Posts Tagged ‘biltmore’

About That New Chair

May 2nd, 2016 by Honey Hill

New Chair“It” happens almost every weekend.  “It” is the question.  “It” usually gets asked by our guests while they are checking in.  “It” (the question) is: “So, why did you buy a B&B and become innkeepers?”

Depending on how spirited I feel, I offer up either the “Cliff Notes” version or the full “Moby Dick”.    Either version tells pretty much the same story…

  • We were dismayed with the collapse of paradise in South Florida…rampant development, over crowding, insane traffic, escalating property taxes, skyrocketing insurance, pollution of the reefs and the everglades, cost of living, escalating crime, etc.,
  • We wanted to be closer to our families…mine in the Upstate and Tom’s in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,
  • We were tired of it being HOT and sunny all the time,
  • I wanted trees with limbs and leaves instead of fronds,
  • It was time to own land instead of just a lot,
  • Tired of our lives serving the needs of big corporations, we wanted a new challenge

But the ones not on the list are the two we hadn’t anticipated when we set out on this journey:  Creating memorable experiences for the strangers who would come to stay in our new home and, at the same time, benefitting from the unique energy and enthusiasm they would bring into our lives.  Who would have thought that the joy of engaging with guests would become such a cool reason to be doing what we are doing?

Case in point… It was late on a Sunday and we were still waiting on a couple to check in.  They arrived and were enthusiastic.  I, on the other hand, was tired and…I admit it…cranky, something I now regret.  Once Tom checked them in, I took over (as is our process) to tell them about Asheville before taking them up to their room.  As I sat down in the tacky, left over from Florida ugly and beat up leather chair we were using at the desk, I started bitching about it (it being the chair this time).  They said wanted to go antiquing so I quickly marked the shops of the Biltmore Antiques District along Swannanoa River Road on a map before escorting them upstairs.  That was that and we were all off to bed.

The next day, they left after a delightful breakfast and we did not see them again.

On the second morning and the day of their departure, breakfast was served and pleasantries were exchanged as per usual.  The dishes were cleared and a final round of coffee/tea was served.  And then, the coolest thing happened.

“We were thinking about you guys yesterday while we were out shopping,” the lady said.  “We saw a chair that we thought you would like.”  “Chair?” I wondered.  “What could she be talking about and what would she know about what we would like”? (I had forgotten my commentary on the leather chair.)

With that, she produced her smart phone and found a photo they took of a chair they thought we might like behind our front desk.  I LOVED it.  “Tom,” I said, “come in here and look at this.”  Which he did.  And he LOVED it, too.  We immediately asked them where they found it and, later that day, set out to buy it.  It now sits behind our front desk.

So what does this chair story have to do with becoming innkeepers?  I’ll tell you.  That chair will always be a symbol to me of the kindness and generosity of spirit our guests bring to our new venture…they, too, want to see us succeed.  And, they want to be a part of it.  How cool is that?

It will also serve as a reminder that Tom and I are getting to live our dream…the dream of a new venture in a new place with new surroundings and new friends.  We are grateful.

So,  now you know about that new chair…

Meet Our Santa(s)!

December 18th, 2015 by Honey Hill

Christmas at Engadine is on full display where we invite you to meet our Santa(s)!DSC04594 (lo)- 150 x 200 pixels

Our Christmas tradition began nearly 33 years ago with the purchase of a single, simple Christmas tree ornament…a carved balsa wood Santa Claus bought for a quarter.  He was just a piece of wood, devoid of color or decoration.  But he sparked an inspiration:  “Let’s decorate our tree only with Santa Claus ornaments this year!”.

With that one purchase, a collection was born.  And in the ensuing years, we collected what we estimate is about 1,500 unique and different Santa Claus ornaments.

Sadly, for  most of the time we lived in Florida, most of them stayed packed away, DSC04598 (lo)- 150 x 150 pixelsrelegated to a storage unit given our limited space and our “anywhere but the North Pole” setting, we just couldn’t use them all.  But we kept collecting!  And collecting!!  And collecting!!!

With our move to Engadine, an opportunity presented itself.  It’s vintage charm and the size of its rooms provided us the reasons to drag the old boys out of storage for a Christmas display we could have only imagined in South Florida.

This year, the Christmas tree in Engadine’s parlor topped out at 12 feet.  And, once the tree was up and the lights strung, we started the process of hanging DSC04622 (lo)- 150 x 150 pixels Santas.  After so many years away, they are FINALLY out of their boxes and on display for our guests to enjoy! Here, you will find…

  • Santas delivering all sorts of goodies…from toys to trees
  • There are “theme” Santas…from fisherman Santas to fireman Santas
  • And Santas made of all sorts of stuff…from paper and to porcelain
  • There are naughty Santas…including a “mooning” Santa and a Santa raiding the refrigerator
  • And nice Santas…bearing gifts and offering Season’s GreetingsDSC04633 (lo)- 150 x 150 pixels
  • Then there are Santas from the sea…created from star fish and oyster shells
  • And also from the forest…coached by their creators from corn cobs and pine cones
  • There are big Santas and small Santas
  • All with prices tags from cheap to insane


We’ve also decked the halls of Engadine with a sleigh full of other Christmas and seasonal decorations…all setDSC04914 (lo)- 150 x 150 pixels in place to celebrate the start of our second year here and to also welcome our Yuletide guests. So if you’d like to meet “Santa(s)” this year, we invite you to visit with us!

It might not be Christmas At Biltmore, but it’s the beginning our own NEW Asheville holiday tradition…Christmas At Engagine!

Honey Hill Returns To Its Roots As Engadine Inn And Cabins

May 15th, 2015 by Honey Hill

DSC02351- blog crop 150 x 150Spring’s annual promise of renewal is in full bloom in Western North Carolina!  But it’s not just the trees and the flowers that are coming to new life at Honey Hill.  Here, our big news is that the Inn has new ownership and that it is being rechristened “Engadine,” the property’s original and historic name…a name bestowed upon it by its builder, Captain John Hoyt, in 1885.  Our “new” name?  Engadine Inn and Cabins!

Rick Bell and Tom Watson, formerly of Wilton Manors, Florida, purchased and began operating the property in November of 2014 and immediately set about bringing a new and refreshed life to one of Asheville’s most storied, historic and tenured homes (Engadine predates the nearby Biltmore Estate by 10 years!).

In addition to the name, other changes and upgrades are in the works as well…replacement of specific soft goods, clearing of overgrown areas around the property, grading and sculpting of the Honey Hill wedding and event venue to increase its capacity and improve its functionality, installation of new flowering beds and landscaping around the Inn, addition of exterior lighting around the Inn and the barn, expansion of the property’s WiFi service to the cabins, creation of a new graphics package, addition of period antiques in select public areas and the development of new breakfast menus to add to the current list of guest favorites, including Gretchen’s (one of the former owners) famous bacon!  As you can see, we’ve been busy!

And in the coming months, we have plans for additional changes and improvements…developing a more informative website designed to showcase new photographs of the property and to feature new package offerings, upgrading the reservation system and developing portfolio of event services in order to expand our wedding and reunion capabilities.

Combine our  renaissance with that of Asheville and you have the makings of a great weekend or vacation getaway!  If you’re thinking of a weekend visit to enjoy a bed and breakfast or cabin experience, you might spend some time checking out ExploreAsheville or RomanticAsheville to learn more about what the area has to offer.

With so much happening around the property, we hope you will consider visiting Engadine Inn and Cabins sometime very soon!!!

Tips for Visiting Biltmore Estate – Part 2

September 18th, 2012 by Honey Hill

Part 2 of our Tips for Visiting the Biltmore Estate covers touring the Biltmore House and Antler Hill Village and Winery.

Touring the House

Leave plenty of time to tour the house. A self-guided tour can 2-3 hours, depending on your interest level.


  • To the right of the main entrance to the house is the building that originally housed the stables. There you will find an outdoor courtyard with food vendors, the Stable Shops and the Stable Cafe, a full service restaurant. You will also find the only public restrooms there.
  • Be prepared to consume all food and beverages before entering the Biltmore House. These items cannot be taken inside.
  • There are countless photo opportunities outside of the house, but photography is not allowed inside.
  • We recommend purchasing the optional self-guided audio tour. The history of each room and “back stories” are fascinating and well done. The equipment can be rented at the Guest Services desk immediately to the right as you enter the foyer.
  • There are additional guided tours available. The Behind the Scenes Tour is a favorite because it gives you a closer look at the design and construction of Biltmore House by going into areas not on the regular house visit. You will also enjoy the stunning views and photo opportunities from the rooftop and balconies.

Touring Antler Hill Village and Winery
Antler Hill Village and Winery is located five miles from the Biltmore House. To visit, you will have to drive your car there. The shuttle busses do not provide transportation from the Biltmore House to Antler Hill Village.

As you drive to Antler Hill Village you might want to stop to enjoy the most dramatic view of Biltmore House. When you pass Bass Pond, look for the Lagoon on your left. There is a narrow unpaved road at the far end that crosses a small bridge and takes you around the lagoon for a stunning view of the back of the Biltmore House.

  • History buffs will not want to miss The Biltmore Legacy building located in Antler Hill Village. The exhibits change periodically. Currently, the exhibit is The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad. This exhibit gives you a fascinating look at the lives of George, Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt. See rare objects from the Vanderbilts’ personal collection. Entry to the exhibition is included in estate admission.
  • Your admission ticket includes a guided tour and tasting at the Biltmore Winery. This is a must for anyone interested in the art and science of winemaking, or just tasting wine.
  • Also on display is the Vanderbilts’ car, a rare 1913 Stevens-Duryea Model C-Six seven-passenger touring car. This car is the only car in the Biltmore Company’s collection that was purchased by George Vanderbilt. It is believed to be one of only 10 models existing today.

Dining on Biltmore Estate
There are five restaurants on the estate: The Stables Cafe, The Bistro, Cedric’s Tavern, The Smokehouse and The Dining Room (in The Inn on Biltmore Estate). Biltmore embraces the “farm-to-table” concept. Much of the food served in the restaurants is grown or produced right on the estate. Our favorites are: Stables Café (located next to the house), The Bistro, and Cedric’s Tavern (both located in Antler Hill Village). The Bistro is the most upscale of the three. The Stables Cafe is bustling with families during the day. Cedric’s Tavern is casual and has outdoor seating in the warm months. For a quick snack while touring the house, the courtyard outside the Stables building has “quick serve” food and beverages, including gourmet pizza, a coffee shop and bakery, and ice cream. There is plenty of seating in the courtyard.

The Honey Hill logo, honey bee and photos are property of Honey Hill Inn, LLC. They may not be copied or used without expressed permission of Honey Hill Inn, LLC.

Tips for Visiting the Biltmore Estate – Part 1

September 14th, 2012 by Honey Hill

The Biltmore Estate is a popular destination for visitors coming to Asheville. The Biltmore house is the main attraction, but there are many other things to do on the estate. Biltmore’s lodging partners sell two-day passes to the estate, almost always at or below the gate prices. If you stay at Honey Hill Inn and Cabins, we suggest that you purchase tickets through us rather than purchasing them on the Biltmore website or at the gate. Our tickets allow you to explore the estate without feeling rushed to see and do everything in one day.


Planning Your Visit

These tips are written for visitors who have purchased tickets through one of Biltmore’s lodging partners with two-day passes.

  • During peak tourist season (Memorial Day through New Year’s Day), you might have to reserve a time to enter the house. If you have purchased tickets through us, you will avoid the lines at the Welcome Center Ticket Office.  We recommend that you arrive early and get your reservation at either Guest Services desks located in Antler Hill Village and in front of the Biltmore House. If there is a long wait, you should consider touring the gardens first.
  • During summer months, visit the estate early in the day while temperatures are cooler. The house is not air conditioned. In cold weather, spend the warmest part of the day outside, perhaps at Antler Hill Village. Save the coldest part of the day for touring the house.
  • During peak tourist season (Memorial Day through New Year’s Day), you might have to reserve a time to enter the house. We recommend that you arrive early and get your reservation at either of the Guest Services desks located in Antler Hill Village and in front of the Biltmore House. If there is a long wait, you should consider touring the gardens or conservatory first.

Entering the Estate

  • Just outside the main entrance to the estate is Biltmore Village. George Vanderbilt designed this it to provide housing for employees who were married. He also wanted to create a quaint village for his guests to see as they traveled from the train depot onto the estate. The original cottages are now shops and restaurants.
  • You will enter the main gate on Approach Road. As you drive, imagine you are traveling in a horse-drawn carriage as guests did over 100 years ago. The 15 minute drive to the house took two hours by carriage! This road was designed specifically to build anticipation. Visitors approaching the house cannot see it from any vantage point along the road.
  • When you approach the Welcome Center,  the guard will scan your ticket and direct you to the parking areas at the Biltmore house.
  • There are five parking lots that are a short distance from the house, all with shuttle service. There are also walking paths that will give you the experience of approaching the house from a scenic vantage point.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Touring the Biltmore Estate.

The Honey Hill logo, honey bee and photos are property of Honey Hill Inn, LLC. They may not be copied or used without expressed permission of Honey Hill Inn, LLC.