The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

Susanna Pantas -"Beautifully rendered paintings of nature, ourselves, and the imagined"

The Spa at the
Grove Park Inn

All about rain forests of the world

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Grove Park Inn
To purchase a print of this drawing by author/artist Lee Pantas, visit Cherry Orchard Studio 

The Spa at the Grove Park Inn
A review by Liza Schillo

    “In order to get to The Spa at the Grove Park Inn, you must walk through the resort’s grand lobby, which is breathtaking enough—all stone, vast ceiling and a fireplace at each end large enough to fit a handful of people. But stepping out onto the Sunset Terrace overlooking Asheville, and descending the stone steps winding through the garden and around a lit waterfall, pennies scattered over every rock the water touches, a feeling quite overwhelming wells inside me. The anticipation and excitement of spending an entire day of pampering, inside one of the world’s best spas! The feeling augments the closer I get to the entrance, where I can catch the fragrant scent of herbs, and that warm, spicy smell that saunas give when they are warm.

“Upon stepping inside I was amazed at the interior design. The theme I was told is “Rock, Water, Fire, and Light,” and this is apparent as the lighting resembles torches in increments along the walls, whicExterior of the Spa at the Grove Park Innh are all of rock. The ambience is one of an ancient library, or a revered museum. I am immediately greeted with the fine manners of one of their receptionists, who takes my name and hands me a black notebook in which is an itinerary and a question sheet. He courteously explains to me what I will be doing, and I take a seat. Not a minute later another spa employee comes out to give me and the other waiting ladies a tour before our treatments! We are lead through the back and I learn that only paying customers over the age of 18 are allowed here, to ensure maximum comfort and quiet to The Spa’s clients. I also learned that no matter what treatment you are undergoing, you are permitted to remain at the spa, using the full facilities, for the entirety of the day, coming and going as you please! The spa divides into men and women’s halves, and we are all taken to a very classy locker room where we change into robes and flip flops. The robes I was pleased to learn may be found in the spa store, as well as most of the products used during massages. A hall leading to the ladies’ fireside lounge stems from it a shower room (with large showers, all of tile in a teal color, the “water” portion of their decorating theme I’d assume), bathroom and vanity room. Let me speak some on the vanity room: it was built for two Marilyn Monroes. The Hollywood lights that run above the wrap-around mirror highlight every amenity you could possibly need during your stay at The Spa. Mouthwash, hair gel, razors, deodorant, you name it and it is there at your fingertips! Tiny windows throughout the interior allow peeks at things to come, some looking over the huge pool room that I will come to momentarily.

In the lounge fancy snacks and cucumber water are provided, as well as a spot by the fireplace, but if you’d rather, the ladies’ sundeck, complete with a hammock, is right outside. I was soon led to my massage, but I do not want to ruin this surprise for you! Let me just say that after I came out, my skin was literally glowing and my head was huge from so much attention given just to me for a solid 80 minutes! I can’t remember the last time my body felt so good, so cool and relaxed, yet strengthened. It is a feeling that can only be created when you allow yourself enough time to drop everything you are currently worrying with and simply focus on the now, on how your body feels and what can ease that stress that so many of us today are under too often. You can be assured that every masseuse at the Grove Park Inn Spa is an absolute expert. I myself have applied for various positions at the resort with an above-average resume, and I know from experience that there is quite an extensive and selective application process. They know exactly what they are looking for, and at the Grove Park, they get it. My masseuse was one of the younger ones; he told me that a lot of the staff is around 50 years of age. He also described to me some of the other massage rooms, and all are different; mine was The Dome Room: waterproof, containing a bathtub and a water massager, as well as other special treats.

“After my treatment, I am taken to another lounge and provided with a neck warmer until I am guided through another tour. This one leads me to the pool that I’ve seen so many pictures of. However there is much more to it than just the simple lap pool. There are of course more king-size showers, and an unlimited stock of towels. Then the women rejoin the men in this cavernous space containing several pools and whirlpools. There is a sauna, what I caught a waft of outside. To get to the sauna however you enter a room I’d never heard of, an Inhalation Room. This room remains at room temperature but inside is burning essential oils to breathe in! There is a double whirlpool next to it titled the Contrast Pools. One pool of 103 degrees and an adjoining one of 65. After minutes in the hot one, you are to plunge into the icy one! This is good for circulation and detoxification of the bloodstream, especially good after massages or strenuous workouts. Needless to say I did not spend much time here but my body certainly tingled with a refreshing cleanliness afterwards. I decide to try the large pools next. There is one in the back of the “cave,” where the lights are dimmer. This pool is unique because in the ceiling there are tiny, twinkling fiber optic cable stars, just beautiful. A waterfall cuts through between this pool and the front one, which is a mineral salts pool. This was my favorite, at 86 degrees (several degrees above the latter), I could open my eyes without the burning of strong chlorine! Both pools are no deeper than 4 feet, and have speakers underwater so that their soft, soothing music may still be heard while you are swimming. Massage waterfall whirlpools bank this pool on either side, and I test them out. These are like hot tubs but with two streams of water that are just strong enough to sit beneath for a good, hard massage on the shoulders.

For the remainder of the day I rotate between these varying pools of water, and spend a good deal of time on their large patio with comfy lounge chairs and another large fireplace. Here I order lunch, and it is brought to me on a silver platter! The spa café is not just hot dogs; I enjoyed the vegetarian BLT—their menu is clearly health conscious, though if you’re not counting calories I recommend their fruit creams, made with real fruit! Though menu items may seem a little pricey, believe me you get more than what you pay for. That is probably the most remarkable thing I found during my visit. I noticed two outdoor gazebos while on the patio, and learned that these are available if you wish to upgrade a massage to the outdoors, with a view of our Blue Ridge Mountains. I shared the patio with a good number of people, though I was astounded at how vacant and spacious it seemed for such a renowned spa. Upon questioning I found that there is usually a constant 30 to 40 people at The Spa during busy summer months, yet even in the winter they stay pretty full. This is because they have found that now spouses and other acquaintances of people arriving at the Grove Park for business have discovered The Spa! These otherwise stay-at-homes now tag along for treatment while their significant other is in meetings (a good idea, I think). Though 30 to 40 people may sound like a lot, spread throughout The Spa it is a tiny number for the size of the building, which I greatly appreciated. For most of the day I had the pools to myself! It is good to make reservations several weeks in advance, especially on weekends and summer days.

“After inspection of the spa’s store in the front (in which I was very happy to find that my robe is carried there!), I exit the building sometime around dusk, sorry to be returning to what I’d left behind that morning. But as I stare into the wishing well of the waterfall as I climb the steps, I feel no need to toss a penny in, because tonight, I can’t wish for anything else.”



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