She’s old. She’s had some work done. Still, thousands of romantics and lovers, scholars and artisans, businessmen and families, flock to her every year for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of her rugged beauty.
But her beauty is not the only draw. When her doors glide open to weary travelers ascending the stone paved driveway, they are instantly greeted by a welcoming smile and two massive stone fireplaces, built to burn 12-foot logs, standing at opposite ends of the Great Hall which pull you in with the warmth of coming home.
She is the Grove Park Inn.
And she is ideally perched at the end of a long driveway on Sunset Mountain with a stunning view of the valley below, the city of Asheville, and the Blue Ridge Mountains with their distinctive layers of blue smoke.
She looks good for her age. In fact, if you were to look at the photos when she first opened in 1913 you would easily agree with the opening ceremony declaration by William Jennings Bryan that “They have built for the ages.”
The Grove Park Inn is a testament to the power of dreams. So powerful was Edwin Grove’s dream that it has inspired several generations of men and women to keep this historic hotel alive, and thriving, as it emerges into a new era of health, wellness, and harmony with the surrounding land.
Asheville is a gift of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Swannanoa River, and French Broad River. Its ideal climate and elevation set upon a bedrock of stone has been a natural conduit of health and healing for centuries, long before Edwin Grove’s “Tasteless Tonic” from which he made his fortune.
From the outdoor terraces located at the back of the property, you overlook the Donald Ross golf course and the skylights, waterfalls, and outdoor firepits of the world-class luxury spa. From the front of the property you can walk the Sunset Trail or take the short stroll to the Sports Complex which is large enough for a gym, fitness classes, tennis, and racquetball.
The Grove Park Inn is one of America’s Historic Hotels, a collection of over 300 hotels which the National Trust for Historic Preservation has deemed historically significant. To become part of this program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, have been declared a National Historic Landmark or be listed or eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and have maintained their authenticity and architectural integrity.
For the history buff, you will appreciate this Arts and Craft Hotel. One of the largest collections of craftsman furniture, fixtures, and artifacts are displayed throughout the window-lined hallways which reveal a powerful landscape and provide the passageways with ample natural light. At once, you get a glimpse of the past and the possibilities of the future believing as Edwin W. Grove did, “A man never grows too old to build castles and dream dreams…”
This is a place where rare and wonderful moments appear around every corner.
For the romantic, you will appreciate the underground spa built into the side of the mountain. This grotto, a mixture of the earth’s elements: fire, rock, air, and water, invites you to escape life above-ground and immerse your body and soul, literally, into pools of tranquility.
For the foodie, you will enjoy the farm to fork, locally sourced creations from the three on-site restaurants. It’s likely your server and chef have visited the farm where your food is grown and have met the caretakers who nourish their crops. Asheville farmers and the chefs have a beneficial symbiotic relationship which is all the better for you and me because, quite honestly, the food simply tastes better here.
Like many, you will easily fall under the spell of this magnificent hotel. Like a grand matriarch of the valley, this hotel resort stands watch over the surrounding landscape as a reminder to the people scurrying below to slow down, care for your body, mind and soul, and embrace a culture of wellness.
Staying in the main section of the hotel gives you the most authentic glimpse of what visitors experienced at the turn of the century. Steel and railways had connected the states and moved commerce and markets in a way not seen previously. All this nation-building was exhausting, and the nation-builders and story tellers needed a place to rest, rejuvenate and regenerate.
This is where famous and infamous guests like literary figures F. Scott Fitzgerald and Margaret Mitchell, entertainers and intellects Harry Houdini and Elbert Hubbard, Jr. and Sr., statesmen and dignitaries like General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Eleanor Roosevelt, and, of course, the builders of American industry like Charles M. Schwab and Henry Ford laid their heads upon down-filled pillows.
The rooms have character. The ceilings are rounded, the windows high, and the Roycroft copper lighting fills the space with a soft, tranquil warmth. The rustic mood is enhanced by the mission style furniture, wooden doors, and earth-toned walls.
This is where the past becomes a presence. And like many historic hotels, one rumored presence is the ghost of The Pink Lady.
According to the hotel director and keeper-of-history, Tracey Johnston-Crum, there is not a lot of information about this lady. She was not a registered guest, so nobody knows who she was. What they do know comes from the hotel’s log.
A woman jumped, fell, or was pushed over the railing and landed on the floor of the atrium. Hotel staff quietly rolled her up in a rug and took her from the premises.
It all happened so quickly and so quietly that hotel guests were never disturbed and didn’t even know of the tragedy. In the morning, they ate their oats and munched on fresh apples wrapped in brown paper offered from bowls located in the very lobby where hours earlier a young woman met death.
Today, there have been several reports of a mysterious pink mist that occasionally fills the air in that section of the hotel.
You can take the original elevator, located in the chimney of the massive fireplaces in the Great Hall, to the Palm Court on the third floor. Then, walk up the narrow staircase leading to the 6th floor. From here, you can peer over the landing to the room below which is flooded by an ocean of sunlight from the skylight above, and get a glimpse of what an unfortunate woman saw in the last moments of her life.
Good to Know:
Staying overnight gives you the opportunity to roam the halls, Great Room, and various terraces long after the day visitors have left. It also allows you access to a large workout room and sports complex which have plenty of exercise options. This is a bonus, especially when the hotel is hosting a community event.
While the hearth-facing rocking chairs are a quickly occupied during the busiest times of the day and you may find yourself covertly stalking the crowd for an opening, paying attention to when a couple may be winding down their evening and getting ready to retire, seats quickly open up as the evening wears on.
However, there are plenty of places to sneak off and unwind. The theme of blending in with the surrounding mountains and natural elements flows throughout the property. Heaters and fireplaces warm the outdoor terraces so even in the winter months, you can enjoy a hot drink and a cool view while pondering the opportunities of life.
If you’re flying in, the Asheville Airport is the closest airport. Or, fly into Charlotte, NC or Greenville-Spartanburg, SC and then drive from there.
Even though Asheville is in the mountains, the climate is moderate with average winter temperatures ranging from 20°-50° f with a dusting of snow, on average 2-4 inches, and summer temperatures from low-50° to mid-80°.
The hotel is open year-round and is host to popular events such as the Gingerbread House competition, culinary events, golf clinics, wild food foraging opportunities, dueling pianos, comedy shows, and music weekends.