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“The excellent, very good and the not so good....” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Old Edwards Inn and Spa

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Old Edwards Inn and Spa
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   445 Main Street, PO Box 2130, Highlands, NC 28741   |  
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The Ultimate Spa Retreat
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Highlands
Charlotte, North Carolina
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“The excellent, very good and the not so good....”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2014

Ok, I want to start my review on OEI by saying that after reading the previous reviews on Trip Advisor that I must admit we had very high expectations (likely too high). So, I want to give an honest review of the excellent, the very good and the not so good (notice I didn't say bad) of this property. I want to note that we typically go to Grove Park Inn as we just love their spa, but decided to give the OEI at Highlands a try, especially given the high praise that we keep hearing.

Upon arrival, my wife and I entered the property at the incorrect location, as we were booked in the Fall Cottages and arrived on a foggy night in the older section of the Inn. We were treated with two glasses of champagne and then given a brief tour of the Inn including the bar area and the complimentary Dove bars etc. We then got back into our car and headed to the "Lodge" check-in down the block. The person we just met, didn't think to call ahead to explain that we were first timers trying to find our way (which was ok). Upon check in at the Lodge, I asked to speak to the concierge regarding finding a restaurant off-site for a nice sit-down dinner (as we had been in the car for about 4 hours). The original person that we had met in the older section had explained to us that there were many fine restaurants near the property; however, come to find out, she was obviously not informed that many of these restaurants were closed during this "off-season" and hence we were quite limited on our selections. I was then told by the front desk that there was no concierge on duty (despite being only 6:00 pm on a Friday night). The front desk then offered to look on "Open Table" to find us a place to eat. With that I then said, no worries, as I was hoping someone would call and see what they could arrange, as we are perfectly capable of getting online and looking on "Open Table" ourselves. I think after I made that suggestion, she then decided to make a few phone calls for us. We then proceeded to our cottage and were greeted by the bellman at the Falls Cottages, who gave us a nice introduction regarding our room. He did note that he was "new", so I did have to ask to get more information which he kindly related. We were placed in a 2nd floor Falls Cottage room which turned out to be absolutely perfect (very quiet and relaxing). Simply, these newly completed "cottages" are fantastic with hard woods throughout, ireplace, heated bathroom floors, marble shower with multiple jets, soaking tube, DirecTV etc. I obviously can't say enough good things about the room selection. Only negative, would be the lack of a new movie selection (like you would have at a hotel). Shortly, after check-in, we had a knock on our door and it was the same front desk person with the bellman offering us a free bottle of champagne for any inconvenience. I felt this was a nice touch. She had also now taken the initiative to hold a reservation for us at Ruka’s table. This was also nice. Ruka's turned out very good (farm to table place) with a reasonable wine list -- found a 2009 Domaine du Vieux CDP at barely above cost. We slept well that night to say the least.

The next day, we explored the town on foot. Being "down-season" there wasn't much action going on which was fine for us. The pools were closed due to season and rain had gotten into the tarp over one of the pools so this had to be pumped out – hence no pool access. Jacuzzis were available 24/7 though. We then had late spa appointments (4 and 5) before our dinner at Madison's that night. My initial impressions on the spa: Very nice décor (“chocolate hallway”), well kept, clean as a whistle. I was somewhat dismayed at the plethora of people in robes – seems like people come and stay a long time!. I’m sure if the pools were open during “in-season” this wouldn’t have felt like a problem, but there was hardly a place for my wife and I to sit in either communal section. We each got a brief tour of the locker room areas – both getting the impression that they were on the smaller size. Steam sauna (but no dry sauna for the guys) and mineral whirl pool were nice. I went out to get a drink since my treatment wasn't until 5:00 pm. After selecting a glass of champagne, the server asked me if this would be my only glass (since she was leaving at 4:00 pm). I stated I hope not and let it go at that! I then moved around a bit eventually finding a chair by the fireplace and relaxed. My massage was nice, but nothing spectacular. I was never asked by the therapist if the amount of pressure was too little or too much, but this was ok. My wife's treatment was booked at 4:00 pm for a Stone massage, but unfortunately the therapist hadn't gotten this "stone" message (despite two prior phone confirmations) and had to leave the room to go get the stones etc. My wife felt this pretty much did it, as the massage therapist then seemed rush / out of sorts. I do agree with her, that from 4:00 pm until close (6:00 pm); everyone looked like they were getting ready to leave rather than tending to the late comers. My wife was not offered a cup of tea while waiting on me despite being passed by numerous employees with black plastic bags sorting linens and what not. In addition, she had to complete with ~6 recent college grads using 6 hair dryers at the same time rocking out to their loud music from their “beats-pills” in the locker room. Dr. Dre would be happy, but not this MD at these rates. I could not even believe this when she told me. It seems like they obviously need to do a better job at "policing" their locker rooms rather than cleaning up to get home on time – this seems incredulous to me for the #1 rated spa in North America. I then heard that they are planning on expanding the spa which is a must for the locker room areas. I would like to put my recommendation in for a lounge area for the guys who would prefer to separate from the hordes of ladies in robes (ok not most of us I get it). Maybe even a flat screen on mute with the playoff game. Four naked guys of various sized getting dressed in this space is a definite challenge. With that said, the manager of the spa was most apologetic, even offering us a credit on my wife's treatment and future treatments for both of us (which again is a nice touch), but why these things happen in the first place is beyond me. We have personally learned to never schedule late spa treatments ever again.

Then on to our dinner at Madison's. Clearly this was one of the highlights of our trip. Our server, Andy, was attentive and knew the menu to the T. One of our top dinners ever – reminded us of the Ocean Room in Kiawah.

So, in summary, OEI is a fantastic place for a nice relaxing weekend with your spouse. The spa is very good, with some flaws. The Fall Cottages are perfect. Madison’s is excellent. But, I would tend to stay away from low-season and late spa appointments. They did call again (as we were driving home) to discuss our experience and invite us back. We will likely take them up on that offer (but during higher season – spring summer fall, when we can sit at the pool and enjoy the area to its fullest!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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760 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (267)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2014

From the moment you pull up, the staff makes sure you are taken care of. They answer the questions that you might ask even before you think to ask. Our room was fantastic, from the fireplace to the heated floors and towels in the bathroom. Even though everything was extremely nice, it still felt very cozy and comfortable. We opted to eat at the pub across the street for dinner, but had breakfast at the inn, which was very nice and reasonably priced. We hope to make this an annual trip.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda S, Marketing Director at Old Edwards Inn and Spa, responded to this review, January 14, 2014
We're so glad that you enjoyed your stay with us at Old Edwards, and that you joined our friends at The Ugly Dog for dinner. We look forward to seeing your next year on your "annual trip."
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Miramar Beach, Florida
Top Contributor
132 reviews 132 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
84 helpful votes 84 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2014

The OEI is the place to stay in Highlands. Can walk to many restaurants, shops and sights. The service is impeccable. Ice requested and delivered in under 5 minutes every time. The new Falls rooms are spacious and comfortable and just a short walk to everything within the resort compound. The spa had the best common areas I have ever experienced. Madison's and the Hummingbird Lounge are perfect for relaxing and enjoying great food and drink. Management is attentive and helpful. Heated bathroom floors and electric start fireplace are super on cold mornings. If only the closet was a little bigger.....but we always bring too much anyway! The mini fridge makes it easy to enjoy an evening in with a few appetizers and wine should you choose.

Room Tip: Falls Cottages are brand new. Further from Main area of resort, but peaceful and spacious.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda S, Marketing Director at Old Edwards Inn and Spa, responded to this review, January 13, 2014
We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed our new Falls Cottages as well as the spa and your room amenities. It sounds like you had a very enjoyable winter stay with us. We hope to you see you back in the summer for a different but equally awesome experience with all the beautiful recreational things to do in Highlands and on property.
Thank you for posting your positive review on TripAdvisor!
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Alpharetta, Georgia, United States
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2014

We have stayed here many times, and this time, we stayed in the Lodge, and it was beautiful and the staff was wonderful, as usual! We had a fabulous time, and will definitely go back! *** I would recommend that you ask to see your room before you take your luggage, however. They tried to put us in a room that has had a smell problem, and we quickly insisted on moving. Evidently, this has been a problem with many other guests as well. The smell was awful, like a litter box. We quickly moved from room 502 to room 702, which was beautiful and smelled fresh. The bell man brought us a bottle of champagne to apologize because he felt bad. The rest of the weekend was magnificent, and the Highlands are beautiful, like a little town Norman Rockwell would have painted, with 5 star dining and even fun shopping, as well as a slower pace, lovely people and the most beautiful scenery and wildlife. Even though it was cold, we got to recharge our batteries and had a romantic, fun weekend! This is one of our favorite places. We have visited here over a dozen times and it is consistently enjoyable.

Room Tip: Make sure that you are not put in a room that has had a smell problem before. I would stay away fro...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2014

My husband and I spent New Years Eve night and New Years night and it was really wonderful. We stayed in the original Inn which was very cosy. We thought the the staff was very helpful and thoughtful.. The New Years dinner was delicious as was breakfast.
Our room was on the top floor which we liked but did have stairs that might be a problem for some. There was some noise from doors of other rooms but it is the older part of the inn. Loved the heated floors in bathroom. A really enjoyable experience. We have been to Highlands many times but this was our first stay at Old Edwards and will definitely be back.

Room Tip: Since we were in the older part, we had a room on the top floor, so we could not hear anyone above u...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Davie, Florida
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014

With no plans or reservations we were not sure we could get in. Came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. The staff was AMAZING and loved the ambiance of the property. During this slower time of year, we felt like we had the place to ourselves. Loved the "man cave" where we had the place to ourselves to watch a movie in the VERY COMFORTABLE home theater seating. Can't wait to get back here.........Dove Bars in the Butler's Pantry.......dangerous !!!!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda S, Marketing Director at Old Edwards Inn and Spa, responded to this review, January 11, 2014
We're so glad you were able to get in without a reservation and that you enjoyed your visit. Thank you for posting your review on TripAdvisor. Love "the man cave." What a great description of the game and theater room. You are right about the winter months-- a great time to enjoy everything Old Edwards has to offer. We look forward to having you back.
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Charlotte, North Carolina
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2014

My wife and I stayed for three nights and had a solid, comfortable, and consistent experience.

We stayed in the cottages that just recently opened. The room, a one bedroom suite, was well done. It was cozy, aided by by mini-bar, fireplace, and heated bathroom floors. The shower was excellent with at least 5 jets in addition to the main head. The interplay of materials (wood, stone and tile) and textures of the linens and other accessories came across as tasteful and natural. Only criticism is that you can hear footsteps from those on second floor. The cottages have multiple rooms so I would suggest second floor.

Amenities wise, we spent one entire day at he Spa and it was top notch and deserving of every bit of press it earns. It is a relaxing but not overly formal environment. The showers are outrageous-in a good way! There are like 25 heads.

We also enjoyed the hummingbird and library lounges in the evenings. The drinks in the lounges as well as the Madison restaurant need some work. Outside of the obvious Martini, Collins, or bourbon or scotch neat, it was uninspiring. There are some house cocktails but again I think this area needs some work as I found those cocktails not very interesting. Some effort is made in regards to seasonality of the drink menu, but other items remain like the Lavender Collins. It's winter and hard to channel Provence this time of year. At this point, let me point out that cocktails and mixology are personal passions so I will admittedly hold this aspect to a higher standard than most. Given a restaurant on-site, the potential is endless in regards to homemade infused syrups and spirits. Homemade bitters could be pulled off with ease given the kitchen's credentials.

Bill deserves a shutout. He manages the bar in the Cottages Lobby. Very helpful with information regarding Highlands and the Inn itself. His wife Mary works at Madison and is delightful as well. We even ran into him when he and his wife were not working and he made a point to check in and see if we needed anything including more suggestions. He is passionate about his job and it shows.

Madison restaurant was solid. We ate there twice. It seems to be alpine/tyrolian influenced. The portions were larger than anticipated and I am not sure that is a good thing given an attempt to take on three courses. The seafood knuckles starter was excellent and unique with its foam. The duck was executed well as was the hanger steak. The desserts are outstanding. The wine list was appropriate in its selections and its price points.

Overall, it was an excellent experience. This place has the unique ability to preserve its past while expanding over time to remain relevant--and do so in a way that results in consistency in appearance and experience. That is hard to do. We highly recommend.

Room Tip: Cottages are excellent option for couples or families. Would suggest second floor as you can hear p...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda S, Marketing Director at Old Edwards Inn and Spa, responded to this review, January 11, 2014
We love this thorough and well-thought-out review. So many great points here, including our cocktail program. You hit on some key items that we are working on right now to really deliver a stellar cocktail experience that fully utilizes our local and regional resources. Cocktail programs are becoming so creative and such a major part of the culinary/vacation experience, and the possibilities are endless. Again, thank you for such a great review, and we look forward to seeing you back again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Old Edwards Inn and Spa

Address: 445 Main Street, PO Box 2130, Highlands, NC 28741
Phone Number:
Location: United States > North Carolina > North Carolina Smoky Mountains > Highlands
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Highlands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Old Edwards Inn and Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 93
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This European style luxury resort cascades over several scenic blocks in downtown Highlands, NC, offering multiple room types, suites, cottages and full guest estates. Two spectacular outdoor heated mineral pools with whirlpools and cabanas, a world-class spa and fitness center, award-winning dining, and golf at the private Old Edwards Club are signature experiences at this full-service mountain resort. All guests enjoy champagne arrival and complimentary Dove Bars, fresh fruit and bottled water. European bedding, fine Italian linens, plush robes & slippers, rainfall showers and heated bathroom floors enhance the in-room experience. Most rooms feature fireplaces as well as private patios or balconies. The restaurants serve farm-to-table fare harvested fresh from two gardens and a greenhouse. Craft cocktails are enjoyed around the resort at casual bars and upscale lounges, and several live music venues provide entertainment indoors year round and outdoors in warmer months. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Old Edwards Hotel Highlands
Old Edwards Inn

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