhubarb, in the heart of downtown Asheville.

Chef-owner is award-winning John Fleer, another Blackberry Farm alum. Here’s a link to a great story in Garden & Gun about Fleer and Rhubarb.

The interior of Rhubarb.

The water bottles on the tables were actually milk bottles from Knoxville’s Cruze Dairy Farm! Cool!

Yum! I got roasted oysters.

Look at Alan’s plate! It’s half an Ashley Farms chicken with potatoes, local shiitakes, French beans, summer squash, beet greens and carrot sauce. Good Lord!

And, guess what! He finished it!

I love a housekeeping staff with a sense of humor! When we got back to The Swag after midnight, we found this cute stuffed bear wearing Alan’s cap!

And these pretty flowers. We got to keep this vase, too. It’s a river stone with a hole drilled in it to hold water. We love it!

Sunday morning after brunch, we got to say goodbye to the excellent staff who had treated us so well.

Here’s pastry chef Linda Duckett. I’m sure Alan wanted to take her home with us!

Chef Jake Schmidt, left, and General Manager Greg Hoover.

Here’s the way the mountains looked Sunday morning, coming out of the low-lying fog. (Photo by Alan Carmichael.)

We cannot WAIT to go back!


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