An Asheville getaway is always a good idea. Leave behind the daily grind to soak up the positive mountain vibes. And while there are plenty of places to stay in and around Asheville, if you need a dose of pampering (and who doesn’t?!), then staying at the Omni Grove Park Inn (OGPI) is a must.
The winding driveway builds anticipation as you approach the hotel, and the stately stone structure is a welcoming sight when you finally arrive. It’s a hotel that’s been graced by presidents and authors (F. Scott Fitzgerald, anyone?) alike, and it’s easy to slip into a Gatsby state of mind. The lobby is more like a grand hall and impresses with a gorgeous stone aesthetic. All of this is nice, but the real joy is found in the back of the hotel, where guests are treated to sweeping mountain views. There are plenty of window-side chairs to post up in, and you’d be perfectly content to do so, but this place offers so much more.
Our weekend itinerary offers the best of both Asheville and the OGPI — here’s what we recommend.
Drop your bags off at the hotel and get the lay of the land. The hotel is expansive. Fitbit trackers will be pleased to know that it’s a quarter mile from one end of the hotel to the other. There are two wings to choose from in addition to the main inn — Sammons and Vanderbilt. Both are lovely, but Sammons was recently renovated and offers refreshed accommodations. After freshening up a bit, head into town for the evening. As expansive as the property is (and seemingly remote), it’s only a 10- to 15-minute drive to downtown Asheville. SB TIP: The parking situation downtown is a bit limited and it may be easier to Uber. Or during the day you can take the Gray Line trolley into a town for a small fee.
Enjoy a delicious meal at Table, Asheville’s original farm-to-table restaurant, where Executive Chef Jacob Sessoms turns out fresh, whimsical dishes. Standouts on the menu include the Brasstown beef burger and the Sunburst trout, currently served with fava beans, fennel, chèvre and Meyer lemon. The menu is always changing, though, so keep an eye out for seasonal treats, like the peach salad with peppers, stracciatella cheese and purple basil. Should you choose to imbibe (you are on vacation, after all), we suggest keeping it classic with the French 75, made of gin, lemon and sparkling wine.
After dinner, take some time to explore Asheville. You don’t have to go far before coming across live music, whether it’s passing the bluegrass buskers on the street or catching a show at the Orange Peel. Beer lovers will find their sudsy oasis in the South Slope, where notable breweries like Wicked Weed and Catawba Brewing reside. When you’ve had your fill, head back to the OGPI for some rest. The weekend has only just begun.
Energize for the day ahead in the bright sunroom of Blue Ridge, the OGPI’s buffet restaurant in the Vanderbilt wing. If you usually turn your nose up at buffets, trust us when we say that this one will win you over. There’s literally something for everyone, health nuts included. Sure, there’s a doughnut wall and biscuit station with several butters and jams to choose from, but there’s also a chia pudding and juice bar.
If you’re looking to do something active, enjoy a tennis match at any of the indoor or outdoor tennis courts. Or bring your clubs for a round on the hotel’s golf course, designed by Donald Ross and where such legends as Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus have played. If you prefer your activity to be centered around retail, there are several shops to explore. Or try foraging for mushrooms and wild edibles with famed forager Alan Muskat of No Taste Like Home. There’s also a sports complex, and history tours, and children’s activities … so many options! But if you’re like us, relaxation beckons from the OGPI’s subterranean spa, 43,000 square feet of pure tranquility with indoor mineral-based and therapeutic pools, not to mention the sauna and steam room. You can purchase a day pass, or you can treat yourself to a massage or facial. We opted for the Grove Park Classic Massage (a Swedish massage) that was 50 minutes of heaven. After you come back to Earth, keep the zen vibes going by exploring the spa’s pools or lounging on the outdoor deck.
Embrace the resort life and stay on the property for dinner. Chef Josh Thomsen took the lead in June bringing with him a certain zesty-ness that bleeds into his dishes. Atypical of hotel restaurants, the ones at OGPI source ingredients from their own terrace garden and local farmers as much as possible. Try Edison, which offers a high-end bar food and gorgeous views of the golf course and mountains. Or opt for Sunset Terrace, which doubles down on the view and serves as the resident steakhouse that dazzles guests with offerings like the tomahawk ribeye and lobster martini with mango puree and fennel.
Polish off the evening with a nightcap in the Great Hall Bar, or relax by the massive fireplace that’s somehow inviting even in the thick of summer.
Before leaving Asheville head back into town for one last delicious affair. Carb lovers will find plenty to be had at Biscuit Head. Be warned, you’ll likely find a line, so be prepared. If boozy brunch is your game, then Posana is the name. It’s situated on prime real estate in the heart of downtown Asheville, with a premium patio to boot. Soak in the Asheville sunshine, sip on your mimosa and order one of their popular brunch dishes. We suggest starting with the doughnut holes served with peach jam (they’re perfectly bite-sized) and splurge on the pork belly benedict, which trades out an English muffin for a corn muffin. Oh, and did we mention that Posana has a gluten-free kitchen? Even better for diners with gluten restrictions.
Take a little detour before hitting the road and visit Looking Glass Creamery. Just outside the city tucked away off a curvy road, the charming locale is home to several varieties of cow’s milk cheese. Sample them in the cozy shop, then take a few home with you. Explore the property, say hello to the goats, and catch one last glimpse of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains before heading back home, satisfied with a weekend well spent!
All photography by Lia Picard unless otherwise noted.
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