Recommended: The Cove
A quick recommendation
This is my second time to have a personal retreat at The Cove outside of Asheville, NC. It's the retreat center of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Training Center. I came in May 2013 for a seminar with Chip Ingram as well as a retreat, and this week has been the personal spiritual retreat package only.
The Cove's staff are not just friendly. They are godly. I have yet to eet someone whom I didn't want to spend an hour hearing their life story. It seems everyone who works here sees this not as a job, but as a calling. I rode the elevator up with a maintenance guy this afternoon. He looked at me cheerfully and asked if my stay was enjoyable. I replied that it was and asked him how long he'd been working here. "Almost 30 years," he replied. It was clear that he loves what he does. I heard from another guest at dinner that the staff prays for every guest - by name - who makes a reservation at The Cove. That explains why you just sense something when you drive on the grounds.
The accommodations are incredibly clean, well-appointed and comfortable. Rocking chairs are everywhere, and there is free coffee and soft drink service in all the lodges next to fireplaces with overstuffed chairs. (One can't help but want to make a reservation for December when you see these fireplaces and imagine a cheery crackleemanating from them.)
And then there's the meals. They are incredible. I've yet to have a meal that I didn't feel guilty for eating. Not because of the amount or sugar content. No, it's because of just how dang delicious they are. The quality of the meals and warm ambience of the dining hall with guests from around the world makes you feel like you've been invited into a royal banquet hall as an honored guest. At my table, I've met other retreaters from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio. (The tables are labeled for Personal Spiritual Retreat or the current conference at The Cove so that you sit with people going through the same experience as you are.)
Finally, if this isn't enough to make you plan your next personal retreat, marriage getaway or group seminar here, there's one more thing.. a SoftServe ice cream machine in the lobby of the main conference lodge with your choice of bowls or cones. The Cove Also, for your enjoyment, you can see this video I made from the 2013 retreat in which I manhandled a copperhead: