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Biltmore Estate’s Victorian Christmas Splendor and an Appalachian Mountain Christmas

Program Number: 10345RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/30/2014 - 12/5/2014; 12/7/2014 - 12/12/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Montreat, North Carolina
Price starting at: $659.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Take part in a week filled with poetic musings, folktales and Victorian carols as you experience the beauty of the Christmas season at the fabulous Biltmore Estate. Contrast the Estate’s “gilded age” lifestyle and holiday traditions with the heart-warming history and hospitality of the Appalachian Mountain people. Sing favorite Victorian carols and hearken to poetic pleasures as you discuss the music and literature of the era. Consider those who took prominent roles in building the house and laying out the grounds of Biltmore, including Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmstead.




Highlights

• Feel a sense of childlike wonder and awe at Biltmore, decorated with dozens of Christmas trees, hundreds of wreaths, bows, poinsettias, miles of evergreen garland and thousands of ornaments, as you stroll through the house during a candlelit evening and return the next day for viewing in the daylight.
• Share three centuries of memories and recall a simpler way of life as you experience Appalachian holiday customs, food, games, music, decorations and crafts.
• Enjoy a tasty holiday dinner at Deerpark Restaurant on the Biltmore Estate.



Activity Particulars

Walking 300 yards over inclines, uneven terrain. Many stairs at Biltmore Estate; some areas accessible by elevator. Optional walking or hiking activities.



Coordinated by Montreat Conference Center.




Montreat

Originally founded as a spiritual retreat center, Montreat, nestled on Lake Susan at the foot of Graybeard Mountain, continues to be a peaceful destination for those seeking respite. Footpaths weave through the 4,000 acres of surrounding woodlands and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains offer other recreational opportunities.



Accommodations
Beautiful conference center overlooking small lake in the center of Montreat. Spacious lounges, classrooms, fireplace and dining facilities in same building. No Accommodations option excludes breakfasts.

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

Righton McCallum is a retired English teacher and research librarian. She has taught the Local History and Research course at Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, N.C. Righton authored the folklore chapter of the textbook “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History” and has also written two books of her own Carolina-inspired poetry, “The Montreat Gate” and “Beside the Lake.” She and her husband have two sons, two granddaughters and an opinionated Scottish Terrier.
 
Marilyn McCredie

Born in the Hooper's Creek section of Henderson County, North Carolina, into a family that has held land there since land grant days, Marilyn McCredie grew up steeped in Appalachian folkways and tradition. This, plus her own rich experience, is the basis for most of her storytelling. She is a debunker of myths and a dispeller of stereotypes regarding mountain people. Her depth of knowledge and her skillful presentation have led her to be called “a cultural ambassador.”
 
Anne Lough

Anne Lough is a nationally known traditional musician who performs and teaches at schools, workshops and festivals throughout the East and Midwest. She holds a bachelor’s of music education from Murray State University in Kentucky and a master’s from Western Carolina University. Anne is particularly respected for her artistic, sensitive style of playing of the Appalachian dulcimer, a unique string instrument. Her music has been features on a PBS Christmas special and in educational videos.
 
Bobbie Pell

For over 25 years, Bobbie Pell has shared her love of story with audiences through written works, storytelling performances and workshops. Her specialty area, Celtic folklore and traditions, focuses on faerie lore, ballads and myths. A modern-day minstrel, Bobbie unites song and story in delightful images and universal themes. She holds degrees in Outdoor Environmental Education, Creative Writing and Literature. She lives on Avalon Ridge with her husband Ron and their many golden retrievers.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
  Montreat, NC 5 nights
 Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Originally completed in 1929, the 101 room Assembly Inn has undergone a major renovation. New windows have been installed throughout the building, as well as an upgraded heating and air-conditioning system. All guest rooms and public areas have been refurbished with new furniture, carpet, paint, art, lighting and bedding. This stately hotel is a beautiful stone building, overlooking a small lake. It has a beautiful, spacious lobby with a fireplace and comfortable furniture for fellowship, puzzles and games, or just relaxing. The building was made from native stone that sparkles with mica. The dining room is in the same building as our housing and meeting facilities, and an elevator serves all floors (except for 7 steps going into one main meeting area). Of Montreat's 4,000 acres, 2,500 acres are dedicated to wilderness and are entered in the NC Registry of National Heritage Areas, and we have more than a dozen maintained hiking trails. Tennis courts also available. We will have board and card games in the lobby for your enjoyment, but if you have a favorite, please feel free to bring it along. An outdoor pool is located on the grounds, but it not open during our Road Scholar programs (only open June 1 - first week in August). However, a lovely fitness center (Cheshire Fitness) is located just a few miles away, and they offer daily or weekly rates for visitors. There are no TVs or phones in the individual housing rooms, but there is a TV in the main lobby, and guests can be reached by leaving a message at the front desk (staffed 24 hours a day). If it is urgent, the front desk staff will contact the coordinator who will deliver the message in person, otherwise a note will be left on the guest's housing door. A quiet reading room is also available, located near the main lobby of the Assembly Inn.
  Ship Information: 401 Assembly Drive, Montreat, NC 28757
  Contact info: 401 Assembly Drive
Montreat, NC 28757 USA
phone: 828-669-2911 x0
web: www.montreat.org/stay/assembly-inn/
  Room amenities: All housing accommodations will be in the Assembly Inn. All rooms have private baths. The bathrooms have a tub/shower unit. ADA rooms have walk-in showers. Double occupancy rooms have either two twin beds, a queen-size bed or a king-size bed. Single occupancy rooms have one queen or king-size bed. The bedrooms also have a clock or clock/radio, Kleenex, closets and lamps, as well as a sink and counter and a large mirror. It would be helpful to bring an umbrella, a flashlight, and individual make-up mirror, if desired. Each housing area has an individual heating and air-conditioning unit. Wireless Internet access (with personal laptop) in all areas of the Assembly Inn. Hair dryers and irons available from the front desk. Beautiful rooms, beautiful scenery outside too!
  Facility amenities: All housing accommodations will be in the Assembly Inn. All rooms have private baths. The bathrooms have a tub/shower unit, and ADA rooms have a walk-in shower. Double occupancy rooms have two twin beds, a queen-size bed or a king-size bed. Single occupancy rooms have either a queen or king-size bed. The bedrooms also have a clock or clock/radio, Kleenex, closets and lamps, as well as a sink and counter and a large mirror. It would be helpful to bring an umbrella, a flashlight, and individual make-up mirror, if desired. Blankets, sheets, pillows, (beds are made), bath mat and a towel set will be provided (rooms are serviced by our housekeeping staff and clean towels are available daily). Each housing and meeting area has an individual heating and air-conditioning unit. Snack and cold drink vending machines are located on the ground floor, and ice machines are on the second and third floors. Wireless Internet access (with personal laptop) in all areas of the Assembly Inn. Computer in main lobby for access to email and Internet. Courtesy phones are located on each floor.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: call for price/availability. Rooms are not typically available, due to retreats. Participants may call to check availability. If no rooms are available, the coordinator will assist them in finding a hotel nearby.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: call for price/availability. Rooms are not typically available, due to retreats. Participants may call to check availability. If no rooms are available, the coordinator will assist them in finding a hotel nearby.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in between 4 - 5:30pm. Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30pm in the Assembly Inn Dining Room. You will be staying at Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center that night.
  End of Program:
Our closing program will be at 10:30 a.m. Check out is 11 a.m. Box lunches are provided for everyone to enjoy on their travels. You will be staying at Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking at the Assembly Inn in Montreat.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Montreat, NC
  Nearest city or town:  Black Mountain, NC; nearest large town: Asheville, NC
  Nearest highway: Route 9 to Interstate 40
  Nearest airport:  Asheville Regional Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Montreat, NC
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Greenville, SC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

None - Car Required

 

Travel Time:

 

1 1/2 hours, all interstate 

 

Charlotte, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

None - Car Required

 

Travel Time:

 

2 hours, all interstate 

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
various... see listing below
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

price varies, avg price is $60 per person, one way
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

45 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

35 miles

   

The Road Scholar coordinator suggests/recommends to you Grandyco Car Service 828-273-3214 and is happy to coordinate transportation for guests coming in to the Asheville airport, so price is less Other options (visit www.flyavl.com for more) Marvels Transport 828-280-1698 A Red Cab 828-232-1112 Areawide Transportation 828-713-4710 Beaver Lake Cab 828-252-1913 Checker Cab 828-254-1155

 

Knoxville, TN

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

None - Car Required

 

Travel Time:

 

2 hours 

 

Asheville, NC

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
same as listed for airport
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$40
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

18 miles

   

arrange for transport with Road Scholar coordinator at Montreat; she will coordinate times with other participants.

 
Driving Directions
  From All Points - to Interstate 40 Come to Western North Carolina via Interstate 40; use exit 64 for Black Mountain/Montreat/Route 9 (15 miles east of Asheville, NC). At the exit, turn north on Route 9 (go through one traffic light, across a railroad track and another traffic light, and up the hill to the traffic light). Go straight across where Route 9 becomes Montreat Road, and travel approximately two miles to the Montreat entrance (stone gate). From the gate, continue approximatley 1 1/2 miles to the middle of the conference center. The Assembly Inn is on the hill on the left, across from Lake Susan. Pull up to the front door of the Inn to unload, and then park your car in one of the marked spaces along the lake or the Inn. Please note: do not trust a map or GPS that tries to bring you in on Route 9 (except for the last few miles) instead of Interstate 40 (unless you desire to travel along very sharp curves, up and down mountains). Also, do not take Flat Creek Road... come up Montreat Road (Route 9 North).
Elevation Note: Participants may wish to hike on their own in surrounding mountains, which peak elev. exceed 5,400.

Equipment Requirements: Anyone wishing to enjoy outdoor activities (walking, hiking) should bring hiking boots or shoes with tread on bottom.
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: Orientation
(Sunday, December 7)
   
 Afternoon: Arrival at the Assembly Inn, check in between 4 - 5:30 pm. Pull up to the covered area to unload your luggage, then park your vehicle close to the Inn in any marked parking spot. Enjoy a nice walk around Lake Susan or relax in the lobby and meet your fellow participants.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Evening: Our opening program/orientation will be at 7 p.m. We'll spend some time learning a little about Montreat, going over the schedule and activities for the week, and beginning to get to know each other. We know you'll be tired after your travels, so we'll end the evening around 8 p.m. but refreshments, games, TV and fellowship await those who desire in the lobby.
   
Accommodations: Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2:
(Monday, December 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Morning: Morning Lecture on "The Men Who Built the Biltmore" with Righton McCallum mid morning, we'll have a refreshment break in the lobby, We'll return to class for a lecture on the Vanderbilt Family History and a video from "biography" about the Vanderbilts (with Righton McCallum)
 Lunch: Lunch is served from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Afternoon: The afternoon class begins our exploration of An Appalachian Mountain Christmas with Marilyn McMinn McCredie. After class, there will be free time or optional guided walk around Montreat
 Dinner: Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Evening: 7:00 "Fun in the Mountains" with Glenn & Evelyn Bannerman Games/cards and tv available in the lobby of the Inn for fellowship.
   
Accommodations: Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:
(Tuesday, December 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Morning: The morning course will explore (though videos and discussion) the different seasons at the Biltmore (the preparation for Christmas and the Gardens and Flowers). Mid-morning, we'll have a refreshment break to enjoy fellowship and discuss what we've learned so far... Then, we'll return to the classroom to discuss aspects of the Gilded Age
 Lunch: Lunch is served from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Afternoon: Right after lunch, we will return to the classroom for "what not to miss" with Righton. After an hour in class, we'll board the bus for a visit to the All Souls Cathedral, located in Asheville near the Estate (built by George Vanderbilt as a worship center for his family and the community). There will be time to explore the Biltmore Village area and to see the train depot and the architecture from the period. From there, we'll go onto the Biltmore Estate grounds for our visit to the Winery (wine tasting at end of tour)
 Dinner: at 5:45, we have reservations for dinner at Deerpark Restaurant, on the Biltmore Estate. This charming, rustic restaurant was originally an historic barn designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Now transformed into a courtyard restaurant with walls of windows, Deerpark Restaurant serves a generous array of Southern family-style dishes and Appalachian specialties.
 Evening: Following dinner, we'll enter the Biltmore House for our Candlelight tour. Biltmore House is beautiful in all seasons of the year, but the Candlelight experience is nothing short of magical. You'll see the house as the first guests of the Vanderbilts did when they first opened the home. Musicians and entertainers are on all different levels of the house. You'll go through at your own pace, and there are docents available for questions. we will board the bus at 9:45 p.m. for departure back to Montreat
   
Accommodations: Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:
(Wednesday, December 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Morning: The bus departs Montreat to return to the Biltmore Estate for continued tour. You may re-enter the house to experience its beauty in the daytime, and walk through the gardens and conservatory (we will enjoy box lunches at the conservatory) and then visit "Antler Village," the farm and garden area.
 Lunch: Box lunches at the conservatory (come in time to enjoy your lunch and be ready to depart conservatory by 1:00 p.m.)
 Afternoon: We depart from the Biltmore Estate around 1:45 p.m. and stop by St. Basilica of St. Lawrence. After that, we return to Montreat for the rest of the afternoon for free time. There will be a special event in Montreat this afternoon.... a Christmas Tea at the Presbyterian Heritage Center (4 p.m.). Come join us for some Christmas goodies! Note: You may choose to drive on your own or carpool so that you can remain at the Estate for as long as you desire.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Evening: 7:00 "An Appalachian Mountain Christmas," with Marilyn McMinn McCredie.
   
Accommodations: Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5:
(Thursday, December 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Morning: The morning course/lecture explores, "Here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green.. " (music and literature -- Vanderbilt family and those who worked at the estate) We'll have a refreshment break mid morning and then return for more music and literature with Bobbie Pell.
 Lunch: Lunch is served from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Afternoon: This afternoon, we'll have an opportunity to visit Vance Birthplace in Weaverville, NC. This pioneer farmstead, tucked in the Reems Creek Valley, features the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance. The five-room log house--reconstructed around original chimneys--and its outbuildings are furnished to evoke the period from 1795- 1840. Vance's political career as Civil War officer, North Carolina governor, and U.S. senator is traced at the homestead. Also included is the history of Vance's famous mountain family. Learn more by visiting their website: http://www.nchistoricsites.org/vance/
 Dinner: Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Evening: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m., "Stories of Christmas" Donna Marie Todd
   
Accommodations: Assembly Inn, Montreat Conference Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6:
(Friday, December 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast served from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. in the Assembly Inn Dining Room
 Morning: The morning course continues to explore aspects of the literature and music, both of the Vanderbilts and their society as well as the folks who worked at the estate (ballads, oral tradition). We will then look back over the week and discuss what we've learned about the Vanderbilts, the Victorian era, and the Gilded Age. Our closing program will be at 10:30 where we'll talk about the week and say our goodbyes. Box lunches are available for everyone to enjoy (either in the lobby or during your travels). Special Note: If you desire to stay, Montreat's very own "Candlelight Christmas at the Assembly Inn" program will be this evening. Tickets are $30 and include a wonderful holiday dinner as well as a concert by the Montreat College Choir. Visit our website for more information, or contact Polly at (828) 419-9804
 Lunch: Box lunches for everyone to enjoy (either in the lobby on during your travels).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Montreat, NC Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
The Asheville Chamber has specific information on Asheville and the surrounding area. Plenty of shops and places to visit! Enjoy a trolley tour of the city... For additional information, visit www.ashevillechamber.org
  Biltmore Estate
George Vanderbilt's 255-room mansion built at the end of the 19th Century, with a magnificent art collection and gardens covering 35 acres. For additional information, visit www.biltmore.com
  Black Mountain / Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce located in downtown Black Mountain. Phone number 828 669-2300 Quaint small town with lots of unique shops to explore. Several of these shops are "art" based -- with items the owners make. Information on all area attractions! For additional information, visit www.exploreblackmountain.com
  Black Mountain Golf Course
Boasts the world's longest fairway. Beautiful course with views of the mountains on all sides. For additional information, visit townofblackmountain.org
  Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachians -- and offer some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere. Hiking trails abound, both in Montreat and in the surrounding area with seasonal flora and fauna.
  Carl Sandburg Home
A simple farmhouse and goat farm donated to the Park Service by Mrs. Sandburg after the famous author and poet's death. Video about the Sandburgs--his literary work--and hers in breeding goats. House kept as though they could come home any minute! For additional information, visit nps.gov/carl
  Cherokee Indian Village
The Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and Unto These Hills outdoor play (seasonal).
  Chimney Rock Park
Located in the Hickory Nut Gorge. Enjoy an elevator ride up 26 stores in a granite shaft to the chimney level. Gorgeous views from the top of the "chimney," and lots of hiking trails. Admission fee required. For additional information, visit chimneyrockpark.com
  Folk Art Center
Home of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild (located on the Blue Ridge Parkway) in east Asheville For additional information, visit southernhighlandguild.org/folkart.html
  Grandfather Mountain
Located in Linvolle, NC; attractions include a mile-high swinging bridge, natural habitat area, and hiking trails For additional information, visit grandfather.com
  Harrah's Casino
Harrah's Casino on the Cherokee Indian Reservation For additional information, visit www.harrahs.com/our_casinos/che/index.html
  Linville Caverns
A 35-minute walking tour through caverns deep under the Humpback Mountain. For additional information, visit linvillecaverns.com
  Thomas Wolfe Home
The childhood home of the famous author -- includes a video about him. House has been made into a museum. For additional information, visit www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/wolfe/wolfe.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


Author: H. E. Covington


The Vanderbilts


Author: Jerry Patterson


The Vanderbilts and the Gilded Age


Author: John Foreman


Richard Morris Hunt


Author: Paul Baker


Alva-- That Belmont-Vanderbilt Woman


Author: Margaret H. Rector


The Vanderbilt Women


Author: Clarice Starz


Great American Mansions


Author: Merrill Folson


Biltmore Estate


Author: John Bryan




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