Omni Grove Park Inn
I decided to go to the Grove Park Inn to check out their gingerbread houses on display for the National Gingerbread Exhibition - since I’ve really been in the Christmas Spirit. And, to grab some lunch while I was there.
The exhibition is located in the hallways of the Inn, which is a historic (super fancy & fabulous) hotel nestled in the mountains right outside of downtown Asheville.
After you get off the main road you’ll take a short drive through a really cute little neighborhood - pass by (what appears to be) a golf course, and eventually stumble upon the signs that will direct you into the hotel.
I definitely suggest following the signs really well, instead of gawking at all of the people walking their adorable dogs - and accidentally driving off into a large hedge-bush.
Again - follow the signs to the parking garage, and then park in there. It’s $20 per car and the proceeds go to charity. (Not per person, but per car - so please don’t put your friend that talks too much in the trunk to save money.)
After you find a spot, head to one of the elevators - and hit the “L” button for “Lobby”.
(Note - only one set of controller buttons has the “L” button on it - it’s the side of the elevator opposite of where you enter from the parking garage; so don’t panic if you can’t find the button at first.)
Once you exit into the hotel - follow the signs to the lobby to pick up a map of the gingerbread houses on exhibition.
While you’re in the lobby grabbing your map - make sure you check out the full size gingerbread house.
Don’t worry - there’s no cannibalistic witch baking children in her oven, but rather some very friendly baristas serving up hot coco, Hansel & Gretel ale, cookies, and such.
The lobby also has a full bar, some pretty fancy fireplaces, and a large tree that makes you feel like you’re having Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.
Even if you have a fleeting moment of insanity; I suggest *not* loudly shrieking “I’m shrinking, I’m shrinking!” whilst hiding under a coffee table near the fireplace and sipping your Ale that you just purchased at the life sized gingerbread house. The lovely employees of the Inn already have enough to deal with during the busy holiday season.
As for the (regular sized) Gingerbread Houses themselves - all of them were ah-mazing.
There were *so* many different themes such as “Atlantis”, a “Castle”, even a “Haunted” one in the teen section (the houses are grouped by age range).
I'm pinning the Reindeer on the right (that’s smoking the cigar) to be a card shark.
As you make your way back to the parking garage, make sure not to miss the many (non aggressive) stuffed bears & cute shops along the way.
Some shops to definitely hit up are “Seasons” in the Sammons wing (they’ve got woodland creatures galore), and “Cloth” in the Vanderbilt wing (they sell super fresh and flowery smelling Lollia perfumes, bath salts, bath bombs, etc.).
Also, “Gallery of the Mountains” (Sammons wing) has some *very* adorbs greeting cards to go along with the sweet gifts that you can score to make all of your holiday shopping seamless.
You're bound to find a fabulous gift for the moms, sis, strange cat lady that lives up the street, etc.
On my way out - I decided to have lunch at The Marketplace.
After ordering my food at the counter, I sat at the coffee bar for a laid back meal. (You can also sit at one of the tables in the hallway & enjoy a view of the mountains.)
The Vegan Reuben that I had came with a bag of chips; you get to choose the flavor; I had Cajun BBQ.
And, I was feeling pretty extra at the moment - so had two drinks; a fancy Acqua Panna Water and a Major Dicksons Coffee.
The Tempeh Reuben itself was kinda spicy yet sweet (in a good way) with some type of marinade, sourkruat, and avocado slices, on rye bread. It was super fresh (which is always nice for pre-made sandwiches).
The chips were crunchy and yum; after devouring them I barely had any room for the Mini Funfetti Cake I got for dessert (& the elderly couple sitting next to me that I didn’t know gave me a weird look when I asked them if they wanted to go halfsies and split it).
Anyway; it was definitely over-sized mini cake; I ended up taking it home and lasted for about three after dinner desserts.
It’s a great place to pick up holiday gifts for nieces and nephews - like one of those Panda bear stuffed animals they have for sale - that had clearly been traumatized, by the look of his wide-eyed thousand yard stare.
The stuffed Pandas are great tool to start teaching your kids (or better yet - someone else’s kids) about the atrocities of modern day zoos.
I purchased one for each of the neighborhood kids and plan on including a PETA leaflet with each gift.