When you’re driving to North Carolina’s Highlands, you’ll want to remember one important piece of advice — keep your eyes on the road. Yes, that’s an obvious statement to make, but with miles of oaks and red maples tempting you from more than 4,000 feet up in Appalachia, it begs repeat mention. Roads leading to the Highlands from Atlanta and Charlotte are steep, curvy and demand your full attention.
But any minor heart palpitations caused by the journey are dwarfed by the excitement you feel once you finally reach Half-Mile Farm. A beloved part of the Highlands community for more than a century, Half-Mile Farm officially became a part of Old Edwards Hospitality in 2015. With the move came a renewed sense of luxury, fresh standards for service and subtle upgrades around the property. Essentially, the care and concern shown at nearby Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Old Edwards Inn & Spa now had a second home only two miles away.
Though the farm sits a quick, eight-minute ride from the inn and downtown Highlands — don’t worry, there aren’t any hairpin turns between the stops — it somehow feels more remote. Once you pass through the entrance and ease down the graveled path, the stark white main building begins to come into focus. You’ll see columns, Apple Lake and chairs sprayed across a meticulously cared-for lawn. The scene couldn’t be more textbook Southern chic if it were in an actual textbook.
The property has had numerous owners since the 1870s, but it was Jack Henry, in the early 2000s, who had the vision to gut the original structure, renovate and open the Inn at Half Mile Farm. (Two more buildings were ultimately added, creating a quaint courtyard in the process.)
When Old Edwards Hospitality took over, the team agreed with many of the previous design cues, which might explain why pedestal sinks, hardwood floors and antique rugs are just as they were left. Old Edwards’ upgrades were more peripheral — fresh linens, sturdier beds, a new slate roof.
Like the rooms, there wasn’t much need to overhaul the pool area, either. Take a nap in a lounger by the pool or plop down on an Adirondack chair at the lake. Either way, we promise there won’t be any screaming kids disrupting your rest — the property has a strict 18-and-over policy for guests.
It’s too bad that the little ones won’t be around because the trio of cabins (with eight total bedrooms) couldn’t be more Snapchat-appropriate. A number of properties toss about descriptors such as “rustic” and “idyllic,” but a stone fireplace alone does not make a bucolic retreat. Half-Mile Farm’s cabins’ exposed timber ceilings and gold-plated shower rods feel like touches you’d see if you came over to the Lincolns’ home for supper. The custom-crafted antique oven — complete with a “Cook’s Delight” logo on the door — has the appearance of a vintage appliance, but a closer look reveals an electric stovetop and technological touches that are as modern as it gets.
Speaking of the kitchen, Half-Mile Farm does a spectacular chef’s-choice breakfast every day that’s included in your room rate. The kitchen utilizes Bruno tomatoes, shallots, apple mint and other fresh ingredients picked from the onsite garden to masterfully prepare eggs, sausage and waffles. Morning mealtime is even more special thanks to servers like Vivian Littlejohn, a friendly longtime employee who actually listens when you tell her your agenda for the day.
When it comes to planning your afternoon and evening, you’ll have to lean on Old Edwards Inn; Half-Mile Farm’s activities are largely limited to canoeing, poolside lounging and epic tablet reading in solitude. If you’d care to set up a treatment at Four-Star The Spa at Old Edwards or need directions to lunch at Highlands BBQ Company — the farm doesn’t offer food beyond breakfast and afternoon snacks — the concierge will gladly assist.
Come dinner, Old Edwards Inn’s Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden is Highlands’ premier address for a great rib eye and a glass of North Carolina’s finest riesling. If you’re up for it, allow sommelier Phillippe Brainos to take you on a vino journey with a host of reds from across Europe. You’ve already braved the winding roads getting to the resort, so what’s a few more tasty twists and turns?