Last Updated on December 5, 2023
Like the top tier of a decorative holiday 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 have flocked to the hotel for generations, attracted by its grandeur, fine dining, famous guests, 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 also hosts of one of the nation’s most celebrated holiday baking competitions.
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 historic Grove Park neighborhood in Asheville, NC
Located just northeast of downtown, the historic Grove Park community is today considered one of the finest neighborhoods in Asheville. Grove Park was the vision of Edwin Wiley Grove, a pharmaceutical magnate from St. Louis 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. In 1989, the Grove Park neighborhood achieved national status after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more about Grove Park and search for homes on our Grove Park community page.
Dine at Omni Grove Park Inn’s Edison Restaurant, named after one of the Inn’s famous guests.
The short and sweet history of the Omni Grove Park Inn
The Grove Park Inn on Sunset Mountain was another of E.W. Grove’s visions, and it instantly became the cornerstone of the neighborhood’s identity. The stunning building was erected in 1913 by Grove’s son-in-law, Fred Seely. The original structure was constructed from granite boulders and completed 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.
Now known as the Omni Grove Park Inn, the hotel has hosted a number of American presidents, diplomats, and celebrities. In fact, 10 out of the 20 presidents who have served in office since its construction have visited. Other notable guests 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 over two summers while his wife, Zelda, was undergoing health treatment in Asheville. Even though Fitzgerald was kicked out of the hotel after a series of misconduct, his stay is now a point of pride. The two rooms in which he stayed (one for sleeping, one for writing) are available for guests—and one is furnished exactly as it was during his stay in the 1930s.
Golf at the Omni Grove Park Inn
Golf aficionados also flock here for the large green space in the center of the resort and the neighborhood. Designed by Donald Ross in 1926, the Omni Grove Park Inn’s 18-hole, par 70 golf course has an undulating front nine and a back nine that can be steep. Golf Digest Magazine has named it among their 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. Other PGA stars have also visited, including Doug Sanders, Gene Littler, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Chip Beck.
Which is your favorite gingerbread entry? (Don’t forget to enjoy the stunning Christmas trees throughout the Inn, as well.)
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 an 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 gingerbread awards ceremony took place on November 20, 2023. But just because you missed the chance to vote doesn’t mean you missed the show! Most entries are on display throughout the main lobbies in both wings for the duration of the season. The display runs November 27, 2023–January 2, 2024.
We encourage you to check out this year’s gingerbread entries. It’s fun to pick out favorites, especially in the children’s and teen categories. Plus, your attendance supports a variety of good causes. While there is no entry fee to view the gingerbread houses, the Inn does charge non-guests $25 for self parking and $35 for valet parking. Portions of this fee go to support a selection of local nonprofits.
Live the sweet life in Asheville’s Grove Park neighborhood
The Grove Park Historic District is significant for its collection of single-family homes that represent the design and construction practices of the early 20th century. Most of the development occurred between 1908 and 1938, illustrating a number of styles including: Georgian, Colonial, Tudor, Bungalow, and Shingle. Many of the homes are sited on wooded parcels averaging 0.5 acre, with occasional size variance due to some owners having smartly assembled plots over time. Time-honored deed restrictions concerning setback and building costs have allowed the properties to relate well to each other and maintain a high degree of integrity. Every avenue throughout this historic neighborhood is a living nod to the area’s history.
Does that sound like the perfect lifestyle for you? Find homes in Asheville’s Grove Park neighborhood now!