Women in Business

Hanneke Ware: Making a home in the mountains

wib chaletBack in 1990, Hanneke and George Ware’s odds for success were long. A pair of non-locals living in what was then an even more remote corner of the state than it is now, they’d just purchased a 23-acre property between Dillsboro and Whittier with the hope of creating a sought-after bed and breakfast destination.

“It was quite a challenge,” Hanneke said. “That’s the understated word of the year.” 

But in the years since its launch, the Chalet Inn has seen success and its reputation has grown, largely through word of mouth. Hanneke is proud of what she and George have built, saying that division of labor has been key to their success.  

“We go with our strengths and our weaknesses and our little idiosyncrasies, and you work with that,” she said. “It’s all about teamwork.”

Hanneke is originally a city-dweller from the Netherlands; she met Ohio native George Ware in the 1980s during his Army days when he was stationed at NATO headquarters. George had fallen in love with Western North Carolina during an earlier visit, and after he retired the couple moved to the mountains, intending to open an inn. 

As both a woman and a foreigner in a community that, especially in the 1990s, was largely populated by male-run businesses and composed of families with strong roots in the area, Hanneke was definitely not a “traditional” businessperson. But she — as well as George — jumped in with both feet. Hanneke served six years on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in the earlier years of the business, and George has served three terms on the county’s Travel and Tourism Board of Directors.

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There have been difficulties — misunderstandings, setbacks and lots of hard work — but overall Hanneke has nothing but good things to say about the place she’s chosen to call home and the people she shares it with. 

“It’s all an amazing difference, how you do business, how you conduct yourself, how you talk to people,” she said, comparing WNC to Europe. “I found this area to be really low-key, really friendly. Of course you have your aberrations all over the world, but I felt reasonably accepted. Good experiences.”

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