By Becky Cook

Though it’s not a total unknown, this amazing segment of real estate called Lake Lure and its surroundings is somewhat of a guarded secret. The quiet natural beauty and moderate weather, the lovely resort and its amenities, the local colorful personalities and regional historical character make our area unique and inviting. People seek it or find it in the pages of a travel brochure. They book a timeshare week or rent a condo or house on the lake, or visit someone they know who already lives here. Perhaps, they even drive in for a round of golf or a tournament. Or, maybe they are fortunate enough to be a native or to have lived here most of their lives. Whatever brought YOU here, everyone has a story. It has been my quest for some time to ask folks, “How did you find us?” “What brought you here?” What made you decide that this was your Paradise Found and helped you choose to come here for more than a one night stand? From where/when/why/how did this place become the object of your affection as a wonderful destination or maybe a home (if only temporarily?)

Far and away the most common introduction to our guardedly protected “paradise” is through interval ownership (time share) or short term use of rental housing. People come literally from all over the globe, and easily fall in love with the place. They are lured back for another temporary stay OR often they find themselves seeking a more permanent dwelling, a vacation home, a place to share with family and friends, a personal haven to escape TO. They become property owners. Sometimes folks who become owners even submit their properties to the rental program for the parts of the year they can‘t be here for personal enjoyment. And then the seed is planted for more folks to fall into the spell of this place and want to live here as well.

Another common story, with variations of course, is that of a couple or family who visit someone who has lived here for a time. The guests spend just enough time to get spellbound by either the mountains, the lake, the fabulous golf, the remoteness, the friendly residents, the community spirit or quite possibly a combination of all of these. It’s a formula for “return engagements” and for hearts won over.

One couple we knew quite well carefully and selectively explored many possible retirement locations, keeping in mind a certain set of criteria. They looked at mountainous, coastal, populous, and remote locations….always requiring access to fine golfing. Over a period of time (and again through timeshare bookings) they narrowed their search to Lake Lure and purchased a lot in the resort. When their retirement plans were complete and their house was ready, they prepared to move in. Meanwhile we had become acquainted with them at a seaside location. We met every spring for several years during our timeshare weeks and enjoyed many activities together, including golf. One year when it was time for our annual “reunion” they couldn’t join us because of their scheduled move to Lake Lure. We were invited to stop over at their brand new place on our trip home. We did. We were captivated and returned a short time later, purchased a lot, started the process to retire early, and engaged a builder to get our home started. Two years later, we came to stay.

I know one couple who were staying at another nearby tourist destination. When one day they took an afternoon drive to explore their surroundings, they happened onto this place. They spent a few nights, bought a lot on the lake, built a beautiful home, and retired here. They have been here over ten years.

I love the story of the couple who chose this place to retire and a couple of years before actually moving here they purchased a home along the lake. In their early visits they became acquainted with another couple from another state who needed a place to stay while their house was under construction. As it turned out, in a kind of serendipity fashion, the first couple offered their house (virtually sitting empty) to their new friends to live in while their home was being built. It was a win-win for everyone. The four remain fast friends and all can vouch for the feeling of community and family which helped draw them here.

When I recall the transitional time between our selection of this as our retirement destination and our actual arrival, I am reminded of a particular sequence which “sealed” my feelings at least about our choice. On each of our visits we attended Fairfield Mountains Chapel, got to know the pastor and other members, and were always blessed by the fine music. One day in line at the coffee hour I became acquainted with a charming 6-year-old girl standing next to me. It was love at first sight. She was learning to read and write. We became pen pals. I got acquainted with her family and visited them when I was in town. I watched her grow into a lovely young woman. Though she has moved away and we don’t keep in touch now, I will always credit Victoria with helping create the lure of Lake Lure for me.

Some who came here many years ago when this place was newly developed will tell you much has changed. They will say that we have become a not so well kept secret touched too much by the outside world and the tourist industry. And yet people continue to be charmed and lured by our piece of paradise called Lake Lure. We have all learned to embrace our area’s unique character and history as well as to promote the growth and innovation which help keep it alive!

Why not exchange your arrival stories with someone you meet today! It could mark the bridge to a new friendship……..or even be the beginning of someone else‘s love affair with the almost  hidden jewel of Western Carolina…..Lake Lure!