George and Hanneke first talked about opening a Bed and Breakfast in the Spring of 1985, shortly after they met in the Netherlands, where Hanneke was born and George, a US Army Officer, was stationed with a NATO Headquarters. After George's retirement, they sought practical experience in the Hospitality business and began searching for the perfect location. George knew it had to be in Western North Carolina (having fallen in love with the area in 1979, on his way from Fort Bragg, NC to Command and General Staff College in Kansas). George first managed a restaurant with TPI Restaurants Inc.; then both George and Hanneke spent a season with High Hampton Inn & Country Club.
In the Fall of 1990, they found and purchased the property they had been searching for. Three years and a great deal of sweat equity later, George and Hanneke felt they created a touch of Europe in North Carolina, and began sharing it with others. They even commissioned an award-winning German artistic-blacksmith to create an Aussenhangenschild (a wrought iron sign, originating in the Middle Ages in Europe and still found today on many Gasthäuser (Bed and Breakfasts) in Germany's older towns and cities) to hang on the front corner of The Chalet Inn.
With all the moves associated with military service George was never able to be an active member of the community he lived in, and vowed this would change when he retired. George and Hanneke are members of the Jackson County and Swain County Chambers of Commerce as well as a founding member of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce. Hanneke was elected by the members of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce to their Board of Directors and served two terms - the maximum allowed. George was selected as Swain County's representative to the Publicity Committee of Smoky Mountain Host, the regional tourism agency, and he has been appointed by the Jackson County Commissioners to the County's Travel and Tourism Board of Directors for three terms, where he has served as Chairman of the Marketing Committee. George has also served as Alternate Foreperson and Foreperson of the County's Grand Jury
George and another Retired Army Officer did the research for and developed the map of activities, hikes, waterfalls, etc. that is the center piece of the County's Tourism brochure. So don't hesitate to ask for information or suggestions, he will be happy to prepare a custom sketch map based on your desires for your day's activities.
George and Hanneke are enjoying a significant number of repeat guests and welcoming increasing numbers of new guests.
A “Hoosier,” Lauren was born and raised in Michigan City, Indiana. She attended Michigan City High School; played Junior Varsity soccer and was Vice President of her Junior class, and Lettered her Junior & Senior years in Golf.
Her love for the hospitality industry started at a young age. When she was old enough, she began working (both in food preparation and serving) at local country clubs.
For college, she chose the Nation's #1 Hospitality School: Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, which she started in 2009. In addition to her studies, she completed two summer internships, one at a country club in Michigan City and the other at a marina resort in New Buffalo, Michigan. During her time at Purdue, Lauren participated in the Hospitality and Tourism Society as well as volunteered at the Humane Society helping her beloved feline friends. She graduated from Purdue University in December, 2013 with a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Organizational Leadership and Supervision.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys cooking, painting, traveling, and spending time with family. She loves to explore new and unique restaurants and blog about the wonderful meals she finds. She also loves to explore antique shops for knick knacks to decorate her living space. Her favorite finds are beautifully blown colored vases and glass kitchenware.
Thrilled to be part of The Chalet Inn team, Lauren looks forward to experiencing all that that North Carolina has to offer and sharing her favorites with guests!