Walking into Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn for the first time, I immediately felt right at home. The gigantic stone fireplaces, the Great Hall’s huge and open space, the attentive concierges and the air of history all were so comfortingly familiar… reminding me of the old National Park lodges from out west that I love.
My striking first impression was —amazingly— spot on. Resort founder E.W. Grove took a lot of inspiration from Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn when designing the Grove Park Inn and incorporated similar touches into his design as well.
In 1913, E.W. Grove’s Inn opened to much local fanfare, and in the hundred (and one!) years since, has played host to countless presidents, dignitaries, celebrities and people like you and me ever since.
I was lucky enough to spend one glorious night in a corner room at the Grove Park Inn during my visit to Asheville. Needless to say, I really, really loved my stay.
THE SUNSET TERRACE
Without a doubt, the Sunset Terrace is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been to sit and relax with a drink.
The surrounding area is gorgeously mountainous and each night guests gather on one of the hotel’s many terraces to sit and enjoy the view. There seems to be no bad spot to overlook the sun as it sets on the nearby Blue Ridge mountains, and the resort has made full use of the stepped terraces, surprisingly ensuring enough nooks, chairs and tables for everyone in the massive crowd.
Champagne seems to be the drink of choice (there does seem to be something so magnificently celebratory about Mother Nature’s nightly evening spectacle here at the Grove Park Inn), but I opted for an Old Fashioned. After all, I was in the South… a heady bourbon drink seemed fitting.
Another of the Omni Grove Park Inn’s greatest features is the 43,000 square-foot subterranean Spa, which makes quite the impression! Just getting to the entrance sets the mood: either descending down-down-down the many tiers of stairs from the main building or through long, dim, cavernous tunnels that seem to be carved from stone.
Make no mistake about it — the Spa is built to be one of the greatest destination spas in the country. Indeed, whether you’ve booked a treatment or not, you can easily spend a restful day in peaceful, luxurious solitude amongst the mineral contrast pools, therapeutic waterfall whirlpools and relaxation rooms. Ample areas are scattered all throughout the sweeping indoor/outdoor space for working on your tan, or curled up by one of the fireplaces under a blanket with a good book.
It was such a decadently wonderful experience, and one that I’d recommend to everyone. My only regret is that I had just a couple fleeting hours to experience it. To really get the most out of your spa visit, I recommend buying yourself a day pass (they run from $65-90 per day) and spending the whole day there.
When choosing your room at the Grove Park Inn, you have a choice: Do you want to be in the historic Main Inn, where notable guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison or John D. Rockefeller famously laid their hats? Or, do you prefer a newer touch, like the rooms in the Sammons or Vanderbilt expansions?
All are decorated in an Arts & Crafts style, and all have spectacular views of either the mountains or resort’s courtyard. But, if character and immersion into history is what you seek, I recommend doing what you can to stay in the historic Main Inn… you’ll be closer to all the resort’s action that way, too.
I booked my room a little late in the game, so the historic building was off the table. But I still loved our spacious corner king room in the Sammons wing that overlooked the mountains, golf course and the back terrace of the resort.
Oh, and as you walk through the hallways, you may notice gold plaques on doors here and there. Look closely and you’ll see that it designates a celebrity guest who has previously stayed in that room. This plaque greeted us on our door… talk about a nice touch to make you feel extra special!
THE BOTTOM LINE
The rooms are clean and comfortable but, truly, the real reason to come is for everything else. Come for the history, come for the view, come for the spa, come for the easy proximity to downtown Asheville.
The Grove Park Inn is a social resort. Here, you’re not encouraged to keep to yourself and stick to your room. Rather, you’ll likely find yourself mingling and choosing to be outside your room as much as possible.
This is a very special property, and one that I hope to visit again and again.
*Some of my accommodations and activities were provided complementary by the Omni Grove Park Inn. All opinions are, as always, my own.*