I’m in Phase 4 this morning. Relaxing and reflecting on three days spent in Asheville, NC with my great girlfriends. If the 8 empty bottles of champagne are any indication – and they are, we had a really good weekend.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, made a quick stop at the grocery store for provisions and headed off to the woods to find our cottage. Nestled in the trees was a cozy two bedroom retreat. Complete with comfy furniture, fireplace, and hot tub. First on the agenda, pop a bottle of buddly and toast to the good fortune we share.
Sometimes a great girlfriend weekend is about eating great food, sometimes it’s about the adventure and the sights we’ll see, and sometimes – like this – it’s about Bubbles! Bubbles in my glass, bubbles in the hot tub, bubbles at the spa.
After our first night of bonding via champagne, homemade salsa and the hot tub we awoke to regret the last bottle of bubbly. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea after all. But we’re troupers and we must power on. We also woke to snow that morning. A beautiful site in the mountains of North Carolina and my South Carolina friend Tammy really appreciated it. Me, not quite so much. After all, living in Minnesota I’m quite certain I’ll get my fill.
After a relaxing start we headed out to explore the Biltmore Estate – with Tracey resting horizontal in the back seat so as not to upset the delicate bubble balance she was trying to manage.
The approach to Biltmore house is awe inspiring. Rising from behind the trees and taking it’s place atop the hillside the house immediately transports you back to a time when house guests traveled by train with trunk loads of belongings and stayed for weeks or months. We would just be staying a few hours. After all, we have jobs, unlike the guests of the Vanderbilts.
It’s Christmas time at Biltmore, one of the most spectacular times to visit. Not only is the house decorated beautifully, but the season brings even more visitors than usual to the home. So, my advice is to get there early – and purchase tickets ahead of time for your entry. Also, a nice little addition is valet parking. You can drive right up to the front of the house. Tracey really appreciated that on this particular day.
The tour of Biltmore house takes about 2 & 1/2 hours. Spend the extra $11 for the audio tour headsets – it’s well worth it. You’ll get to hear the stories of life at Biltmore and the memories this beautiful home holds.
By the time we made our way through the house we had worked up a thirst and the effects of the prior nights bubbles had pretty much worn off so…off to the winery we go.
Biltmore Estate is also home to a beautiful winery. The tasting room is very spacious and set up to accommodate a large crowd. On this day we lucked out and it was pretty quiet. We of course took full advantage of that and took our time tasting about 10 different wines.
After a fabulous lunch at the winery we left the estate and headed to downtown Asheville. A artsy, eclectic mountain town with a little something for everyone.
If you’re in a shopping mood, there are great little shops featuring local artists wears. If dining is your plan, lots of unique options are available, and if drinking is your thing – there are more than enough choices. We chose the Beer Garden for our first stop.
After a couple of local watering holes we made our way back to our cottage to enjoy the rest of the evening chatting it up in the hot tub. We needed to rest up and feel great for the ultimate treat coming our way the next morning.
The icing on the top of this great weekend getaway – the Grove Park Inn spa. As we make our way from the great hall of the Inn and enter the underground passageway that leads to the spa we begin to be transported to a world so peaceful and relaxing we think we may just never leave.
As we make our way through the stone tunnel our senses come alive. Our noses fill with the fresh scent of water and herbs. The sounds of water falls and beautiful music fill the air, the lights dim and candle light and the beauty of the waterfalls transport us from reality to a place of peace and tranquility. And this is just the hall way leading to the spa. We know you’re in for a treat.
Our spa concierge greets us in the lobby, sets us up with our locker and our uniform for the day – big cushy robe and slippers. With a couple hours until our first treatment we find ourselves faced with the decision of which ultra indulgent amenity to enjoy first – the eucalyptus steam room featuring icy peppermint facial towels, the aromatherapy sauna, the waterfall massage hot tub, the mineral pool with underwater symphony or the outdoor hot tub featuring a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We have all day, so we do it all. Pausing only to have lunch in the spa cafe – in our robes.
Six hours and two amazing spa treatments later we dress and relocate to the Grand Hall of the Inn for a pre-dinner glass of wine. With our legs still a bit wobbly from over relaxation we find a seat near the giant fireplace and enjoy the crackle and warmth of the fire.
Dinner at the Grove Park Inn is best enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the Asheville valley, but on this evening the temps are bit too cool so we are forced inside. Not at all a bad thing. We enjoy a heavenly dinner and again retire to the Grand Hall to enjoy a night cap.
After feeling completely indulged we leave the beautiful inn and head back to our cute little cottage to enjoy a last evening of bubbles and giggles.
A weekend in Asheville with girlfriends truly is an indulgence. If you’re on a tight budget, this is not the itinerary for you. But if you’re feeling the need to treat yourself and we all deserve a treat now and then – you just can’t go wrong. It’s pure bliss.