Valhalla Resort offers close mountain getaway

Story by Michelle Boaen Jameson
Photos courtesy Valhalla Resort
Garnering its name from the ancient mythical heaven for Norse warriors, Valhalla Resort Hotel recently opened its doors to relaxation. Located near Unicoi State Park and Mount Yonah Winery, the mountain resort provides a unique, high-end combination of old world charm and true Southern hospitality.
Owners Jerry and Gayle Murdock bring a new level of luxury to the mountains. Spend the weekend enjoying gourmet meals, wines, spa treatments and golf at the full-service resort for the discerning traveler. Valhalla primarily caters to travelers and diners looking for an upscale, adult getaway.

The Murdocks visited White County 12 years ago. The “charm of the location, the stunning natural beauty of the mountains, and the warmth of the people” inspired them to establish a residence. They found a need for higher-end dining and a luxury resort option for people located within an hour drive from Atlanta.
They wanted visitors to experience a nice mountain resort similar to Highlands, North Carolina, but on “a smaller scale and with the same amenities while closer to home,” to make last-minute weekday or special weekend getaways more convenient.
Gayle is the designer of Valhalla and a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers. She has her Masters of Art degree from Connecticut State College and attended the New York School of Interior Design. She worked as an interior designer in Atlanta, St. Simons Island and Destin, Florida, including hospitality and commercial projects in the Southeast. Gayle was a member of the team that restored the famous Jekyll Island Club and Wharf Bar.

With Jerry’s Scottish heritage, the Valhalla name was fitting and “inspires a respite from the complexities of everyday life where guests can feast, retreat and relax.”
The Murdocks met Chef Dean Hill in Stafford, Virginia, where he was the executive chef for Potomac Point Winery. His previous experience and unique farm-to-table concepts are what Jerry and Gayle wanted to stand out at Valhalla. Chef Hill said, “When I cook, I like to use local, fresh ingredients that are found seasonally, and I like to layer them for a multitude of different flavors.  I’ve adapted that style to Southern comfort food combined with fine dining. I’m all about the farm-to-fork concept.”

Executive Chef Dean Hill brings extensive experience from various wineries and five-star resorts and was trained at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu Program.

Baked Brie

While Valhalla may offer the same types of amenities as other resorts in the region, the uniqueness comes with the exclusivity, hospitality and quaintness. One additional feature of Valhalla Resort Hotel is that it is pet-friendly; guests can book special rooms, so they can travel with their furry companions. Valhalla is also designed as a venue for corporate retreats.
Complimentary shuttle service to local attractions, wineries and excursions offers guests a seamless concierge experience.
Flying in on a small aircraft? Valhalla Resort Hotel will receive guests at Habersham Airport or at its on-property heliport, allowing guests to land at a moment’s notice.
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