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Little St. Simons Island, 10,000 privately owned wilderness acres, tends to attract like-minded folks who come for nature, a rustic but comfortable setting, and an adventure far removed from the typical beachside-condo experience. The all-inclusive Lodge on Little St. Simons maintains access to the entire island, owned by the Berolzheimer family from 1911 until 2003, when former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his wife, Wendy, bought a majority stake.
The owners of Clayton’s storybook Beechwood Inn had a beginning worthy of a romantic comedy. David and Gayle Darugh met while he was working his way through San José State University as a clown, performing for Christmas parties at IBM and other Silicon Valley high-tech firms. Hamming it up in a parade, he hopped into a car with Miss Fire Prevention, who turned out to be, yep, you guessed it.
Back in the days before smartphones, my husband and I made a perilous journey in his 1986 Maxima to Lake Toxaway, North Carolina’s largest private lake. Lousy with directions, I steered him onto a steep wilderness route that must’ve been a forest service road. We twisted and turned up rutted gravel, past sketchy cabins and gnarly dogs. When we finally arrived at the Greystone Inn, it was an oasis.
Hotel Domestique—plunked into a quiet, lonely patch of the Blue Ridge foothills—feels very French. There’s its rustic, chateau-like architecture and, of course, the name. It comes from the role that cofounder and three-time U.S. National Road Race champion George Hincapie typically played on the pro cycling tour: the domestique, or support rider, who pushes through the wind and creates a slipstream for his team leader to ride in. For Hincapie, that was Lance Armstrong for seven Tour de France races.
Kinsey Gidick is a writer and editor at Charleston City Paper, where she handles the Cuisine and Arts sections. “You can’t overlook the landmark of Charleston Place. After twenty-eight years, it still manages to be...