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VANDERBILT DAYS AT THE OMNI GROVE PARK INN

omni grove park inn

The front door. Image via DG Studios

You don’t need to be a Vanderbilt to fall in love with The Omni Grove Park Inn.

If you were a Vanderbilt, or a friend of the Vanderbilts, you’d stay at Biltmore House back in the day.

That day began in 1895, and you’d travel with your staff, which included someone to dress you for events like dinner.

Hard to imagine today what a dresser did, but if you were someone the Vanderbilts invited to Asheville, North Carolina, you had a dresser.

The invitation to stay at Biltmore House didn’t get lost in the mail. But don’t feel left out, no one gets those invites anymore.

Lucky for the rest of us, The Omni Grove Park Inn is only a few miles away and open for business.

The difference between the two is you. Get ready for your Vanderbilt Days.

To begin, leave your dresser at home. GPI is resort casual in sandals, shorts, and t-shirts. Maybe throw a few collar shirts in the bag for more formal moments.

Where the Biltmore House looks like a Disney vision of a house, GPI looks straight out of the stone age.

Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble won’t be holding the door open to the Great Hall, but the incredible stonework inside and out feels prehistoric.

A red roof line that would make Spain’s Antoni Gaudi re-think ‘La Pedrera’ (the stone quarry) in Barcelona, The Omni Grove Park Inn opened a year later than Gaudi’s building.

With no connection between the two, except visitors like yours truly, Asheville would be America’s Barcelona, which proves you don’t have to go to Europe for all the sights.

If the European ideal is what you need, visit Biltmore House and it’s French influences. If the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and a sense of healing is more in line with your needs, stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn.

omni grove park inn

Fit for a King. And you.

Your Vanderbilt Days feature the same views as Biltmore, food fit for royalty, and golf for the golfers in the crowd.

This golf history comes from the GPI history tour led by Erin Bridges: The Asheville Country Club owned the course close to GPI and wouldn’t sell, so the GPI owner at the time built another golf course up the road and offered to swap. A golf destination was born in the deal.

From 1913 until today the famous and ordinary have spent the night. The halls are full of historical artifacts and photos.

Who made the trip to Asheville and The Omni Grove Park Inn?

From wiki:

Thomas Edison in 1918, Henry Ford in 1918, Harvey Firestone, Elbert Hubbard, Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, John D. Rockefeller, Gen. John J. Pershing, Dean Smith (UNC basketball coach), Roy Williams (current UNC basketball coach), Michael Jordan (who played for UNC), Sir Daniel Day-Lewis in 1991 while filming Last of the Mohicans, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Jeff Daniels, Jerry Seinfeld, John Waters, David & Amy Sedaris, Mischa Barton in 2006, Mike Huckabee, former NC Governor Bev Perdue, Sanjay Gupta, Chris Daughtry from the Greensboro area, John Denver, Trey Anastasio, Dave Brubeck, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Charles Schwab, William Howard Taft, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Enrico Caruso, Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Al Jolson, Carl Sandburg (whose home was in nearby Flat Rock, NC) in 1951, Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus in 1975, Wiley Post, Will Rogers, Bill Tilden, Billy Graham (whose home is in nearby Montreat, NC) in 2000, Barack Obama in 2010, William Shatner, Vijay Kansupada, Raziel Reid and many others.

Also ten Presidents, including:

Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Thomas Wolfe isn’t on the visitors list, even though the Asheville native was born nearby, but one of his contemporaries made it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed at the hotel for two years to write while his wife Zelda was in an insane asylum in Asheville. The rooms in which he stayed, 441 and 443, are available for guests. One is furnished exactly as it was during his stay in the 1930s. Rooms in which famous people stayed are marked by plaques on the door saying who stayed there and when.

I like to think my wife and I had a drink at the same bar as Scotty.

omni grove park inn

Facing the Blue Ridge Mountains. Almost heaven.

You don’t have to be a Vanderbilt to enjoy The Omni Grove Park Inn, but you’ll feel like a billionaire before you leave.

About David Gillaspie

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  1. […] While it stands alone in grandeur, Biltmore isn’t the only castle in Asheville. […]

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