Football is Best-Watched Fireside

Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn provides respite and rally caps
Written by Jennifer Colosimo | Photography courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn

Edison.DiningRoom.0813Now that the king of pigskin sports has snuck back onto our DVRs and nightly television lineups, it’s only natural that our autumn-antsy brains are ready for cozy sweaters, marshmallow roasts and falling foliage. You could do your homemade version of all of the above – if your schedule permits, your kids think its cool and if the trees in your own backyard actually do change color. Or, you could take this year’s team spirit up a notch.

Three hours from Atlanta, a Blue Ridge Mountain oasis awaits. The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville’s second-most signature (behind The Biltmore Estate) destination, boasts more than 400 acres and overlooks a downtown packed with eclectic people, unique crafts, live music and the South’s brewing capital.

My husband and I packed up and hit the road before the actual football season hit, not knowing that the hotel is perfect for first-down fans. With multiple lounges fitted with big-screen TVs, fireside big screens with at-your-service bar tenders and an array of comfortable rooms with their own tailgate-worthy layouts, we should have planned this more carefully and scheduled our visit for the season’s more stressful weekends.

Before the lure of broadcasted downs set in, we were able to get a good look at what The Omni Grove Park Inn was – and is – all about. Its state-of-the-art spa, gorgeous, rolling-hills golf course, three on-site restaurants and hundreds of rocking chairs make it a place built for indulgent relaxing. But now we also know, its perfect for cheering on the team.

Edison.ArtistDining.0813The Restaurants
I’ll be honest, eating is what’s most important to us on any vacation, tailgate or weekend trip, no matter where we are. So, when we hit Asheville, a foodie wonderland by reputation, we were prepared to seriously chow down.

Our favorite spot was Edison – whether romantic dinner dating, or luxury-style tailgating. A craft ales kitchen, they offer numerous roaring fireplaces with cozy sofas and rockers that have an up-close view of the big screen TVs. Good news is, if you’re opt to eat at a table, you can still see more than one of these guys from anywhere in the restaurant.

We dove into an array of cheese-filled, -covered and -smothered small plates that paired perfectly with the beer flight my husband ordered. My favorites were the Stuffed Pizza Dough and traditional Manahattan that laid the groundwork for the Banana Cheesecake, which we devoured and I ultimately added to my all-time best desserts list.

We recovered from a night of cheesy, fried indulgence with another giant meal from The Blue Ridge Dining Room. The in-house breakfast spot actually hit the spot, and from our meal enjoyed while watching the dew dry on the 18th green, I can tell you there’s no room left to want for anything. With line after line of continental and hot breakfast items to load on your plate, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and a concierge eggs and waffles station, there’s literally not a breakfast item we could name that wasn’t underneath a shining silver lid. So, whether your team takes the game or rides the bus home in silence, there’s an absolute guarantee you’re still winning.

The Spa
You cannot miss a treatment at the spa if you’re going to make the trip. In fact, you should carve out a large chunk of your day to kick back in the 43,000 square foot, subterranean complex. The spa has a vast wing for both men and women to separately enjoy relaxing showers, steam rooms, saunas and private, fireside respite. We tested out the communal heated lap pool, mineral pool and waterfall-clad hot tubs, all beneath cavernous and cool ambiance.

We ordered poolside smoothies at the outdoor hot tub and literally sank into a state of who-needs-lunch (or football) leisure. Not a square-inch of this massive mecca goes unattended by a spa staff member. Privacy is held high and towels, water and snacks are plentiful. Even if you’re not a traditional spa-goer, the rejuvenation potential from a couple of hours spent underground is mind-blowing.

The Golf Course
Here’s another way to celebrate (or recover from) the big game. Eighteen holes, numerous pro golfers and at least one U.S. President later, The Omni Grove Park Inn golf course is the answer to filling time when the spa is booked, or the game clock’s run out. Open year-round with plenty of tee times and even more spectacular views, it’s talked about for good reason among golf fans. Our room overlooked the 18th tee box, so we’d sit window-side, clad in soft, fluffy robes and watch the men and women smack their last shot of the day.

The bottom line – eaters, golfers, relaxers and vacationers alike, The Omni Grove Park Inn is certainly a place to comfortably, casually and sophisticatedly make memories.