Hikes we like: Pinnacle Park

Congratulations to the town of Sylva for its Pinnacle Park, which was named one of 12 “Hidden Mountain Gems” by AAA Go Magazine. Located in the former town of Sylva watershed, Pinnacle Park is laced with whitewater and trails and wildflowers. The strenuous hike to Blackrock (shown in the photograph) includes an elevation gain of a couple of thousand feet, and plays host each March to the “Assault on Blackrock” trail race. The park parking lot is a short 15 minute drive from the inn. Read more...

Historic Balsam: Musings on an old bottle of shoe cleaner

There’s a third floor storage room in the inn that has gone mostly unused for many decades. It’s ringed with dormer windows, has a dusty charm of its own, and there is a little graffiti there from the young men who built the inn a century ago. Most of the marks are simple initials, but not long ago we noticed a pair of initials with a “+” between them, outlined by a heart. Nearby, tucked behind a rafter, we found this empty bottle of “S.M. Bixby’s Oxblood Shoe Cleaner”, from the same era. Because we’re easily distracted, we couldn’t help but wonder if there was a connection. Maybe, we thought, some young tradesman was distracted, too, and knocked off a little early to spiff up his shoes, and to scratch his sweetheart’s initials in this remote wall of a brand new hotel. Here’s a picture of the bottle, the room, and a likely candidate, from one of the inn’s construction...

Richey, Kelley and Jutz bring adventurous spirit and broad experience to June 15 Songwriters

Kim Richey has won acclaim as an alt-country performer and writer; stellar songwriter Irene Kelley “sings with a hillbilly heart”, and Thomm Jutz wrote and produced the “The 1861 Project” of new songs about the Civil War The Balsam Mountain Inn began its Songwriters in the Round series fifteen years ago, and modeled it after similar performances at Nashville’s Bluebird Café. Balsam’s performers are most often the Nashville-area songwriters who pen lyrics performed by country and western stars. Many performances feature Grammy and CMA award winners, and all include writers of many top-ranked songs. A buffet dinner is included in the $45 ticket price, and seating begins at 6pm.  Kim Richey Kim Richey’s 15-year musical journey has been a dream run. In addition to two Grammy nominations, she has released five critically acclaimed albums; been listed in the Top 10 Albums of 1999 in US Time Magazine for her album “Glimmer”, been given 4 stars in Rolling Stone and named Alt-Country Album Of The Year in People Magazine for her album “Rise”. She has written two number one songs, four top ten hits and many singles in the top 50. She has had her songs recorded by Trisha Yearwood and James Morrisson; sung on albums by Ryan Adams, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter and even appeared on a William Shatner record produced by Ben Folds. She’s worked with producer legends such as Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Michael Jackson, Tom Petty) and Hugh Padgham (The Police, XTC, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie) as well as Giles Martin (The Beatles “Love”) and Steve Earle collaborator Richard Bennett, plus she’s had her...

Balsam Mountain Inn wins TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Honored as a Top Performing Inn as Reviewed by Travelers on the World’s Largest Travel Site The Balsam Mountain Inn today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award. Visit the inn’s TripAdvisor page. To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months. “We’re elated to receive this award,” said Merrily Teasley, owner and innkeeper at the Balsam Mountain Inn. “We work hard to offer our customers a special experience, and this recognition is evidence that our efforts are creating a positive ‘buzz’ on TripAdvisor and elsewhere on the internet.” “TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travelers a great customer experience,” said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their...

Balsam Songwriters: Thomm Jutz

The Balsam Mountain Inn’s Songwriters-in-the-Round series, begun in 1996, brings some of the nation’s best lyricists and musicians to the inn for monthly performances in the Grand Dining Room. Songwriters are usually fine performers in their own rights, but in many cases their calling cards are their specific songwriting talents; these are the people who write the lyrics that many well-known country and americana musicians make famous. Grammy winners are numerous at Balsam, and Songwriters-in-the-Round performances are authentic and extraordinary. We hope you’ll join us soon! Born in the Black Forest of Germany, Thomm Jutz started playing guitar at age six, won awards as a teenager, and studied classical guitar at the University of Stuttgart. In 2003 he moved to Nashville to start his creative life over. He hit the ground running, touring all over the world with veteran troubadour David Olney, Americana star Mary Gauthier and Grammy-winning folk singer Nanci Griffith. Jutz has produced albums for Griffith (for which he received a SESAC award), Otis Gibbs, German vocal star Marc Marshall and countless other independent artists. He produced Volumes 1 & 2 of “The 1861 Project”, a collection of new songs about the American Civil War with marquee artists Marty Stuart, John Anderson, Jerry Douglas, Maura O’Connell and many more. Jutz cowrote all the songs on these albums, and “The 1861 Project” has received praise from historians, critics, music lovers and Civil War enthusiasts alike. Jutz has also co-written songs recorded by Kim Richey, Nanci Griffith, Irene Kelley, Peter Cooper and German vocal stars Marshall & Alexander. Read more about this performance | Visit Jutz’s website Thomm Jutz performs...