The Vanderbilts have a lot of bloody land!!
I was gonna say “excuse my French” but what the heck does the French have to do with selective, expressive words?
Who started this rumor and most importantly why?
I digress. Where was I?
Oh yeah. The Vanderbilts have a lot of land. It’s known to all as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC and it is BEAUTIFUL!
The entire estate spans 8,000 acres and it’s an otherworldly feeling driving through it. The trees that grew on both sides of the road strategically embrace each other at the the top as though you were driving through a saber arch. It’s majestic and inviting. I felt like a wizard coming back to school at Hogwarts. Since I was driving through the 2 mile stretch of majestic arches on September 1st, (Hogwarts first day of school..) the feeling was absolutely valid.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: The estate is a perfect site for filming epic original movies. Not all these reboots that keep hitting the big screen. I swear if they remake one more classic...
Anywho, I was excited to find out that not one but two of my favorite movies were filmed on the grounds of the estate; Forrest Gump and Wait For It!!!....The Last of the Mohicans!!!
Daniel Day Lewis stole my heart with his infamous line “I Will Find You!”
Dude. I was sold.
Until Brad Pitt came along 2 years later in “Legends of the Fall".
I’m currently patiently waiting on his marriage proposal.
Any day now.
I’ll share some historical facts about the Biltmore I was not aware of prior to my visit. If it was owned by the Vanderbilts why was it called Biltmore Estate? Well, when George Vanderbilt fell in love with the beauty that is Asheville NC in the 1890’s and decided to build his opulent summer house there, he chose to name it Biltmore.
The name came from a combination of “De Bilt”, Vanderbilts ancestral origin in the Netherlands and “More”, the English word for “rolling land”. It is still known as the largest privately owned home in the United States and currently operates as a historic house museum. They were the closest thing to European style royalty in the US.
I recall the first time I visited Asheville NC. It was during the fall in November. A birthday trip. I didn’t want to leave. I demanded to know who was hiring at a competitive salary so I could build my home overlooking the blue ridge mountains and live there forever. No one got back to me fast enough so I returned home to Atlanta and resumed my current lifestyle.
But I’ve returned many times since and the dream remains the same:
Competitive salary and a home with scenic view. Holla back Asheville.
On this particular visit to Asheville marking the beginning of a new month, I stayed at the Village Hotel on the Biltmore Estate and felt like I’d been teleported to a vibrant wine village in Italy.
They thought of everything when they put this charming space together:
The never ending vines on long stretches of pergolas
The gardens and stretches of green grass
The outdoor musical entertainment
The hiking grounds
The bike riding (they got rentals)
The outdoor restaurant seating
The Bronze detail on all the hotel room accessories
The sliding barn door that leads to my bathroom
I repeat - the sliding barn door that leads to my bathroom.
It made the double doors that lead to my bathroom at my home inferior and basic. So you know what’s happening right? I’m getting the gotdamn sliding barn doors installed.
Budget be damned!
So aside from the non basic sliding barn doors, I’ll share with you some of the moments that made this Asheville getaway memorable and why I’ll keep coming back until a local decides to keep me.
It was peaceful and scenic. A short 3hr drive for me coming from Duluth, GA. I passed green landscapes and views of the blue mountains in the distance. I even spotted some orange
and golds in the green as September hints and teases at the arrival of Fall. I listened to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please on Audible while I laughed, smiled, and took notes on her words of wisdom. I recommend taking a good audible book or an upbeat playlist with you on a road trip. It keeps you from counting the hours and asking yourself if you’re there yet. Twice.
At some moments I would pause the book while I took in the aesthetic appeal around me and thought about certain people in my life I wish were here with me to share in this abundance of natural beauty. Then I said a thank you prayer to God, turned audible back on and resumed laughing out loud.
I surprised myself on this trip. I noticed a lot of emphasis were put on wine because they have a winery at The Village Inn Hotel. I was even given a complimentary bottle of sweet white wine during my stay. Prior to arrival, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t drink - only socially with little enthusiasm. I have a pallet for sweets and dessert; not alcohol.
So I honestly thought I’d be out of my element upon arrival. But like I said earlier, I surprised myself.
I loved walking through the wine cellars and smelling a mixture of dry oak and sweetness. It was surprisingly calming and I walked very slowly to take it all in. I enjoyed the social aspect of the wine tasting experience. I made some new friends during the wine tasting and the staff was very hospitable. I learned after a dizzying experience of tasting White, Rosé, and Reds sampling’s that I lean more towards a fruity, spicy white wine (it literally tingled). I figured it could be the next best thing to sex for me and promptly purchased a bottle. We’ll see how it goes.
And last but not least it will be a total fail on my part if I did not share with you one of the magical spots on the hotel grounds for kids young and old - The Biltmore Gardens Railway. Everything was miniature, thoughtful, and magical. It’s like a place where you would find elves playing in the garden wishing well while also taking a scenic train drive.
You know, totally normal everyday stuff.
The Biltmore House Gardens
Though I had access to various areas of the estate thanks to a complimentary shuttle, I barely scratched the surface during my three day stay. On my first day I chose to explore the Biltmore Gardens at The Biltmore House. It looked like I had been transported to the French Renaissance. The blue ridge mountain views, the architecture, the landscaping, the flowery pond, the pergolas, the sculptures ... it was all well thought out and magical.
This is a gathering spot for the cultured, the creatives, the artsy, and anyone who’s a fan of urban outfitters. I absolutely adore downtown Asheville and could explore it on foot for hours. You’ve got your galleries like the popular Momentum Art Gallery and the impressive Basilica of St Lawrence to explore. There’s the unique book store “The Battery Park Book Exchange”, the enchanting boutiques like Wake and Ten Thousand Villages, and the inviting Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani just to name a few. It’s truly a melting pot of anything and everything you could chose to admire and explore.
So are you inspired? Curious? Mildly annoyed at me for not inviting you on this trip?
In the end I hope you choose inspiration. I hope you choose to stop planning and just do. Because your life is your party; and you know what that means?
You’re always invited.