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The Vanderbilts and Christmas At the Biltmore Estate

Program Number: 10404RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/25/2012 - 11/30/2012; 11/16/2014 - 11/21/2014; 11/30/2014 - 12/5/2014; 12/7/2014 - 12/12/2014; 12/14/2014 - 12/19/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Flat Rock, North Carolina
Price starting at: $698.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    

Be part of the sparkling Christmas celebration at the Biltmore Estate, America's largest mansion. George Vanderbilt was the son of the wealthiest man in America at the turn of the century and his home, Biltmore, is an outstanding example of the country estates built during the Gilded Age. Learn about the Vanderbilt family, explore the grand house, enjoy the lavish Christmas decorations and become familiar with the men who built Biltmore and designed the extensive gardens and winery.




Highlights

• Gain insights from local historians and authors who have an in-depth knowledge of the Vanderbilts and the Biltmore Estate.
• Learn about the Vanderbilt influence in Asheville and Western North Carolina, and explore the magnificent Vanderbilt Estate and Biltmore Village.
• Immerse yourself in the history, arts and architecture of Asheville, including a visit to the Asheville Art Museum.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile, some uneven paths. Elevations up to 6,000 feet.




Date Specific Information

11-16-2014, 11-30-2014, 12-7-2014

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



12-14-2014

Accommodations on this program date will be at a centrally located downtown Asheville hotel.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by Mars Hill University.




Flat Rock

In Henderson County, N.C., the village of Flat Rock is home to the Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina; and to Connemara, the home where award-winning poet, historian, novelist, and folklorist Carl Sandburg lived and died. The nearby Blue Ridge Mountains attract outdoor enthusiasts with a wealth of recreational opportunities.



Accommodations
Conference center with glass-enclosed dining room offering beautiful views of mountain splendor and lush woods.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Kevan Frasier

Kevan Frasier is an enthusiastic lecturer with an amazing depth of knowledge of the local region, with particular interest in the Vanderbilt family and the Biltmore Estate. Kevan was as a member of the history faculty at UNC Asheville, teaching both United States and African history. Since that time, he has continued to teach but today serves as the university’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations.
 
Marie George

Born in Virginia, Marie George married and moved to Naples, Italy at the age of 19. After residing in Italy for four years, she spent the next 15 years traveling with the evangelical organization The Navigators and the Billy Graham Association. An educational excursion leader since 1997, Marie is an expert on the history of the Biltmore Estate and enjoys sharing her wealth of knowledge on the Vanderbilts and their home with lifelong learners.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
  Blue Ridge Assembly 5 nights
 Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Type: Conference Center
  Description: The Blue Ridge Center is a full service conference center with modern facilities. It has a very spacious lobby with a large fireplace, ample seating, and a piano. The glass enclosed dining area frames the beautiful mountain views. The hotel type rooms have private baths and two double beds. Each floor is served by an elevator. The Blue Ridge Campus is a tobacco-free facility.
  Contact info: 84 Blue Ridge Circle
Black Mountain, NC 28711 USA
phone: 828-669-8422
web: www.blueridgeassembly.org
  Room amenities: Telephones, private baths, clock radio.
  Facility amenities: Tennis courts, trails, craft center, outdoor pool (seasonal).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Check out time: 10:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel Check-in begins at 3:00pm, Road Scholar Program registration and material pick-up begins in Conference Center lobby at 4:30pm. You will be staying at Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast at 10:30 AM. You will be staying at Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Blue Ridge Assembly
  Nearest city or town:  Black Mountain/Asheville, NC
  Nearest highway: I-40
  Nearest airport:  Asheville, NC
  From End of Program
  Location: Blue Ridge Assembly
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Black Mountain Cab Company
phone: 828-230-1121
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

call for rates
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

0.5 hours (1/2) 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Please call Black Mountain Cab Company to arrange for ground transportation from the airport or bus station to the Blue Ridge Assembly Conference Center. All transportation arrangements must be made directly by the participant prior to your arrival. Please inquire at Black Mountain Cab Company about the Mars Hill College/YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly discount.

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Pegasus Airport Limo
phone: 828-281-4600
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

0.5 hours (1/2) 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Participant is advised to make arrangements in advance.

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Customer Inspired Services
phone: 828-258-1623
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

0.5 hours (1/2) 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Participant is encouraged to make arrangements in advance.

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Diamond Executive
phone: 828-281-8139
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

0.5 hours (1/2) 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Participant is advised to make arrangements in advance.

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
Marvels Upscale Transportation
phone: 828-280-1698
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

0.5 hours (1/2) 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Participant is encouraged to make arrangements in advance.

 
Driving Directions
  Asheville, NC YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly is located approximately 14 miles east of Asheville, NC. Follow I-40 E to exit 64-Black Mountain/Montreat and turn south (right) onto Highway 9 at the end of the exit ramp. Proceed 0.5 mile to the fork in the road (will be an Ingles grocery store on your right) and veer right on to Blue Ridge Road. Drive 0.9 miles and look for the YMCA sign on your left. Turn onto Blue Ridge Assembly drive and proceed to the end of the road and our entrance. Please note, once on our property, the roads are all one-way.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: A nice friendly welcome to beautiful Western North Carolina!!!
(Sunday, November 25)

Note: Today you'll check-in to your room, register for the program, have dinner, attend a program orientation and reception.



   
 Arrive To: After a short drive on the beautiful, wooded entrance road, you can check-in to your room into the Blue Ridge Assembly Conference Center, beginning at 3:00 PM. If you arrive early, you will find a comfortable lobby in which to wait until check-in time. This would be a wonderful time to leisurely walk around the landscaped grounds and streams and enjoy the views. Program registration and material pick-up begins in Conference Center lobby at 4:30 pm.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served buffet-style in the Blue Ridge Assembly dining hall. A salad bar and an entrée bar are yours to enjoy, accompanied with drinks and desserts. Sugar free desserts are available upon request.
 Evening: As we gather after dinner, you'll have time to get to know your fellow travelers and your program leaders! We always have a great time meeting one another during the Sunday evening orientation session, as well as reviewing the schedule and printed materials for the week, giving you information about the campus and answering any questions you might have.
   
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Let us introduce Western North Carolina to you, the intriguing city of Asheville, and America's treasure, the Biltmore House and Gardens.
(Monday, November 26)

Note: After learning about the city and some of it's secrets, we'll go exploring, perhaps to the Basilica of St. Lawrence, Rafael Guastavino's 1909 masterpiece and to Asheville's celebrity resort destination, The Grove Park Inn.



   
 Breakfast: A full buffet breakfast is provided for you each morning. Coffee is available for the early risers in the lobby! Our kitchen staff is very responsive to your requests, so please ask!
 Morning: We'll begin the week with an Asheville historian and expert, who will prepare you for your week in our city. We want you to know more about the city than what meets the eye. You'll learn how it began as a crossroads for the Native American Cherokee Indians and grew into one of the highest ranked destinations in the country. You will gain knowledge of it's history of over two hundred years and of it's becoming a storehouse for music, culture, arts, crafts, and other treasures.
 Lunch: Full lunch buffet provided.
 Afternoon: Your afternoon will be spent on a field trip to downtown Asheville, where you'll experience some of the places uniquely-Asheville! You'll learn first hand about the world and culture where George Vanderbilt built his luxurious home and brought his family to live.
 Dinner: Full dinner buffet at Blue Ridge Assembly.
 Evening: Appalachian Cultural Specialist gives a presentation about the rich culture of the Southern Appalachians and it's Christmas traditions, highlighted with archival materials of the Victorian era.
   
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: History of Asheville, it's nationally recognized collection of Art-Deco architectural buildings, and the rich history of the Asheville Vanderbilt Family
(Tuesday, November 27)

Note: Visit the beautiful downtown Asheville area!



   
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet.
 Morning: The story of a city is told by the architecture of its buildings; and for Asheville, which has one of the best collections of art deco buildings in the country, this story is both unique and beautiful. As you learn more about the city, you will understand more about the stories of the people, architects, masons, artisans, and the stories told by the stones. With the arrival of the railroad, Asheville became a mountain escape for the wealthy and was transformed into a resort town as well as a center for therapeutic health treatments in the 1880's. When the Crash halted Asheville's architecture in 1929, it was a boom town, a home for the Vanderbilt's and Edwin Wiley Grove, a resort for Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and other historic luminaries, and a mecca for rising young architects following in the footsteps of one of the masters, Richard Morris Hunt, who designed the lavish Biltmore House in 1895.
 Lunch: Full lunch buffet provided.
 Afternoon: We'll spend the afternoon in downtown Asheville, where you'll have the opportunity to view the magnificent architecture, buildings that have been preserved and converted to modern facilities of businesses and shops today. Site visits may include the Grove Arcade, said in its time to be the most elegant building in America; as well as the "Old Kentucky Home" birthplace of world renowned author, Thomas Wolfe, and other destinations.
 Dinner: Full dinner buffet provided.
 Evening: Biltmore Estate is more than it's beautiful exterior. It is a place rich in personal history, national society and wealth. The gentleman and lady, George and Edith Vanderbilt, endured struggles and triumphs, and made contributions to Western North Carolina that are still visible today. Our evening program will introduce you to the Vanderbilts, explain their connection to the Northeastern Vanderbilt family, their diverse and breathtaking art, tapestry, and furniture collections, and their contributions to farming and forestry, including the first school of forestry in the United States.
   
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Spend the afternoon and evening at the beautiful Biltmore House, adorned in her Christmas finery!
(Wednesday, November 28)

Note: Enjoy a leisurely evening candlelight stroll through the sparkling luminaries and the hundred plus Christmas trees twinkling their welcome to you from the Biltmore House.



   
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet provided.
 Morning: Take advantage of a free morning to rest up in preparation for an evening out at the Biltmore House. A list of optional activities will be provided, including a historic tour of the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, one time home to the Black Mountain College of the 1930s, (weather permitting).
 Lunch: Full lunch buffet provided.
 Afternoon: We'll begin the afternoon in Biltmore Village, the area surrounding the entrance into the Biltmore Estate, designed and developed by George Vanderbilt and his architects. We'll have a guided tour of the Cathedral of All Souls, a structure conceived as the focus of the village and built in 1896 by George Vanderbilt as the parish church for his family and members of the community. (www.allsoulscathedral.org/history) After our visit to the village, we'll enjoy more touring of the Biltmore Estate.
 Dinner: Dinner during fieldtrip.
 Evening: One of the highlights of the week will be this evening candlelight tour of the Biltmore House with it's beautiful grand-scale Christmas decorations. Step back in time to the late 1800s as you view elegant Victorian decorations, hundreds of wreaths, bows, and poinsettias, miles of evergreen garland, and thousands of ornaments twinkling in the firelight. Each tree is uniquely decorated to match the room in which it is located. Marvel at the forty foot Christmas tree that towers above visitors in the formal dining hall.
   
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Enjoy a guided behind-the-scenes tour of Mr. Vanderbilt's 250-room French château; return to your favorite places in the house or use the time to explore the beautiful gardens and grounds, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
(Thursday, November 29)

Note: Return to Biltmore House, Gardens, and Winery. Time allocated for both a guided behind-the-scenes visit and self-guided time.



   
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet provided.
 Morning: Touring of the Biltmore Estate and House continues as attendees receive a special guided behind-the-scenes tour of many rooms not open to the public. Learn what's involved in restoring a room, understand the advanced mechanical (water, heat, electricity) functionality of the estate as compared to the rest of the country at that time, and have the opportunity to ask the guide any questions you may have.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Biltmore Estate! Everything at the Estate is first class and this leisurely holiday luncheon is no exception. You'll enjoy scrumptious turkey and dressing, and all the trimmings, plus fabulous homemade desserts at the Deerpark Restaurant on the grounds.
 Afternoon: Biltmore Estate visit continues after lunch to other points of interest on the estate, such as the Biltmore Estate Winery, farm areas, and more.
 Dinner: Full dinner buffet provided.
 Evening: Free evening for attendees to explore the area on their own, visit with nearby friends or relatives, or make preparations for departure on Friday. An optional video, books, games, etc. available for those staying on premises.
   
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly - Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: "The Gardens of Biltmore."
(Friday, November 30)

Note: We'll wrap up our week, check-out of your room at the conference center, and say goodbye to our new friends.



   
 Depart From: Program ends at approximately 10:30 AM.
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet provided.
 Morning: Attendees will be given a short Biltmore Gardens presentation, followed by an opportunity to ask any remaining questions, and check-out. At this time we will gladly assist participants with any travel plans they may be beginning today.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Blue Ridge Assembly Local Attractions
Many sightseeing opportunities in the area. For additional information, visit www.exploreasheville.com
  Museums, Galleries, Arts, Crafts, and more
The Asheville Arts and Crafts, Fine Arts, and Gallery Art scenes are booming. www.romanticasheville.com/galleries.html For additional information, visit www.ashevilleguidebook.com/
  Parks, Natural Attractions, and National Parks
Western NC is home of many natural attractions, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Mitchell, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and Chimney Rock National Park, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, and more! For additional information, visit www.ashevilleguidebook.com/wnc/parks_&_national_forest.htm
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon


Author: Howard E. Covington Jr.


Description: From Publishers Weekly: Set amid thousands of lushly landscaped acres in the North Carolina mountains, the Biltmore estate is a 250-room Gilded Age mansion stuffed to the rafters with objets d'art. Writing a very authorized business history rather than an architectural appreciation, journalist Covington celebrates the estate's transformation from quasifeudal folly to lucrative tourist mecca. Built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, who played lord of the manor to hundreds of tenant farmers and servants, the estate passed in the 1960s to his grandson William Cecil, whose tight-fisted budgets, canny marketing initiatives and rapt attention to customer service turned it into a profitable museum of robber-baron privilege, selling more tickets than Colonial Williamsburg. The author's sycophantic account of this not unduly exciting saga is mainly a tribute to Cecil, who wrote the afterword. Covington defends the Biltmore owner's model of private, for-profit historical preservation against charges of commercialism leveled by nonprofit preservationists, repeats his complaints about inheritance taxes, extols his entrepreneurial daring, salutes his Biltmore restoration projects ("surpassed what many had seen anywhere") and raves about "customer satisfaction reports... comparable to those enjoyed by a five-star resort." This anodyne hospitality-industry success story will find a place in the Biltmore gift shop, but probably nowhere else. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.





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