Last updated November 15, 2022
The flicker of dozens of candles, big and small, and a crackling fire greeted me and my fellow retreat mates as we stepped out of the chilly Tennessee mountain air and into Blackberry Farm’s Bramble Hall for our opening yoga session.
As I settled onto my mat, I let the delicious coziness of the space surround me like a much-needed hug. I’d only been at Blackberry Farm for an hour—but I already felt right at home.
From the interactions you have with the Blackberry team to the butler’s pantry stocked with snacks outside of your bedroom door, ensuring that guests feel at home is at the heart of this luxury property’s mission.
So, it makes perfect sense that the Farm included Chrissy Carter, a New York City-based yoga teacher, and her signature H(OM)E: Sacred Space retreat on their 2021 calendar of wellness events.
At the end of 2020, I launched my first wellness business, FRESHJUICE + bubbly. And after a month of whirlwind activity, I was looking for the perfect way to celebrate this career milestone—and reset and recharge for the year ahead.
Thanks to my work as a wellness writer, seven years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Blackberry Farm’s very first wellness event for an article I was writing. From doing yoga daily to biking up a mountain, the experience was filled with transformative firsts.
When I saw that the first wellness event for 2021 was Chrissy’s, the focus of home and the daily yoga practice spoke to me. (And although I’ll never forget the biking experience from my first Blackberry event, I was AOK with the fact that this agenda was much more laid back!)
I knew it was time for me to make the investment and return to the Farm.
Here are the four reasons I think you should consider making a similar investment in your wellness in the year to come.
Location, Location, Location
At about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Atlanta (where I’m located), Blackberry Farm is an accessible destination for a long weekend getaway. Plus, the property is a short 25-minute drive from the Knoxville airport, which offers direct flights from several cities.
Down a winding country road, you’ll find this Relais & Châteaux resort tucked away against the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And when I say “tucked away,” I mean that there is no signage promoting the property as you approach, making it easier to ensure that property access is limited to registered guests.
Many years ago, the Farm was a private home that expanded into today’s property, thanks to the Beall family. But, even as its acreage has increased over the years, Blackberry hasn’t lost that charm that makes you feel like you’re visiting a cozy-but-chic private home in the Smokies.
The other thing that I adore about the location is that hiking trails pepper the property. The sprawling Farm is connected by golf cart paths perfect for walking off the amazing meals you’ll consume (more on that momentarily).
However, when walking isn’t your preference, a complimentary ride in a golf cart or from the Farm’s fleet of Lexus SUVs is only a phone call away.
An Itinerary Built on Balance
A schedule of activities in the morning and downtime in the afternoon (which means you don’t have to feel guilty about that glass of wine at lunch) is my idea of a perfect wellness retreat.
Our time with Chrissy kicked off on a Sunday evening with a socially distanced gentle yoga practice and group dinner. The routine that followed until our departure on Wednesday at noon included yoga in the morning followed by a session on meditation and setting intentions.
Aside from an afternoon session on Monday and a spa treatment on Tuesday afternoon, I was free to take a post-lunch nap, while many of my retreat mates opted to try one of the many activities offered on property, including horseback riding and clay shooting.
There was also a special closing dinner on Tuesday evening in the Wine Cellar, home to more than 160,000 bottles from around the world.
And if you’re curious about how the property is responding to COVID-19 safety concerns, I have to say that I felt safe the entire time I was at Blackberry.
The event was limited to 10 participants in spacious venues. There were many well-being practices in place, ranging from a mask requirement throughout the property to individual hand sanitizers waiting for me in my room upon check-in.
A Room with a View
My corner room in the main house (lovingly named “Hearts a Bustin”) was the definition of “cozy.”
The snuggly teal armchairs were the perfect spot to curl up and read a good book, the king-size bed was cloud-like and decked out in soft linens and plush pillows, and the full-size, lavender-scented toiletries were hard to leave behind when I departed.
Plus, the team had placed a mini-fridge and electric tea kettle in the room at my request.
Then, there was the view. Each morning, I woke up to views of the surrounding Smokies and enjoyed watching the sunset or the evening rainfall.
Oh, and I slept with the windows open every night to feel the mountain breeze and listen to what night sounds like at Blackberry Farm. It was a little slice of heaven.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
If you don’t have an appetite, don’t come to Blackberry. Three meals a day, as well as dinner on your first evening and breakfast and lunch on your departure day, are included with your room cost. (But FYI, alcohol is not included.)
Oh, and each meal includes multiple courses with plenty of healthy and indulgent options to choose from.
For example, at breakfast in the Main House, I enjoyed poached eggs with a hoecake and crispy kale, yogurt with berries, and green juice.
Then, for lunch (also in the Main House), I’d order celery root soup and a garlic short rib with veggies and grits. Dinners were served in The Dogwood (basically the same space as breakfast and lunch) or The Barn, the Farm’s upscale dining concept.
And if you have a dietary restriction, all you have to do is say the word. Although I’m not required to eat foods that are gluten-free, the only time I ever have is at Blackberry.
The culinary team does such an outstanding job of creating delicious and comforting cuisine, you don’t even miss that gluten!