The Grove Park Inn:Going to the Mountain, Southern Style

Opened in 2000, The Spa at The Grove Park Inn capped the hotel’s transformation from southern inn to world-class resort. Owner Elaine D. Sammons committed to building the finest spa in North America on this historic property.

With the goal of bringing the Blue Ridge Mountains indoors, the designers have combined elements of earth, water, and light to create a new American spa. Ancient granite boulders arch over the pools and reception area, creating the feeling that you are deep inside a grotto devoted to health and fitness. Waterfalls and soaring glass skylights frame indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Designed by award-winning Canadian architect Robert LeBlond of Calgary, Alberta, the 40,000-square-foot spa is spread out among hillside gardens. With an expanded sports complex and outdoor pool terrace, the new spa complex integrates the U-shaped hotel, yet retains a sense of refuge and sanctuary.

Beyond the reception desk, the spa is divided into men’s and women’s lounges, each with locker rooms, showers, and shaving/makeup areas. Fireplaces warm the lounges, and there is a view of the pools below. Skylit steps lead to the indoor swim ming pool, sauna, inhalation room, hot tubs, and cool plunge pool. A lap pool and two ther-apeutic waterfall pools face a wall of windows with stunning views of the city and valley below.

Staying here is like returning to another era. The hotel was first opened in 1913 to offer sophisticated travelers an exclusive retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The resort is on the National Register of Historic Places. It currently houses the world’s largest collection of Arts and Crafts antiques and lighting fixtures. Just across town is the Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room mansion, which awes visitors with its French chateau grandeur and 250-acre gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1895. For collectors of Americana, the area remains a source of inspiration and discovery.

Emerging from a $36 million makeover in 2000, the Grove Park Inn preserves its period grandeur with touches of modern comfort. In the great hall lobby guests encounter two massive fireplaces, which flank a hall full of antique furnishings, and a stenciled ceiling with hand-hammered copper chandeliers that give off a warm glow. Original guest rooms at the main inn have new wall, window, and floor treatments, new armoires and stereos, and updated bathrooms. Two wings of contemporary rooms boast mountain and garden views.

Downtown Asheviile, only five minutes away, has become a thriving center for the arts. Situated at an elevation of 2,500 feet in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, the area is blessed with four distinct seasons. Yet the mild climate permits golf year-round on the resort’s par-70 Donald Ross-designed golf course. Tennis fans can choose from three hard-surface outdoor courts and three indoor courts. The spa has a complete menu of services and total fitness equipment.