Aside from the Biltmore House, when I go to Asheville, I never miss a trip to the Grove Park Inn, a historic stone mountainside retreat that makes you want to snuggle up with a great book and a hot cocoa—even in the middle of summer.
I’ve had a love affair with this hotel for years. And, not for the usual lavishness you have come to expect from my taste, but for the feeling it evokes when you step inside. The charm is rustic luxury. Their huge stone fireplaces set the theme in the lobby, surrounded by rocking chairs, blue grass music and views of the Sunset Terrace, a long patio set high above tiers of rolling hills and greenery, or if you’re lucky enough to go in Autumn, a backdrop of color as the world around you literally falls.
The hotel has long since been the destination of choice for weddings, celebrities and presidents due to its breathtaking scenery and oneness with nature. It’s a sanctuary for humans to live amongst the elements. A few years ago, this was enough. And then they took it to another level.
The Spa opened in 2001 and at 43,000 square feet, it is truly extraordinary. Showcasing qualities of the region— fire, rock, water and light, it is a subterranean masterpiece. The underground co-ed mineral pools were designed after the Roman Baths (just be sure to bring your toga, er… swimsuit—you are in the South, people).
Though Asheville alone was a great way for mom and me to spend her birthday, I wanted to treat her to a getaway that could only come from a blissful day at the spa. It is important to mention that my mom is not a spa goer (where DO I get it?) or at least wasn’t until she experienced the 80 minute Collagen Facial and hours of pampering (champagne and strawberries anyone?). Ladies and gentlemen, we have a convert.
I opted for the 80 minute Stone Massage. My therapist was apparently also a mind-reader as she intuitively melted away my tension. The worst part of my treatment, the end, was ironically one of my favorite parts. A slight chime of a singing bowl signaled that my treatment had come to an end—a melodious approach to send me on my way. Now taking applications for singing bowl chimers—I could use one right before something bad happens to lessen the blow.
On my next visit, I can’t wait to try the Mountain View Massage. Close your eyes and envision this…you are wrapped in lavender scented sheets in an outdoor pagoda overlooking the breathtaking Blue Ridge Moutains about to leave your cares behind for 80 eupohoric minutes.
Ding! And just like that, reality slaps you in the face.
TIP: The outdoor jaccuzzi at the spa is set up like a resort pool, with loungers, fireplaces, umbrellas and pool-side dining. It is rare that a spa has so many extra features (waterfall pools, mineral pools, inhalation room and eucalyptus-infused steam room) so take advantage of the time you have. If you don’t want to splurge on one of the treatments, resort guests can use the spa facilities for $80 on the weekends and $55 on the weekdays.
Grove Park Inn. 290 Macon Ave. Asheville, NC. 800-438-5800