Mountain Air is truly a unique private community that combines gracious country club living with unparalleled natural beauty, all in a spectacular mountaintop setting in Western North Carolina.
The history of the Mountain Air community dates back to the 1990s. It was the vision of two families – the Banks and the Youngs – whose goal was to create a mountaintop retreat unmatched in physical beauty that was warm and inviting to all who visited.
Since the two families were well versed in the lumber and heavy construction industries, they took on the daunting task of clearing over 1,000 acres of rugged land, thick forests and sheer rock outcroppings in an effort to set the stage for what was to come. Under the guidance of Randy Banks, the development grew and prospered; residents and members started to get more involved and slowly began to take control. Today, there are more than 400 homes and condominiums within the gates of the community which is managed by the Mountain Air Property Owners Association, The club is member-owned.
Mountain Air sits atop Sliprock Mountain. Most residents and visitors arrive at Mountain Air by car; however some arrive by plabe. Did I mention Mountain Air has its own runway? It’s the most unique feature of any club or community in Western North Carolina – a 2,875-foot runway, where members land their private aircraft. At an elevation of 4,600 feet, it’s the highest elevated private runway east of the Mississippi. From what I hear, landing here is considered a special treat by pilots and their families. Once you land on good old terra firma, you’re just a few steps away from the club and a short ride home. Throughout the year, the runway plays host to special events such as a 4th of July party with fireworks, outdoor movie nights, stargazing and astronomy gatherings, as well as airplane and auto events.
The main attraction at Mountain Air is the golf course which has been described by Links Magazine as “one of the most dramatic and naturally conceived courses in the country,” a point that’s hard to argue. The course has some of the most spectacular holes and views I have ever encountered. The 8th hole is a prime example, a par 5, dogleg right that plays 550 yards downhill. Play your tee shot left of the large rock on the left side of the fairway; hit it well and believe it or not, you can get home in two. Anything right of the cart path and you’ll need to hit another. Two other favorites are the 10th, a par 3 that measures 245 yards from the back tees but actually plays about 165, due to the elevation drop. Word has it, you can press while the ball is in the air; or go it alone if you’re playing Wolf! Hit the green and you can tell all your friends about the massive 6 iron you hit. I’ve been told that when this hole was designed, the architect actually pushed dirt up the hill to create the tee boxes built into the slope.
Number 11 is another long par 5 that plays downhill and a lot shorter. It is reachable in two with a good drive; long ball hitters need to beware of the pond at the bottom of the hill. The green slopes dramatically from back to front; come up short of the green and you’ll have your work cut out for you.
When you tee off on the first hole, you’re at an elevation of about 4,500 ft. For the first fourteen holes, you play downhill for the most part. When you hit the fifteenth tee, you’re at the course’s lowest point of around 3,800 ft. The last four holes play uphill and the 18th is one of the best finishing holes around. It’s an uphill par 5, that plays 473 yards from the White tees. There are a couple of bunkers that dot the fairway landscape on the right side and 3 well struck shots will give you a legitimate shot at par or better. It’s a course that’s tough to beat, in more ways than one.
The Lost Chimneys Learning & Performance Center is the perfect place to warm up before your round or spend time honing your game. Whether it’s long irons, woods or drivers, there’s plenty of room to hit every club in the bag on the full-length driving range. Head over to the short game area and master your wedges and chip shots. They have both heated and cooled hitting bays to hit from as the weather dictates, a training simulator, fitting center and instruction for all ages from their trained staff of PGA professionals. It’s about an 8-minute ride by cart to the first tee from the training center, so be sure to leave enough time to get to the tee on time. Back up at the pro shop you’ll find it well stocked with everything you’ll need for your mountain golf experience, plus logoed apparel from top manufacturers so you’ll have something to remember your visit by.
Dining is a special event at Mountain Air, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Orville and Wilbur’s Bar and Grill offers casual, open air dining. Whether you dine inside or out, you’ll have fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. The menu features a good selection of house-made soups, tasty entrees and sandwiches, and an endless salad buffet. Orville and Wilbur’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the season.
For a more elaborate dining affair, the Oak Room offers upscale dining in Mountain Air’s award-winning Village Green clubhouse. Choose from a wide variety of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes tastefully prepared and presented by Mountain Air’s culinary staff. Or have a casual fireside dinner in the Sunset Grille Room, with stunning views of Sliprock Village Green. There are a couple of other dining venues available for more private, intimate gatherings.
Besides golf, there is plenty to do at Mountain Air. Maybe a rousing game of tennis or pickleball. Or an energized workout at the fitness center, followed by a few laps in the heated pool and then end your day at Spa Tohi, where you can experience everything from a massage to a manicure. The saunas and steam rooms are ideal places to unwind too. With so much to do, you’ll never get bored!
The club offers a number of non-physical activities as well. There’s prearranged wildflower tours and birdwatching trips, and the dark nighttime skies above the runway offer year-round stargazing. There’s an endless array of year-round activities for both children and adults, all put together and coordinated by Mountain Air’s talented and dedicated staff.
Nearby, Chautauqua is the perfect place to drop off the kids while you go for a workout, spa treatment or just need to get away for a spell. And the kids won’t be bored since there’s a movie theater, teen room and children’s activity center with lots of special programs to participate in.
Mountain Air’s Outdoor Discovery Center offers members and their guests an education on what awaits them as they traverse miles and miles of hiking trails. The staff can also help set up personalized activities from rafting to fishing to rock climbing.
Recently, General Manager/CEO Jay Manner announced renovation plans that will make a great club even greater. Plans are underway for a multimillion-dollar renovation and construction project, based on input from current members. Included in the updates are new spa facilities, significant expansion of the fitness and wellness areas, enhancing the golf course, main clubhouse and pool deck, building additional pickleball courts, and updating Orville and Wilbur’s and its kitchen. Although work has already begun on two new pickleball courts and certain golf course cart paths, Phase I is not due to officially get under way until Q4, 2019.
When you look to purchase a home within the gates of Mountain Air, you have a lot of choices. Condominiums offer an easy fix to a busy lifestyle with just about every aspect of maintenance included while mountainside homesites offer the opportunity to build your dream home your way. If a private home is your preference, there’s a range to choose from, all offering gracious mountain living and beautiful views.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a personalized visit worth? In the spirit of “try it before you buy it,” Mountain Air offers guests the Mountain Experience package. There are several options but the most popular is a three-day and two-night stay at Mountain Air, with lodging in the Falling Leaf Lodge, just a short wedge away from everything. Suites at the Falling Leaf Lodge will rival any luxury hotel; each king suite features a fireplace and a private porch. The porch is the perfect place to get an idea of what goes on at the club in the evenings and sample the cool mountain air. You’ll also have access to all the club’s amenities, take in the natural beauty of the area and meet some friendly people.
Now that you’re aware of everything Mountain Air has to offer, it’s time to consider owning a mountain getaway and joining the club. After all it’s the best way to fully enjoy all that this mountaintop community has to offer. The club’s membership offerings are designed to satisfy an individual’s needs and desires. Choose from a range of membership options including full golf, social, national and non-resident plans.
For more information or to set up your Mountain Experience package, give them a call at (828) 682-5600 or email Marley Knowles at email@example.com. You can also visit their website at www.mountainairnc.com. Oh, did I mention the average temperature in July is only 72 degrees?