Like the top tier of a decorative cake, the historic and nationally-renowned Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa sits on a mountain overlooking the equally fine Grove Park historic neighborhood district. Guests and visitors have flocked to the hotel for generations, attracted by its grandeur, fine dining, and long distance views of the Asheville city skyline.
Since its opening more than a century ago, the resort has been a mainstay in the community. But that’s not its only claim to fame. The Omni Grove Park Inn is also the site of one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events: their national gingerbread house competition.
If you’ve never visited The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition™, now is the time to go! Learn more about the Omni Grove Park Inn and the competition below, and check out the gingerbread houses before the end of the year.
A Quick Taste of the Grove Park Neighborhood
Located just northeast of downtown, the Grove Park community is today considered to be one of the finest neighborhoods in Asheville. Grove Park was the vision of Edwin Wiley Grove, a pharmaceutical magnate from St. Louis who was was charmed by Western North Carolina. Like so many other historic Asheville residents, including Biltmore Estate owner George W. Vanderbilt, Grove was at once impressed with the region’s scenery and climate.
Grove Park is widely regarded as North Carolina’s first suburban neighborhood. The first lots were sold in 1909 in an area of curved streets, parks, and natural landscaping—an atmosphere still present today. Decades later, the Grove Park neighborhood achieved national status after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Learn more about Grove Park and search for homes on the Beverly-Hanks Grove Park community page.
The Short and Sweet History of the Omni Grove Park Inn
Erected in 1913 by Grove’s son-in-law, Fred Seely, the Grove Park Inn on Sunset Mountain was another of Grove’s visions and instantly became the cornerstone of the neighborhood’s identity. The stunning building was erected from granite boulders in just three days shy of one year. Over the years, the footprint of the Inn has expanded to include additional wings encompassing 513 guest rooms, two retail promenades, a sports complex, and multiple restaurants. Its $44 million, 43,000-square-foot modern subterranean spa is considered one of the best in the world.
The Grove Park Inn has played host to a number of American presidents, diplomats, and celebrities over the last century. In fact, it has been visited by 10 out of the 18 presidents in office since its construction. Other notable guest have included such wide-ranging figures as Thomas Edison (for whom one of the Inn’s restaurants is named), Helen Keller, John D. Rockefeller, Sir Anthony Hopkins, John Waters, Michael Jordan, Charles Schwab, and Billy Graham.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously stayed at the hotel for two years to write while his wife Zelda was hospitalized in Asheville. Even though Fitzgerald was actually kicked out of the hotel, his stay is now a point of pride. The two rooms in which he stayed are available for guests, and one is furnished exactly as it was during his stay in the 1930s.
Golf aficionados flock to the resort, as well. Designed by Donald Ross in 1926, the Omni Grove Park Inn’s 18-hole, par 70 course has an undulating front nine and a back nine that can be steep. The course is considered to be among Golf Digest Magazine‘s top ten U.S. courses that are at least 100 years old. Players who have enjoyed its challenge include golf immortals Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, and Byron Nelson, as well as other PGA stars like Doug Sanders, Gene Littler, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Chip Beck.
An Annual Gingerbread House Competition Adds a Little Flavor to Asheville’s Holiday Celebrations
Did you know that December 12 is Gingerbread House Day? It may seem like a silly day celebrated only by the Hansels and Gretels of the world. But in Asheville, that day (and the surrounding season) are big news!
Since 1992, the Omni Grove Park Inn has built a reputation as the epicenter for a competitive annual national gingerbread house competition featured in press all across the United States. According to the Inn, as the competition grew in size, so did the caliber of its competitors and judges. The spicy-sweet creations of The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition™ have since been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network.
This year, the judging took place on November 19, 2018. But just because you missed the judging doesn’t mean you missed the show! Most entries are on display throughout the main lobby in both wings for the duration of the season. The display runs November 25, 2018–January 4, 2019.
We encourage you to check out this year’s gingerbread entries. It’s fun to pick out favorites, especially in the child and teen categories. Plus, your attendance supports a variety of good causes. While there is no entry fee to view the entirely edible gingerbread houses, the Inn does charge non-guests $20 for parking. Half of this fee goes to a selection of local nonprofits (amounting to around $65,000 each year!).
Learn More about Grove Park
Grove Park is a vibrant historic neighborhood. Read more about the Grove Park neighborhood, see photos, and search for homes on the Beverly-Hanks Grove Park community page.