Castle McKenzie Offers a Wee Taste of Scotland in the Smoky Mountains of NC

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Castle McKenzie, owned and operated by John and Lorraine McKenzie, has brought the culture and comfort of Scotland to Murphy, N.C. After building and living their dream of a Scottish-themed resort in the Smoky Mountains, complete with a castle--- there is now a little slice of the Scottish Highlands less than an hour and a half from Atlanta, Asheville, and Chattanooga that will live on forever. And they are now sharing their modest castle with those wanting to immerse themselves in Scottish history, nature, and a unique private surrounding.

Castle vacation rental in the mountains of Murphy, NC

Approach to Castle McKenzie, Murphy, NC

The couple first visited the area in 1998, journeying up from Florida. It was to be a family vacation. Their children were driving down from their home state of Pennsylvania to join them. “To make a long story short, we fell in love with the area, as it reminded us so much of the Scottish Highlands we had just returned from,” said John. “We bought 26 acres and developed it into the kind of rental resort we’d wanted for our family reunion. With Castle McKenzie, we hoped to recreate the culture and comfort of the Scottish Highlands in the Smoky Mountains of Murphy, so we named the project Scottish Woods.” The property motto, “Come, get lost in Scottish Woods” is more a feeling and mind set, than a reality.

The dream was built and operated successfully as a vacation resort over a six-year period. The cabins were sold to a couple from California in 2005, when John had a heart attack and major by-pass surgery. But they kept the “jewel in the crown” so to speak, for themselves--- Castle McKenzie. It was nowhere near completion at that point, but it is now. So the two-bedroom suite of the castle is now being rented as a romantic mountain getaway to lucky vacationers wanting the experience of a castle stay-- without traveling to Scotland or England.

Although located in what might seem like a remote area, the gated castle property of over ten acres has all the amenities of home, and is only twelve miles from a Wal-Mart. Renters can cozy up to a gas-log fireplace, relax in the luxury of a private hot tub on the turret terrace off of the master bedroom, and sleep in a king-size four poster bed. The kitchen is fully equipped, and there’s satellite TV and high-speed Internet access. And the renters have the castle suite and entire castle and 10 acre grounds all to themselves while there.

If it sounds too much like, well, staying at home; what has to be remembered is that this luxuriously outfitted, yet modest castle is nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. It is close enough to shopping areas and attractions to be convenient, but remote enough to enjoy the peace and quiet and all else that Mother Nature has to offer. The Castle McKenzie website and video tells and illustrates the whole story.

What does the future hold for the McKenzies? There are plans to possibly duplicate the castle experience in Bucks County, PA., in the near future. That is where all of the children and grandchildren live. When asked of John, he replied with a smile, “to answer using Scottish terms, the pull of the wee bairns (children), can no longer be ignored.”

The McKenzies welcome queries about what exists, what is planned, and how one can get “lost” in Scottish Woods. Interested parties are invited to e-mail or visit the Castle McKenzie website for complete information about the castle and availability.

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John McKenzie Panagos
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