By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher © 2010
A mere eight miles from Chapel Hill, a nationally ranked “world’s best” inn awaits, and now, it’s about to unveil its new spa.
The Fearrington House Country Inn at Fearrington Village, on US 15-501 South, was recently named among the Top 5 Inns in the North America on Travel + Leisure’s 2010 World’s Best List. The highly anticipated Spa at Fearrington opens on October 12 with an open house preview 1-6 p.m. October 10. Visit online for the menu of spa services.
Fearrington Village, in Chatham County, is a planned residential community with shopping and fantastic dining (covered in Part 2) and is home to nearly 2,000 residents.
Driving into Fearrington Village feels like you’re entering an alternate time zone, an enclave of tranquility and order, where everything’s fresh and green. Perhaps it’s the “Oreo cows” that greet you just beyond split-rail fencing, or maybe it’s that collection of whirlygigs flying ’round in the breeze. Or perhaps, it’s simply the wide open space that heralds to a simpler time. (More on those Belted Galloway cows in Part 3, by the way.)
Village Center is the focal point of the development with shops, restaurants, an independent bookstore, gardens and pastures, plu,s for us, fine dining and lodging that awaited at the Fearrington House Restaurant and Country Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property.
There is no hustle and bustle here — a stay at the Inn is pure retreat. The gardens and flowers inspire you to breathe deeply, slowly, relaxing. Ahhh.
The Inn, which has earned the coveted Mobil five stars (now called Forbes Five Star), has 32 guest rooms, all with distinct design and character. We were delighted to sample the best: Room 13 in the courtyard, an upstairs two-room suite oasis, each room with a view. The large bathroom featured walk-in closet, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower plus an adjacent balcony.
It’s tres romantic as well, with a country-chic flare and bed fit for royalty (it made us feel we were the envy of many heads-of-state). We loved the stereo system with CDs for your use in the sitting room and the iPod docking station in the bedroom, plus flat-screen TV and bath amenities from Molton Brown, including bath salts. It was hard to pull ourselves away from such a gorgeous and comfortable suite, but we equally loved our time spent on the Fearrington grounds, too.
Bikes are available for those who want to peddle around the community, but we chose to walk, meandering along the sidewalks and into the park-like setting where a lake and streams are fringed by well-manicured shrubs and trees. Deer frolic here, and a flock of cement sheep statues remind you that this was once a pasture.
We didn’t have time to experience the Swim & Racquet Club or the Duke Center for Living on the ground, but inn guests do have access.
Our stroll took us to a small bridge where we watched fish swim below, and then near the woods where we came upon a herd of Tennessee Fainting Goats, to our delight. More on them will come in Part 3, but if you visit, make it a point to see these amusing Satyr-like critters, who actually don’t faint, but pack quite an entertaining punch.
Of course, we also strolled through the residential area, reminiscent in some ways of Charleston, albeit quieter. The landscaping is beautiful, the community pristine, and the pride of owners is evident.
A flower and herb garden are also worth a visit, and, of course, there’s the Village Center where residents and visitors alike gather to shop, eat and mingle.
Establishments located in the Village Center include:
• McIntyre’s Books, an independent, full-service bookstore focusing on cooking, gardening and books by local authors. It’s known to host one of the largest author-and-poet-events programs in the South.
• The Old Granary, housed in what once was the Fearrington Farm granary, serves a contemporary lunch and brunch menu.
• The Dovecote is a eclectic boutique shop with a great variety of unique items. Here you will also find Myles and Buster, a pair of doves that will coo you into a perfect piece of mind.
• The Belted Goat is a great place for light snack or cup of coffee. You can also find wine, hand-made chocolate truffles, breakfast pastries and desserts from The Fearrington House Restaurant.
• The Roost is found in the middle of the Village Center. The landscaped courtyard gives you a chance to enjoy live music and have a drink, perhaps wine by the glass, or a beer by Carolina Brewery, a locally owned brewery that has drawn international attention for its handcrafted beers. A Ben & Jerry’s here is a treat for all ages, too.
• Additionally, there’s a full-service SunTrust Bank branch and ATM, the Village Beauty Shop, Fitch Creations Inc., a real estate service exclusive to Fearrington, and a weekly growers-only Farmers Market (in season).
Fearrington Village is synonymous with friendly service. Audrey greeted us by name as we walked from the parking lot to check-in, then made sure sure the bellman stood by to transport our luggage. She showed us all the features of our suite, then presented a bottle of champagne for Kathy’s birthday celebration (which continued in the Fearrington House Restaurant, covered in Part 2.)
Fearrington’s roots can be traced to the 1770s when title to the farm was first conveyed. William Cole Sr. purchased 640 acres for $80. Residences here now sell here from $250,000 and up.
The land took the Fearrington name (pronounced FAIR-ring-ton) when Cole’s granddaughter and her husband, Edwin H. Fearrington, inherited it in 1859.
After a fire destroyed the original homestead in 1925, Edwin’s son, John Bunyon Fearrington, rebuilt in a location close to US 15-501, where The Fearrington House Restaurant stands today. It was a dairy farm from the 1930s until Jesse, John’s son, sold it in 1974 to R.B. Fitch, who kept the name Fearrington to honor the prior family.
Today’s Fearrington House Country Inn has accumulated multiple accolades:
• AAA Five Diamond Award: 1996 – present (Inn)
• AAA Five Diamond Award: 1995 – present (Restaurant)
• Forbes Five Star Award (formerly Mobil): 2000 – present (Inn)
• Forbes Four Star Award (formerly Mobil): 2000 – present (Restaurant)
• Top 50 Best Overall Restaurants in The Country – OpenTable.com Diners’ Choice (2009)
• Certified Green Restaurant™: 2008 – present
• Member of Relais & Chateaux: 1988 – present
• Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence: 2004 – present
• Member of Andrew Harper Alliance
• Member of Virtuoso
• Recommended by Elite Meetings and Travel + Leisure
Next time you’re looking for that ultra-special getaway, consider heading just a few miles from home for a magical stay at Fearrington Village.
Coming up: Dining at Fearrington House Restaurant, Part 2, and those cool cows and fainting goats in Part 3.
If You’re Going: Visit www.fearrington.com or call 919.542.2121.
To get there from Raleigh, take Highway 64 West from US 1. Head west for 16.8 miles crossing Jordan Lake twice. Take a right at the stop light on Mount Gilead Church Road (by Gas Station and Self Storage Center). Follow Mount Gilead Church Road until it ends at US 15-501. Turn right onto US 15-501 North and drive 1/4 mile. Fearrington will be on your right.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other Stories by Kathy M. Newbern
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, 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.