Hotel Growth Continues + New Event Spaces at The Omni Grove Park Inn and Biltmore + Second Fastest Growing Airport
NEW DOWNTOWN: ► The Foundry Hotel Asheville, Curio Collection by Hilton, opened in November on The Block, Asheville’s historical African-American business district, with 3,000 square feet of functional meeting and event space. The hotel’s 100-seat upscale restaurant Benne on Eagle, the newest venture of five-time James Beard semifinalist Chef John Fleer, pays homage to its historic Eagle Street neighborhood and the often-overlooked contributions of African-American cooks to Appalachian and Southern food.
COMING DOWNTOWN 2019: ► Asheville’s famed Art Deco skyline will get a new icon and a four-star luxury property when Hotel Arras opens this spring. The 128-room hotel will offer 5,000 square feet of meeting space
COMING LATE 2019: ► Element By Westin will bring 100 rooms and 1,200 square feet of meeting space near downtown.
NEW AT THE OMNI GROVE PARK INN: ► The Omni Grove Park Inn has added a new facility to its more than 55,000 square feet of versatile event, banquet, convention and meeting space. The 3,200 square foot Seely Pavilion, perfect for receptions and meetings, offers floor-to-ceiling doors and windows offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range.
MAJOR RENOVATION ► Asheville Art Museum reopens this spring after a major renovation with a new state-of-the-art building. Self-guided and guided group tours of its collection and exhibitions, as well as numerous education-program opportunities, will be available. The expanded facility will have multiple venues for events of all kinds, including social events and conferences.
NEW AT BILTMORE ► Opened this past fall, Amherst is Biltmore’s largest event venue with 11,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The Amherst Ballroom features space for 850 people and vast windows displaying the lush forests and fields of the estate. ► NEW EXHIBIT: Biltmore guests will experience a never-before-seen perspective of the house through “A Vanderbilt House Party: The Gilded Age” costume exhibition, Feb. 8 – May 27. Oscar-winning costume designer John Bright has created reproductions of clothing worn by the Vanderbilts, their friends, family and employees. A new audio-guided tour complements the exhibition with narration based on those who lived and worked in Biltmore House. ► NEW ADVENTURE: Ride the remote trails and roads of America’s Largest Home via electronic tricycle on the Outrider Tour. This new adventure tour allows you to explore behind-the-scenes areas of Biltmore’s 8,000-acre estate.
ONE MILLION PASSENGERS IN 2018 ► The Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) served more than 1 million annual passengers for the first time in its history and is one of the fastest growing small airports in the country. FAST FACTS ►AVL is located 12 miles from downtown, offers nonstops and easy connections through major U.S. and international hubs, with 50 direct flights daily to 17 destinations and served by six airlines. Named the second-fastest-growing small hub airport in the country by Bloomberg News in 2018, AVL is nearing the completion of $80 million in improvements. NEW FLIGHTS ►In 2019, United Airlines will offer twice-daily nonstop service to Washington, D.C., American Airlines will start a daily nonstop to Philadelphia and a seasonal nonstop to Laguardia and Allegiant will offer nonstop service to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). See all nonstop destinations.
New & Unique Tour Offerings
► NEW: Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours give a bird’s-eye view from some of the city’s newest scenic venues, while Asheville LIT Tour is a walking tour focusing on locations with literary themes and authors with ties to downtown. Namaste in Nature combines yoga, meditation and hiking experiences, accommodating 10 or fewer but also able to split up larger groups. ► Hood Huggers International leads interactive tours focusing on Asheville’s African-American community’s resilient history and future. ► Wai Mauna offers a massive, six-person paddleboard, plus stand-up paddleboard tours on the French Broad River, serving groups up to 30. NEW this season, try Whitewater SUP! ► NOW OPEN: Offering daily tours, the new French Broad Chocolate Factory has opened the doors to their sweet new location in the RAMP (River Arts Makers Place) Studios.
“Beer City USA” Offers Large Group Experiences
With more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., Asheville is Beer City USA. The area (with a brewery count nearing 50!) offers multiple beer festivals, a plethora of brew tours and a neighborhood known for its concentration of breweries (South Slope). Large groups can also get “hopping.” ► Sierra Nevada can host up to 50 people for a private brewery tour and offers private dining space rental. ► Asheville Brewery Tours can handle private tours for 10 to 150 people. ► Highland Brewing can host private brewery tours of 40. ► Many breweries offer unique event space: Catawba Brewing, Highland Brewing, Hi-Wire Brewing, Green Man Brewing, New Belgium Brewing and Wedge at Foundation.
Tune in to the Sounds of Asheville
Hop on the LaZoom bus for a wild ride to breweries with local musicians in tow on their “Band & Beer” tour. For a more hands-on experience, head to Skinny Beats to take drum lessons (djembes are provided!) or take a tour of the Moog Factory downtown to experiment with handcrafted synthesizers. ► Many concert spaces double as special event venues, like Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, a restored former 1930s theater that can be rented for private functions.
Plan Your Meeting with Explore Asheville
The sales team at Explore Asheville is your best first point of contact to find the right fit for your next meeting in Asheville. We’ll save you time and effort by sending your RFP to the hotels that fit your criteria, coordinating your site visits, and will provide insider knowledge into the best venues for any size meeting. You also receive exclusive perks when working with us including attraction value cards for attendees, amenity gifts for meeting VIPs, registration staffing assistance, and when you send your RFP through Explore Asheville, you may be eligible for our Have More Fun on Us incentive program.
“We chose Asheville for our conference not only for the beauty of the setting, but for its rich and diverse culture and support of the arts. As a very walkable city, Asheville provided our attendees a background of entertainment, amazing food, and creative drinks while learning about how to make a living in the field of jewelry and metals. The large amount of galleries in the downtown are provided for a rich exhibition crawl filled with unique and varied exhibitions.
Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith
Executive Director Society of North American Goldsmiths