A spa pool that plays music underwater, a party on the rooftop of an American castle and a tea party Downton-style would make any group feel like Kardashians: Such high-end experiences could easily fill a luxurious group getaway at destinations like the Biltmore Estate, the Omni Grove Inn, the Albemarle Inn and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, all in Asheville, North Carolina.
Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has blossomed into a culinary, craft beer and art haven. The eclectic town appeals to both the outdoor enthusiast and the comfort seeker with these upscale offerings.
Nothing screams opulence like the chateau-styled Biltmore Estate and its 8,000-acre property. The largest privately owned house in the United States, the Biltmore impresses visitors with its lavish exteriors, extensive gardens and popular winery. A tour of the house and grounds leaves guests marveling at the abundant splendor.
“Beyond visiting the Biltmore house and winery, which come with the ticket price, there are a variety of activities that can be customized for groups,” said Carli Adams, group communications and services manager for Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s really amazing the additional amount of options that are available. There are specialty wine tours, agricultural tours, floral workshops — it’s really up to the group’s preference.”
Groups can embrace the high life on a rooftop tour or reception. This exclusive venue offers unparalleled views of the gardens, the design of the house and surrounding panoramas. Receptions with Biltmore wine and appetizers can create an unforgettable evening.
Customized dining experiences run the gamut, with options from a casual picnic to a four-star gourmet meal. The rarely seen champagne cellar can serve as another private dining area with customized wine tastings.
Groups could spend an entire day on the estate’s grounds clay shooting, horseback riding, Segway driving and enjoying a float trip.
Talk and Tea at the Albemarle Inn
Guests can kick it Downton Abbey-style at the Talk and Tea experience in the Albermarle Inn. The large bed-and-breakfast hosts the high tea with costumed performers for groups seeking a Crawley family experience in Asheville.
Talk and Tea started as an activity tied to the current “Dressing Downton” exhibit at the Biltmore, which features costumes from the popular PBS series about a wealthy family in a British estate. Though the exhibit will end on May 25, groups will still be able to book the experience.
For half an hour, costumed actors come into the room three times for group interaction and trivia on Asheville.
“It is high tea and a little Asheville history combined,” said Adams. “The actors interact with the group throughout the experience. It’s more like a chat with some trivia than a scripted performance.”
Groups dine on traditional teacakes and sandwiches while sipping from the inn’s three-course tea set. Various types and blends of teas give participants a feel for the lavishness of a high tea ceremony.
The 11-room Albemarle Inn may be too small to accommodate larger groups, but the Talk and Tea experience can manage groups of up to 50. The 1909 hotel sits at the base of the Sunset Mountain with surrounding English-style gardens and two acres of tranquil grounds.