At Home: Engadine Inn and Cabins
Story Jennifer Fulford | Photos by Adrian Etheridge
It used to be that no one could see Engadine Inn from the bottom of its short driveway. A thick belt of greenery concealed the view of the wraparound front porches and three stories. But Rick Bell and Tom Watson saw possibilities and purchased the property in 2014. These owners of the bed and breakfast in rural Candler are pleased to be the current stewards of this stately historic home, and they’re proud to show it off.
“We see ourselves as the stewards of this place,” says Rick. “It’s just our time to take care of it.”
And it has been well tended. For a home that predates the Biltmore Estate by as much as a decade, the building is an incredible example of care. Built around 1885, the bed and breakfast is a beautiful step back into history. Hardly a place inside the five-bedroom inn shows much sign of its age. The only occasional clue is a slanted doorjamb, but in two years as co-owner, Rick says the atmosphere has never felt better.
“It’s amazing,” Rick says, as he heads up the hardwood risers to the second floor, “that none of the wood was ever painted.”
The property of Engadine Inn, formerly called the Honey Hill House, encompasses a dozen rolling acres of what used to be a retired Confederate captain’s prized home. Captain John and Mary Hoyt departed New York for the Smoky Mountains and built the grand house for their family. They ran a vineyard and winery. They entertained guests and, for that era, were probably the talk of the town, though any town was far away. Today, it’s fifteen miles to Biltmore Village.
Rick and Tom scouted the property two years ago to seek a change of pace from Florida. Experienced as successful event planners, they began searching for a bed and breakfast that had potential. On their checklist: good views, plenty of room for expansion, the right vibe. They found it all in Engadine.
“John Hoyt named it Engadine because this part of North Carolina, this kind of topography, reminded him of the Engadine Valley in Switzerland,” Rick says.
The 6,000-square-foot home has been an inn since the late 1980s. Prior to that, it had been lived in by a few families whose descendants occasionally come knocking on the front door.
Engadine Inn offers five ensuite rooms featuring grand beds that set the standard for pampering. In colder months, what’s known as the Captain’s Room is the most popular bedroom because the fireplace is adjacent to a clawfoot tub. Guests can enjoy two sitting rooms, eat breakfast in a formal dining room, and chat up the innkeepers in an enviable chef’s kitchen.
The inn itself is just part of the story. Over the years, six cabins were added around the property to accommodate more guests. In total, the inn and cabins sleep about 35 guests. Most of the cabins are one-bedroom and resemble log cabins. The surrounding views remind visitors that it’s okay to breathe a little deeper. Relaxing includes spending time on one of the inn’s first- and second-floor porches. A circular porch with a turret provides a robin’s nest view.
For guests in the inn, breakfast is a two-course affair of fruit and a warm entrée that varies daily. Those staying in the cabins can add breakfast to their stay, but each cabin is outfitted with a kitchenette and utensils. Barbeques are also available.
For events, such as weddings, areas on the grounds are available for use. Since buying the property, Rick and Tom have been clearing undergrowth and leveling land to make sites more attractive for outdoor weddings. In the meantime, they’ve been welcoming many who elope or want intimate ceremonies.
Rick and Tom still have plenty on their to-do list. They’d like to add an event center and more cabins. They often drive around the property and see more potential on every trip.
“If only I could win the lottery,” Rick says.
Engadine Inn and Cabins is located at 2630 Smoky Park Highway in Candler. For more information and reservations, call 828.663.1110 or visit honeyhillhouse.com.