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  • Writer's pictureKathie Scalf

Valentine’s Staycation


Ah love…

We’re one week out from (allegedly) the most romantic day of the year. At this point, reservations are maxing out quickly, so it’s time to make some plans for that special someone in your life, whether it’s a significant other, a best friend, or just your own dang self.

While I’m a woman who loves an evening on the town being wined and dined, one of my all-time favorite things to do is treat myself to a luxurious staycation. In the Tri-Cities there is hardly a better space for an all-encompassing experience than The Carnegie Hotel. A person can relax with a spa day, enjoy an elegant meal, and unwind with a cocktail next to a cozy fire while never leaving the confines of their four walls.

The Carnegie was brought back to life in 2000, built from the ground up and furnished in the same stately manner as its namesake which stood in Johnson City from 1891 to 1905 before being consumed by a devastating fire. The grand mahogany and brass entryway, flanked by two proud, ivory lion statues standing guard, leads into a lobby and common area that feels as if you’re stepping through the looking glass into the past. Floor to ceiling woodwork on the walls, antique leather and floral seating arranged in such a way to invite conversation and a beautiful tiffany skylight feature welcome guests to an almost Biltmore-esque lodge that is hardly believed to have been conceived during the same year the Baha Men were trying to figure out “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

There are a variety of rooms and price ranges available, and while all are perfectly lovely and dressed with oversized oak sleigh beds, fainting couches and large desks to attend to matters of business or the heart, if you can swing the splurge I highly suggest booking one of their Presidential Suites. At 1,000 square feet in size, these rooms are 300 square feet larger than my 1-bedroom apartment. What better setting for romance than a spacious room equipped with a claw foot tub, a fireplace and a dining room table for 6?

Regardless of where you decide to settle in for your stay, room service is a must. I travel frequently all over the state for my job, and I can truly say that room service is one of life’s best little luxuries. Whether this is a trip for two, a Galentine’s getaway or a solo expedition, there is hardly anything better than having a hot breakfast rolled into your room while you lounge in pajamas. Stay in bed and enjoy crispy breakfast potatoes, eggs cooked to order, a pot of coffee and of course you can’t forget the mimosas.

Bum around in bed with your bubbles and OJ until it’s time for ultimate relaxation in the Austin Springs Spa. They offer a wide variety of services, from basic mani/pedis, a hair salon, and all the way up to deep tissue massage. They also do monthly specials, and this time of year they offer couples massages and holiday specific facials. Upon arrival, slip into a warm cozy robe and order a drink from the upstairs bar, or enjoy a glass of refreshing spa water. I would highly recommend adding hot stones to any of the massage services, and be very up front about the level of pressure you like to receive. The professional staff at Austin Springs want you to leave feeling your absolute best.


Following your afternoon of pampering, it’s time to get cleaned up and head to dinner. Wellington’s offers traditional American fare that leans a bit to the South. Items like deviled eggs and fried green tomatoes grace their appetizer list, with mains including standard dishes from land and sea. One item you might expect to be featured is a must- the namesake Beef Wellington. Presented in a pleasantly unexpected deconstructed fashion, the 8oz filet and foie gras stuffed puff pastry lie separately among a bed of savory mashed potatoes, bright green beans and drizzled with a cabernet demi glaze. This dish screams for a big, bold Napa Cab, and Wellington’s wine list features several California options.

Speaking of the bar, skip dessert at your table and mosey over to the lounge to round out your evening. Winter evenings can hardly be better spent anywhere but here. Wellington’s offers standard seating bellied up to their impressive antique bar, where you can admire their wines and spirits which includes a collection of over 200 whiskeys, but for the most intimate, cozy finish to your night, snuggle up on one of the couches in front of the fireplace. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in on a night that features live music for perfect ambiance.

Finally, request a big fat slice of cheesecake to go from your server; requesting a bottle of something bubbly to take along with it and continue the night in your room is optional. By this time you’ll probably be full and totally relaxed and ready to slip into something more comfortable in your room, where you’re free to wind down in the big king bed as you see fit.

A staycation at The Carnegie is the perfect Valentine’s gift, regardless of your relationship status. An overnight or weekend getaway here can be tailored to spoil a couple looking for a night away from the kids, a girls or guys trip to have fun and reconnect, or just a single person who is overworked and deserving of a day of luxury pampering. Remember, the most important love is self-love and “treat yo’self” is my life motto. Don’t wait for someone else to spoil you on Valentine’s Day when you can take the reins and book the trip yourself. There are all different kinds of love in this world, and each one is cause for celebration. The Carnegie offers an excellent setting to do just that.



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