The historic Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant, which has hosted visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains for 130 years, will undergo an extensive renovation and expansion during the next year that will upgrade the dining, lodging, spa and surrounding amenities.
The changes under the new owner, Florida-based Baseline Property Group, will further strengthen the Esmeralda’s legacy in providing guests and neighbors unparalleled hospitality in a breathtaking natural setting.
In addition to modernizing the main lodge, spa and riverfront cottages, Baseline plans to build 29 new vacation homes across the Broad River to significantly expand the ability of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure to host overnight guests – adding millions of dollars in economic development annually to the local community.
“The Esmeralda is a local treasure, and we are honored to enhance its legendary hospitality with a historically mindful and significant restoration,” said Brock Nicholas, CEO of Baseline Property Group, a real estate investment firm that specializes in purpose-built hospitality projects, with an emphasis on distinctive
locations and memorable guest experiences. “Working alongside innkeepers Don and Kim Cason, our goal is to preserve and enhance the property as a gathering place for visitors and locals alike while stimulating economic activity throughout the surrounding community.”
Located on the edge of scenic Chimney Rock State Park, Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant contains elements that have starred in numerous film and television productions – including “Dirty Dancing” with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey – and served as a warm, welcoming respite for thousands of guests over the decades. Nicholas said Baseline, through its hospitality affiliate Villatel, intends to build on the high standard set by the Casons during their ownership.
When it reopens in 2024, the renovated inn will include a more spacious and open dining room, with a chef’s kitchen visible to guests, and a thoroughly upgraded spa. A new pool area will allow guests to relax in cabanas with treetop views. Throughout, finishes inspired by local flora and fauna will pay homage to the natural surroundings.
“We wanted to ensure the new owners would protect the history and character of the Esmeralda,” said Don Cason. “We know the Baseline team understands what needs to change and what needs to never change. They will be good stewards of a local institution that has held its appeal across three centuries.”
The project is being reimagined by hospitality designers Blue Lantern Studios of Atlanta, Fisher Architects of Asheville, NC, Allison Ramsey Architects, a Beaufort, SC firm focusing on sustainable design, Odom Engineering of Forest City, NC, Tripod Land Surveying of Rutherfordton, NC. Buchanan Construction, based in Asheville, NC, is handling construction work.
Baseline Property Group is a vertically integrated real estate investment firm, focused on developing and operating short-term and long-term single-family rentals. Baseline principals have successfully constructed over 4,000 vacation rentals and 20,000 single family homes with an aggregate value in excess of $7 billion. They also bring substantial real estate private equity experience, having built and scaled up successful companies across the single-family and vacation travel spaces.