Friday, February 15, 2013
- by Ann N. Yungmeyer
A huge roaring fire, the pleasant scent of wood smoke, and live jazz music offer the perfect panacea to winter's chill. So it was for jazz enthusiasts at The Grove Park Inn’s recent festival weekend featuring The Pat Metheny Trio and other talented musicians. Add majestic mountain views, excellent dining, a world-class spa and Donald Ross golf course, and all give reason for the timeless appeal of The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa, which marks its centennial in July.
Overlooking the city of Asheville, N.C., with the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Grove Park Inn has been called a sanctuary for the soul. Since its opening in 1913, the mountain retreat has attracted many notable guests including ten U.S. presidents and famous personalities such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Yogi Berra, and Burt Reynolds. Plaques mark the doors of the rooms where they stayed, and photographs of their visits grace the hallway walls along with historic photos of the inn’s legendary construction, when 400 men with mules hauled granite boulders from mountain quarries.
An iconic stone structure, The Grove Park Inn reflects the style of the Arts & Crafts movement. Its original character and historic features are well preserved, including an old-fashioned elevator that rises up the chimney wall, but the inn hardly rests on its past. In keeping with the aesthetics of the main inn, modern additions include themed rooms and suites such as the “Presidential” and the “Gatsby,” multiple meeting spaces and a sports complex. New dining choices range from innovative American classic to southern comfort cuisine. The state-of-the-art subterranean spa was built in 1991 in a complementary design that features cavernous rock walls, healing waters, outdoor patios and fireside nooks. Luxury treatments are enhanced with special amenities from waterfalls and underwater music to a eucalyptus-infused steam room.
The resort is also known for hosting acclaimed cultural events such as their National Gingerbread House Competition and the annual Arts & Crafts conference. "We celebrate the arts and music, health and wellness, and always have," said David Mead, manager of special events.
Events are planned throughout the year with special activities highlighting the inn’s July birthday. In addition to winter concert weekends with jazz, Big Band/Swing and Celtic music, the centennial series presents a Comedy Classic, March 8-9, with headline comedienne Caroline Rhea. Independence Day weekend kicks off the main events with a fireworks display and gourmet barbeque on July 5, followed by Blues legend B.B. King in concert on July 6, and a traditional champagne toast July 12 to commemorate the inn’s opening day a century ago. A time capsule will be uncovered and guests will have the chance to participate in planting a new one. And this year, it pays to be a centenarian – for anyone turning 100 years old in 2013, Grove Park offers a special package with free two-night accommodation, meals and other birthday amenities.
The Grove Park was acquired by KSL Capital Partners in May 2012, joining company with a collection of premier golf, spa and ski resorts including The Homestead, Vail Mountain Lodge, and La Costa Resort and Spa. KSL Resorts has begun a $25 million restoration plan at Grove Park that includes renovating guest rooms, adding a multi-media lounge and new terraces, and bringing back the “living room” feel of the early glory days in the Great Hall lobby. Restoration was just completed on one of the 14-ft. wide granite fireplaces, which now blazes again for the first time in more than 30 years.
Even in summertime, Grove Park guests are drawn to the rocking chairs in front of the massive fireplace, a cozy spot that resonates the words of William Jennings Bryan in 1913, when he said the hotel “was not built for this century, but for the ages.”
10 Favorites at Grove Park:
Indoor tennis, yoga and spin class
Spa waterfall therapy
Eucalyptus-infused steam bath with cold peppermint towelettes
Guided history tour
Sunset Happy Hour at Magnolia’s Bar
The extensive wine list at Horizons Dining Room
After-dinner drinks at Elaine's Piano Bar
GPI signature hot chocolate – caramel, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sea salt
Sunday Champagne Brunch
For more information on The Grove Park Inn and centennial celebrations, visit www.groveparkinn.com.