Room with a view: Chilhowee Mountain Retreat offers solace, scenery
By Melanie Tucker | (email@example.com)
If you’ve got a little piece of heaven up on Chilhowee Mountain, hopefully you’re like Jim and Mary Haider — you’re into sharing the gorgeous views with the rest of us, even if it’s only for a weekend getaway.
The Haiders moved here from the Greater Chicago area a few years back after selecting the piece of property in Maryville where they plan to live out their retirement years. It’s 10 acres situated 2,200 feet up Chilhowee Mountain and luckily they have extra rooms.
Three to be exact. The couple lives in the downstairs area and graciously rents out two rooms upstairs and a third above a detached garage nearby. It’s called Chilhowee Mountain Retreat. If they do their job right, you might never want to leave.
If you build it
The bed and breakfast opened in May 2011. The Haiders designed the log home themselves and then waited 22 months for it to be built. They keep the inn open all year round even though winter can get pretty slow.
So far, the world is responding to their welcome sign. They recently had guests from Southern Brazil and before that, France and Italy. People have come from all over. Either they randomly picked Chilhowee Mountain Retreat for its remoteness or they want to ride motorcycles along the infamous Dragon — or the pictures on the retreat’s website did their job.
Maryvillians have been known to make the short trek, too.
“The local people tell us the same thing — ‘we put the kids with grandma and grandpa and we are here for a few days of rest, to get away,’” Jim said.
The main house features a large great room on the main floor with stone fireplace, leather furniture and breakfast nook nearby. There is also a music room on the first floor and patio doors that open onto the best therapy around — mountains everywhere you look. The two main guest rooms are on the second floor. One is the Sunflower Room; the other is the Bear Room.
These two rooms have great views of the mountains, king size beds, air-jet tubs big enough for two, steam shower, heated towels, 42-inch televisions and room to move around. The third room is called the Forest View Room and it’s situated on top of a detached garage. It has its own entrance, microwave and refrigerator, and hot tub on the side deck. It’s the largest of the three rooms.
Mary works from home for a consulting firm out of Chicago while Jim is retired. He used to work as a public information officer. They said they looked at property all over the country.
“We started looking for property back in 2003,” Mary explained. “Jim was coming down a lot after we bought the land to got things going. I came down in 2009. It’s been quite a project, quite an adventure.”
They moved onto the property just before Thanksgiving 2009. “We just kind of lived here for a while and got used to the place,” Jim said.
Then the day came when it was time to open the doors and throw out the welcome mat, a day that was a little frightening, Mary said. They’ve never regretted it.
These two have had plenty of practice as host and hostess. They have taken in international students over the years as well as missionaries. They also love to entertain.
“Over the years since we’ve been married, we tend to be the people that invite people over,” Mary said. “We also don’t have children and we knew we would be in a remote situation wherever we went. We didn’t want to just sit out in the woods by ourselves and look at each other.”
As a matter of fact, she said running a B&B had been at the back of her mind for years. They started talking about it and came to the conclusion they should give it a try.
It does take a lot to provide the level of comfort and cleanliness the Haiders pride themselves on. There’s breakfast to prepare, rooms to dust and vacuum, beds to change, etc. The person who chooses a B&B over a chain hotel expects more than a room key, they said.
“The people who stay at B&Bs are looking for more personal service,” Jim said. “They are also people who don’t want to get nickled and dimed to death for a bucket of ice or a can of pop or a bag of chips or a candy bar. And there’s the view. That draws them in.”
Some of the guests at Chilhowee Mountain Retreat are surprised that this is not just an inn, it’s also the Haiders’ home. They live in an apartment downstairs. That’s one more reason this retreat is taken care of better than any hotel. It’s more than a business, Jim said.
It’s been a learning process for the B&B owners as they provide personal care and also give guests their own space. Mary said there are a lot of couples who check in and rarely leave the cozy comforts until the trek home, preferring to create their memories right there.
Maybe it’s the fact cell phones don’t work here.
Maybe it’s the view.