I was on the roof of my parking deck getting in another solo socially distant workout during month five of coronavirus shutdowns when Instagram fed me an ad for Getaway, a network of modern tiny house compounds with about a dozen retreats in woodsy locations across the country.
It was slick. A trendy black box tiny house with an ultra Instagrammable window bed overlooking a lush green expanse of absolutely nothing. And there I was sweating it out on the pavement in the urban heat of a Carolina summer.
I booked on the spot and hit the road the next day.
Getaway’s model is basically camping lite for urban adventurers who want to escape into the woods without abandoning the familiar comfort and convenience of a hotel.
This means air conditioning, indoor plumbing, toiletries, dishes, and linens are all standard issue.
North Carolina’s Getaway outpost is located in Asheboro, equidistant between Charlotte and Raleigh in order to attract cabin feverish urbanites from the state’s two largest cities. I’ll admit that until I looked at the address for the first time on my way out the door, I thought for sure I was heading toward Asheville for the night. It’s the complete opposite direction.
While the final stretch of your trip winds you through rural emptiness, you’re only about five miles off a main commercial drag with stops like CVS, Walmart, and Bojangles should you need to stock up on any necessities. Historic downtown Asheboro, a quick 15-minute drive from your retreat, is worth a visit on your way in or out of town. Check out the famers market (May-Oct) and popular restaurants and bars like The Table, Magnolia 23, Hops Bar-B-Que and Four Saints Brewing. I got takeout at The Table before heading home.
Getaway outposts were designed for social distancing before it became a pandemic necessity.
The property is set up without any communal gathering spaces and they’ll text you a code to your cabin 30 minutes before arrival so there’s no in-person check in. The idea here is to distance and disconnect, but you won’t be completely alone.
If scrolling Getaway’s Instagram gave you the idea that you’d be dropped into the middle of the woods in total seclusion, it’s worth pointing out that there are a couple dozen cabins on the property spaced 50 to 150 feet apart. That’s within eye and ear shot in some cases so don’t be surprised to see or hear others from afar. Given the fact that I was traveling alone, once the sun went down I liked knowing I had neighbors, but also enough personal space to give the illusion of isolation.
Getaway has doubled the cleaning time required for each cabin after checkout and only one person is ever inside in between guests. You can read more about their Covid-19 response here.
Each Getaway cabin is fully stocked with everything you’d need for a couple nights away.
After severely overpacking for one single night, I learned upon arrival that you could show up to Getaway with absolutely nothing but a toothbrush and have a perfectly comfortable stay.
Kitchen: The kitchen has a sink, two-burner stove, pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, paper towels, soap, and cooking basics like olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s also stocked with food provisions for purchase like oatmeal, pasta, and canned soup. This functions just like a hotel minibar — use something and a charge appears on your credit card upon checkout. Everything is priced under $10.
Bathroom: The bathroom is small but sufficient with a flushable toilet, stand-up shower, towels, and mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
Living: Inside there’s a small table/desk and Getaway’s signature picture window bed (choose from 1 queen or 2 queen bunkbeds). There’s also a radio with bluetooth so you can play your own music, a few books and playing cards for entertainment, and a lockbox for your phone to encourage disconnection. Sorry, no WiFi, and cell phone service may be spotty. Each cabin is equipped with a landline for emergencies (but my cell phone worked fine the whole time).
Outdoors space: Outside you’ve got your own picnic table, two Adirondack chairs, and a fire pit with grilling grate. No fire skills? No problem. Fire kits with wood and starter are available for $6.50 (you’ll be charged for what you use after you leave), and a free s’mores kit upon arrival almost guarantees you’ll give it a try.
Getaway cabins are kid and dog friendly. The lofted bunk bed option works for families, and my dog was met with special treatment including dog-friendly fake “s’mores” treats, complimentary waste bags, and an outdoor lead for keeping her close. Accessible cabins with ramps, grab bars, and barrier-free showers are also available.
Getaway pricing is not cheap and has nightly rates currently ranging from $119 to $299 depending on the season.
On the high end, that’s comparable to a luxury hotel stay in Charlotte at places like The Ballantyne ($225+/night in October) or The Ivey’s ($212+/night in October). And therein lies the beauty of the business model. It’s less an upgraded camping experience for outdoor enthusiasts and more a pared down hotel stay for those who otherwise might not venture to such a site.
Getaway is to camping what the Whitewater Center is to outdoor adventure — a curated, controlled environment with just enough nature to feel daring but not so much that it scares off the more indoorsy types.
I happen to be that target market so I texted my friends in D.C. immediately after leaving and suggested we book out a bunch of cabins at Getaway Shenandoah Valley the second we’re allowed to convene in large groups across state lines. I think that defeats the purpose of Getaway’s escapist design, but I can’t be the only one craving escape and human interaction in equal parts these days.
More travel options close to Charlotte: Airbnbs on Lake Norman and Lake Wylie