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TRAVEL: Crestview's Asheville connection



7/28/2011 - TRAVEL: Crestview's Asheville connection

Western North Carolina - the perfect destination for all kinds of vacations!!


                 A long weekend getaway, a family reunion, or a great vacation of arts, shopping, hiking, and tours of America's largest private home are just a tad more than an hour's flight away from Northwest Florida Regional Airport. And when you get there, a Crestview native is waiting to welcome you.

About 12 years ago, Jodee Sellers -- whom classmates in the Crestview High class of '73 remember better as Jodee Curenton -- and her husband Doug opened Bent Creek Lodge up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville, N.C. Only a 15-minute drive from the regional airport, the rustic lodge is a sanctuary in which daily stresses magically melt away, a process augmented by Jodee's spectacular breakfasts.

Originally Sellers, who holds a degree in social work from the University of West Florida, worked in family counseling, where at a camp for "emotionally disturbed boys," she met Doug. Neither counseling nor a position with a clothing store telemarketing center fit her adventurous spirit.

"I got tired of corporate America," she said. "I'm a much more goal-oriented person, but you don't see that in social work. I'm glad there are people who can do it, but my personality didn't fit."

Turning to one of her real loves, Sellers attended culinary school. After a stint as personal chef to a business entrepreneur, Jodee and a culinary classmate considered opening a restaurant. Then Doug had a better idea.

"Doug reminded me that when we first got married, we had talked about opening a B&B," Jodee said. They sold their home and started searching for the perfect old house to convert into a bed-and-breakfast.

"We looked and looked and looked," she said.

Then their real estate agent suggested they look at a piece of property up in the hills.

"The realtor's four-wheel-drive got stuck and we had to hike the rest of the way," Jodee recalled.

When they saw the sweeping, forested hillside where Bent Creek Lodge now sits, they knew they found the perfect spot. During the next year they cleared the land, sending many of the pine trees to a local mill to turn them into lumber for the lodge's clapboards. Simultaneously they created a business plan. Their architect, however, refused to design to their specifications and was promptly fired.

"I thought I could do it better myself," Doug Sellers said. "We visited a place in West Virginia that was rustic, and we liked that idea. There are over 50 B&Bs in Asheville; we wanted to do something different. I had been around construction enough to know what a set of plans looked like."

Inside, the heart pine trim came from an old home in South Carolina. The great oak curved-top front doors were surplus scrap the Sellers scooped up for less than $200. Doug had one instruction when Jodee started shopping for furniture.

"Would you please buy something people will feel comfortable putting their feet on," he implored her.

On Nov. 5, 1999, as Doug was hanging the last custom-formed shower curtain rod, the first guests started arriving at Bent Creek Lodge. Entries in each of the 10 guestroom visitors' logs show a parade of regulars, returnees, and newcomers from across the nation as well as international guests.

Appreciation for the peaceful surroundings and sound nights' rests are common themes inscribed in the books. When Jodee and Doug polled their regulars to see what they'd think about adding TVs to the rooms, the result was a loud and emphatic, "No!" (But if a guest really wants to watch a bit of telly, two rooms have flat-screens, as do the main and downstairs lounges.)

Jodee Sellers had high praise for Vision Airlines' twice-weekly direct flights to and from Asheville. Not only do they conveniently bring guests from Crestview -- recent visitors include her brother Thos Curenton and her cousin, Leon Curenton -- but they facilitate Jodee's visits home to her parents Joe and Betty Curenton.

Between mountain biking, h iking, attending cultural events in Asheville, tending the large garden behind the lodge, and browsing the Western North Carolina Farmer's Market for fresh ingredients for her breakfasts, Jodee Sellers relishes what she calls "the ebb and flow of the inn."

"You only get one life so you might as well enjoy what you're doing," Sellers said.

Want to visit

Crestview native Jodee Curenton Sellers and her husband Doug invite you to their Asheville, N.C., Bent Creek Lodge. Visit, email or call toll-free (877) 231-6574 for information or reservations.

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