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The Omni Grove Park Inn: Preservation of a Destination

A historical wonder, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina sits The Omni Grove Park Inn. Omni Hotels and Resorts owns the once independent hotel, but the brand works to enhance each hotel's current attributes, while incorporating the local environment rather than stamping a cookie cutter ideology onto each of its locations. In their mission statement, they stress their vision to put "soul" and "authenticity" into each individual property by "proudly opening doors to the true spirit of a destination."

Omni Park Grove Inn at twilight
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

History of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Preservation is one of the most important things we can do to sustain our environment. The Omni Grove Park Inn is the epitome of preservation, as the 1913 structure has only been enhanced over the years, not torn down. The same boulders hauled in by mule-drawn wagons still set in place as a glorious reminder of the hard work 400 men put in for nearly a year. You can take a history tour and learn about the building and the century-old artifacts that line the halls.

After ascending up a winding drive, a short distance from downtown, the inn magnificently reveals itself through a cascade of mountain trees and foliage. History oozes from its pores, although the structure fits seamlessly in our current time period, due to its naturalistic build. At the time of its construction, the hotel was proclaimed to be "built for the ages" and this has remained true.

Omni Grove food
Photo by Karyn Wofford.

Dining at The Omni Grove Park Inn

Serving up local ingredients in their restaurant dishes, the Sunset Terrace is an outdoor dining option on the stone patio looking out toward the mountains. The Spa Cafe offers wellness smoothies and healthy fare at the entrance of their award-winning spa.

Several other restaurants and lounges are sprinkled throughout the elaborate halls, but Blue Ridge was the showstopper, serving a variation of farm-to-table buffets throughout the day. House-made donuts, a yogurt bar, grits with tomatillo sauce, fresh pressed juices, pancakes, frittatas, made to order omelets and a variation of cereals barely tip the culinary iceberg of Blue Ridge's locally-fueled breakfast display.

We also enjoyed stopping by the rustic lobby, complete with two gigantic fireplaces and mountain views, for late night drinks, local pickled veggies and an intricate cheese plate sourced from the Asheville area. Omni Grove falls in line with the prevalent "local" food presence in the town.

Omni Park Grove outdoor spa
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

The Timeless Spa

Woven throughout a cavernous lower level of the hotel is their Mediterranean-style spa. By its cave-like look, complete with stone, tunnels, a fiber optic star ceiling and antique tiled steam room, you'd think this wellness wing existed before the hotel itself. However, it was an addition completed years after the initial structure was built.

Two massive, mineral-based, indoor pools accented with waterfalls, ambient color changing lighting, hot tubs, underwater music and extravagant rock features serve as the spa’s central hub. An outdoor pool, complete with yet another fireplace, allows guests to relax and watch the sun set while taking a soak. Gender separated areas offer detoxifying saunas, steam rooms, contrast pools, herbal teas and natural snacks. 

Multiple therapies are available, including massages with aromatherapy, wellness wraps with volcanic clay and local sourwood honey and Himalayan salt detoxification. The fresh mountain air is also thought to have healing attributes, and is what drove the hotel's founder to the area in the first place, in the early 1900s.

Helping the Community

When a room is booked, a portion of the proceeds go toward feeding less fortunate families through Feeding America. "In one year, nearly nine million meals have been donated to help Feeding America provide nutritious meals for food banks to feed children, families and seniors in communities across the United States," says the Omni Hotels and Resorts site.

Employees are also encouraged to volunteer at food banks and pantries in their local community. 5,000 nationwide employees donated 7,000 hours of their time over the past year.

sunset over mountains
Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Flourishing in Eco-Tourism

The travel industry is becoming increasingly aware of eco-tourism, and that people prefer an authentic experience built around the community in which they are visiting. Vacations become enriching rather than simply an empty experience at just another hotel room with commercial gimmicks and corporate food.

The Omni Grove Park Inn provides incredible surroundings that blend into nature, a first-hand look into history and culinary experiences that let you truly experience life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As we watched the sunset from the back terrace, I simultaneously felt truly connected with history and nature; moments like these display a glimpse of the deep importance of preservation on every level.