Every so often a resort comes along that seems to redefine the notion of a hideaway for a new generation. Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm opened in 1976, and for decades it has been a consistent favorite of Hideaway Report members. Earlier this year, the Farm gained a sibling, Blackberry Mountain, located 9 miles away on an elevated perch overlooking Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Blackberry Farm was the creation of Sandy Beall (founder of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain), while Blackberry Mountain was the brainchild of his son, Sam Beall, who took over running the family business in 2001. From Blackberry Farm, the Bealls had long gazed across a peaceful valley to the wooded slopes of Chilhowee Mountain. The only thing that disturbed their serene contemplation was the thought that its slopes could be purchased and developed, and their view disfigured. So when 5,200 acres of Chilhowee came up for sale in 2007, the Bealls acquired the land for a reported $20 million. In collaboration with North American Land Trust, the family set aside 2,700 acres for conservation in perpetuity, while the remaining 2,500 acres were earmarked as the possible site of a wellness retreat, one that would be a harmonious addition to its natural surroundings.
This February, Sam Beall’s vision became a reality. Tragically, he was not there to attend the opening ceremony, as he had been killed in a skiing accident three years earlier, at age 39. It had been left to his widow, Mary Celeste Beall, to complete her late husband’s project.