A Trip Up Sunset Mountain

My latest little journey took me up Sunset Mountain to the Grove Park Inn overlooking Asheville to meet with the hotel’s sales director. Even after thirty years, I never mind going up to the Grove Park Inn, even if for a business meeting, for the aura of this historic 1913 resort hotel is always invigorating, even when not brimming with Arts and Crafts enthusiasts.

But I have given the staff one directive:  either we have lunch or we have a meeting, but not both, as one always seems to detract from the other when combined.

While you might think that our meeting had to do with the upcoming 2018 Arts and Crafts Conference, actually that was not the case. Sales managers are always looking ahead a few years, and while my current set of contracts runs through 2019, his first question was straight to the point:  how long was I going to run the National Arts and Crafts Conference?

And I never hesitated.

“So long as enough people want to come,” I explained, “I’ll keep organizing it.”

He was pleased to hear that, for we make the third weekend in February – not exactly an easy weekend to sell to a typical corporate convention whose attendees want to play the Donald Ross golf course or go white-water rafting – easy for the hotel’s staff. I provide them with notebooks of instructions, lists of events for every meeting room, and large floor plans detailing every booth and the number of display cases, tables, easels, and chairs each must have in place before the exhibitors start moving in at 8:00am on Thursday morning.

And like any diligent sales manager, he had another key question:  how do you make an event not just last thirty years, but still be growing?

And I still did not need to hesitate.

Arts and Crafts is not just a style, I explained, it’s a lifestyle, so this is more than just another antiques show or seminar series. It’s a once a year opportunity to combine antiques, contemporary works, seminars, discussions, tours, workshops, demonstrations and friendships in an historic Arts and Crafts resort hotel with modern amenities, from a world class spa to the latest in audio-visual technology.

Add to that, I continued, the attention Asheville has garnered for its rejuvenated downtown of shops, galleries and restaurants, its historic neighborhoods, and unique attractions such as the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the River Arts District, and Biltmore Village, and people have yet another reason to take a long weekend break from winter here.

Top it all off with classic Southern hospitality from the staff, who state with pride that ours is their favorite weekend of the year, and the formula for success is sealed.

I’m not sure what he thought after I left, but as I strolled through the mammoth Great Hall on my way to my truck, I was already looking forward to next February.

Until next Monday,

Together we grow stronger.


Lower Photo: John Post of Hog Hill Pottery.

Center:  Thirty-year exhibitor Jean Oberkirsch.

Top: The Inn as it looked from the golf course in 1913.