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The Vanderbilts and Christmas At the Biltmore Estate

Program Number: 10404RJ
Start and End Dates:
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: $1,049.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Salt    

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
   Renaissance Hotel Asheville
  Asheville, NC 5 nights
 Renaissance Hotel Asheville
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Contact the hotel direct for availability and to schedule additional overnight stays. Prices will vary depending on the time of year. Call Paula at 828-210-3006 or Sharon at 828-210-3009 for questions and reservations. Please mention that you are with the Mars Hill University Road Scholar group.
  Contact info: 31 Woodfin Street
Asheville, NC 28801 USA
phone: 828-252-8211
web: www.marriott.com/hotels/fact-sheet/travel/avlbr-renaissance-asheville-hotel/
  Room amenities: Air conditioned (individually climate controlled) - Alarm clock - Bottled water - Coffee/Tea maker - mini fridge - Iron and ironing board - Telephone with voice mail - cable TV - Pay per view movies.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies Contact the hotel direct for availability and to schedule additional overnight stays. Prices will vary depending on the time of year.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: varies Contact the hotel direct for availability and to schedule additional overnight stays. Prices will vary depending on the time of year.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel Check-in begins at 4:00 p.m., Road Scholar Program registration and material pick-up begins at 4:30 p.m. You will be staying at Renaissance Hotel Asheville that night.
  End of Program:
10:30 a.m. You will be staying at Renaissance Hotel Asheville the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Asheville, NC
  From End of Program
  Location: Asheville, NC
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Asheville

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
GrandyCo Transportation of Asheville
phone: 828-273-3214
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

.5 hour 

 

Distance:

 

15 miles

   

Please mention that you are with the Mars Hill University Road Scholar Program for a special rate.

 

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.

 
Driving Directions
  From Interstate 240 I-240 East: Take exit 5A (Merrimom Avenue). Turn left at the light then left on Woodfin street. Go 2 blocks, the hotel is on the right. I-240 West: Take Exit 5A (Merrimom Avenue); left onto Merrimom Avenue. Turn left at the second light onto Woodfin Street. Go 2 blocks, the hotel is on the right.
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, December 14)

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



   
 Arrive To: Check-in begins at 4:00pm at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel in downtown Asheville. Program registration and material pick-up begins at 4:30pm.
 Dinner: A delicious dinner will be served in the hotel at the writer's Bistro, a casual chic restaurant inspired by North Carolina's rich literary history.
 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. We will review the schedule and printed materials for the week, give you information about the hotel and answer any questions you might have.
   
Accommodations: Renaissance Hotel Asheville
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Learn about Victorian Christmas Traditions, visit the Blue Ridge Parkway's Folk Art Center, the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the fabulous Grove Park Inn.
(Monday, December 15)

Note: A light day of walking as we visit the Folk Art Center, the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the Grove Park Inn.



   
 Breakfast: A full breakfast buffet
 Morning: Christmas is a most special time of year and this morning an Appalachian Cultural Specialist will present a program on the rich culture of the Southern Appalachians and it's Christmas traditions, highlighted with archival materials of the Victorian era.
 Lunch: Full lunch buffet provided.
 Afternoon: We'll begin our afternoon with a visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center. The Center is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild and showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians. The center also houses three galleries, a library and a craft shop. Afterwards we'll visit the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Designed by Rafael Guastavino, the basilica's dome is considered to be the largest free standing elliptical dome in North America. Then it's on to the beautiful Grove Park Inn for a tour of this unique and beautiful facility. The Inn opened in 1913 and through the years has provided accommodations for ten U.S. presidents, including Barak Obama, as well as numerous other people of notoriety.
 Dinner: A delicious dinner will be served in the hotel at the writer's Bistro, a casual chic restaurant inspired by North Carolina's rich literary history.
 Evening: This evening a local historian and expert will tell us about the city of Asheville. We'll learn about its beginning as a crossroads for Native American Indians and its growing into one of the highest ranked destinations in the country. We'll learn of the history of the city and its becoming a storehouse for music, culture, arts, crafts and other treasures. We'll learn about the architecture of Asheville, a city that has one of the best collection of art deco buildings in the country. We'll understand the role of the railroad in her history as well as the effects of the stock market crash in 1929... over two hundred years of history condensed into an evening lecture to help us gain a greater understanding of the Asheville we will visit tomorrow!!
   
Accommodations: Renaissance Hotel Asheville
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: A day in downtown Asheville... A motor coach city tour, visit to the Asheville Art Museum, lunch at Pack's Tavern and a tour of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Museum...and more!
(Tuesday, December 16)

Note: A fair amount of walking through the Asheville Art Museum and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Museum.



   
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet.
 Morning: We'll begin our day enjoying a comfortable drive through downtown Asheville. Unique architecture, historical sites and other points of interest will be highlighted along the way. The remainder of the morning will be spent at the Asheville Art Museum. The museum's web page describes the facility best. "Founded by artists in 1948 in Asheville, NC, the Asheville Art Museum annually presents an exciting, inviting and active schedule of exhibitions and public programs based on its Permanent Collection of 20th and 21st century American art. Any visit will also include experiences with works of significance to Western North Carolina's cultural heritage including Studio Craft, Black Mountain College and Cherokee artists. Special exhibitions feature renowned regional and national artists and explore issues of enduring interest."
 Lunch: Lunch at Pack's Tavern, one of the many cozy and quaint eateries of downtown Asheville.
 Afternoon: Following our delicious lunch we will have some free time to explore the downtown area. Numerous businesses including art galleries, sweet shops, craft shops and more make downtown Asheville most unique. Mid-afternoon we'll tour the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Museum, a state historic site. "Considered by many to be one of the giants of 20th Century American Literature, Thomas Wolfe immortalized his childhood home in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe’s colorful portrayal of his family, his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and the Old Kentucky Home boarding house earned the historic Victorian home a place as one of American Literature’s most famous landmarks" (quote from www.wolfememorial.com).
 Dinner: This evening we will enjoy a wonderful catered Christmas meal in the Sams Executive Dining Room of Pittman Dining Hall on the campus of Mars Hill University.
 Evening: Following our evening meal we will be entertained by some of Mars Hill University's most talented students. The university, founded in 1856, is the oldest educational institution on it's original site in Western North Carolina. Mars Hill University has sponsored Road Scholar Programs since the 1970's and we look forward to "rolling out the red carpet" for our special guests!
   
Accommodations: Renaissance Hotel Asheville
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: The beautiful Biltmore House, adorned in her Christmas finery!
(Wednesday, December 17)

Note: Enjoy a leisurely evening 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: This morning we'll learn about the infamous Vanderbilt family and the construction of the Biltmore House as a prelude to our upcoming visit to the estate.
 Lunch: A delicious lunch will be provided.
 Afternoon: We'll begin our afternoon with a visit to the Cathedral of All Souls in Historic Biltmore Village. Built by George Vanderbilt in 1896, the cathedral serves as the local parish church for the village. After a brief introduction and tour of the facility, we'll take a few minutes to relax and enjoy some holiday music played on the cathedral pipe organ. We'll then travel to the visitor's center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several miles of the parkway in the Asheville area span across lands once owned by George Vanderbilt. The parkway, America's longest and most narrow parkway, is known as "America's Favorite Drive" and is a major tourist attraction of Western North Carolina. Through exhibits and a brief introductory video we'll learn of the Blue Ridge Parkway and its offerings... with the hopes of encouraging another visit to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina!
 Dinner: Dinner during fieldtrip.
 Evening: One of the highlights of the week will be this evening 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: Renaissance Hotel Asheville
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, December 18)

Note: Return to Biltmore House, Gardens, and Winery. Time allocated for both a guided behind-the-scenes visit and self-guided time. There's a lot of walking on this day so bring comfortable shoes!



   
 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: This afternoon we will visit Antler Hill Village, home of the estate winery. The first vineyards were planted in 1971 and eight years later in 1979 the first bottle of wine was sold. You'll have an opportunity to tour the winery complex and enjoy a complimentary wine-tasting. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent visiting the other exhibits and shops of Antler Hill Village.
 Dinner: A delicious dinner will be served in the hotel at the writer's Bistro, a casual chic restaurant inspired by North Carolina's rich literary history.
 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: Renaissance Hotel Asheville
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: "The Gardens of Biltmore."
(Friday, December 19)

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: The Biltmore Estate is home to one of the largest azalea gardens in the United States. This morning, attendees will get a glimpse into springtime at Biltmore with a short Biltmore Gardens presentation, followed by an opportunity to ask any remaining questions, and check-out.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
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.



Asheville Mountain Majesty


Author: LouHarshaw


Description: "Sometimes called the Paris of the South, Asheville is known for its grand mountain views, rich and diverse culture, deep-rooted artistic heritage, historical architecture, and the legendary Biltmore Estate. Author Lou Harshaw - historian, teacher, lecturer, and lifelong resident of Asheville - gives a firsthand look at the history and development of this magnificent city by drawing upon a host of historical sources and an extensive oral tradition. The result is a journey through time that documents the emergence and evolution of one of America's most attractive and intriguing cities."





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