A Love for the Mountains
Inspiring memories – and tourism revenue – with luxury lakefront property rentals
By CHRISTA MILLER
Bernie Love discovered Lake Glenville virtually by accident. Bicycling between Highlands and Cashiers on Route 107, she noticed the 26-mile lake off to the side. At the time, searching around the plateau and Western North Carolina for a vacation experience similar to—but located closer than—Maine, she wanted to find out what she could.
Attracted by what she calls the “jewel” of Lake Glenville, the following year, Love stayed for two nights at an Innisfree property that was right on the lake. “I was hooked from that moment on,” she says. “[As] the highest lake on the eastern seaboard, it has wonderfully cool temperatures.”
The seed for her vacation rental business, Luxury Lakefront Cabins, had been planted. Now, Love seeks to recreate the kind of experience for other families that she provided for her own.
Designing for memorable family experiences
“If you ask my children where they grew up, their growing-up and formative years go back more to their summers on the lake than anything,” says Love. “They describe it as an idyllic childhood, [where they] abandoned television for building forts in the woods.”
Those memories—together with the lifelong friendships her children made, and their desire to bring their own children to Lake Glenville—inspired Love’s business. “I think gathering with family and friends in such a beautiful natural setting is a great experience, and I love providing that to other people now, even if it’s just for a week,” she explains.
About half of Love’s clientele are new guests who know what kind of dream vacation, milestone birthday, or anniversary experience they want, but don’t know enough about Western North Carolina to make it happen. Love spends time daily describing the boating, fishing, hiking, and other activities to clients from as nearby as Atlanta and as far away as Seattle.
The other half of Love’s clientele consists of repeat visitors. “One lady told me, ‘When I start coming up the mountain, I can feel my blood pressure dropping,’” Love says. “A lot of families tell me their kids have their special room, and that they can’t wait to get back to what they feel like is their second home.”
That’s due in large part to Love’s strategic design. “I [host] multigenerational families predominantly,” she says, “and my houses are set up for a comfortable three-generation family vacation.” This includes multiple master bedrooms, kids’ rooms, and covered porches, in addition to private docks with kayaks and canoes, fire pits, and other common areas.
“The gathering spaces and the common areas are important to me… because that’s where people live and laugh together,” says Love. The floor plans in the three larger cottages, which each sleep 14 comfortably, are fundamentally the same. For each property, she has worked with the team from Srebalus Construction, a longtime local builder, to tweak the design in small but significant ways, such as moving a wall to make a bathroom bigger.
Love’s personal touch is part of her properties’ appeal. “I just try to provide what I would love,” she says. Guests are greeted with vases of local wildflowers and arrangements of ferns and hosta throughout the home. Dining tables are set, and NC roasted coffee beans are on hand for the morning. Attention to detail is found everywhere, from the fully stocked kitchen for the home cook, to the freshly laundered duvets and bedspreads.
Providing a full community experience
Part of Love’s initial concept was to create a way for families to get to know one another and make lifelong friends the way hers had. As an owner wearing multiple hats to grow her small business, though, she saw an opportunity to bring other local small business owners into the fold.
“I try to bring in lots of different people and services that are in the community for my guests,” she says. In addition to housekeeping and maintenance staff, she offers referrals to photographers, fishing guides, and group fitness leaders. “I had a group that had [about] 20 people for an in-house yoga session Thanksgiving morning.”
Year-round rentals also support different types of small businesses, which can be important in an area that’s heavily reliant on tourist dollars for seasonal businesses. Even though January and February are the “slow season” on the plateau, Love says, in-home massage often appeals to couples, women’s groups, and other wintertime guests, while personal chefs appeal to the dinner clubs that come for long weekends—and later in the season, to busy families as well.
Love intends for her properties to be self-contained—“a great spot to land and be with the people you love in nature” for those who want a hideaway—but as a Chamber of Commerce member, she also actively encourages guests to venture out and take advantage of all the plateau has to offer.
“This is such a unique area. It has culture, it has amazing nature,” she says. “A lot of people find my site that don’t really know the area, [so] always before guests get here, I provide lots of information on hiking, on waterfalls. I let them know where they can rent boats, where they can dine and shop.”
Love also provides itinerary-style ideas, such as a short morning hike followed by lunch in Highlands. “I say Cashiers and Highlands are both quaint towns that have been destination mountain towns for years,” she explains. “Both towns have great little shops and restaurants. Where else are you going to find a place where you can have wonderful dining, amazing nature, a different hike every day, a different waterfall?”
To learn more about Luxury Lakefront Cabins, visit www.cashiersnc.com.
Spotlight on the Luxury Lakefront Cabins
The four Luxury Lakefront Cabins are four separate, distinct properties located on the shores of Lake Glenville. Each featuring cathedral ceilings, stone fireplaces, hardwood floors, hammocks, and rustic but elegant décor, the cottages are designed for couples and families to enjoy the full extent of lakeside life. The lake is visible from every room in each cottage, and each has its own unique appeal:
- With six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, the three-story Fox Hollow Cottage boasts a rare sandy beach ideal for kids.
- Likewise with six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, Deer Run Cottage, the newest of the four properties, feature terraced grounds and a stone stairway leading to the lakeside. The westward-facing cottage affords spectacular sunset views.
- Hemlock Hill Cottage, the smallest of the three with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a sleeping loft, is ideal for either small families or couples seeking a romantic getaway.
- The three-story, six-bedroom, 4.5 bathroom Fern Bank Cottage features intimate kitchen and living areas that are spacious enough to accommodate multiple families.
All the cottages boast full amenities, including gas grills, fully equipped kitchens, private docks with canoes and kayaks, and a fire pit for evening campfires. Each cottage also comes equipped with high-speed internet and satellite television.