By Stacy Hilton Vanzant
Nestled in the rolling mountains of North Carolina sits a 20th century mountain resort with ties to Davidson County. Although the once-named Chetola Estate is located in Blowing Rock, its ties are close to home and now includes the name Bob Timberlake displayed throughout the property.
In 1926, J. Luther Snyder purchased Chetola Estate. Snyder, a self-made entrepreneur known as the “Coca-Cola King of the Carolinas,” loved his family of six children and loved to entertain. Chetola Estate located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, was the perfect backdrop for his personal interests.
Snyder died in 1957 and the family heirs sold the estate in 1982, after which it became Chetola Resort. The group of businessmen who purchased the property at that time had grand visions of an elegant lodge with one, two and three-bedroom condominiums as well as meeting facilities that would be available to the public.
In 1997, Rachael Renar and her son Kent Tarbutton purchased the property and remain as the owners today. Kent Tarbutton envisioned more offerings for the facility, including the addition of a spa and improvements to several luxurious rooms.
Tarbutton soon met local artisan Bob Timberlake and recalls their first meeting. “He was just a common man that had so many stories to tell and I was drawn to his comfortable demeanor and passion for nature,” he said. Tarbutton knew from the start that their friendship would soon grow into a flourishing business relationship.
In efforts to keep the tradition of the property and to preserve its history, Timberlake and Tarbutton worked to design the Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola. The Inn, which is the original Manor House Estate, was opened in 2004.
After the innopened in 2004, Tarbutton continued to develop new embellishments for the property, but he knew there were areas that could be improved upon. In August 2011, the original Manor House Restaurant suffered a kitchen fire. The restaurant was closed for almost a year while it underwent renovations. Tarbutton approached Timberlake again to discuss the possibility of building a restaurant based on Timberlake’s art and culinary likes. Tarbutton recalls Timberlake’s chuckle at the idea that people would care what he liked to eat. “Bob is so modest that he pretty much thought I was crazy with the idea anyone would care about his favorite meals, but I knew there was a story to tell about his home cooked dishes,” he said.
Tarbutton was right! Timberlake loved the idea of designing a restaurant and taking some of his inspiration to develop a menu as well. In July 2012, the restaurant reopened as the Timberlake Restaurant, featuring a menu inspired by Bob Timberlake’s culinary favorites. Its hunting inspired dining room includes paintings, furniture, and décor designed by Bob Timberlake.
As Chetola Resort continued to grow, a new relationship developed with the Blue Ridge Mountain Club. This 6,200 acre property has home sites, condominiums, a clubhouse, and a fitness club as well as the new Chetola Sporting Reserve. The Sporting Reserve, nestled at the bottom of the valley in the Blue Ridge Mountain Club, is a private club offering exclusive memberships. It is available for limited Chelota guest memberships as well.
At the Sporting Reserve, visitors can enjoy an array of outdoor sportsman activities including rifle and pistol ranges, a sporting clay course, a 5-stay clay station, an archery range, and fly fishing activities. While visiting the property, I even tried my hand at the 5-stand clay stations and it was so much fun. This venue would be the perfect location for a bachelor party, a men’s fellowship gathering, or just a good ol’ guys weekend.
When considering a getaway destination, consider seeing what our local artisan Bob Timberlake has going on in Blowing Rock. From the world class accommodations, spa, and guaranteed mouthwatering restaurant menu to the many outdoorsman activities offered at Chetola, you’re sure to find something that will make your time enjoyable!