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So my brother and sister got married this summer….

If that sentence gives you pause, I should point out that they got married in separate ceremonies (to different people) 🙂

My brother got married at the Mountain Lake Lodge, which is a hotel in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia.  It’s actually been a fairly popular resort for over 100 years.

Getting there and paying for it

Mountain Lake is in southwestern Virgina, and since there aren’t really any major nearby airports, we decided to drive it.  It was just Carolyn and I as my parents had come down to watch our kids.  It’s about a 6 hour drive and with the 2 of us, there were surprisingly NO “Are We There Yets” 🙂


Here’s the view from an overlook on the mountain road up to the hotel

Because Mountain Lake is not affiliated with any chain, I couldn’t use any hotel points to pay for it.  This is a perfect use-case for Barclay Arrival points.  This was actually the purchase that I used when I wrote my step-by-step tutorial on how to redeem Barclay miles.  I’d imagine that the Carolina Travel Girl might have some ideas about this – her topic at the Family Travel for Real Life conference was talking about alternative forms of lodging.

Dirty Dancing

One of the hotel’s claims to fame is that it was where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed.  I had actually not ever seen the movie, so in preparation we did end up watching it the week before we left.  We definitely noticed some familiar landmarks, though I never did end up finding the corner that Baby was put into..

They actually have a Dirty Dancing “memorial” onsite which talks about the movie and shares some of the pictures and memorabilia from the movie.

That was the summer of 1963 - when everybody called me Baby, and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman's.

….That was the summer of 1963 – when everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came, when I couldn’t wait to join the Peace Corps, and I thought I’d never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman’s.

So the actual lake itself drained about 7 years ago.  Now, my dad was trying to explain this to me and I can’t quite claim to fully understand, but basically, due to shifting in the rocks / mountain below it, the lake completely drained.

It’s now refilling (and this is the part that I don’t really get – if it drained before, how can it be filling up now?!?), but the lake level is still QUITE below the traditional levels.  It’s at about 25% of the volume and about 40 feet below where it normally is.


Carolyn looking out at “the lake”. You can see the building with the pier off to the right – heading out into nothing.



This tree came from the bottom of the drained lake, and the roots were carved into this sculpture in the main lodge

We stayed in the Carolina lodge, which was fairly rustic.  No air conditioning (though it was fairly cool up on the mountain, even in summer).  I believe these cabins were the ones where the “crew” stayed in the movie.

049 - CopyYou can’t really see it from that picture, but the cabins are kind of built into the side of a mountain.  Looking out the back door of the cabin, you’re up quite a bit from the ground.  I’m not sure if the cabins have settled some since they were first built, but there was definitely a bit of a “lean” to the cabin inside.


(slightly) exaggerated photo of the “Leaning [Sh]ower of Pisa… 🙂

The wedding was in the morning, and that evening, we went out to the “Treetops Adventure Course”, which is onsite.  It’s about 15-20 feet off the ground and consists of several different obstacles such as rope ladders, zip lines and such.

048 - CopyIt was a lot of fun, and I think that being in the dark actually helped, since nobody could get nervous about how high up they were!

One note for Barclay Arrival purposes – the $40 charged for the adventure course actually comes from a separate company, which is NOT categorized as travel, so you can’t use it for an Arrival travel redemption.

All in all, I had a great time there, though in the future, barring any more of my siblings getting married there, I will probably concentrate on places where I can use my stash of points.

What about you – what has your experience been with more “independent” lodging?

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