BLOWING ROCK — More than 16 years after purchasing and restoring the historic Westglow Resort and Spa, the Schaefer family listed the property for sale. The list price, according to listing agent Steve Price, is $14 million.
What the Schaefers did to renovate and bring to life a property that had fallen on hard times, according the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce CEO Charles Hardin, is remarkable.
“They had the vision when others didn’t. Some of the buildings were close to falling down, the wood rotted,” Hardin said in recalling the Schaefers’ purchase. “What they created for the property and, really, for Blowing Rock, is an internationally known hospitality business that attracted a special clientele.”
In a letter dated Jan. 10 to “friends of Westglow” informing them of the changes afoot in the new year, the Schaefers themselves marveled at what they accomplished.
“Westglow has been and will continue to be an amazing success story. Who would have dreamed in 2005 that we would become a Relais & Chateaux property and find ourselves among the top ten resorts in the world in Travel + Leisure magazine (including #1 in 2017) and in the top ten of Conde Nast’s top spa destinations? This could not have been possible without the dedication of our talented staff, our loyal members, and our guests we have had the honor of hosting,” said the letter.
COVID-19, according to the Schaefers, played a significant role in their decision to sell. The resort operations have been largely scaled back since March 2020, including the closure of onsite fine dining venue, Rowland’s restaurant. In their letter, the Schaefer’s also noted their personal health challenges during the pandemic, prompting them to want a simpler life, spending more time with family and friends while continuing their philanthropic endeavors “... and quite simply to ‘smell the roses’.”
The letter notes that the family has engaged the services of The B&B Team, Inn Partners, LLC, to assist them in finding “the right buyer.” It states that “The B&B Team is a nationally recognized firm known for pairing boutique property owners with qualified, committed buyers who share a passion, vision, and ambition for hospitality and have the resources to do so.”
Few properties have gained the kind of popularity and prestigious notoriety that Westglow has captured, almost reminiscent of the Mayview Manor hotel in the early- to mid- 20th century.
“Beyond the resort itself, the Schaefers have been generous and giving benefactors, even partners for so many charitable causes around the High Country,” said Hardin. “The list goes on and on, from Appalachian State University, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, the Jewish synagogue, Symphony by the Lake, Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, and so much more.”
Separate from the letter, the Schaefers said in a note to The Blowing Rocket, “We are now proud residents of North Carolina and consider this our home. We will not be selling our residence here and will be staying in Blowing Rock.”
Even with scaling back on resort operations, the Schaefer letter noted that in the last year they have transitioned the lodging portion of the business to the Airbnb and Vrbo platforms, requiring a major restructuring in how they do business.
“The good news is that the demand for our spa and salon services is stronger than ever. Lodging occupancy is at the highest it has ever been and our calendar is quickly filling with weddings for next season. Our membership remains constant even as we continue to gain new valued members,” said the Jan. 10 letter.
Also noting the increases in Blowing Rock real estate values, the Schaefers’ letter also points out that a number of prestigious resort properties have sold in the last year, including Canyon Ranch in Woodside, Calif.; Miravel Resorts in Texas, Arizona and Massachusetts); Cranwell Resort in The Berkshires (Massachusetts); and a number of other Relais & Chateaux properties.
“We truly believe this is a unique time in our industry and Westglow is well positioned for new ownership that will maintain the standard of excellence we have created,” said the Schaefers in their Jan. 10 letter. “In recent months we have been quietly approached by several resort owners who have expressed interest in acquiring Westglow. Now is the time to thoroughly evaluate those prospects to find the perfect fit.”
A descriptor from the Westglow website:
Situated on a historic 42-acre estate that looks over Grandfather Mountain and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Westglow is serenely nestled in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Constructed in 1917, the estate was originally the summer home of famed artist and writer Elliott Daingerfield.
The focal point of the estate is the historic Manor House, built in the Greek Revival style of architecture and featuring many original Daingerfield furnishings and works of art. Westglow remained in the Daingerfield family until 1978 when Glynda Valentine purchased the estate as a private residence.
As a pioneer in fitness and well-being, Glynda first realized the potential of converting Westglow into a retreat for wellness and relaxation, and Westglow Spa was born. Longtime members Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer continued that legacy with their acquisition of the resort in 2006, initiating a massive restoration and renovation to create the world-class resort that became Westglow Resort & Spa.