As The Omni Grove Park Inn came into view, I leaned a little closer to the window and heard myself gasp, “Wow!”
“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” my ride-share driver asked.
Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe the AAA-Four Diamond Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina. Massive granite boulders, hauled up to where the resort is perched on Sunset Mountain, form its rustic exterior. Inside, it boasts one of the world’s largest Arts & Crafts collections with more than 400 oak chairs, corner servers, sideboards, writing tables, and lighting fixtures created by Roycroft.
That’s not to mention the lobby, or Great Hall as it’s known, at the resort. Measuring 120 feet across, it features 24-foot ceilings with two enormous 36-foot-wide stone fireplaces. The look is reminiscent of a national park hotel, and it’s not by accident—Fred Seely took inspiration from the Old Faithful Inn and the Canyon Hotel in Yellowstone National Park when drawing the plans.
Before I even make it to the front desk, I’m regretting that I only have one night at The Omni Grove Park Inn.
History of The Omni Grove Park Inn
The Great Hall is part of the original part of the hotel, known as the Main Inn. Opened in 1913, it served as a retreat for the wealthy, especially those, like its original owner E.W. Grove, who had health issues. (Grove suffered from bouts of severe hiccups that would last weeks.) Over the years, guests have included Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Harry Houdini, Will Rogers, Dan Aykroyd, Richard Simmons, 10 U.S. presidents, and many others.
Not surprisingly, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the Historic Hotels of America. Thanks to the photographs lining the walls, you get a sense of that history. I especially liked looking at the portraits of all the famous guests that lined the hallway to my room.
In addition to the Main Inn, the resort today has two wings—the Sammons Wing and the Vanderbilt Wing—bringing the total number of rooms to 513. There are also four major restaurants (Vue 1913, Sunset Terrace, Blue Ridge and Edison), several bars, a 43,000-square-foot spa, 18-hole historic golf course, boutique stores and six tennis courts (three inside and three outside).
Accommodations at The Omni Grove Park Inn
You can have several different resort experiences depending on which section of the hotel you choose to stay. The 142 rooms in the Main Inn feature Roycroft Arts & Crafts furnishings and are accessible by elevators concealed in the Great Hall fireplaces. Rooms in the Sammons and Vanderbilt wings tend to be slightly larger but require a hike to get to them.
For a special occasion, consider booking one of the 28 rooms, 14 suites, or penthouse suite located on the Vanderbilt Wing’s private club floor, exclusively for adults 21 and over. Guests have access to the spa and its amenities, complimentary continental breakfast and evening cocktails with hors-d'oeuvres in the floor’s private lounge, and garage or valet parking.
I stayed in a standard resort room in the Sammons Wing. More modern than the original rooms of the Main Inn, my room still had Arts & Crafts style furniture and was tastefully decorated with a mustard yellow, burnt orange and chocolate brown color scheme. I could look at over the spa and golf course, and I was reluctant to get out of the comfy king-sized bed the next morning.
Dining and Bars at The Omni Grove Park Inn
One of the drawbacks to staying at a resort for one night, especially when you plan to sightsee, is you don’t have much opportunity to try the restaurants. Omni Grove Park Inn has several dining options, including Vue 1913, their upscale European-style restaurant, and Edison, showcasing local favorite dishes, craft beer, and small batch bourbons.
I did go to breakfast at Blue Ridge, though. The farm-to-table buffet had an extensive selection of hot items, an omelet station, fresh juice bar, yogurt bar, house-made donuts, and a killer view. If you can’t get up early enough for breakfast, go for the Friday night seafood buffet or Saturday night prime rib buffet.
The resort also has a few notable bars. In the early evening, grab a cocktail, glass of wine or local craft beer and watch the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains at Sunset Cocktail Terrace. Or, kick back in the Presidents Lounge located in the Sammons Wing. Later, you can place an order at the Great Hall Bar while listening to live music or head to Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar.
Subterranean Spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn
Normally, I wouldn’t write about a resort spa, but the $50 million spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn deserves a spotlight. For starters, it’s subterranean, built into the rocky side of Sunset Mountain. And for me, that made a psychological difference. As I wound my way from the elevator to the spa desk, I began to feel insulated from the world’s stresses.
Second, it’s a beautiful space with cavernous rock walls, arches, tunnels and water features. When you’re not receiving a treatment, you can relax in a pool, break a sweat in the eucalyptus-infused steam room, and even sip herbal tea. It’s easy to see why Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the “Top Resort Spas in the U.S.”
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the spa treatments because I didn’t have time for one. However, if I make it back, a visit to the spa is going to be high on my list.
Things to Do in Nearby Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn is such a relaxing place that once you find a patio seat overlooking Asheville below or score a rocking chair in front of one of the Great Hall fireplaces, you won’t want to leave. But, if you do, there’s plenty to see and do nearby.
From the resort, it’s just a five-minute drive to downtown Asheville, where you can shop in boutique stores, admire the architecture and sip local craft beers. Many of the craft breweries have live music in the evenings as do local music venues like Isis Hall and The Orange Peel.
You can also tour Biltmore Estate, the nation’s largest private home, or go hiking, fishing, rafting and more in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The Omni Grove Park Inn was definitely a wow moment that I'd love to explore on a return visit.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.