Flair in the Foothills

Flair in the Foothills

By Diane Ballard

“Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon.”

Jim and Susan Hind channeled the optimistic mindset of 17th-century Japanese poet Mizuta Masahide when they faced the ruin of their Richmont Inn in 2008. A fire had destroyed one of the buildings at the Townsend, Tennessee, bed and breakfast they opened 17 years earlier.

But the Hinds rebuilt and today welcome visitors with four suites in a new chalet structure, as well as 10 rooms in the main building. Antiques, artwork, and Smoky Mountain views lend a distinctive flair to the ridge-top inn.

Jim Hind (Knoxville ’54, ’58) says he and his wife have hosted visitors ranging from Chinese diplomats and corporate officers on business retreats to couples who just need a soothing getaway. No day is like another, he says.

Jim and Susan Hind“Our guests with their varied backgrounds and interesting stories, ranging from charming local and out-of-state citizens to high ranking Pentagon officers and Hollywood celebrities, make inn-keeping fun and fascinating!”

The new accommodations in the chalet are decorated in distinctive styles: a Stickley mission-style suite with lighting in the Tiffany tradition, two suites decorated in French country style, and the Kensington Suite, which boasts furnishings by two well known British names — Paul Burrell, a personal footman to Queen Elizabeth and later secretary to Princess Diana, and the late Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, ninth Earl of Spencer, both of whom Jim Hind has met. Burrell fashioned the room’s headboard after the gate at Kensington Palace. Other furnishings come from the Althorp Living Collection, with replicas of furniture found at Althorp, the Spencer ancestral home where Diana is buried.

Rooms in the inn’s main building are named for regional historic figures, including three rooms dubbed “sacred ground” that pay tribute to Native American notables.

In addition to breakfast, Richmont offers complimentary evening dessert for its guests, and Susan Hind does so with distinction. Her crème brulee Kahlua won a national recipe contest sponsored by Gourmet magazine.

When the Hinds get away from the inn, they’re still thinking about how to make it better. Jim says they recently visited Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia.

“Our purpose was, of course, to refresh and relax ourselves but also to further study and experience classic Swiss fondue and another popular Swiss cheese dish called raclette,” which they’ve added to the menu.