Let me put this out there first. My husband is a darling. The times I am irritated by menial things are quickly forgotten when he extends his heartstrings out to the Gods for help and pulls something spontaneously beautiful out of his hat. It’s not that he’s not beautiful all the time. He is. A stone cold fox actually. But he is a bit of a clutter bug and we have to go through Troy’s ten analytical steps to get anything done, often getting stuck on steps five or six in complete analysis paralysis. Sometimes a decision never gets made. As a spontaneous traveler, as you can imagine, this drives me absolutely nuts. Then there are days like the following, the kind of days that make me appreciate Troy’s ten analytical steps.
A few years ago, Troy and I were attempting to plan a little anniversary getaway to Asheville, North Carolina, a beautiful mix of old scenic mountains and a bit of new age vibe. We had been once before while attending a rather new age workshop with Abraham Hicks at the Biltmore. We loved walking the grounds of the Biltmore, the largest residence in Northern America, but wanted to experience something different this time around. . I longed for the kind of retreat that would take me away from busy, into the mountains with the sounds of nature. It didn’t matter whether we had rain or sun. I just wanted to be enveloped by lush green mountains peeking through clouds. I wanted to experience a bit of luxury and a lot of green. Maybe a spa or something close to downtown. I had heard so many wonderful things about the Grove Park Inn and The Swag, but both were out of our price range at the time.
It felt like we were looking for months trying to find the perfect spot. We looked at VRBO’s and Airbnb’s, all sorts of hotels in and around Asheville. Finally, after what seemed to me like forever, we settled on the Haywood downtown where we would receive Champagne on arrival, be able to slip into plush robes in our luxurious room and take some time to unwind. The Haywood is in walking distance to many wonderful restaurants and shopping. My husband booked the room and I immediately booked massages for both of us. This hotel was not my first choice, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. A beautiful hotel indeed.
Weeks later we were on the road to celebrate our anniversary. It was a very busy time at work and leaving for a few days was a daunting task. While I was able to enjoy the scenery driving through the mountains from South Carolina to Hendersonville, a pressing contractual matter needed to be handled while I was in the car, a complete buzz kill when you are trying to let your hair down. But so it was. I quickly got on the phone with all parties to resolve the work issue and lost track of where we were going. Thank goodness Troy was driving. I missed most of the beautiful stone façade homes laced through the hills and was becoming frustrated as I know we were nearing our hotel. The one sign I did see was Welcome to Asheville. As we began moving further away from downtown Asheville and into the hills I whispered to my husband, “You are going the wrong way.” He just kept driving, a slight smirk on his face.
He pulled into a massive valet parking area in front of a huge stone hotel. It was dark with a red roof. That’s all I noticed since I was still trying to wrap up the phone call that had already taken my attention away from my precious time with my husband. The valet opened my door. Phone to my ear, I am still talking. I put my hand over the speaker and lip-synced to husband, “Is this the right hotel? I think we are in the wrong place. This doesn’t look like the Haywood. You went the wrong way.” He was busy handing our luggage to the valet. “Darling”, he says. He always calls me darling when he wants me to stop what I am doing. “Darling, hang up the phone. Tell them you’ve got to go now.” And I did. Off the phone for good, or at least for the next few days, I was able to look around. “Where are we? You went the wrong way Troy. This is not our hotel.”
I had no clue where we were until I looked at the valet’s tag. It read, “Omni Grove Park Inn.” I am a little slow sometimes and looked to my husband for an explanation. He just laughed a warm and gentle laugh and said, “This is our hotel darling. Happy Anniversary.” I was speechless, not a normal reaction for me, but I was. I wanted to jump his bones right then and there, but thought maybe I should wait until we were inside. My heart exploded. I welled up in tears and whispered a heartfelt thank you. My ten step analytical husband watched the hotel rates every single day for weeks until he noticed a special for the Grove Park Inn and quickly changed our reservations from the Haywood to the Grove Park Inn so that I could have my dream getaway in the mountains, surrounded by nature, with a spa that would knock the socks off of the most discerning spa snob.
Entering the lobby it is immediately apparent by the vast Mountain View straight ahead through the floor to ceiling windows that we were quite elevated. It was misty and cool outside and I was tempted to take a seat in one of the many rocking chairs surrounding one of two gigantic hearths. But it was time to be escorted to our room on the top floor. The valet gave us the short version of the hotels history while we took a ride in the old small elevator with in the stone walls. The view from what is referred to as Sunset Mountain looked like an oil painting with layers of vibrant and faded colors of blues and grays reaching into soft clouds with deeps greens below, a vision surely painted for our eyes only. The valet was kind enough to make dinner reservations for us at Vue 1913, one of several restaurants on the property. He also informed us that if we did not have spa reservations that we would need to go to the spa at the bottom of the stairs at 9:00AM and buy a pass for use of the spa which I had noted in my mental notebook. Shortly after the valet left us, champagne was delivered with an array of cheeses, fresh bread, and chocolate covered strawberries. We were both in awe and took some much needed alone time to soak it all in.
The restaurant was on the lower left side wing. Donned in rich darks reds and browns with stunning views, we enjoyed a quiet meal, although not as upscale as one would hope. Food on the floor and the general outdated feel was a bit off-putting. The better meal came the following evening at the Edison where we were seated outdoors staring straight at the painted mountains as the sun set behind them. It’s more casual with craft beer and light fare, but the meal, we found, was much more satisfying. The Omni is not known for mouthwatering meals as it turns out. If you are a foodie, you will likely have a better experience downtown. What they are known for is the Grove Park Spa and workout facility. Two separate buildings mind you. Play tennis, swim laps in an Olympic size pool, take spinning and yoga classes, or lift weights until your heart’s content. When you’re done, you will want to relax in the spa, an entirely different experience and the most luxurious in my opinion.
Since were only there for two nights, I took the liberty of showing up at 9:00AM to get my spa pass while Troy took time to work out and get his own massage. I could see the waterfall at the bottom of the cascading stairs. With a simple yet elegant café to the right and a boutique to my left, I knew I was in for a treat. I was escorted to my locker and given a quick tour of the premises. I slipped into my bathing suit, wrapped myself in my spa robe complete with spa slippers and took a stroll right down to the pools. Yes, you heard me right, pools. Plural. Two indoor pools with massive waterfall hot tubs just waiting for me to step in and one outdoor pool. The grotto pool is just that, a pool in a grotto like atmosphere. The temperature is slightly cooler than the larger pool, but the magnificent ambience drew me closer. Dim lit sconces showed the way and before I knew it I was floating on my back looking up at a sparkling cave. But there’s more. The music is under water. I have never experienced anything like this. I felt like an angel. I floated for what felt like hours listening to the strumming of an acoustic guitar, taking moments to swim under water pretending to be a mermaid. I was in heaven. As difficult as it was, I pulled myself away for some waterfall time after which I went outside into the open air to the lazy river pool where I ordered lunch overlooking the plush golf course and cloudy mountains.
I couldn’t ask for a more perfect day, the kind where you are pruned from spending so much luxurious time in water and yet ready for more. I took more refuge inside the women’s sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, and even took a plunge or two in the contrast pool. It looked like a small fishing hole with a ladder, a great dip for waking up after all the heat. I ended my time at the spa reading in front of the hearth in the quiet room. No talking allowed. Just me, the fire, and a nice lounge chair to doze off in. The spa had all the amenities needed to shower and get gussied up for our night at the Edison where we spent another four hours sipping wine and watching the sun set beyond the picturesque mountains.
The next morning the valet packed our car and we took a stroll downtown stopping for southern breakfast at Tupelo Honey. Eggs over easy with buttery grits and Eggs Betty, the restaurants version of Eggs Benedict. Still giddy from our spa adventure, we chatted on for a while before it was time to go. We made one more stop to the Arboretum on the way out of Asheville to take a slow methodical walk through the tree lined path stopping only to sit on a romantic bench so I could sink my feet in the grass. Our anniversary trip was something right out of a movie. Romantic, spontaneous, at least for me since the fox made it all happen, and perfect in every way. Thank goodness for Troy’s ten analytical steps.