DOWNTIME: Biltmore


By Francesca Merced

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If you’re looking to fall in love this holiday season, you don’t have to wait for that perfect person to come into your life.  All you need to do is book a trip to the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC.  The sprawling chateau is just one of the homes owned by one of America’s oldest “royal” families – the Vanderbilts; and, fittingly, the estate’s original proprietor, railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt, first opened Biltmore to family and guests on Christmas Eve in 1895.  It’s not surprising, given that history, that Biltmore is one of the most splendid places I can think of to spend time during the holiday season.

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Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and beautifully framed by lush landscaped grounds, the Biltmore estate extends over roughly 8,000 acres.  When you first arrive, you’ll be overwhelmed by the assortment of activities that will be at your disposal, but a tour of the immaculate estate should be your first order of business.

Much like the Louvre in Paris, it’s impossible to take in all of Biltmore in just one day.  Rich in both American and family history, this stunning architectural marvel boasts 4 acres of floor space, 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The basement alone houses a swimming pool, gymnasium and changing rooms, bowling alley, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and more.  Every room is distinct and possesses its own unique charm and personality.  And the estate is especially breathtaking during the holiday season when it literally dazzles from twinkling lights and ornately decorated Christmas trees.  I first visited Biltmore shortly after Thanksgiving and was amazed to see:  a different Christmas tree in every room!

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After you stagger out of the house in utter amazement, you’ll need something to help your head stop buzzing.  Might I suggest a bit of wine?

Actually, wine tasting at Biltmore is not a mere suggestion – it is also an absolute must.  My personal favorite is the Biltmore Reisling.  It’s a perfectly mellow semi-sweet blend that pairs beautifully with chicken, sushi and my ultimate fave – Gorgonzola cheese.

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By the time you’ve reached the last bottom of your last glass, you’ll be completely in need of a nap.  Fortunately, you won’t have to travel far to get a good night’s rest.  Just book a stay at either the Inn on Biltmore Estate or the Cottage on Biltmore Estate and “vacation like a Vanderbilt.”

And now, with its vast array of home furnishings, you can take a piece of Biltmore home and live like a Vanderbilt, too! (sorta!) So if you’re stuck in a rut and don’t have a clue what to do for the holidays, then book a trip to Biltmore immediately, where you can truly celebrate in the epitome of style.

For more information about Biltmore, please visit:

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