Relaxation Station: Grove Park Inn
The exterior of the Grove Park Inn's Spa at twilight.*
By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher
Historic yet elegant accommodations. World-class spa. Blue Ridge Mountains backdrop. And a ghost.
The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa transports guests back in time yet satiates every modern craving. Since 1913, Grove Park Inn has defined the hospitable, mountain getaway experience as relations, comfort and wonder.
Elegance and Style
Your first glimpse is jaw-dropping. The native-granite exterior capped with curved red-tile roof strikes you as being as solid as the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and as innovative as the men who were drawn to the Asheville area -- starting in the late 1800s.
In addition to founder Edwin W. Grove – a businessman and entrepreneur from St. Louis who made his fortune selling his Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic – the likes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone were visitors.
Grove Park Inn's reputation has drawn countless historical figures and celebs over the years - Presidents Taft, Wilson, Hoover, Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Bush Sr.. Plus, Will Rogers, Houdini, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Helen Keller, Henry Kissinger, Oprah Winfrey, Burt Reynolds and Tiger Woods, to name only a few
Ambience and Amenities
From the tree-lined driveway, bordered by a water garden just off the expansive cobblestone arrival area, to the portico where rocking chairs promise a restful reprieve, arriving is a treat unto itself.
The feeling continues in the Great Hall with its massive, stone fireplaces at either end. The fireplaces are big enough for 12-foot-long logs and tall enough for people to stand upright inside. Even unlit, the smell evokes a sense of autumn. (Be sure to check out the elevator inside the fireplace wall!)
The Great Hall includes reception along one wall, plus arts-and-crafts style furnishings throughout – cushy leather seats and couches, tables and stained glass lamps – plus a cozy bar and the entrance to the Sunset Terrace. Here, open-air dining and a stellar mountain view await.
That same view can be enjoyed from the spa's outdoor pool and hot tub. A little chill in the air? Scoot over to the outdoor fireplace. Or escape to the newly enclosed outdoor pagodas for a spa lunch.
The Grove Park Inn's amazing subterranean spa is a relaxing enclave of luxury.*
What awaits inside Grove Park Inn’s $40-million, 40,000-square-foot subterranean spa has drawn rave reviews. Proclaiming itself one of North America’s best spas, it lives up to the hype with stone-surround waterfall pools, a mineral pool with underwater speakers (float beneath pyramid-shaped skylights) and a lap pool – with another fireplace. Guests peer up to a ceiling of 6,500 twinkling fiber-optic "stars."
And that's only the wet area.
Inside are treatments so out of this world they're aptly named the Heaven Series. Most notable is the "Fire, Rock, Water and Light" (80 minutes at $300) named for the spa's design elements and inspired by the resort's mountainside setting.
This treatment has it all: exfoliation, bath, body wrap, facial, massage, hot stones and ice. It also incorporates buttermilk, brown sugar and honey.
In the co-ed waiting area upstairs, another fireplace crackles as one couple eases into oversized chairs. An attendant arrives with heated neck wraps. He offers a choice of healthy elixir mixed to order. Grove would be proud.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Grove Park Inn was "built for the ages," proclaimed its founder. Today, the AAA Four-Diamond, Mobil Four-Star property is one of North Carolina's two best loved resorts (alongside the golf haven that is Pinehurst -- see our wine festival story on the North Carolina page). Grove Park’s own course is highly ranked, as well.
The romantic Horizons restaurant just rolled out its new menu, the most extensive to date (three- four- and five-course menus at $59, $72 and $85, respectively. Plus, visitors might opt for a seven-course Chef's Tasting Menu for $98; the latter features temptations like cast-iron seared quail, sesame-crusted tuna and broken arrow antelope.
Total rooms? The resort has 510 rooms and suites, when including the main inn’s historic rooms plus those in the newer wings.
Overnight stays start at $235 per person double occupancy in the value season, basically January, February and March. An overnight stay costs $295 per person double occupancy in April, May, November and December.
Peak season pricing is $305 per person double for a nightly stay during June, July, August, September and October. Check online for specials.
Asheville has a small airport 20 minutes from the resort. The airport at Greenville, SC, is 65 miles away. Larger airports are Charlotte Douglas International, which is two and one-half hours away by car, and Raleigh-Durham International, four hours by car.
In autumn, don't miss arriving via the the Blue Ridge Parkway (828-298-0398 or www.blueridgeparkway.org). It's only 15 minutes away from the resort. The parkway features 470 miles of riotous color in the fall season. (Visit our story on the parkway on the Virginia state page listed in the upper right column of the page).
Oh, yes. Reportedly there is a resident ghost. For more on the ghost -- called the Pink Lady by staffers -- see our Quirky Stuff page in the Travel Section column (lower left column of each state page and the home page).
For More Information
Visit 800-438-5800 or www.groveparkinn.com, 290 Macon Ave., Asheville, NC.
Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher are a husband-wife writing team who specialize in cruising, spas, romantic and luxury destinations plus travel in the southeastern U.S. They are members of the Society of American Travel Writers. Their worldwide travels inspire their other business, www.yournovel.com, where for 15 years they've been putting couples in personalized romance novel in such settings as Tahiti, England, Jamaica, Rome, Alaska, a cruise ship and a dude ranch.
*Photos on this page are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of the Grove Park Inn. All rights reserved. Do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.