Hotel Review

Blackberry Mountain

A Wellness Retreat at a Luxury Mountain Resort
MARIA DIEGO

Blackberry Mountain, the sister property of the Tennessee resort, Blackberry Farm, is located in the Great Smoky Mountains just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. This luxury American hotel is the perfect fusion of a wellness retreat, outdoor adventure hub, and gastronomic delight. Whether you’re visiting for a special celebration like an anniversary or honeymoon, enjoying a family vacation, or need a solo getaway to disconnect, this All-American boutique resort is a soon-to-be staple in travel. So dust off your hiking boots and pack your bags because now is the time to visit before its popularity spreads like wildfire. 

Perfect For: Active couples | Fitness-oriented travelers | Adventure-seekers | Family vacation with kids young and old | Wellness retreat | Honeymoons

Blackberry Mountain Location: Blackberry Mountain is located less than 30 minutes from Knoxville, Tennessee and McGhee Tyson Airport.  Between Blackberry Mountain and Blackberry Farm, you’ll have about a 30-minute drive if you’re doing a split stay. You can also fly into Nashville and take a 3-hour drive east.

Vibe: Blackberry Mountain is all about wellness activities, outdoor adventures, and holistic wellness.  While you could certainly visit this luxury Relais & Chateaux hotel just to eat well, visit the spa, and enjoy the mountain views, you’ll make the most out of your stay at Blackberry Mountain by taking advantage of its endless on-site activities.  Even though it is the ultimate in luxury travel, the vibe is casual with friendly service and a down-to-earth attitude with guests dressed the part for mountain hikes, not really dressed to impress.

Accommodations: Blackberry Mountain consists of 23 cottages, 6 cabins, 12 two to five-bedroom homes, with an additional 14 tree houses being added by September 2021.

Food  &  Beverage: Three Sisters, named for the Great Smoky Mountain’s three peaks and site of Blackberry Mountain, is the luxury resort’s main restaurant and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is located in the main building of Blackberry Mountain, along with the reception, Nest spa and the main pool that overlook the vast mountain views.  Three Sisters’ most popular menu items are the avocado toast for breakfast, and the mouth-watering burger with the local Blackberry Farm cheese is the most popular lunch item.  The Firetower is located nearly 2,000 feet further up the mountain at Blackberry Mountain’s highest peak that overlooks the horizon and the town of Knoxville.  Menus change daily at both restaurants and are based on Tennessee’s seasonal ingredients.  During warmer months, you can also take a bag lunch or picnic down to The Valley, or pick up a quick drink or snack inside The Outfitter, Blackberry’s Mountain’s retail shop.

Wellness: The focus of Blackberry Mountain is on wellness and in my opinion, it’s program far exceeds other wellness resorts I have visited. If you want to turn inward, the most recommended activity (trust me, I ask everyone!) was the soundbathing in the yoga loft.  You can attend lectures and workshops that include foundations of health, holistic nutrition, create calm, herbal tea blending, and movement workshops.  Creative presence classes like meditative watercolors, mandala stone painting, mindful clay sculpting, mala making, and guided journaling.  They also have a holistic doctor onsite that can reprogram your nervous system and provide acupuncture therapy.  Yoga classes range from Vinyasa, aerial, aromatherapy, Pranayama, hot flow yoga, and ropes wall yoga.  Convinced yet?  I want to go back!

Activities:  There is something for everyone at Blackberry Mountain, from tennis and pickleball to hiking trails, indoor basketball and rock climbing, a yoga loft and a holistic studio called Embodiment Lab. One of your first stops at the property should be to The Outfitter located at The Hub, where you can pick up food and beverages to-go and map out your day with Blackberry Mountain’s concierge team. Blackberry Mountain’s newest addition is The Valley, where you’ll find a swimming pond with two water slides, the option for waterskiing, a family pool, and an arbor adventure course that will test your fear of heights and have you zip lining through the Great Smoky Mountain’s trees. Sadly, my fear of heights overcame me, but I happily snapped photos of my husband going through the course with both of my feet planted firmly on the ground. For the less adventurous, there is an art studio with pottery and painting classes, different workshops for the culinary arts and writing and of course, there is Camp Blackberry for the kids.

What  Sets  It  Apart:  Blackberry Mountain is defined by the people and the level of service and warm hospitality that they offer.  You won’t find anything like it anywhere else, besides Blackberry Farm.

How Much Does Blackberry Mountain Cost? It’s a common question, and a lot of people might be curious about the cost of Blackberry Mountain and Blackberry Farm.  First off, both properties are almost entirely all-inclusive (save for lunch at Blackberry Mountain, and alcoholic drinks and some activities at both properties).  Prices vary greatly depending on the time of year you plan to go, with October, Thanksgiving, and summer months being peak season.  The most economical time to go is a mid-week stay in early December, late January, or the month of February, with nightly rates starting at $695 plus taxes and fees per couple.

Diego  Travel  Loves: The homes at Blackberry Mountain are a great value and an excellent option if you’re traveling with more than two people.  I have toured nearly all the homes and can point you in the right direction based on your interior design style and room configuration needs.  There are two 4-bedroom homes that sit side-by-side with great views, so if you’re traveling with a large group, these are often the preferred pick. Both 2-bedroom homes, Wild Crab Apple and Linden, actually have an additional 2-bunk (4 twins) room, which allows for two families to comfortably fit into these smaller homes.  If you’re looking for a bit more fun, book Outasite for its downstairs game room with a shuffle board and the only house with a hot tub.

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

  • 15% off published rates
  • $100 spa credit
  • Upgrade at time of check-in, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Blackberry MountainInsider Tips:

  • Goats Hill has the best sunset views and is a little-known spot that is popular for proposals.  As a Diego Travel client, the team at Blackberry Mountain can work with me to set up these private moments that will make your stay all the more special.  
  • Most of Blackberry Mountain’s morning wellness and fitness classes are included with your stay, so get up with the sunrise and take advantage!
  • Hike Cats Paw Ridge and you’ll be in for a surprise!  Allow for two hours to take this beautiful hike.
  • While we didn’t get a chance to do it, sign up for the sound bathing.  It was recommended to us by multiple staff members while we were there, so we’ll take their word for it and sign upnext time.

Summary of Our Stay at Blackberry Mountain:

Ever since my trip to Blackberry Farm last year, I have been dreaming of a visit to Blackberry Mountain.  My clients oftenask me to explain the difference between Blackberry Mountain and Blackberry Farm, so the only way to truly know how to answer this question was to experience it for myself.  Since Blackberry Mountain’s opening in February 2019, it has become increasingly popular with the Blackberry Farm fans, and as it turns out, a popular hot spot for celebrities looking for a private mountain retreat.  I knew we were off to a good start when our driver entertained us for the thirty-minute drive with stories of transporting celebrities accompanied with a deep and contagious laugh that would put anyone in a good mood, even after the longest of travel days.

We arrived to Blackberry Mountain with an appetite, and were the only ones in Three Sisters restaurant, named for the three Great Smoky Mountain peaks and site of the resort.  At Blackberry Mountain, the only thing not included in your stay are the lunches, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, and certain activities.  All the morning activities are included in your stay, so take advantage of this and sign up for your activities of choice prior to your arrival to ensure availability.  We signed up for the Stretch and Release: Hips class because I have chronic hip pain thanks to carrying around three babies for the last decade and a lot of sitting at my desk.  Our private class wasn’t intended to be so, but we got lucky and it allowed us to gain a lot of useful information from our knowledgeable instructor and learn about their holistic and complete health and wellness program.

While a typical stay at Blackberry Mountain is meant to disconnect from your device and reconnect with your loved ones and nature, working while traveling is part of the deal for me, so we spent our first afternoon comfortable in our spacious yet cozy Thunderhead Cottage before heading up to the Firetowerrestaurant to catch the sunset and dinner.  The wind was biting, and there had been a somewhat rare snowfall prior to our arrival, so the stairwell was closed off to the tower, but we still enjoyed 360-degree views from the highest point, nearly 2,000 feet above the main area of Blackberry Mountain.  If you like a perfect sunset view and want a more remote and romantic lumberjack-cabin-in-the-woods vibe, then I would recommend the Watchman cabins.  

The following day we explored the nature trails, ate delicious uninterrupted meals, stopped into The Hub where we chatted with staff about different things to do around the Blackberry Mountain property for those looking for high-energy activity and adventure-enthusiasts, but also those seeking a restorative, peaceful, and restful stay geared toward wellness and health.  Blackberry Mountain seems to marry these two orders seamlessly.  In the afternoon, we took some time in the spa, which felt like a year of Covid-angst and worry melted away with each strong stroke of a hand.  By the time we met each other back in the spa’s waiting area overlooking gorgeous mountain views, we felt like we’d finally disconnected and settled in and could have stayed for another week.

Dinner on our final night was back at the Three Sisters, which does a masterful job of switching up the menu on a daily basis and making things fun and exciting each meal.  When the dessert menu came along and three options were gluten-free (unheard of in the GF world!), I just had to order all three.  And why not?  It’s included in the stay…so indulge we did, just confirming that the Relais and Chateaux status of Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain is well-deserved.

On our final morning we made the most of every moment and woke up with the sun, going for a short hike before breakfast and then taking the golf cart down to The Valley, the newly developed area of the resort offering a swimming pond in the summer with two slides, pickle ball and tennis ball, a swimming pool, and a brand new arbor course.  While I’ve always been afraid of heights, it had been awhile since I’d challenged this fear and though that this would be a great time to do so. The highest point of the course was only 40 feet, and the minimum age requirement is only 8-years-old to participate, so how hard could it be?  I found out once I got up to the first post, after having gone through a 15-minute training on safely harnessing and using the gear. As it turns out, a phobia only gets worse with age (who knew!?) and my phobia of heights is a real thing.  Our guide, Hall, was nice enough to lie to me and told me I was not the first person who had to back down at the last-minute.  Not only was he an expert naturalist, climber, and adventurer, he was a fantastic psychologist as well, who kindly assisted me down without crushing my confidence.

Once my husband bravely completed the course, albeit winded and admitting how challenging it was, we had a full 15 minutes to spare so Hall pointed us toward a hidden waterfall, where we had just enough time to hike down and bask in its beauty.  As we stood there watching the beauty of the relentless flow of water, I couldn’t help but think about the next time we’d return.  Maybe in the summer months with our kids, when the mountains are green and summer activities change the whole experience.  Regardless of the time of year you go, it’ll be worth it to reach out to me to help you plan your trip, not just for the discounted rate and added amenities you’ll get with your stay, but for the insight we can now provide having experienced both properties.


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