Last Updated on July 12, 2022
Last Updated on July 12, 2022
If you’re lucky enough to stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, you may pinch yourself to confirm this is reality. This fantastic hotel resort checks off many boxes, especially if you’re seeking THE place to stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.
We also consider The Omni Grove Park Inn worthy of our NC Bucket List, a rare feat for hotels in North Carolina. Once you pull up to this immaculate home within a hotel, you’ll see what amazes us about it.
The mountain escape is complemented by excellent service, gorgeous views around every corner, luxurious rooms, and much more. Our guide features all of the above, including more things that we love about The Omni Grove Park Inn.
Even if you’re familiar with this hotel, we think you’ll want to take a trip down memory lane with us.
Where is The Omni Grove Park Inn?
The first thing we love about The Omni Grove Park Inn is its exquisite location.
The hotel is a short drive from downtown Asheville, North Carolina, about 10 minutes north of the city center. The Omni Grove Park Inn sits atop Sunset Mountain and faces the city and neighboring mountains.
History of The Omni Grove Park Inn
Many of the hallways inside The Omni Grove Park Inn are filled with pictures and stories of the famous people who’ve stayed here. 10 US presidents, multiple world-renowned authors, and other trailblazers have stayed at this hotel.
- Industrialist Henry Ford
- Inventor Thomas Edison
- President Franklin D Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
- Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Many famous guests feature on the walls along the Omni Grove Park Inn’s hallways. These visitors are a prominent part of the hotel’s history, which is something to appreciate before, during, and after your stay.
- The hotel is named for Edwin Wiley Grove (born in 1850). He was a self-made millionaire and entrepreneur known as the “Father of Modern Asheville.”
- Biltmore Estate‘s construction (1898) and publicity brought much attention to the Asheville area at the turn of the 20th century.
- Grove was one person who saw potential in the area and began purchasing real estate that would include a summer home, the Grove Park residential area, and the Grove Park Inn.
- With the help of his son-in-law Fred Seely, The Grove Park Inn was built in about a year. The groundbreaking occurred on July 9, 1912, and the hotel opened on July 12, 1913.
- The original inn hosted 156 guest rooms, a dining room, and a lobby.
- Famous orator and then-Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan gave a speech at its opening, referring to the inn as “Built for the Ages.”
- In 1917, Seely purchased the Grove Park Inn’s neighbor Biltmore Estate Industries from Edith Vanderbilt. He renamed the arts and crafts business Biltmore Industries. After many ups and downs, the property is named Grovewood Village, home to Grovewood Gallery and working artist studios.
- Grove passed away in 1927.
- The successful early years of the Grove Park Inn preceded financial trouble and eventual bankruptcy in 1932. However, guests continued to frequent the hotel even during these troubled times.
- In 1942, the US Government leased the Grove Park Inn and used it during World War II to house Axis diplomats and families under arrest. The property also served as a POW camp during the war.
- A significant turn for the Grove Park Inn came in 1955. Charles A. Sammons purchased the property and began lengthy restorations and expansions of the original inn. They include:
- Purchase of the Asheville Country Club and Golf Course (1976), which sits below the Omni Grove Park Inn today.
- Completion of the Sammons Wing (1984), the Sports Center (1985), and the Vanderbilt Wing (1988).
- In 1973, the Grove Park Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Charles Sammons died in 1988, and his wife Elaine oversaw the following projects:
- Overhaul of the Sports Center (1999)
- Opening of the Spa (2001)
- Restoration of the golf course to the 1920 Donald Ross design.
- KSL Capital Partners purchased the Grove Park Inn in 2012.
- During the company’s brief tenure, the Great Hall was refurbished, and a new restaurant (Edison) replaced the Carolina Cafe.
- Omni Hotels purchased the Grove Park Inn in June 2013, just in time for the hotel to celebrate its centennial in July.
Much of this section’s information came from Built for the Ages, an excellent book about the Omni Grove Park Inn’s history. You can buy a new copy in the Omni Grove Park Inn Marketplace.
More Things We Love About The Omni Grove Park Inn
Here are some more things we love about The Omni Grove Park Inn beyond its exciting history and fantastic location.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall truly lives up to its name, measuring 120 feet across with 24-foot ceilings and a pair of 36-foot-wide fireplaces at either end. Not only is it spacious, but the Great Hall is the epicenter of the Omni Grove Park Inn.
Your stay begins and ends here, as this is where the check-in counter and concierge for valet parking are both located.
Many evenings will likely start in the Great Hall, too. There’s a bar in the far left corner, opposite the check-in counter. You can order food and drinks from the bar, and a band plays there most evenings.
A guest services desk sits in the right corner next to the Vanderbilt Wing’s entrance. Here, you can address any issues or get information or updates about your stay.
Finally, the entrance to the Sunset Terrace is in the middle, directly across from the front doors. You can walk out onto the Sunset Terrace and enjoy beautiful views of the property and downtown Asheville in the distance.
Hopefully, you’ll have a reservation for dinner here. We’ll share more about that in a bit.
E.W. Grove wanted guests to escape when envisioning this wonderful hotel resort. So any of the 513 guest rooms at the Omni Grove Park Inn will allow for that.
While the Grove Park Inn initially didn’t allow pets and discouraged parents from bringing their children, today’s Omni Grove Park Inn is pet-friendly, and kids are welcome, too!
Here’s a quick breakdown of rooms and where you’ll find them:
- Main Inn (142 rooms): The original Main Inn is the center of the property.
- Sammons Wing (204 rooms): Built in 1984, the Sammons Wing is to the southeast of the Main Inn. You’ll find Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen, the Presidents Lounge, Vue 1913, and the Heritage Ballroom on this side.
- Vanderbilt Wing (167 rooms): Built in 1988, the Vanderbilt Wing is on the opposite side of the Main Inn, to its northwest. Here, you’ll find the Marketplace, the Blue Ridge Room, Elaine’s Duelling Piano Bar, and the Grand Ballroom.
Location is essential to consider while staying at the Omni Grove Park Inn. So is the type of guestroom you choose.
Here’s a quick rundown of each guestroom type:
- ADA Accessible Rooms: These rooms in the Sammons Wing have two double beds, a roll-in shower, a shower bench, toilet and shower bars, and an open closet.
- Classic Rooms: Classic Rooms are located in the Main Inn and are more budget-friendly than others at the Omni Grove Park Inn. They come with a king or queen bed and offer views of the resort’s landscape.
- Mountain View Rooms: Mountain View Rooms offer beautiful views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and the exquisite Omni Grove Park Inn Golf Course. We stayed in a corner Mountain View room and enjoyed the space before and after our days. A huge bonus is opening your window and letting in the fresh air.
- Resort View Rooms: Stay in any of the Resort View Rooms, and you’ll enjoy views of either the Spa and surrounding gardens or the courtyard at the front of the Main Inn.
- Heritage Suites: The Omni Grove Park Inn’s Heritage Suites are a tribute to the people who’ve graced this fantastic resort hotel over the years and those who were instrumental in its building. The E.W. Grove Penthouse Suite is THE room to book, but you won’t go wrong with either the Fred Seely Suite, the Supreme Court Suite, or others. In addition, the Heritage Suites give you access to the adult-only, private Club Floor. Two of the Club Floor’s perks are a quieter breakfast each morning and evening cocktails.
All rooms offer bathrobes, an in-room safe, daily housekeeping, and many more modern amenities.
Delicious Meals and Beautiful Views
The Omni Grove Park Inn’s restaurants will further convince you there’s no reason to leave during your stay. We didn’t want to leave wishing we’d done X thing, many of which involved food and drink.
Here are your food and drink options:
- Blue Ridge: Unless you’re enjoying breakfast on the Club Floor, the Blue Ridge is your go-to spot for the day’s most important meal. A wide assortment of farm-to-table options awaits, and Sunday Brunch is not to be missed. On Friday nights, the Blue Ridge offers a seafood buffet and a prime rib buffet on Saturday nights.
- Edison, craft ales + kitchen: Edison is on the Sammons Wing side and is an excellent stop for a beer, a drink, or dinner with a view.
- Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar: A Vanderbilt Wing favorite is Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar. There’s no cover to enjoy local and regional comedians and a night dueling piano show.
- Presidents Lounge: If you’re seeking just a drink and a view, start with the Presidents Lounge. This spot serves wine by the glass, local beer, and cocktails with views of downtown Asheville.
- Sunset Terrace: Open March to November and weather-permitting in the winter, the Sunset Terrace mixes beautiful views with some of the most luxurious food you’ll ever encounter. They have everything you’ll need for a special meal, including hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, an award-winning wine list, and hand-crafted drinks.
- Sunset Cocktail Terrace: You don’t need a reservation to enjoy a drink or a small plate below the Sunset Terrace.
- Vue 1913: This American Brasserie is around the corner from the Presidents Lounge in the Sammons Wing. It mixes American and French foods and is complemented by an excellent wine section.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Spa is something that everyone should experience, but you should plan for it.
Please book in advance if you already know you want a day pass, a massage, or both. Both Christina and I enjoyed an entire day in the 43,000-square-foot subterranean Spa. You can easily spend a whole day at the Spa, and here’s how:
- Introductory Tour: You’ll be treated to a tour before donning your robe and deciding which sauna or pool to try. A staff member will take you around and describe all the pools, the rooms, and the products and services offered.
- Male and Female Sections: After you change, you’ll walk through either the separated male or female section. You can grab a shower (recommended after a treatment), sweat it out in a dry and steam sauna, and enjoy the contrast pools of hot and cold water.
- Coed Section: The coed section is the center of the Spa and offers a mix of warm and hot pools. There is a robust waterfall pool on both sides. If you dip your head underneath the waters of the larger pools in the middle, don’t think you’re crazy if you hear music playing.
- Outside: Outside the coed section, there’s another heated pool and a lounging area for guests. Wait staff will make rounds to take food and drink orders.
- The Spa Cafe: Speaking of food and drinks, you can order from the Spa Cafe in front of the Spa entrance.
- Therapeutic Treatments: If you were lucky enough to book a massage, facial, or other treatment, be ready for some firm pampering. Your therapist will find what’s bothering you even if you don’t think there are any spots needing extra care. Your muscles and stress levels will thank you.
The Omni Grove Park Inn Golf Club was designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1926. The par-70 course has seen the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and then-President Barrack Obama.
If you want a souvenir to take home, a snack, or forgot your gear, there is a place to find it at the Omni Grove Park Inn.
The Marketplace is where you’ll go for morning coffee or a pick-me-up throughout the day. Shops attached to this spot in the Vanderbilt Wing Emporium 1913 included Cloth (Grove Park Inn apparel) and the Pink Pig (boutique sweets).
In the Sammons Wing Promenade, you’ll find a Nantahala Outdoor Center location. You can grab some new gear and book an adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gallery of the Mountains houses the creations of Southern Appalachian artisans and crafters.
The Sports Complex
Omni Grove Park Inn guests receive complimentary access to the Sports Center, a short walk or shuttle ride from the Main Inn entrance. Features inside the 50,000-square-foot facility include the following:
- Indoor swimming pool
- Indoor and outdoor tennis courts
- Cardio and weight rooms
- Instructor-led yoga and fitness classes
You can also book a session with a personal trainer and a lesson from a tennis professional at the Sports Center.
National Gingerbread House Competition
One of the most exciting events during the fall in North Carolina is the Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition. Judges assess the highly-skilled competitors’ work in November, and the winner’s creation is displayed throughout the following year in the Vanderbilt Wing.
During the Gingerbread House Competition season, the Omni Grove Park Inn donates a portion of parking proceeds to the local community and nonprofits.
Perfect for Any Event
The National Gingerbread Competition is a huge event, but it’s not the only one that takes place at the Omni Grove Park Inn.
You, your family, and your company can host an event of any size here, whether it’s a wedding in the Seely Pavilion, a convention in the Heritage Ballroom, or an off-site team meeting in one of the resort’s suites.
The Omni Grove Park Inn’s 86,000 square feet of space will be perfect for any gathering.
Even More Things We Love About the Omni Grove Park Inn
The rooms, the services, and the amenities are the main hits. Here are the added touches offered by the Omni Grove Park Inn.
Everywhere There’s a View
There are innumerable places to sit, eat, drink and take in views at the Omni Grove Park Inn.
My favorite views are from the Sunset Terrace and the Blue Ridge Room. In addition, you can look out toward downtown Asheville and the nearby mountains.
Another favorite is a look back at the Omni Grove Park Inn from either the Sammons Wing or the Vanderbilt Wing. You can’t top the iconic look of this fantastic hotel, and the views of it never get old!
In every direction, someone at The Omni Grove Park Inn is standing and waiting to help. So whether you’re looking for a drink, some info on area attractions, or any other assistance, I doubt you’ll wait very long.
We’ve mentioned the Omni Grove Park Inn donating portions of parking proceeds during the National Gingerbread House Competition.
Omni Hotels & Resorts goes above and beyond in even more ways, first with the “Say Goodnight to Hunger” initiative. Portions of the company’s revenue go toward providing meals for food banks, crucial to feeding many children, families, and seniors throughout the US.
Another way Omni gives back is through a partnership with Shared Hope International. As a result, the Omni Grove Park Inn’s staff is educated and trained to detect and combat human trafficking.
Looking Forward to Our Next Visit
The last thing we love about The Omni Grove Park Inn is the anticipation for our next stay there.
Have you ever stayed or just visited The Omni Grove Park Inn? Was the experience as magical as we’ve found? Let us know in the comments section or by email.
Don’t forget to share your Omni Grove Park Inn adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
More Things to Do Near the Omni Grove Park Inn (Asheville and Beyond!)
Outside the Omni Grove Park Inn, there are tons of fun things to do in Asheville and its surroundings. Here are some North Carolina travel guides to the area.