By Kathy Newbern and J.S. Fletcher, Special To The Raleigh Telegram
LAKE TOXAWAY, NC — Pulling up alongside The Greystone Inn’s long red awning that leads to reception, we’re eager to explore all this property has to offer. It’s been on our wish list several years.
Greystone Inn, a AAA Four-Diamond property, sits on the shores of our state’s largest private lake and in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The resort borders Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest.
In the early 1900′s, the Toxaway Inn attracted the rich and famous to its six-story, 250-room luxury hotel with its fireplaces, elevators, fine cuisine, entertainment and a daily, steam-powered party boat.
How appropriate that our introduction to the present-day Greystone Inn and Lake Toxaway is by boat — a champagne cruise aboard the Miss Lucy with Inn Manager Clark Lovelace at the helm (he confides that “cruise captain” is the favorite of all his job titles.)
The 26-passenger, 33-foot mahogany launch, a Hacker-Craft, utilizes a half-dozen car batteries to power her 3.5-horsepower electric engine. As boats race by pulling water skiers and tubers at speeds approaching 30 mph, the quiet, leisurely pace of this stylish boat is relaxing and perfect for viewing the lavish estates around the lake and hearing about them.
Clark explains that “Toxaway” is Cherokee for red bird, hence the cardinal on the inn’s logo.
We also hear how in 1902 E.H. Jennings built an earthen wall 500 feet long, 60 feet high, and 20 feet wide, that allowed the Toxaway River to form the 640-square-acre Lake Toxaway.
Not long after came Greystone Inn’s predecessor – the 250-room, luxury Lake Toxaway Inn, which opened not far from the Southern Railroad terminal. We can easily imagine those guests of yesteryear arriving by train with their steamer trunks and swimming costumes.
The story continues, sadly, with the demise of that inn because of the 1916 flood that burst the dam: 23 inches of rain in 24 hours (miraculously no one died). It was the largest recorded rainfall in North Carolina’s history. With the lake drained, the inn’s business dried up; it was torn down in the late 1940s, its contents auctioned.
Miss Lucy’s Legacy
The story takes a heartwarming turn, though, because of the people who stayed and helped the area rebound, among them Mrs. Lucy Armstrong (the Miss Lucy launch is named in her honor).
Lovelace tells how she and her first husband, George, came here in 1910, and how, on her fifth visit she announced, looking out over the expanse of water: “George, I’d like so much for you to build me a home here.”
Her doubting husband said if she could stick it out a summer camping here, then he’d consider her request. “Miss Lucy was a very unique lady,” Lovelace continues, “so she said ‘OK, George, let’s shake on it.’ ”
By 1915, they had completed a six-level mansion likened to a Swiss chateau.
George died tragically in a car accident in 1924, but Miss Lucy pushed on and created her year-round residence, adding a freestanding library, stables and swimming pool.
In 1930, she married Carl Moltz, a lumberman, and they continued to improve the dwelling, locally called the Moltz Mansion. After Carl’s death in 1963, Lucy moved to a smaller home on the lake and sold the mansion to Reg Heinitsh Sr. She passed in 1971 at age 91.
In 1960, Heinitsh Sr. had come to the area and decided to renew the development. He formed the Lake Toxaway Company, buying 9,000 acres for around $50 each. He cleared the lake bed and reconstructed the dam, which formed the impressive 640-acre Lake Toxaway. In 1963 he built a golf course, and soon people began to buy into the community.
In 1984, Reg Heinitsh Jr. and his friend Tim Lovelace (the current manager’s dad) agreed that Moltz Mansion would be the perfect inn. They formed a partnership, and within a year, had converted the mansion into the Greystone Inn, managed by Tim and his wife.
Thinking big, in 1988, they built Hillmont: 12 luxury rooms in a stand-alone lakeside building. In 1990, the Lakeside Dining room was added, and in 1995, the Lakeside Suites building was ready for occupants with two luxury suites on the top level and a spa below.
Visitors to Greystone Inn can be as active or laid back as they choose. For instance:
• Hike this “land of the waterfalls,” 250 of them here in Transylvania County;
• Golf at the award-winning Kris Spence-designed championship 18-hole, par-71, private golf course. The scenic layout winds through the spectacular mountain terrain with dramatic elevation changes, and Augusta-style approaches demanding pinpoint accuracy;
• To work on that accuracy, sign up for lessons at the Tom Fazio Golf Learning Center;
• Choose your mallet and test the professional croquet lawn – you may run into from Lake Toxaway Nuts (the croquet club);
• Grab a racquet and head to the tennis courts;
• Swim in the lake or pool;
• Indulge at the Lakeside Spa with a lomi-lomi massage or visit the co-ed sauna;
• Rent a boat to explore Lake Toxaway on your own;
• Outwit your chess partner in the inn’s living room;
• Drop a line to fish the lake;
• Savor the elegant, six-course dinners in the Lakeside Dining room – jackets required. Don’t miss the buttermilk pie. Guests also rave over the High Country Breakfast: eggs benedict, Belgian waffles, omelets, French Toast, fresh pastries, fresh fruits, and more.
• Visit nearby Brevard “where Main Street Meets the Mountains.” Here you’ll find the White Squirrel Shoppe named for the much-appreciated local critter (so of course keep a lookout for them on the inn’s grounds). And Lovelace promises that O.P. Taylor’s is a “phenomenal toy store.”
Greystone Inn is among the Classic Inns of the South. For your stay, you can choose:
• The Moltz Mansion (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) with 16 rooms, categorized as “standard” (typical bed & breakfast) and “luxury” with increased living space, fireplaces and private patios.
• Hillmont, adjacent to the Mansion, has 12 rooms with picturesque lake and mountain views that feature a private balcony overlooking the lake, large Jacuzzi bathtub, wet bar, sitting area and gas fireplaces.
• Lakeside Suites are two lake shore rooms with an adjoining door for families or couples traveling together. Each suite has a large Jacuzzi bathtub, fireplace, wet bar, screened porch, sitting room with sleeper sofa, and separate bedroom with king bed.
(This was our accommodation — well-furnished and especially roomy and comfortable, with flatscreen TV in the bedroom, Gilchrist & Soames of London bath products, plus free Internet service. We loved the plush bed and bath linens and would have liked more time just to relax on the screened porch, with its lake view.)
• The Presidential Suite was originally Lucy Armstrong’s library. This lakeside suite features a large wood fireplace, 14-foot bay window, large living area, 25-foot cathedral ceiling, large Jacuzzi bathtub, bar area with small fridge, king bed, and loft with double bed bunk beds. It’s also used for weddings, receptions and meetings.
Regardless of how you spend your time here, we bet your Miss Lucy cruise will be a highlight, as it is for nearly all the guests.
If You’re Going
The Greystone Inn is located between Brevard and Highlands off US Highway 64, about 50 miles southwest of Asheville.
For more, call (800) 824-5766 or 828-966-4700 or visit www.greystoneinn.com. Ask about the Waterfalls Package September through November (excluding holidays). It starts at $299 midweek and $399 weekends.
And for more on what to see and do in the North Carolina mountains, go to www.visitnc.com or phone 800.VISIT.NC. ::
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Freelance writers Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.