Fontanel: Where ‘Extraordinary’ is the norm
The retreat that is the Fontanel, about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville, has experienced some growth since the end of 2013. I got a chance to meet with JP Dansereau, general manager of the Fontanel, and take a tour of the 200-acre establishment that is also home to the Fontanel Mansion, the 27,000 square-foot former home of Country Music Hall of Fame member Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken Dudney. From soaring above treetops to sipping Nashville-brewed spirits, here’s what you can experience at the Fontanel:
Inn at Fontanel
Southern Living’s 2013 Idea House was constructed on the property and then converted into a boutique hotel, aptly named the Inn at Fontanel. Since its official opening, the Inn is currently No. 3 on TripAdviser. The 150-room lodgie exudes Southern simplicity with effortless style and modern touches.
The porches are welcoming with a swing and plush outdoor furniture situated in clusters to welcome a conversational air. You could while away many hours on the porch, but step inside the Great Room (it is, indeed, great) for complimentary continental breakfast served 6-10 a.m. A wet bar, kitchen and dining room and common gathering area can be found. There are six suites to choose from that have been designed with extreme comfort in mind: King Carriage House Suite, Double Queen North Bunkie, Double Queen South Bunkie, two King Guest House Suites and the Inn at Fontanel King Suite.
The distillery is open seven days a week and produces approx. 17 different kinds of whiskey, bourbon, rum, liqueur, liquor and more. Step inside the distillery gift shop and you’ll see retail items as well as a variety of spirits to sample. Walk around the corner and see the distillery still that is more than 100 years old. It’s the only still of its kind in Tennessee and makes the Prichard’s products on-site which are then sold next door in the store.
Music City Ziplines
Want to soar above the treetops like the swifts that frequent the Fontanel? Well, now you can with Music City Ziplines, newly opened on the property. Sail through the air on steel cables along eight lines that are 200-1,000 ft. long. Riders should be 70-250 lbs. and wear close-toed shoes as heeled or open-toe shoes, dresses or skirts aren’t allowed. Tickets are $59 for adults and $47 for youth. If you want to take a thrilling ride, be sure to make your reservation 24 hours in advance.
Mansion at Fontanel
With more than 20 rooms, five fireplaces, two kitchens, and 13 bathrooms, an indoor pool and shooting range, the mansion is the only “home of the star” in Nashville guests can tour. The “Queen of Country” Barbara Mandrell’s former home is exquisitely kept from the upstairs entertainment room complete with full bar and jukebox to the master bedroom with its endless closet and beautiful bathroom. The 27,000 square-foot home is filled with photos, memorabilia and keepsakes from the likes of Alabama, Kenny Chesney, and Gretchen Wilson. Tickets are $24 for adults and $14 for youth.
The Woods and Studio Gallery
The Woods is an outdoor music venue able to hold 4,500 partying guests. The natural amphitheater space also has state-of-the-art sound and is surrounded by a wooded area. The VIP boxes are as if the occupants are in a tree house, able to look out and down at the festivities happening below. Big-name artists and upcoming talent are always on the bill which includes Fall out Boy July 13; Old Crow Medicine Show Aug. 23; NEEDTOBREATHE Sept. 13 and many more.
The Studio Gallery is another music-related event space and can accommodate a wide range of events from corporate get-togethers to proms.
Named the No. 1 Italian and pizza restaurant in Nashville on TripAdvisor, Café Fontanella serves up “farm-to-fork” goodness. Choose from a variety of Italian dishes like their cheesy calzone that is stuffed until it looks like it’ll explode with ricotta, mozzarella and Romano cheeses, the pork chop Fontanella that features a 12 oz. bone-in pork chop topped with onions, Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses, mushrooms, garlic spinach, garlic-Parmesan mashed potatoes all drizzled with a rosemary Marsala wine sauce.
The café also has gluten-free options like burgers, pasta, pizza and the picatta – chicken or veal cutlets sautéed and topped with made-from-scratch caper lemon butter sauce and served with a side of asparagus and penne pasta. The café is open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Have you taken a trip to the Fontanel? Let me know about your experience below!