By Published On: October 13, 2023Categories: Travel

Story and Photos By Emily Key


I pulled out of the Bama Bucks parking lot with a new destination set in my GPS. A short 45-minute drive through corn fields, farm towns and curvy mountain roads led me to Sand Rock, Alabama. I generally try to keep secrets that have been entrusted with me, but this is one I just can’t keep. The Secret Bed and Breakfast Lodge is located on Lookout Mountain, in the small community of Sand Rock. The spectacular view from the property allows one to see Gadsden to the West, Rome, Georgia, to the East and even Mount Cheaha off in the distance to the South. That’s right — you have a more than 180-degree view from The Secret.

After driving down a long, curvy driveway, I arrived at a beautifully landscaped cabin with massive windows, welcoming cats and the rustic charm every mountain home needs to have. One of the owners, Kris Thomas, was prompt to greet me and show me around the place. While learning where everything was took a whopping two minutes, meeting all the furry friends could take all day. An obvious safe haven, The Secret has become home to a number of cats and dogs that just “show up,” Thomas said.

I met my new little friends, left my bag in my room and decided it was time for some fun in the sun. The property has a rooftop pool that overlooks the entire valley below. Peace, pool and pleasure were the only things on my mind as I relaxed and floated above the world.

As all southerners know, the heat can get you even if you’re in a pool. I could’ve stayed in that pool forever but I knew I needed to cool off and see what other secrets I could discover.

I didn’t have to wander far to learn more about the history of this hidden gem. Owners, Charlie and Kris Thomas have framed an extensive history of the property provided by the previous owners. In 1965, M.G. Weaver, owner of the Peoples Telephone Company, constructed The Secret as his personal residence. Weaver was known for his love of entertaining and enjoyed hosting large parties. 

According to a placard in the entry way, “Weaver had a full-time employee whose only responsibility was the coordination of entertainment and festivities. The four upstairs rooms were used for his special guests who were invited to stay overnight. Weaver was friends with many influential people in the ‘60s including then Alabama Gov. George Wallace as well as Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant and ‘Shug’ Jordan.” 

The construction of the home is impressive as well. I was amazed to learn that the 10-foot round table with a revolving top had to be constructed inside, as it would be too large to bring in otherwise. Weaver spared no detail and guests are grateful for this still today. 

Sitting at such a monumental table with all the guests from various walks of life, truly showed how the Thomas family is continuing Weaver’s legacy and passion for entertaining. With crème brûlée French toast in front of us (that’s right, two days in a row) silence descended. All of the guests were too busy eating to talk. Kris’ creation hit the spot and she “promised” it was calorie free which caused a burst of laughter from a round table of happy guests.

With his extravagant tastes, Weaver unknowingly created a perfect bed and breakfast. Everything about the layout, features and location make the property an amazing home away from home for couples, families with children over age 9 or even the solo traveler. 

The Secret has served as a wedding venue. With four rooms inside and four cottages around the property, you’re guaranteed to find a spot to fit your needs. Charlie and Kris have everything one would need for an amazing getaway. All you need to do is share the secret.

Every journey has a beginning. Many people wait until they reach a destination before believing their vacation has started, but I choose to believe my journeys begin the second I cross the county line, leaving Lee in my rearview. Pick a weekend and start your journey. Visit Bama Bucks; stay at The Secret; and make memories with your loved ones. As important as it is to ‘LIVE Lee’, it’s always fun to ‘Leave Lee’ and experience other things this great state of Alabama has to offer.  

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