Omni Grove Park Inn
The Omni Grove Inn has been hosting luxury group outings for more than a century, ever since Thomas Edison used the hotel as his starting point for his glamping expeditions with his friends. Opened in 1913, the high-end hotel sits on Sunset Mountain and boasts extraordinary views, a decadent spa, a Donald Ross-designed golf course and a striking stone building.
“It’s become so iconic,” said Tracey Johnston-Crum, director of public relations and community outreach for the hotel. “You could show many people just the granite stone and orange tile and they would be able to tell it is Omni Grove Park. The building is often compared to something out of a fairy tale.”
The site’s $50 million subterranean spa boggles the minds of visitors with features such as a mineral pool that plays music audible only underwater. The elite spa can create group packages for those seeking upscale relaxation.
More energetic groups can choose from a number of activities, including tennis, racquetball and pool on the inn’s grounds. The inn can also package activities in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, such as white-water rafting, kayaking and a Wild Food Foraging Adventure. The new foraging experience leads participants into the forest to aid them in hunting for wild mushrooms and herbs. Afterward, the inn’s chefs make appetizers out of the day’s harvest.
The inn’s restaurants will also serve local fare that is worth the travel.
“We have to compete with Asheville’s burgeoning food scene and not just serve great resort food,” said Johnston-Crum. “Each of our chefs drives each restaurant in a unique way.”
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
The real wealth of the Ashville area lies in the timeless beauty of the surrounding mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad moves along a celebrated route captured in movies such as “The Fugitive” and “My Fellow Americans.”
An hour from Asheville, the railroad sets off from Bryson City through forested Blue Ridge Mountains landscapes. Passengers can sit back and watch as green forests and colorful wildflowers breeze by.
For a premium experience, groups can opt for first-class cars, which feature sizable windows, a plated lunch, plush seating and included souvenirs. The train excursions can also be packaged with zip lining, white-water rafting or a jeep trip to a scenic waterfall.
The MacNeill Uncorked experience mixes wine tasting, local cheese sampling and dining in the first-class train car for a high-end event. Passengers will learn about the western North Carolina wine region while sipping six selected wines.
The similar Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience serves handcrafted, triple-distilled Midnight Moon moonshine while guests listen to stories from the region’s famous moonshine outlaws.
New Luxury Lodgings
Guests will soon enjoy another way to stay close to the opulence of the Biltmore Estate with the December 1 opening of the Village Hotel. The newest lodging option on the property began accepting reservations in March.
The Biltmore Estate already offers lodging at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. The Village Hotel lies situated in a lively atmosphere, while the Inn provides a more private, hilltop setting.
Located in Antler Hill Village, the Village Hotel offers quick access to the estate’s shopping, dining, winery, live music and outdoor activities. Designers created the Village Hotel’s casual and welcoming aesthetic based on the eclectic mix of cottages and farm houses that dotted the property when George and Edith Vanderbilt lived there.
The hotel features 209 guest rooms and suites in an intimate cottage setting. The Kitchen serves as the hotel’s quick and easy stop for on-the-go food items. For a casual restaurant and bar experience, guests can choose the hotel’s Village Social. The restaurant emphasizes a small-plate tasting menu featuring seafood, Biltmore Wines and craft beers.
Hotel guests also receive complimentary shuttle service around Biltmore Estate.