Cary Jobe

Forget rubbing elbows with the hordes of others who visit each year. At this couples-only sanctuary, you can get a slice of paradise all to yourself.

Kim Cross

It’s no secret why the Great Smoky Mountains attract 9 million visitors a year. Mist-veiled ridgelines, old-growth forests, and stunning scenery make the Smokies our country’s most popular national park. This month, people will flock to the park for its 75th-anniversary celebration.

What is a secret is this: Hidden in the foothills near Maryville, Tennessee, lies an undiscovered spot, with five strikingly modern guesthouses, where you can have a private piece of these mountains. Called Butterfly Gap Retreat, it’s the biggest surprise we’ve found in the Smokies all year―and our favorite place to stay when we want a true getaway.

Romantic Retreat
If your perception of a weekend in the mountains involves musty cabins with furnishings that date back to the Carter administration, think again. Delightful details―a sleeping porch with a pull-out bed, a curved double roofline, a soaking tub with a wooded view―define each home’s unique personality. Their architecture invites nature inside. Outfitted with kitchens and decorated with tranquil tones that keep the spotlight on the intriguing architecture, they offer a modern spin on the traditional Smokies log cabin stay. Best of all, the houses sit on 900 secluded acres that are all yours.

Butterfly Gap is just 20 minutes from the national park, but you’ll probably want to linger here. There are too many reasons to hang out: a dip or a rowboat ride in the still, blue lake; a hike to creeks and waterfalls; or a ride up the mountain for a sunset and a 70-mile view. Add in the delivered gourmet breakfast, and you have our recipe for pure bliss.

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