New River Escape ribbon cutting

AJ Best cuts as Shane Best holds the red Ashe County Chamber of Commerce ribbon, accompanied by Best family, friends and chamber staff.

FLEETWOOD — The New River Escape Barn & Guest House provides people an ideal opportunity to slow down the pace of life and get away from everyday hustling and bustling, owners AJ and Shane Best said during their Ashe County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting April 17.

The Bests said they bought 2.5 acres on the banks of the South Fork New River at 181 River Run Bridge Road in Fleetwood, and have since worked to turn the property’s barn and guest house into tranquil escapes.

“Everybody lives such crazy lifestyles,” AJ Best said. “We want people to come escape their normal, crazy routine, relax and enjoy all the beauty that the mountains have to offer.”

There are three units available for rent at The New River Escape: two spacious two-person rooms upstairs in the barn, and one four-person unit in the guest house.

“We bought this place to share with everybody, we’ve travelled all around the world and we’ve always had an open-door policy,” AJ Best said. “We’re people people, and we like to have people on the property.”

AJ and Shane Best are parents to three teenagers, and both work jobs in addition to offering their hospitality services at The New River Escape.

“We do this because we love it,” AJ Best said. “Maybe one day we can retire.”

The New River Escape Barn & Guest House offers event packages for elopements and traditional weddings, as well as other types of intimate gatherings. For more information, go online to

“It’s all about people coming and relaxing,” AJ Best said. “We can be as hands-off or hands-on as people want.”

Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kitty Honeycutt said she planned to move in to the French County room as soon as she could get her bags packed.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Honeycutt said. “It has all the feeling of home in such a beautiful setting right on the river, it’s perfect.”

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