Former Key West Scuba Instructors Create Blue Ridge Honeymoon Haven

When former scuba instructors Mike and Amy Sumrall wanted to leave their Key West hospitality employment, they decided to launch their own cabin rental business in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.

It may not seem reasonable that a couple of former scuba instructors from Key West, Florida would wind up running Blue Ridge mountain cabin rentals in North Carolina, but if you listen closely to Mike and Amy Sumrall, owners of Hot Springs Log Cabins, you learn just how natural the transition really was.

“We moved here from The Keys wanting to escape the uncertainty of tropical weather systems and erratic corporate mismanagement,” says Amy. The pair worked 5 years for a very upscale resort in the Keys as scuba instructors, boat captains, and managers, and that’s where they developed a passion for hospitality.

“But not for tropical storms,” Amy says.

“When it came time to flee the hurricanes, we could find no prettier place on earth than Hot Springs, NC! We bought the land, designed the cabins, created the website, and just made them into our idea of the elusive ‘perfect vacation cabin for couples,’ with everything we always looked for in a log cabin. Our cabins are our dream.”

The corporate atmosphere of their former employer also provided a strong motivation to make the leap into their own honeymoon cabin rental business. Even though Amy won’t reveal the name, the resort she and Mike worked at in Key West still casts a long shadow.

“It was a 30 unit property so quite small and intimate,” Amy says, “with probably a 2-1 staff to guest ratio. But as managers we were always nickled and dimed, instead of allowed to serve our guests as they should have been for the price they were paying.

“We actually left through the process of Mike mouthing off to the GM, so he got fired. Then I got fired too just because we were married. Turned out to be excellent timing to sell our house before the market crashed, so we came up here where we saw all the opportunity of the Hot Springs area and jumped in.”

Now the couple has the opportunity to provide the level of service that keeps guests returning year after year. Not only do they focus on delivering a romantic experience for couples, they also feature dog friendly cabins, with special amenities targeted to canines.

“We truly want our guests to be appreciated and treated right,” Amy says. “Even though we work behind the scenes mostly and do not often meet our guests, we hope they appreciate the attention to detail in the website and cabins themselves. We strive to represent our cabins honestly and under-promise and over-deliver. We love exceeding expectations! We want our guests to arrive and be charmed and come back many times. We will never stack cabins on top of one another or charge hot tub use fees as so many places have done recently.”

There has been a downside to providing such a unique vacation experience. According to Amy, “After we opened, many competitors copied us although we were pretty unique at the time. Our website was flat out copied in several instances, and served as a hugely recognizable source of inspiration to a few others. We are often asked about this and just tell our guests to look at who has been in the business of making guests happy the longest. We have been doing it since 2005!”

The mountain town of Hot Springs is located about 45 minutes west of Asheville, not far from the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The Appalachian Trail runs right through the town.

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