For my birthday in November, the year I turned 49, my sweet husband and I went to Asheville, North Carolina, which is right smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We stayed at this majestic place called The Grove Park Inn.
Built from granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, The Grove Park Inn opened in 1913. At its opening dinner, William Jennings Bryan declared that it had been “built for the ages.” In the decades since it has become one of the South’s most famous and venerable resorts.
This is a photo of us, standing in front of one of the massive fireplaces in the lobby. This lobby is known as The Great Hall — and for good reason. Measuring 120 feet across, the hall features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. It’s famous for the elevators cleverly hidden in the chimneys of the stone fireplaces (put there to conceal the noise of the machinery), which continue to transport guests to their rooms today.
This is the other fireplace, decorated and ready for Christmas.
It’s hard to believe today but there was a time soon after WWII when the only thing that kept the Inn standing was the prohibitive cost of tearing it down. Fortunately, in 1955, the hotel caught the eye of Dallas businessman named Charles Sammons. Under the stewardship of Sammons, the Inn was fully restored and, in1973, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
With the restoration the contemporary wings of the hotel were added, and beginning in 1998, a period of intensive renovation and expansion occurred, culminating in the creation of the resort’s $42 million Spa. This photo shows the back of the Inn, which features a dramatic waterfall above the Spa. The Spa, built into an underground rock cavern, is more than 43,000 square feet in size, and includes mineral pools with soothing underwater music and nearby waterfall pools. There is also exhilarating contrast pools, a lap pool, an inhalation room, sauna and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. You can sip herbal teas and savor refreshments in the lounge.
Although The Grove Park Inn is a destination all unto itself, no trip to Asheville is ever complete without a tour of the Biltmore House and Estate. Said to be America’s only real castle, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s 250-room family home and country retreat is open for tours every day. You will see original art from masters such as Renoir, magnificent 16th-century tapestries, Napoleon’s chess set, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, bowling alley, and priceless antiques. Opened to friends on Christmas Eve 1895, this French Renaissance chateáu remains America’s largest privately owned home.
But the main star of this trip is the mountains themselves. In November, the trees have lost most of their leaves, leaving the mountains barren, but perhaps even more beautiful.
Y’all really ought to visit the lovely and talented Pseudonymous High School Teacher today. Pseudo, as she’s affectionately referred to, lives in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Anyhoo, she has started a great thing over at her place called Travel Tip Thursday – every Thursday she and anyone who chooses to participate will do a little “travelogue” about a place close to home.
I found a new photo blog to participate in on Thursdays! It’s called You Capture. Every week there is new theme. This week’s was “Red”
Click on the link here to read about how to play along. Then, do your best to visit the other participants’ site – everyone loves the traffic, the comments and the feedback (not just you!) Next week’s photo challenge is Still Life. I can’t wait to tackle that one!