Friday, December 21, 2007

Down from the Mountains

So I have been a remiss poster during my days off in lovely Asheville. This city has become one of our favorite places to visit and was made even better during this visit because we stayed in one of the most amazing hotels I have ever stayed in.

I've done a fair amount of traveling so I've become kind of jaded to hotels. Mainly because they never seem like anything special and the service is only so-so. I have to admit I have pretty high standards for what the hospitality level should be like because I used to go on a lot of cruises (my dad was the CFO of a cruise line for many many years) and cruises, even the most mass level, have amazing service.

So when we visited the Grove Park Inn during our visit in October and took a tour, we fell in love with it right then. And we were not disappointed one bit during this visit.

This hotel was built around the turn of the century and is just amazing. They have the core historic part of the resort and have built two new wings off of each side as well. It is located near the top of one of Asheville's mountains and the exterior is amazing stonework.

You come up this sweeping drive to front of the resort and there are liveried attendants to welcome you and guide your car as well as the bellhops and valet. As you check in they whisk your luggage up to your room. Each person you interact with is gracious and welcoming.

The resort also has a number of restaurants including the 4 diamond Horizons, one of the nation's top spas and golf courses.

While we were there the National Gingerbread House challenge winners were displayed - I think the first prize winners were going to be featured on Good Morning America on Christmas Eve. The whole resort was decorated with trees around every corner. It was magical.

One of the restaurants we ate in was the Blue Ridge Dining Room. Check out that view!

The new wing rooms are modern and spacious, but we had to stay in historic wing. They are a little smaller but we had an amazing mountain view and could open the windows to the chilly air. The furniture is Arts & Crafts era and the bathroom had vintage tile work. And was quite large. Such a contrast from the typical sterile hotel rooms that look the same no matter where you go.

The historic wing even has it's own lounge area that is all private and enclosed. When the downstairs area got a little noisy, we retreated to here to read and relax.

By the way, that Blue Ridge Dining Room has an AMAZING breakfast buffet. Umm hmm... breakfast buffet..... Yummy!

We drove up on Monday and kind of goofed around a bit in the room and around the resort but on Tuesday I finally got to one of the Asheville stores that I had been meaning to go to for the past few visits and never got around to.... Turner & Co. Apothecary. I love stores like these. They are always filled with amazing stuff. Tons of stuff that you totally need but just didn't know it yet.

I got a Mason Pearson brush and comb (I've been needing one of these for 10 years) and I also got a Laura Mercier Mineral Body Powder and her Diamond Duster. The staff there were so amazing. Since I love sparkly and limited editions, I loved the powder and since I love feathers, I loved the feather duster "brush". But they didn't have any of the brushes for sale. But the person helping me found the unused sample one in the back and gave it to me.

How sweet, no? You must visit them!

On Tuesday night we went to Biltmore for their Candlelight Christmas Evenings. We've visited the home two other times and it was lovely to see it all decorated for the holiday and lit up.

But I have to say that, since it was an extra cost, I don't think I would do it again. We're passholders and could have seen all of the decorations (although not at night) if we'd gone on our pass during the day. They did have a choir but, eh, it wasn't all that.

We also went to dinner at Biltmore's Deer Park restaurant. And let me say, if you are going for the buffet, don't bother. Not worth $35 a person.

If you're going to eat at Biltmore, go to the Stable Cafe. We've eaten there twice and let me say, it's the bomb. Love it. Yummy! Go there instead. It's also really neat to see because it actually used to be the actual estate stables.

Very cool.

On Wednesday we had big big plans to hang out at the Grove Park Spa all day. Their spa is awesome. They tons of treatments plus you can hang out and use the spa amenities and services all day.

The interior is in a cavern (look at that below) which is filled with a lap pool, a mineral pool, whirlpools with waterfalls to massage you and heated pools outside. They also have saunas, steam rooms and contrast plunge pools, all at different temperatures and with different essential oils to maximize the therapeutic benefits.

We tried out each of the pools and sat in the outside pool and had strawberry smoothies and then I had an 80-minute massage and the husband had a 50-minute massage. Both lovely.

They also had a really great Spa Cafe filled with healthy delicious foods. And it's right there in the spa, so if you wanted to eat by one of the pool or in one of the quiet rooms, they'll bring it to you.

We drove back on Thursday and picked up the doggies and now are doing laundry, writing last minute cards and just snuggling in as it's kind of rainy and crummy here.

I miss my hotel but am glad to be back and be surrounded by the puppies and kitties. But I do think we need to plan another trip very very soon. If you plan a trip to Asheville, make sure to stay at Grove Park and in the historic wing, if you can.

No comments: