High Hampton Resort’s Blackberry Farm-Inspired Refresh is a Triumph
High Hampton Resort is finally open and ready to show off its updated look and feel. The property, which is now owned in partnership with the team behind Blackberry Farm, Arlington Family Offices and Daniel Communities, has taken on the delicate and delicate role of updating this historic North Carolina mountain property, giving it a refresh. modern while balancing its history and community value. Originally known as the High Hampton Inn, the property was first developed in 1860 as a summer residence for General Wade Hampton. After a fire destroyed the inn in 1932, the entire building was rebuilt and completed in 1933. For more than a century, High Hampton has been a destination that multigenerational family groups visited every year, somewhat. like a summer camp for whole families.
When the Blackberry Farm team undertook a complete and utter refresh of the Inn, they were well aware of the resort’s special place in people’s hearts. Sandy Beall, president and co-founder of Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain, owned a property himself and spent time at the original resort. Has its essence changed? The short answer is no – it remains a charming mountain gem in western North Carolina, but now enjoys the glow of the luxury sensibilities of Blackberry Farm. It is not, however, Blackberry Farm 2.0.
Efforts have been made to make this resort a refined luxury offering without killing off its essential charms – think sloping floors and weathered American chestnut ceilings, rainfall showerheads, and Frette linens. As one resort chef told me, “We took the general Blackberry blueprint and applied it with ingredients from North Carolina.”
The large room still invites family games, but with a better wine list and refined lounge furniture. The culinary offerings are world class (no more buffet) and will certainly be the calling card of this resort. Golf, tennis, pickle ball, some difficult hikes and many activities on the lake are also offered.
The totally refreshed interiors are the work of the Blackberry Farm Design team. The clever reuse of much of the original furniture (including antique and vintage pieces) beautifully retains the spirit of historic High Hampton design. Most of the rooms in the main house have been reconfigured to provide more space (and welcome soundproofing) – some rooms are now a combination of two older bedrooms, offering spacious closets and completely modern bathrooms. During the modernization process, some of the original gates to the complex were no longer needed. So the design team turned them into eye-catching coffee tables (with original peephole).
It’s also important to note that Blackberry Farm Design has worked closely with the North Carolina Historical Preservation Office while modernizing and expanding the rooms in the main building as well as the rooms in the surrounding cottages.
The biggest improvement may well be the dining experience. At the original inn, all meals were included (this is still true, except for lunch). Dinner was a generous buffet with predictable dishes. Now the dining room is completely redesigned, the dinner is three courses and the meals are true to the Blackberry Farm form – exceptional. The service is top notch, passionate and knowledgeable, and the view of the 35-acre lake features classic North Carolina scenery. Breakfast is just as decadent, you better arrive prepared to eat.
Daytime activities are the same but much better. The magnificent new 18 hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio has five sets of tees to accommodate each generation. A huge croquet lawn and a new lakeside pool are good options for a leisurely afternoon, or to go to the lake by kayak or canoe. Spa time or a day of shopping at the cashiers are also great options.
There are a few temporary caveats – the land adjacent to the resort is being developed into a posh residential community, which means construction noise during the week (they don’t work weekends as per a agreement with the resort). I would suggest booking a master bedroom facing the tennis courts if you are staying mid week. Hiking trails are difficult to navigate these days due to continuous development. The station has posted temporary updated signs along the trails, but the access points are changing and there will be walking on gravel roads to get to the next leg of the hike. Once the job is done, none of it will be relevant.
What hasn’t changed is the restorative essence of this vintage hill station. There are still no televisions in the rooms, a reminder that the best equipment in High Hampton is the one you can’t buy anywhere else: the mountains of North Carolina.