Life in our Foothills April 2023 – The Orchard Inn – Experience Rustic Elegance at Saluda’s Orchard Inn and Newman’s Restaurant
Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023
When you walk into the Orchard Inn and Newman’s Restaurant just outside of downtown Saluda one of the first things you notice is the mountain view.
“I don’t tire of that view one single day,” says Marc Blazar, who co-owns the inn and restaurant with his wife Marianne. “It’s always different. It changes from day to day, season to season.”
The view helped inspire the Blazars to purchase the inn in 2010. Their journey here is a four-and-a-half-decade love story filled with the kind of adventure you’d read about in a best-selling romance novel.
The Blazars met in the US Virgin Islands in 1978. They were both sailors each running their own charter business, which they say is like running a bed and breakfast inn on the water. They stayed in the Virgin Islands for 20 years and raised their three sons, Adam, Michael and Julian. Adam is the inn’s general manager and Michael handles bookkeeping and IT needs. Julian works in the banking industry in New York City.
After their stint as charter boat captains, they traveled the world working as corporate photographers for Fortune 100 clients going from the Arctic Circle to Australia and most everywhere in between.
“It was a wonderful gig,” says Marianne.
The gig was up after the Great Recession of 2008 and the Blazars decided it was time to settle down. Their travel had given them an education in the hospitality industry, so they went on a search for an inn to buy and operate.
“(We searched) from Napa Valley to Vermont, places where we either had friends or family, or we knew were very pretty,” says Marianne. “We didn’t really find anything that totally spoke to us until somebody told us about Saluda. We had no idea about Saluda but we came here and I think it was love at first sight.”
A railroad union built the house that is now the inn in 1926 as a retreat for clerks and agents.
“The concept was for the average working guy to be able to vacation like a Rockefeller,” says Marc.
The railroad union owned the building until the mid-1950s. Marc says afterward it went through a variety of incarnations, eventually becoming a bed and breakfast inn in 1980. When the Blazars took over, they wanted to put their own spin on the inn.
“What we’ve tried to create here is an elegant, stress-free environment, where people can come and relax, renew, refresh,” says Marc.
The expansive front porch is an inviting place to do just that and so is the main living area just inside the front door. The room is large, yet cozy with comfortable chairs, a large stone fireplace and a stunning mountain view through tall windows along the back. Downstairs is a game room with a pool table and another fireplace. The room also has a 60-inch television since the inn’s guest rooms have no TVs, something the Blazars said their guests requested.
The main house has nine guest rooms and there are five adjacent cottages, four of which sleep two people and a larger one that sleeps eight and has a living and dining room.
In 2018 the Blazars built a separate two-story addition to the inn that has two luxury suites with mountain views upstairs.
“We have 16 different accommodations in total and they vary in price and amenities so there’s really a nice variety and something for everybody,” says Marc.
Downstairs in the addition, there’s a spa that offers massages, facials and other services and a room that’s used as a yoga studio and a meeting space.
When the Blazars took over the inn its restaurant was only for guests, but they wanted to open it to the public for Sunday brunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday and give the restaurant its own brand. They named it after their cat, “Newman.” How the cat got its name depends on who you ask. Marianne says the cat is named after Paul Newman and Marc says the cat is named after the “Newman” character on the TV show “Seinfeld.”
A stay at the Orchard Inn includes breakfast at Newman’s, with danishes, scones, homemade granola, Greek yogurt, fruit and steel-cut oatmeal. Main breakfast courses include Marianne’s homemade crepes using a recipe from her native Austria and eggs prepared any way guests like.
Dinner and Sunday brunch at Newman’s is a white linen tablecloth affair. The Blazars limit the number of people they serve each night to try and ensure the highest quality in both food preparation and service. The menu is built around locally sourced, organic ingredients that are chosen based on seasonal availability. Much of Newman’s produce comes from its own 4,000-square-foot organic garden and mini orchard.
“Every dish is hand-crafted,” says Marc. “The chef labors over the presentation and preparation of every single dish that comes out of the kitchen. Everything is the best of the best.”
Dinner is four courses, featuring items like lobster cauliflower gratin and duck comfit. Brunch is three courses with choices like Marianne’s Austrian crepes and different variations of eggs benedict.
At dinner, Marc is the bartender serving a wide variety of handcrafted cocktails, craft beers or fine wines retrieved from the Blazers’ well-stocked wine cellar.
The Orchard Inn hosts a variety of events each year mostly centered around holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter and Mother’s Day, but the unusual exception is the Titanic Dinner in April which recreates the menu aboard the ship the night it sank and an actor recreating the events of that day.
For guests, there’s plenty to do in the area especially if you love the outdoors, with multiple nearby opportunities for kayaking, ziplining and other activities.
“Saluda is an amazing place for outdoor sports and activities,” says Marc “It’s a very eco-tourist destination.”
There are plenty of hiking trails in the area, including a one-mile loop on the inn’s property. In fact, the Blazars say the inn is a destination in itself.
“There are a number of guests who come multiple times a year and they never leave the property the whole time they’re here,” says Marc.
Many guests spend their time just soaking in the mountain views or reading by the fireplace.
“If you come to the Orchard Inn and you can’t relax there is no hope for you,” Marianne adds with a laugh.
Photography by Bob Gunter and Clay Johnson