For several years, Lenny and I went to see the gingerbread houses at the Grove Park Inn. The gingerbread competition gets national attention and attracts entries from adults and children coast to coast. We would walk up from our house, tour the Grove Park Inn, admire the gingerbread displays and walk back.
Then a couple of years ago, the Grove Park Inn, now owned by a hotel chain, announced that locals were no longer welcome to see the gingerbread houses on weekends and holidays.
John Boyle, of the Asheville Citizen-Times, checked on this and reported that locals couldn’t go up to the Inn because it was too crowded with overnight guests.
Even on their site, they wrote: Non-resort guests may view the displays on Sundays through Thursdays only excluding holidays. At other times, they charge $10 for parking.
But wait. Were they excluding locals because of parking? Did they just not have enough parking or didn’t they want people who weren’t staying with them? No one could fathom that many of us could just walk up and walk in. So I did yesterday, on Christmas Day.
Some people crash the White House, some crash a rock concert but I felt I was crashing a hotel, that may or may not have wanted me.
I walked up to the Inn, opened the door. No one asked to see my ID or my room keys. I enjoyed browsing the gingerbread houses and took a glass of hot apple juice.
I even went into the Nantahala Outdoor Center store and signed copies of Hiking the Carolina Mountains. Of course, I told the staff that I walked here and they were very welcoming. NOC has a board with a map showing where the best hikes are.
I talked to visitors who were admiring the fantastic views of Mt. Pisgah.
So here is the take-away.
The Grove Park Inn and the media reporting their new “no locals” policies confused parking with walking. Neither the Asheville Citizen-Times or the Inn thought about people who could just walk and enjoy the holiday season.
You know my motto, No place is too far to walk if you have the time. And the Grove Park Inn isn’t far at all.