Top Accommodations Give Three Reasons NOT to Boycott NC
PHOTO: North Lodge on Oakland. (Photo by Susan Young)
The state of North Carolina has taken an economic hit recently, in light of the so-called “Bathroom Bill,” HB2, which discriminates against LGBT groups. As a result of worldwide reaction to this legislation, tourists have chosen to avoid NC in their travel plans.
Through no fault of their own, inns and lodges in Western NC are suffering as a result of a law put in place to solve a problem that never existed. Here are three reasons to support the tourism industry in and around Asheville, a particularly vocal community against HB2.
Cindy and Gary Broaddus worked in the mortgage industry in Colorado for decades before realizing their dream of running a bed & breakfast. Discrimination was never a factor in their previous careers and that work ethic followed them to inn-keeping. Discussion of politics and religion, however, is not usually heard at the breakfast table each morning as most guests are oohing and aahing the morning meal being laid out in front of them. Cindy’s three-course creations are mouthwatering and she generously shares her recipes on their website. Her Morning Glory Muffins are delectable.
The Broaddus’ work in tandem to maintain a lovely and warm home which boasts being the closest B&B to the Biltmore Estate. The six-room, historical structure lies within a tree-lined neighborhood and is amazingly quiet, which almost made us late for breakfast.
The Broaddus’ have not been negatively impacted by the HB2 bill, as far as they know. They have seen a downswing in bookings due to other issues, like major increases in resort taxes and an increased construction of large hotels in downtown Asheville. They have not experienced cancellations as a direct result of the legislation but have no way of knowing if potential guests have chosen to travel elsewhere.
PHOTO: The Reynolds Mansion. (Photo by Susan Young)
A much larger structure, the Reynolds Mansion offers 13 rooms in a three-level, massive brick, mansard-roofed inn. Originally built by slaves in 1847, the home has been owned by several families including U.S. Senator Robert Rice Reynolds. The Senator’s 5th wife, Evelyn Washington McLean, was the owner of the famous Hope Diamond…yes, the same diamond which is on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. In the 1970s, the home was totally renovated and turned into a B&B. However, it sat in disrepair for years, at one point with a group of broom-making hippies taking up residence under the tutelage of Ralph Gates, an ex-NASA engineer.
By the time Billy Sanders and Michael Griffith purchased the property in 2009, much needed to be done to return the mansion to its former glory. They were able to recoup 80 percent of the original furnishings and added private bathrooms to all the bedrooms. The main house is like a museum with each room full of historical furnishings, architecture and artifacts. You’ll step back in time when you enter and we’ve been told a ghost or two might make an appearance.
The gardens are lush and include chickens and ducks, providing each morning’s eggs for breakfast, as well as beehives full of wonderfully sweet honey, which also adorns the dining room table. The staff is attentive and the breakfast bounty is amazing.
Billy and Michael have been adversely affected by the NC bill to the tune of over $8,000 lost in booking cancellations and, although trying to stay out of the political fray, Billy has been prompted to issue a statement regarding the current state of affairs. Billy writes: “Built during a time where the very builders of this magnificent home weren’t even allowed to enter its doors, those days are no more, ALL are welcome here. The very essence of the HB2 law reminds us of the ignorance and misconceptions that many people still possess, it also enlightens us (as to) how far we still have to reach for equality for all.”
Photo courtesy of Omni Grove Park Inn
If you prefer more of a hotel experience, the granddaddy of them all is the Omni Grove Park Inn. Completed in 1913, this massive structure, now housing more than 500 rooms, is a sight to behold. Made of boulders from the mountain on which it lies, the architecture, along with the Arts & Crafts design of the interior, provide a rustic, serene getaway, overlooking the city of Asheville.
According to Asheville’s WLOS TV, the Omni GPI recently lost a major conference when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation canceled, with an estimated $1.5 million economic impact, because of HB2. The Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation enterprise deals with race, ethnicity and issues of discrimination in reference to healthcare, housing, education, criminal justice and employment. With LGBTQ discrimination on the agenda, holding their conference in a state which legislates against equality was not going to happen.
Unfortunately, when we boycott as a statement against social injustice, we also hurt those who are on the receiving end of irresponsible lawmaking. We are not hurting those creating and voting for the laws, but those whose lives are adversely affected. If you are having second thoughts about visiting the beautiful state of North Carolina, give it a third round of thought and support these elegant destinations deserving of your travel business.
The Reynolds Mansion and the North Lodge at Oakland, are members of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association (ABBA). Visit their website and you will find several other B&B’s in the Asheville area. Bruce E. Johnson’s “Built for the Ages, A History of the Grove Park Inn” provides details regarding the Inn’s construction and history.
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