While I have lived in this area a long time, it really surprised me to find out about a hidden treasure just two hours away called Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Va. That is the location where part of the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” was filmed.
This discovery came about after I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do for my birthday this year.
The boyfriend’s original plan was to go to Winston-Salem for a night on the town, a stay at the Brookstone Inn, followed by brunch at Sweet Potatoes in the downtown arts district. We were going to take a tour of Old Salem and go to a Dash baseball game. That sounded like a lot of fun, but I worried that the expense of such a trip could easily get out of hand, even though the activities are right down the road.
Option B was a trip to Fairystone Park in Virginia. I hadn’t heard of that either until a friend mentioned it to me. The boyfriend and I found that cabins there were reasonably priced and there is a lake with a nice swimming area. That seemed fun, too, and a great way to have a quiet day alone.
Stuck between the two, a co-worker David Broyles, who used to be a reporter at the Virginian Leader in Giles County, Va., suggested that we go to Mountain Lake Hotel. After a little bit of research, we were hooked.
“Dirty Dancing” is one of those classic movies that is fun and has a sweet message. I’ve watched it at least more than 50 times, so clearly I’m a fan.
For some reason, I thought this was filmed at the Grove Park Inn outside of Asheville near Lake Lure. And, that’s partially right. I later learned that all of the dancing scenes in the movie were filmed at a location in Lake Lure, but all of the hotel scenes were filmed at the Mountain Lake Hotel.
Since my birthday fell on a Monday this year, we headed out to the resort Sunday afternoon. When we arrived and opened the door to the hotel’s lobby, it felt like pure movie magic. I felt like Baby when she first arrived at the hotel, all excited about a relaxing stay full of romance and fun.
We stayed in the West Virginia cabin, which is a duplex. Our porch faced what was once the lake.
The lake is now almost completely dried up. They say that several years ago, the plates beneath the lake shifted draining most of it and since it is located on top of a mountain, it’s hard to get enough rain to fill it up again. Even with the lake mostly a grassy field now, the view is spectacular.
After taking a few minutes to unpack, we took a walk around the property to snap a few pictures. But, before we could even get off the porch, we noticed a beautiful doe coming closer and closer to our cabin. We stayed still and took lots of pictures. I just don’t see this sight in my backyard in the city limits of Mount Airy.
As we walked the grounds, we saw a putting green, a blue tennis court and a swimming pool. There was also a set of lawn checkers and chess. We strolled by the gazebo where a couple of scenes in the movie take place. There is now a memorial to the movie’s lead actor Patrick Swayze located beside it.
Our tour around the property was followed by a quick nap and then dinner on the porch off the dining room. One of the appeals of the price was that it included dinner and breakfast for two. And, there’s not a lot up that way as far as restaurants or grocery stores go, so it’s good that they offer that deal.
I was also pleased that our room included a fireplace, a microwave, a coffee pot and a TV. What I loved about it is that it was just peaceful and quiet — which is exactly what a busy newspaper reporter on the go needs on her day off and birthday.
Needless to say, the TV went unused as the sound of serenity filled the air.
Even though the cabin didn’t have any air conditioning, there was a box fan there that we placed in a window to stir up a breeze. That night was one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.
The next morning we were a little late for breakfast, but had brought snacks with us. I’ll never forget having Mimosas out of plastic cups on the cabin’s wrap around porch while snacking on croissants, deli meat and cheese that we cut up with the multi-tool I keep in my car. It was simple. It was perfect. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, and yes, I had the time of my life.
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.