Tucked within 45 of the highest acres in Blowing Rock lies one of the sweetest surprises of the entire Blue Ridge area: a Relais & Châteaux (R&C) resort and spa. As one of only 40 in the U.S. and 300 in the world, designation by this exclusive French network of Inns is one of the highest and most coveted in the hospitality industry. The antithesis of pomp and ceremony, R&C reserves its membership for only the most thoughtfully intimate, genuinely luxurious, and exquisitely located boutique inns and spas, where “the soul of the innkeeper” informs the guest experience. For Westglow Spa owners Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, the 2010 induction into the R&C network after only five years in operation came as a happy surprise. For General Manager and Architect Steven Price, it has made an already fulfilling second career that much more rewarding.
Housed in the former home of noted artist Elliot Daingerfield, Westglow enjoys breathtaking views of Grandfather Mountain and the Johns River Gorge. It took one year to complete the restoration of the original spa facility (built in the ‘70s) to standards that have enabled Westglow to continually rank among the top spas in the world (this year voted #1 by Spafinder, #2 by Travel & Leisure). According to Price, location and facilities are certainly crucial to Westglow’s success, however what truly sets this spa apart from the rest is their attention to detail and doting staff. With a four-to-one staff-client ratio, Westglow guests often describe their experience as exceptionally personable, with someone always ready to attend to their needs.
All staff at Relais & Châteaux establishments undergo rigorous training. Bi-annual sessions given by R&C executives to share information on trends and techniques, as well as an ongoing mentorship process among staff members have allowed Westglow to move from regional spa status to international destination in one short year. Having the support and guidance of such a specialized network has been the key to fostering that special, elusive, and unique intimacy that characterizes R&C establishments. For Steven Price, “the soul of the innkeeper” is exemplified by all the little things he is happy to do for guests, like a personal pick-up from Charlotte airport, or taking someone staying alone out for dinner – basically going above and beyond whenever possible to convey the generosity of spirit that earns one the title of a Relais & Châteaux Innkeeper. “It really becomes your life,” says Price, “and I just love it. You get to interact with people who are here for a happy event or an occasion, or they’re here to get away, and you’re embellishing that level of happiness.”
Blue Ridge Mountain Club’s Play Now! Program
Westglow Spa is part of Blue Ridge Mountain Club’s (BRMC) Play Now! program, created and operated by BRMC Outbound, to offer BRMC members and guests preferred access and, in some cases, special rates to some of the best amenities in the Blue Ridge. Read the new winter issue of the community’s magazine, The Call, for more about the program and highlights of another partner, Appalachian Ski Mtn.