1.5 hours from Charlotte: Paragliding, ballroom dancing and a chance to disconnect

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You know those times when you realize you’re exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically? You’re just burnt out on every level?

I hit that place hard just before Labor Day Weekend and decided that I needed to get out of the city and as far away as possible without the distraction of e-mail, social media and my cell phone.

I wanted no cell bars, no phone calls, no interaction with other human beings.

Realistically, I couldn’t get as far away as possible, but I could get to a place with no cell reception in the middle of nowhere with the bare minimum of what it takes to get by. It took form in the kind of place that you can only get to by driving down the Parkway, turning onto an unmarked road and traveling down another unmarked, mile-long, gravel road before finding it.

Sky Retreat

And it was a dream come true.

An hour and a half from Charlotte, right in the middle of Wilkesboro and Boone (20 and 30 minutes away, respectively), is Purlear. And in Purlear is the brand new Sky Retreat.


It’s wrapping up its first summer and the owners said it couldn’t have gone better.

The retreat is exactly the kind of place you need if you’re desperate to disconnect from the Real World and reconnect with yourself.

It’s run by Ballantyne couple Demin and Merin Sazinas, professional ballroom dancers (he’s still competing in the ProAm world) who used to own Piper Glen Ballroom who also moonlight as certified paragliding pilots. When they began spending more and more time in the mountains, it dawned on them that that’s where they wanted to be.

So, thirty acres and a handful of log cabins later, Sky Retreat was born.

If you’re looking to spend mornings, afternoons and nights on a porch like this:

Sky Retreat

…that overlooks a field like this:

Sky Retreat

…with a charcoal grill that you can make a killer s’more like this over:

Sky Retreat

…and a short walk to a view that looks like this:

Photo via Sky Retreat

Photo via Sky Retreat

Welcome freakin’ home.

There are four types of log cabins to choose from that, like the retreat, are also new.

There are a handful Basic Compact Cabins by the pond (do expect a queen-sized bed or two twin-sized beds, but don’t expect a bathroom). These book for $49 per night.

Basic Cabins

The Premium Cabin includes a sofa that turns into a queen-sized bed and a separate sleeping area. Expect to pay $129-$169 per night.

If you’re really feeling fancy, go for the Premium Plus Cabin. The $169-$199 per night price tag gets you a queen-sized bed in a separate bedroom, a fold-out sofa, a loft with two twin-sized beds and a huge bathroom complete with a tiled shower.

Photo via Facebook

Photo via Facebook

All of the cabins (save for the Basic Compact Cabins) come with a fully-stocked kitchen complete with all utensils, a hot plate, pots and pans and coffee necessary to help you avoid driving twenty to thirty minutes just to find a bite to eat.

We stopped at a Lowe’s Foods in Wilkesboro and because of it and having everything we needed right there, were able to avoid eating out once.

Photo via Facebook

Photo via Facebook

Sky Retreat

I stayed in a Deluxe Cabin with one other person and my dog and found that the space was the perfect size.

Not too big, not too small and exactly the kind of simple I needed. They run $99-$149 per night, complete with a wrap-around porch, open floor plan, bathroom and television that’s Netflix and Amazon-capable along with a good amount of privacy.

Sky Retreat

If you’re worried about the size or the possibility of stepping all over your partner’s toes, don’t be.

We didn’t spend that much time in the cabin, instead spending the long weekend cruising the Parkway, stopping at various spots with a cooler of food and wine, just soaking in the quiet and the sunshine.

If we weren’t on the Parkway, we were on the porch reading, playing in the field with the dog or exploring the various trails that were just minutes by car from the retreat.

Yes, it’s dog friendly.

Look for Mia, Merin and Dima’s 6-year-old Boxer and let your own run wild with her. I guarantee yours will return exhausted by 11 a.m. A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy, right?

Sky Retreat

Sky Retreat

But it’s not just hanging out on your porch or taking in the view: If you’re interested, activities on the land include group ballroom and Latin dance classes, fitness classes, tube and kayak rentals along with tandem paragliding rides.

Each activity has a price tag on it, but most don’t go over $35. Fitness and dance classes are $5-$10 and rentals vary from $5-$35. Paragliding is what will set you back, at $135, but if you’re certified, you’ll get hefty discounts. In fact, the only thing you’ll have to pay for is the ability to run off the side of the mountain.

Sky Retreat

Sky Retreat

Merin is also a certified Transcendental Meditation teacher, and the retreat just recently hosted a crash course in the art.

If you visit the retreat and find that you’re as desperate as I am to get back, you might want to check out their membership program. By the numbers:

$35-$85 per month. Unlimited activities (does not including lodging).
$49-$99 per month. Access to all activities. Lodging in a Basic Compact Cabin is included.
$99-$150 per month. Access to all activities. Lodging in a Deluxe Cabin is included.
$169-$249 per month. Access to all activities. Lodging in a Premium Cabin is included.

They’re also in the process of building a massive Grand Ballroom, perfect for weddings, and expect construction to wrap up soon.

Go forth, turn off the phone and recharge. You’ll know you’ve done it right if your dog looks like this the entire drive home:

Sky Retreat

Connect with Sky Retreat


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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.