March 28, 2008

Former President visits Asheville

Tonight President Bill Clinton will be at Asheville High School.

No matter how you feel about the most scandalous president since Nixon, having such a high-profile figure in Asheville is a pretty big deal, since WNC isn't exactly known for being a hot bed of federal election campaign activity.

Keeping the politics of election season aside, the news came as a surprise to me this morning, when Matt (our Property Services Coordinator) mentioned it in the office. And from what I read in the Asheville Citizen-Times article, the news came as a surprise to Asheville High, too.

From the ACT article:
The visit came as a surprise to officials of Asheville City Schools, who were left scrambling to make arrangements. Mike Lodico, interim assistant superintendent, said a representative of the Clinton campaign showed up unannounced at the school system’s central offices around 10 a.m. Thursday seeking the use of a school facility.

Ray said she was told by the campaign official that Clinton would speak for about 45 minutes starting at 9 p.m., then would shake hands and greet the crowd along a rope line. Secret Service agents will be on the campus this afternoon to make security checks, and Clinton would arrive in a motorcade from Hickory, she said.

No tickets are needed, and doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, see the bottom of the most recent ACT article here.

March 26, 2008

Biltmore Estate - Festival of Flowers

The Festival of Flowers at the Biltmore Estate begins April 5 and ends May 18. The Estate gardens are the focus during the spring season, though the house is fun to tour any time of year. The Festival might be one of the best times to visit Biltmore, as the grounds are beautiful and temperatures are usually comfortable - perfect for a stroll or picnic outside.

The first several times I visited Biltmore, we bought house & garden tickets (there are several purchase options) in anticipation of seeing the house and later taking a walk through the garden. Well, by the end of the house tour we'd spent so much time oogling we were either too wiped out to stroll the gardens, or we'd just plain run out of time.

Finally, after 3 years of living in Asheville, I purchased a discounted winter pass sometime in late February (these expire right before the Festival of Flowers). This way, I could spend entire separate afternoons devoted to the house, the winery, the greenhouses, the grounds (full of great trails), or even just the restaurant and gift shops.

There's a trade-off, of course. I didn't get to see the spring flowers - and in fact, never have. Spring visitors will see Biltmore at it's peak, but brief visitors of course don't have the luxury of time to spend exploring the entirety of what Biltmore has to offer.

Carolina Mornings offers Festival of Flowers tickets for $47 to any guest booking a reservation with Carolina Mornings. While guests can purchase Festival of Flowers tickets a little cheaper online through Biltmore, our tickets are valid for two consecutive days.

Two days might not give you enough time to discover every nook and cranny in the Biltmore Estate home (I think even a year wouldn't be enough), but it does allow you the option to slow down and enjoy the house, gift shop, gardens, and winery.

Need to see for yourself how great spring at Biltmore can be? Enjoy this 'Biltmore Insider' video on the Festival of Flowers.
Spring is beautiful in Western Carolina. Today Parker Andes, Biltmore Estate's Director of Horticulture, gives us the details on how his crew grows 95,000 tulips every spring for Festival of Flowers. Then Vonciel Baudouin, Biltmore Estate Winerys culinary specialist, reveals how to put together the perfect spring picnic.

March 24, 2008

Spring Specials & Packages

Although it might be hard to believe here in Asheville today, it IS officially Spring. Currently, it's snowing like crazy outside my window, and the temperature is struggling to reach 40 degrees F. The possibility of Spring's real arrival is in sight, however, as Weather Underground promises we'll reach 70 degrees Thursday and Friday!

Carolina Mornings has recently added a variety of specials and packages to welcome warmer weather and our Spring guests.

Our current offers include:
  • A Touch of Love - A luxurious couples massage at Relax and Rejuvenate, $120 for one hour.
  • Spring Festival Special - Buy one meal at the Corner Kitchen and receive the second free.
  • Biltmore Golf Package - 2 night stay in our luxury Biltmore Village Condos, $40 gift certificate to the Corner Kitchen, and 2 rounds of golf at the Reems Creek Golf Club.

Visit Carolina Mornings online for more details.

March 18, 2008

Cool Cat Guide - A Unique Look at Asheville

Our next door neighbors at our Asheville office are Diane Doyle and Ron Roman, the folks of Roman Doyle Multimedia. Their new project, the Cool Cat Guide, was recently featured in Asheville's best independent newspaper, the Mountain Xpress.

MountainX asks the question, Are you hip to the Cool Cat Guide?

We definitely 'dig' the Cool Cat Guide at Carolina Mornings. The site offers a new way to discover the WNC region. Topics allow you to directly find the type of businesses you're looking for, and their Cool Cat web page provides viewers with some basic info about the company.

But the best feature of the Cool Cat Guide is that, as far as I can tell, it's definitely the first multi-media guide to our area. The Web site boasts a video directory of happenings in the area (particularly Asheville), and each business featured on the Web site also has a video.

Check us out on our Cool Cat page here!

March 14, 2008

Asheville Performances Mar-Apr

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence - One Shot
Mar 25 - 26
Diana Wortham Theatre

One Shot is Ronald K. Brown's newest work inspired by the life and work of African American photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris, nicknamed "One Shot". In this new work, Ronald K. Brown continues to blaze the trail in creating significant works documenting and celebrating the universal importance of the African American experience to American and world culture and history. Using the music of Phyllis Hyman, Billy Strayhorn and other jazz masters, this work invokes and inspires the beauty of this cultural community.

Underneath the Lintel: The Mystery of the Abandoned Trousers
Apr 2-20
NC Stage Company

A small town librarians sheltered life is changed forever when the library receives a returned book 134 years overdue. A note scribbled in the margin and an unclaimed dry-cleaning ticket spur him to break the daily habits of his life and solve a mystery that spans continents and centuries. Underneath the Lintel (thats the doorway, not the legume) is the funny and moving story of one man's stubborn search for an answer, and what happens when the answers are all questions.

Shakespeare's The Tempest

Apr 9
Diana Wortham Theatre

A magical, hour-long production of Shakespeares fantastical romance intertwines puppetry and object theatre with actors to recreate Prosperos world. This public evening performance is presented in partnership with Theatre UNCA and UNCA's The Center for Diversity Education.

Eiko & Koma
Apr 12
UNC Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium

UNC Asheville presents these Japanese-American avant-garde dancers as they perform "Mourning," their original choreography accompanied by pianist Margaret Leng Tan, a devotee of John Cage. Since performing in the US in 1976, Eiko & Koma have presented their works at theaters, universities, museums, galleries and festivals across North America, Europe and Japan.

March 13, 2008

Ski in Asheville 365 days a year!?

Half way between Asheville, NC and the Great Smoky Mountains, the Canton Wintersports Center will be a 365 days a year upscale and luxury golf and indoor winter sports resort.
-Canton Wintersports Center, LLC

The resort will be the first of its kind in the US, though many indoor ski resorts exist elsewhere in the world, particularly in Europe. It is also expected to be the largest in the world. According to a September 2007 press release, the sports center will have "5 slopes ranging between 750 feet up to 3,600 feet on actual mountain slopes with just over 80 acres under roof. Skills range from a beginner slope to an extreme slope with a 900 feet total drop over the 3100 feet total run. With a total of 6 inside triple lifts that can move up to 16,000 people per hour, there won’t be long wait lines."

According to the same press release, in its final stage of completion, the resort will have:
-several condo communities
-an executive 9-hole golf course
-seven hotels
-60 restaurants
-over 1,200,000 square feet of retail shops
-a waterway system, including a lake
-winter sports stadium with special snowboarding and skiing features
-an ice climbing wall, to be the largest artificial wall in the world
-a submarine tunnel connecting all tourist attractions

The FAQs on the resort's Web site promise sustainable energy sources and the creation of over 6,000 jobs, among other things.

See photos here.
Read more news here.
Read the press release here.

March 11, 2008

The Orange Peel Pulls in Big-Name Acts

The Orange Peel is known for showcasing the best of local music and well-known musicians, including Bob Dylan and a 10-night visit by the Smashing Pumpkins.

The Orange Peel: Social Aid and Pleasure Club, for those who are not familiar, is often considered Asheville's hottest music venue.

The venue itself has a main open area for dancing, plus some seating in the back for those who need a break. The building has been set up with some great acoustics, so even picky ears are likely to be happy with the sound. There is also a fully stocked bar (beer and wine, including great local brews on tap) that runs the entire length of the room with several pay stations for quick transactions.

Coming this season to the Orange Peel (click the name of the act for more info)...

Rusted Root
Sunday, March 16th

Michael Ian Black (comedy show)
+ Michael Showalter
*Recently rescheduled to Friday, April 4th

Citizen Cope
Tuesday, April 8th

Thursday, April 10th

Lou Reed
Tuesday, April 29th

Josh Ritter
+ Ingrid Michaelson
Friday, May 2nd

+ Detroit Cobras
Wednesday, May 28th

View the entire Orange Peel calendar.

Pictures from The Orange Peel Web site.

March 6, 2008

Asheville's Accolades

While Asheville has received many accolades in past years, the 2007 Southern Living Reader's Choice Awards show that readers rank us at the top in 5 out of 15 categories! Categories include best family vacation (Disney - no surprise there), shopping (Atlanta), beach towns (Destin, FL), various restaurant categories, and city/town categories. Here's how Asheville shaped up.

Mountain Destination
Another expected victory for Asheville, with all the city has to offer by way of food, fun, and culture - plus gorgeous mountain surroundings.

Best Scenic Highway
The Blue Ridge Parkway - the best part about this highway through the mountains is that you don't have to pay for it! (Unlike Virginia's Skyline Drive.)

Best Resort/Hotel
Asheville took both the #1 and #3 spots - no surprise the Grove Park Inn & Inn on Biltmore Estate, respectively, won these.
Best Country Inn/Bed and Breakfast
Again, GPI ranked in this category, taking the #2 spot.
Public Gardens
Biltmore took the #2 spot. The Estate's kick-off to Spring, the Festival of Flowers, is just around the corner! One more sign that we're close to moving out of this cold weather slow season.

March 3, 2008

More Asheville Restaurants

Sometimes the venture into downtown Asheville for lunch or dinner can be overwhelming - finding parking, paying for parking, walking in search of where you're going, long waits once you get to the restaurant. After a long day of driving or hiking or other adventures you may not want to experience the extra hassle, especially if you've planned another day to 'do' downtown. Several restaurants in Asheville are located outside of downtown, take reservations or have shorter lines, and are just as tasty...

Marco's Pizza
Two locations in North & South Asheville.

Great Italian family restaurant straight from NYC - awesome pizza but plenty of salads, sandwiches and entrees to please everyone's taste buds and rumbling stomachs. The most popular pizza place in Asheville with locals, but lots of seating so there's hardly ever much of a wait.

Urban Burrito

Four locations each side of Asheville

Huge, tasty, customizable meals - burritos, tacos, quesadillas, salads, chili... the list goes on. Inexpensive, filling, and GOOD. Great lunch fare, or good for a quick dinner.

Located in East Asheville.

Another great Italian and Greek family restaurant, but pricer than Marcos (jeans and tees are still welcome, but the atmosphere, dishes, and prices are a little more upscale). Best for dinner, and a regular spot for locals so expect a longer wait for dinner. Insider tip: they take reservations, sometimes even as close as an hour before your planned arrival!

Corner Kitchen
Located in Biltmore Village.

Possibly the best Sunday brunch I've found in Asheville (and I've cultivated a critical taste for brunch!). They also serve breakfast & lunch (entrees under $11) and dinner fare (entrees $18-25). Really popular with locals and visitors, so expect a pretty significant wait during peak eating times. Another insider tip: they also take reservations and will accept them fairly close to arrival!

We welcome comments from our readers. If anyone else - locals or visitors - would like to share their favorite Asheville restaurants, please do so below!