The Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau has just released a 15-minute “on-demand” webinar for meeting planners, providing a virtual tour of the destination and insights on how this Blue Ridge Mountain city meets their top-level needs. The free tool offers planners a look at Asheville’s meeting-planning resources and Explore Asheville’s services – and is particularly convenient for those unable to make a familiarization trip. Planners who complete watching the video are invited to select one of four gifts hand-crafted in Asheville (see options, below).
“I just watched it and loved the concept,” said Kristy N., Manager, Global Accounts, Lamont Associates. “I wish all cities would do this! I’m sending to our entire team as well.”
Asheville’s hotel product and accessibility have reached a new level. With the addition of new hotels in downtown, the room inventory continues to expand across all price points, and meeting hotels range from the modern and chic to grand historic resorts. Meanwhile, Asheville Regional Airport is now one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., offering direct flights to an ever-increasing list of cities.
“Asheville is well-known as a top leisure destination,” said Stephanie Brown, President & CEO, Explore Asheville. “Lonely Planet named Asheville its ‘Number One Best in the U.S. Destination’ for 2017, and Asheville was the only U.S. destination cited by CNN as a best place to travel in 2018. The goal of our webinar is to provide a convenient way to acquaint meeting planners with the many reasons why Asheville is also a great destination for meetings and events. Asheville is growing in all the ways that are most important for planners, with a hotel inventory expected to exceed 10,000 rooms by 2020. We know it can be difficult to attend a familiarization trip or take time out for a personal site visit and want to help bring Asheville to you.”
Explore Asheville is a meeting planner’s connection to the best local information to find the right hotel and create memorable destination experiences. The award-winning staff provides exceptional planning support, including Exclusive Services and the “Have More Fun on Us” incentive program, good for up to $2,500.
Located among the highest peaks in the East, Asheville is the ideal location for inspired meetings.With breathtaking views, a creative culinary scene, an array of outdoor adventures and unique tours, it’s also easy to incorporate team-building elements and opportunities for guests to immerse themselves in authentic and engaging experiences in this vibrant town. Planners recognize that once-in-a-lifetime activities can be powerful differentiators, and Asheville has plenty of those to up the wow-factor – from Biltmore, to the Blue Ridge Parkway or the world-famous spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn.
- Asheville Bee Charmer Honey and “Bee Happy” Clutch
Asheville was the first city to be named Bee City USA in 2012, and the Asheville Bee Charmer, a local honey shop, supports the bee community through the sale of local honey products. Get a taste of Appalachian Mountain honey and a “Bee Happy” canvas clutch made in the USA.
- South Slope Coffee and French Broad Chocolate Bar
The perfect taste-of-Asheville sampler: locally roasted coffee and locally made chocolate, both sustainably and ethically sourced. South Slope Coffee, a micro-roaster dedicated to sourcing coffee beans from wholesalers dealing directly with farmers, offers coffee from all over the world. French Broad Chocolate, a craft-chocolate producer, also nurtures relationships with cacao farmers and suppliers to create “pure, beautiful and delicious” chocolate.
- Spicewalla Grill & Roast Collection
Spicewalla spice factory offers fresh, whole and small-batch spices by James Beard-nominated Chef Meherwan Irani. Irani, dubbed the “spice whisperer,” is the owner of Indian-street-food restaurant Chai Pani in Asheville. The Grill & Roast six-pack collection takes the guesswork out of marinades, rubs and seasonings and will keep the grill hot all summer.
- Handmade Leather-Covered Travel Journal
In Blue Handmade resides in a converted-warehouse studio space in West Asheville and creates custom leather products. The journal is the perfect size for tucking in a bag or backpack and recording travel memories.
Also New for Meeting Planners in 2019…
Hotel Growth Continues + New Event Spaces at The Omni Grove Park Inn and Biltmore + Second-Fastest-Growing Airport
NEW DOWNTOWN: ► The Foundry Hotel Asheville, Curio Collection by Hilton, opened in November on The Block, Asheville’s historical African-American business district, with 3,000 square feet of functional meeting and event space. The hotel’s 100-seat upscale restaurant Benne on Eagle, the newest venture of five-time James Beard semifinalist Chef John Fleer, pays homage to its historic Eagle Street neighborhood and the often-overlooked contributions of African-American cooks to Appalachian and Southern food.
COMING DOWNTOWN 2019: ► Asheville’s famed Art Deco skyline will get a new icon and a four-star luxury property when Kimpton Hotel Arras opens late this summer. The 128-room hotel will offer 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
COMING LATE 2019: ► Element By Westin will bring 100 rooms and 1,200 square feet of meeting space near downtown.
NEW AT THE OMNI GROVE PARK INN: ► The Omni Grove Park Inn has added a new facility to its more than 55,000 square feet of versatile event, banquet, convention and meeting space. The 3,200-square-foot Seely Pavilion, perfect for receptions and meetings, offers floor-to-ceiling doors and windows giving panoramic views of the surrounding mountain range.
MAJOR RENOVATION: ► Asheville Art Museum reopens soon after a major renovation with a new state-of-the-art building. Self-guided and guided group tours of its collection and exhibitions, as well as numerous education-program opportunities, will be available. The expanded facility will have multiple venues for events of all kinds, including social events and conferences.
NEW AT AMERICA’S LARGEST HOME: ►Opened last fall, Amherst is Biltmore’s largest event venue with 11,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The Amherst Ballroom features space for 850 people and vast windows displaying the lush forests and fields of the estate. ► NEW EXHIBIT: Biltmore recently announced its latest exhibition: “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” (Nov. 8, 2019 through April 7, 2020) will feature set recreations, costumes and exclusive multimedia elements while providing guests with a chance to step inside the world of the global TV phenomenon and upcoming feature film (hitting theaters on Sept. 20, 2019, in the U.S.). ► NEW ADVENTURE: Ride the remote trails and roads of America’s Largest Home via electronic tricycle on the Outrider Tour. This new adventure tour allows you to explore behind-the-scenes areas of Biltmore’s 8,000-acre estate.
ONE MILLION PASSENGERS IN 2018: ► The Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) served more than one million annual passengers for the first time in its history and is one of the fastest-growing small airports in the country. ► FAST FACTS: AVL is located 12 miles from downtown, offers nonstops and easy connections through major U.S. and international hubs, with 50 direct flights daily to 19 destinations and served by six airlines. Named the second-fastest-growing small hub airport in the country by Bloomberg News in 2018, AVL is nearing the completion of $80 million in improvements. ► NEW FLIGHTS: In 2019, United Airlines began offering twice-daily nonstop service to Washington, D.C., American Airlines started a daily nonstop to Philadelphia and a seasonal nonstop to LaGuardia (LGA) and Allegiant is now offering nonstop service to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). Daily nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) on American Airlines also began in May. See all nonstop destinations. ► TSA Pre✓® is also now available at AVL.
New & Unique Tour Offerings
► NEW: Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours give a bird’s-eye view from some of the city’s newest scenic venues, while Asheville LIT Tour is a walking tour focusing on locations with literary themes and authors with ties to downtown. Namaste in Nature combines yoga, meditation and hiking experiences, accommodating 10 or fewer but also able to split up larger groups. ► Hood Huggers International leads interactive tours focusing on Asheville’s African-American community’s resilient history and future. ► Wai Mauna offers a massive, six-person paddleboard, plus stand-up paddleboard tours on the French Broad River, serving groups up to 30. NEW this season, try Whitewater SUP! ► NOW OPEN: Offering daily tours, the new French Broad Chocolate Factory has opened the doors to their sweet new location in the RAMP (River Arts Makers Place) Studios.