The real review on Blackberry Farm.
Blackberry Farm, hands down, is our favorite place to visit for relaxion, in the world. That being said I'd like to start with negatives. THERE ARE NONE!
Blackberry Farm is the kind of magical place that will temporarily turn even the most disgruntled, miserable people, into carefree, fun-loving souls. Everytime we are at Blackberry Farm, all of the guests that we casually speak to, those who we share stories with at the evening bonfire, or those that we shoot a game of pool with after dinner; every single one is having the time of their life, and most are repeat guests. Not one time, did I hear a negative comment uttered. All of the guests always have expressed the same sentiments, and they all treat Blackberry Farm as their home away from home, a place that nobody wants to share with even their closest friends, fearing that they themselves might call up for a reservation someday, and not have a room available due to growing popularity.
Ok, lets get on with the good stuff...
I'd like to point out that this place is nearly impossible to leave, once you step in you become part of the resort. The world around you, and all of your previous cares, blur and fade away following the first vista your eyes look upon, or first piece of food that passes your lips.
Blackberry farm is expensive and worth even more. The resort, during the last few years has received top honors from Zagat, Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast, Gourmet, Andrew Harper, and many other publications. When I say top honors, I mean myself and all the other repeat guests are not the only ones who thinks the service and food are the best in the United States, or the world!!!
I have stayed at several properties that comprise the "world's best", and I hate to repeat myself, but nothing gets better than these thousands of acres in Walland, TN. The One and Only resorts, Amanresorts, Rosewood, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, and Oberoi (all of which I am a big fan of) all should start taking lessons from Blackberry Farm. And now, thanks to the big-name travel magazines, they have to.
The twenty minute drive from the ultra clean Knoxville airport (which is quite refreshing coming from Jfk, La Guardia or Newark), is pretty unremarkable. Some vistas, but nothing out of the ordinary along the way. Then you turn up Millers Cove rd, and on the left you see that the beginning of that white fence that will never leave your mind for years to come. You go through the gates and pull up to the reception. Immediately the well trained valets take your car, check you in, give you a tour and map of the enormous property, a bottle of water, the key to your room, your golf cart, and off you go entering pure bliss. The property itself, I will not delve into for it must be kept a surprise for those who have not been. As for the rooms, a few are small, however after staying in queen and king Estate rooms, as well as the luxurious cottage suites, my preference is sometimes the smaller queen estate rooms. We are visiting primarily for the property and the food. The room is secondary. We are here to escape the garbage of the world, and that is done outdoors somewhere on the 4000 acres, not in the confines of a room. That being said, the antique furniture in all rooms fits perfectly, and the beds with the Frette linens and plump featherbed tops, are more comfortable than any bed I have ever slept on away from home.
Exploring the property you will find: Horseback riding, fly-fishing (endorsed by Orvis), a luxurious spa, hiking, biking, canoeing, horse drawn carriage rides, a beautiful swimming pool, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and other activities that I didn't participate in. You can take a hot-air balloon over the mountains, you can drive a Lexus of your choice (on the house) and take it off property to explore the national park, you can go white-water rafting, or play a round of golf nearby. There is a small 24-hour fitness center with top of the line commercial precor equipment and some free weights, but its really a shame to be indoors at a place like this. The preferred activity seems to be just lounging on the rocking chairs and taking in the amazing views. Indoors, to keep busy they provide countless books, games, billiards, and those famous hand carved Stave puzzles.
The staff here are levels above the rest, always professional and polished without being the least bit stuffy. They always call us by name and usually anticipate our needs almost before the desire to ask for something even crosses our mind! I'm not talking about only the simple textbook stuff. The staff here are trained and even encouraged to think outside the box. A few stays ago, one waiter overheard one of my party mention that it was a little chilly in the room while dressing for dinner. Without saying a word to us, housekeeping was notified and the thermostat in room was a cozy 74 degrees when we returned from dinner. I only know this because I made it a point to ask the concierge the next day, for as if by magic the room seemed to warm up. No note was left by the staff, the temperature was just subtly adjusted. That is service!
The golf carts are the favorite mode of transportation around property. You literally get to tool around all day long and feel like a young soul while taking in all the gorgeous short and long range vistas, and tiny nooks that make up Blackberry Farm. Then, overnight your personal golfcart is washed, charged up, and ready to go the next morning.
I will not spend a lot of time raving about the food and wine, because as you probably figured out by now, it is absolutely the best! Nothing we have ever eaten beats this style of food that Chef Fleer coined; Foothills Cuisine. When we eat at Daniel, Le Bernadin, Jean Georges, Bouley, Per Se, Peter Lugers, Charlie Trotters, Aujourd'hui, French Laundry, or anywhere else for that matter, we always find ourselves comparing some aspect of the food to Blackberry Farm, and then we usually discuss when we can book our next trip to Tennessee. The wine list is presented in a book resembling the thickness of a bible, and they are never short of the exotic, rare alcohols that we noticed many of their discerning guests specifically request. The resident sommelier Mr. Chabot is always patient, friendly, and extremely skilled in selecting appropriate pairings and his knowledge of specific wines and vineyards. His talent, in my opinion exceeds the Sommeliers at Zagat 28's and 29's around the country, and he is on his way to becoming a Master Sommelier. Dining at Blackberry will spoil you from Breakfast to Dinner and everywhere in between.
Then, sadly, comes time for your departure and the valet brings back your just washed car packed with luggage, driving directions, water and those gourmet boxed lunches for the road. Sometimes we start planning our next visit right there on the way back to the airport!!!
There are many facets to Blackberry Farm, I only spoke of a few. Blackberry Farm has reached the top and they seem to be constantly striving for more. With room rates starting over five hundred dollars, Blackberry Farm really does cater to the upper class and groups of executives. It would be difficult to imagine a better location for a wedding or a family gathering. We have run into movie actors, rockstars, politicians, top execs, and everyday folks like ourselves, all there for complete privacy and relaxation.
Blackberry Farm seems to me to be the Loro Piana of the fashion world; The name that everyone "in the know", knows, and nobody else has heard of. The purest fabrics tailored for a clientele who live a lifestyle of excellence and will never settle for anything less. Blackberry Farm, in my opinion, takes that place in the hotel industry.
Blackberry Farm has claimed first place and is running away with it.