Hotel Hartness in Greenville, S.C., is a soothing, splendid retreat for a weekend getaway.
by Cathy Martin
When a special home grows dear to you over time, it can be hard to let it go. As the children grew up and out, South Carolina’s Hartness family could have done just that. Instead, they developed a plan that would allow them to keep their beloved homestead — and share their special place with others.
Hotel Hartness, anchored by the family’s former home, is situated on a 467-acre tract of rolling hills and shady forests in Greenville, S.C., about 12 miles from downtown and a two-hour drive from Charlotte. Pat and Mary Lou Hartness, members of a prominent and philanthropic local family, lived in the home for decades. The family’s history in the area dates to 1940, when Pat’s father Tom Hartness purchased the Pepsi-Cola Bottling rights in Greenville and started a business that later evolved to industrial packaging.
Over the years, the family hosted gatherings and events on the property. Now, sharing it with others allows them to keep the hospitable tradition alive. That ethos extends to the staff, welcoming and attentive, who provide a level of service that’s becoming a rarity at similar-priced hotels.
The original home, a French chateau style-house built in 1979, primarily serves as a gracious lobby and cocktail bar. New additions house the hotel’s 73 guest rooms and suites, a ballroom for up to 300 guests, a standalone spa, and restaurant.
In the main house, original wood floors are intact, along with wood beams sourced from the property. The home’s former sitting room has been brightened by the addition of floor-to-ceiling windows, part of Atlanta designer Sims Patrick’s vision of bringing nature inside. A pair of oversized fireplaces, one refaced with more than 2,000 pounds of Italian marble, make a striking first impression. Art throughout the hotel is sourced from a local gallery, Art Houzze, and the majority of works are by local artists. Just outside, a beautifully manicured courtyard boasts plenty of seating for guests to unwind. While the hotel is still young, it’s easy to imagine a lush, verdant space here as the newly installed landscaping matures.
Across the courtyard is Patterson Kitchen + Bar, the hotel’s sleek and stylish restaurant with retractable walls for open-air dining and a patio with water views. Leather chairs and a wood-paneled ceiling add warmth to the airy, light-filled space. The menu, updated seasonally, reflects Southern and Italian influences. Start with the crab dip (Gruyere bechamel, bacon and peppadew jam), Southern grit cakes, or one of the daily specials — a delectable burrata with fresh summer peaches and fried basil, on my visit. But save room for the entrees: The duck cavatelli with homemade pasta and vegetables is a mainstay, and for good reason, along with the seared tuna with Napa cabbage, baby bok choy, jasmine rice and coconut curry. Finish your meal with gelato or panna cotta and house-made limoncello.
Back in the main house, Captain, a cozy cocktail bar housed in the home’s former kitchen and rec room, buzzes at happy hour. Walls are paneled with the home’s original rough-hewn, reclaimed barnwood, and a central fireplace divides the space, creating several intimate seating areas. Captain serves a small menu at lunch (salads, sandwiches, wraps) and dinner (a burger, steak frites) and is a nice spot for pre-dinner drinks, a simple meal or a nightcap. Peek around the corner, where you’ll find photos of famous musicians — John Denver, Willie Nelson and The Beach Boys, to name a few — who have performed on the property through the years.
The hotel is situated amid the idyllic community of Hartness, designed by renowned new-urbanism planner and designer Lew Oliver and providing access to a 180-acre nature preserve with 15 miles of walking and biking trails, 14 ponds, and two creeks. Hop on a bike — they’re complimentary — and start exploring, from the shady pecan grove to a mammoth sawtooth oak to the gently curved paths leading to the “pretty place,” a creekside woodland dense with ferns, hostas and lace-cap hydrangeas. On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Grand Lawn, a community gathering spot. Or spend the afternoon by the hotel’s pool — it’s heated, for year-round use.
Spa H offers another reason to stay on-site during your visit. De-stressing begins upon arrival, with a welcome ritual incorporating the soothing scents of lavender, ylang ylang and lemongrass. There are six treatment rooms for massages, body wraps or facials. The spa’s signature Ageless Beauty Facial blends anti-aging serums, vitamins and light therapy for an ultra-relaxing, 80-minute escape. For the ultimate restful getaway, book one of the hotel’s 500-square-foot spa suites, with private balconies and soaking tubs.
From little flourishes like macarons upon arrival and inspiring quotes left on the pillow at turndown, Hotel Hartness delights in the details and hits all the marks for a peaceful, restorative weekend away. SP
Hotel Hartness is located at 120 Halston Ave, Greenville, S.C. The hotel is dog-friendly, and breakfast is included with your stay. The hotel is independently owned but managed by Hay Creek Hotels, a New Hampshire-based hospitality firm whose portfolio includes Charleston’s Zero George and 20 South Battery.
Photographs by Brandon Barre & Paul Mehaffey, courtesy Hotel Hartness.