BBOnline Member SINCE 1998

At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn

254 Cumberland Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
Innkeeper(s): Patti & Gary Wiles

My Favorite Christmas Light Display In Asheville 1 Dec 2016, 10:23 am

We moved to Asheville, North Carolina in June of 1999 when At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn became our new career and this inn became our new home. Though we were very excited by our new life’s path, we’d also left friends of a lifetime, had no family in the area and felt a bit at loose ends.

Large, Victorian Home done in green and cream paint. Winter snow on the ground.

Montford Historic Home

Before we even had turned around it seemed, Christmas was approaching and as was our custom, one evening we decided to go see the Christmas lights available in our new community.  Asheville of 1999 presented a very different landscape from Asheville 2016. Save the lovely homes in our historic area, many of which were beautifully decorated, there were few options for enjoying the holiday lights customarily seen during Christmas.

During a shopping trip to our local grocery store I struck up a conversation with a lady in the check out line hoping she might prove a good resource for somewhere we might go to see Christmas lights.  She asked if I knew were Lake Julian was.  Actually, I did as they also put on quite a 4th of July display which we’d taken part in right after moving here.  She loved the Christmas lights there and suggested we go and see what we thought.

Lake Julian is a family facility for recreation, much of it located on the banks of the 300 acre Lake Julian in Arden. The quiet, peace and serene presence of water coupled with the over 50 light displays, so well done by this group was right up this girls alley.  No strobe lights, no screaming in your ears music coinciding to the frenetic flashing of lights.  If this is what you are looking for….drive on.  If however, you are looking for a quiet night, serene, lake front atmosphere, beautiful lights, family atmosphere, cost contained admission ($5 a car) and the “feel good” of knowing that 20% of the proceeds goes directly to Buncombe county for various charitable endeavors~ Please check this light display out.  It is my very favorite and I will be in line with a child’s glow in my eyes as together we celebrate their 16th year.

Asheville North Carolina Lights Up Christmas 21 Nov 2016, 11:16 am

Our guests arriving for holiday fun in Asheville in the aftermath of “leaf season” seem to have holiday lights right at the top of their holiday agenda. We arrived in Asheville in 1999 and at that time the only real recommendation to be made in response to that question would have been Biltmore House.  We’ve come a long way baby!two glasses of wine on a table in front of roaring fireplace.

Number 1:  New this year, in conjunction with another event I will cover in a bit, hosted by the NC Arboretum, is Winter Lights Downtown.  At Pack Square, located at the center of town in the city of Asheville,  8 beautifully lit trees will be displayed shining bright their message of holiday cheer. Really pretty and just a great Christmas present to guests and locals alike as they enjoy our downtown area.

Number 2:  Winter Lights NC Arboretum:  The NC Arboretum lights up the holiday season with one of my very favorite light displays in our entire area.  From now through January 1, 2017 they will have over half a million lights artistically displayed throughout their gardens guaranteed to deliver to all but the hardest of hearts the real meaning of the Christmas spirit.  I have provided in this blog a link to last year’s blog I did on this event.  Go to this event, it’s so awesome. This is an up close and personal encounter as the event is enjoyed in our cool, crisp mountain air walking about the arboretum.   Fire pits dotted throughout providing a perfect place to warm your hands while enjoying some hot cocoa or a smore before continuing on the trails. Cost is approximately $18/pp including all fees. Hours:  6-10 p.m.

 

Number 3:  Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland:  A cacophony of lights and music streak through the night with the gusto of Rudolph leading his reindeer pack.  Not for the faint of heart nor those with a sensitivity to photophobic elements.   Designed to drive your car through as the hundreds of thousands of lights wink and blink to the tunes of your favorite Christmas music.  All the way live, a sure kid favorite.  $25 a vehicle will provide access to both the drive-though element as well as admission to Santa’s village where pizza, smores, cocoa and other Santa treats can be purchased.

 

Number 4:  Biltmore Estate Candlelight Christmas:  Every year from early November till January’s first few days are spent, Biltmore Estate offers the child in all of us the opportunity to tour the house all decked out in Christmas finery and lit by candles. When the day is done and evening time arrives at this grand home, Candlelight Christmas makes its sparkling debut.   To add to the magic of the indoor splendor,  musicians playing (flutes, cello, dulcimers, harp and some of the finest voices the angels have ever heard) transport you to the very best of Christmas. In the Main Banquet  Hall, the primary Christmas tree (35′  of hand decorated,awesome wonder) keeps company with the 69 other trees lavishly decorated displayed throughout the house.  More poinsettias and garland than you have likely ever seen all in one place couple to make this experience one you will never forget.  Candlelight Christmas at Biltmore can be enjoyed as a solo event or packaged with more options for enjoying the house.  We are happy to arrange your tour as part of your stay with us.

 

Veterans Day Post from our Asheville Bed and Breakfast 11 Nov 2016, 1:05 pm

When I entered the United States Air Force in 1970 I was a girl of 18.  I was not frivolous nor,  I felt,  really in need of further discipline.  That isn’t the way the military saw it.  Our collection of females stood on the same parade field as our male counterparts as we were drilled  and marched into a well oiled machine capable of maintaining military bearing at all times even in the blistering heat of San Antonio, Tx.  I worked as an Administrative Specialist and many of the young men I met in San Antonio, Tx., Biloxi, Mississippi and Davis Mothan, in Tucson, Az. I knew only transiently as they became some of the 2.7 million troops that served in that war until it’s conclusion in 1973. While I was pushing paper, they were toting guns.Field of Red Poppies with green stems.

It had been slightly over 5 years from that day in March of 1965 when the first of what would later become 2.7 million troops hit the ground in Da Nang, Vietnam when I entered the service.   For myself and my fellow WAF’S, the war seemed very real.  Though the draft was in full swing, a full two thirds of the men that served in Vietnam volunteered for service.  One out of every ten of those men became a casualty statistic.  Further, due to the introduction of helicopters to modern warfare,  they saw more action than their contemporaries in WWII.  58,148 of them died there; 304,000 were wounded; a 300% increase from those serving in WWII.  Though there were more amputations and life threatening wounds, thanks to the same helicopters that increased their “action days” if they lived an hour after their encounter, they were likely to survive these wounds.

On this Veterans Day, I would like to offer a crisp and honored salute to all that have served our country at great peril to themselves; some never to see their homeland and families again.  May it come to be that war becomes our very last option~ undertaken only when all else fails  and our republic demands it to survive.  May God Bless the United States of America and keep her safe from all perils both foreign and domestic in whatever form they manifest.   May we passionately seek a way- as penned in that beautiful old gospel spiritual-  finally be free to sing   Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

 

How I Became an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper 3 3 Nov 2016, 10:47 am

Having chosen Asheville, N.C. as our new home we set about looking at bed and breakfasts in our area.  We made appointments with some of the inns we knew to be available.  One in Weaverville and a few in Asheville that our real estate contact had mentioned being for sale.  He was not with us as we made our sojourn through the city we would later call home.

I have always had a love of all things old.  I can hear my husband laughing when I say that.  Not really sure what is behind that for me. Suffice to say that my Mom, always a lover of home, hearth, furnishings and all the elements that go in to the art of homemaking gloried in that pursuit and had real interest in it.  She would carefully explain the wood a piece of furniture was comprised of and proceed to dissect each and every element of the piece down to its construction, ease of use, finish, period, style and the like.  Often in these discussions, my thoughts lent themselves to the more personal aspects of the piece in question.  Who had owned this piece of Charming foot bridge over a lush garden and pond with orange and yellow fix.furniture?  For what purpose had they purchased it and for whom?  Was it a family piece?  What treasures had this dresser held for its owner and the like.  I transferred these same queries to homes I’ve explored over the years, ripe with curiosity about the lives, triumphs, disappointments, joys and challenges faced by all its occupants over the years.

On a lovely Autumn day in 1999 we found ourselves driving through the Montford Historic District of the city of Asheville. No one seems to have an answer for the chosen name of Montford but rarely will one find the rich, varied architectural history expressed here; Queen Anne, Victorian, Neoclassical and castle like structures abound.  Most of this lovely collection of homes were constructed between 1890-1920 by the middle class and many decades later quickly selected as prime retirement homes for lawyers, doctors and business men dedicated to the loving rehabilitation of their former glory.  All this in an effort to preserve the history of these grand old dames the likes of which will never be built again.

Back to the story folks, because heaven knows, you can’t make this stuff up. We are on Cumberland Avenue, clearly lost when we note this young man pulling his garbage cans down to the road.  As we cruise by, I roll down the window and say,
“Excuse me, we’ve been told there are a few bed and breakfasts in the area for sale.  You wouldn’t know which ones they are would you?”  He said, “Well, I can show you one right now.  Pull up the driveway and park in the back.  Walk up to the house and I’ll show you this one.”  Eight months later, we owned At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn and our bright new journey began.

How I Became an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper 2 25 Oct 2016, 12:03 pm

In finishing the last segment of this blog, I left you with our skills inventory completed.  Based on our responses, it seemed that between both my skill set and Gary’s, we were ideally suited to an occupation dealing with people in a helping way.  We were also lovers of beautiful surroundings, the concept of home, cooking and Gary is a whiz at fixing nearly anything.  We began to narrow down our buArial city view with exploring Ashville button text.siness pursuits to small, casual dining or accommodations. Neither of us entertained the idea of a hotel.  Next stop on the journey…..Where?

Location, Location Location!  Business is a very different animal than working for others.  It would be entirely feasible to have developed the very best X in the world, perfectly run, beautifully orchestrated and ideally imagined.  However, if the business is service in nature~all this would be for naught if there are insufficient numbers of people to patronize the glories of what you’ve accomplished.

We wanted the location we selected to be both personally pleasing as well as economically awesome.
We both really enjoyed North Carolina.  The state offers the joys of all four seasons. All without the exaggerations of excessive snow that we thought might prove personally exhaustive as well as  a shot in the foot to a business that requires people being able to access the business location. Location has many facets, climate is only one of them.  The second, equally important, is what those in business call “the draw.”  An apt definition of that term would be “what does your location offer the people you are trying to attract to your business?”    We entertained several areas of North Carolina.  We looked at Cary, N.C., Winston Salem, N.C. & Wilmington, N.C. areas of the state at the same time we looked at Asheville, N.C.

I was a hard critic.  I had raised my child in Port Saint Lucie, Fl., worked as a nurse there for more than 20 years.  We had friends of a lifetime there.  It wasn’t that we’d really chosen the place but it held our history and hence our hearts, in the palm of it’s hand. It’s hard to select another location for an undertaking of this kind.  At least it was until the electric door of Asheville Regional Airport  opened ushering my exit to the expanive panorama of an awesomely beautiful mountain landscape in full fall color.  It is said that Asheville claims it’s own.  I believe that because on that very day while Gary was securing our luggage at baggage claim, the city of Asheville reached out, gently took my hand and welcomed me home.

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How I Became an Asheville Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper 18 Oct 2016, 2:34 pm

Hold on to your seats folks….This may be a funny ride.  So many of my guests through the years have polled me on various aspects of inn keeping with questions ranging from, “How did you decide to do this?” to my all time favorite question of, “What do you all do after breakfast?”  In this, my 18th year of inn ownership, I’ve decided to reveal the answers to these and other burning questions as I launch my Innkeeper series.

Long ago and far away in the kingdom of Port Saint Victorian Inn circa 1902, green and cream lap boardLucie, Florida lived a hard working registered nurse and her husband, a long time worker at Florida Power and Light.  After many long years of living in this area, raising our daughter there, going to school and work and basically just living our life Florida Power transferred my husband (and hence our family) to another location.Though we really had no desire to move we felt little recourse but to take the transfer, which frankly many were not offered at all and relocate.

Sometimes, when faced with such a decision (agree to move or risk having no job at all) it’s such a shock that it can seem there really is no choice but to bend to the powers and agree to the move.  We did that moving to Key Largo.  Key Largo is a lovely place but our adjustment to leaving our community and friends of a lifetime was not an easy one.  Sometimes tumultuous events provide fertile soil to the roots of seminal moments that never would have seen the light of day under other circumstances.

It was just such an atmosphere that found us alone one evening, missing our old life and in the stage of final acceptance that the company was never moving us back home again.  This move was not temporary, it was permanent and we could either pursue acceptance of this curve ball or find another way to hit our own home run.

In general terms, I seek information I do not currently possess as a student.  My idea was that if we were going to invent an entirely different life, this should not be a hit and miss proposition but developed with care taking advantage of skills we already possessed but had not thought of as marketable.  We began taking skills inventory assays that really assisted us in feretting out every single thing we were good at.  These included both personality traits as well as actual skill sets.

All this planted the seed of inn keeping in our minds. All that was left was finding ways in which this could be profitably accomplished and and where!

 

 

 

Good Vibrations in Asheville for Locals and Visitors Alike 7 Oct 2016, 9:18 am

Sometimes you really don’t choose a place to live.  Happenstance brings you there.  You arrive where you are in pursuit of a dream job, familial matters requiring your attentions, school of choice is there and many other reasons.

Asheville, of all the places I’ve ever lived was a choice.  I’ve never been sorry and continue those thoughts some 18 years post the purchase of our Asheville Bed and Breakfast.  Many times though the years I’ve been asked why.  What sets this place apart?  Why does this place feel like it has claimed my heart and now, when I say the word “home”~Asheville defines the answer.Large stone pillar monument near street and sidewalks with historical buildings.

I have given the matter thought and this is what I’ve come up with.  I find these elements important both for a home and also for a place folks might choose to visit hence my inclusion of these thoughts in a blog post.

  1.  First and foremost, Asheville remains largely polite.  No place is perfect and so I cannot give blanket endorsement of same but our community is primarily a courteous one offering this gift to tourists and locals alike.
  2. Asheville is socially conscious and seems to promote those feelings in others.  We look to care for our own and it is part of the agenda…both personally among our residents and often, we actually belly up to the bar and put our money where our mouths are reflected in back packs when school starts, blanket and coat drives in the winter etc.
  3. We are mindful of the gifts of Asheville and seek to preserve them.  Much of what brings people to this city is natural resources.  This is true of the craft beer industry that thrives in this area making use of our exceptional water quality and also the blessing of supreme natural beauty found in Western North Carolina evidenced nearly everywhere you look.  There are many community efforts every year to clean streams of garbage and debris to maintain that standard.  Trails are adopted and maintained in our forests by both private citizens and groups dedicated to their betterment.
  4. Whatever sounds like fun to you; it’s likely we have it here.  From hiking and craft brews to music, symphony, opera, and art. It’s local and it’s thriving.
  5. The simple concept of ecumenical~as it pertains to cooperation and everyone’s well being being not existing as a completely independent operation~but a collaborative effort.

Words Matter 27 Sep 2016, 8:28 am

Being an innkeeper has provided an up close and personal view of human behavior.  Some observations have left me keenly aware of stoicism, courage, kindness, altruism, thoughtfulness and genuine concern for others.  The key word there is “others.”Large, green, Victorian 3-story home. Mature Tree to left of scene, small Pineapple fountain in Summertime.

My son-in-law Aaron, many years ago shared his feelings regarding people and their basic differences.  He broke it down to that his belief that in general there were two kinds.  Those that take and those that give. There’s something to be said for this theory.

Over the years, I have observed great kindnesses rendered from one guest to another. Also such above the call of duty concern for me and my husband that even remembrance of them brings a flood of feelings.   Some of our guests have risen well above any kind of expectation one could reasonably expect from people not really known to you.  They have demonstrated authentic attributes of grace and kindness we know to be present in our fellow humans but regretfully do not always see on display. Selfless displays of aid, love, concern for others even including conspiring with other guests in house to really bring a special celebration to fellow guest.

Every once in a long while we witness personalities that seemingly reflect the very worst that exists in this world.  When we allow ourselves a screwed belief system,  particularly in the name of God, parent to us all, that ethnicity, religion or some other inborn trait in a fellow human being is so reprehensible to us that we are right in our judgement.  In that “rightness” assuming the we have responsibility to act with heinous behavior, speak badly or disrespectfully to them, perpetrate ideas born in misunderstanding or unkindness~ we underscore our lack of understanding of God.

While it would always be our very highest calling as innkeepers to offer all our guests the gift of welcome and comfort; when a guest cannot offer that to their fellow guests, our responsibility as thinking, rationale human beings must be one of protection so that all can be valued and respected because behavior matters too. We must all own our own.

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Summer Time 2016 at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast 21 Sep 2016, 7:46 am

In talking with women friends there seems to be a general consensus that life feels cyclical.  We plan for certain occurrences in our lives by season.  This planning runs the gamut from birthdays, holidays used not only in celebration but as markers of life.

Summer time ends tomorrow and the patches of color dotting the burning bushes about town act as harbingers of the blazing color that will soon envelope the mountains of Western North Carolina but much like my friends I wanted one last brief examination of Summer time before plunging head long into one of my favorite Asheville season’s~Autumn.Charming foot bridge over a lush garden and pond with orange and yellow fix.

We’ve owned the inn for a long time now begun as much younger versions of ourselves.    We commenced our 18th year here on June 19.  It has been a very busy summer punctuated with visits from repeat guests and introduction of many new ones.

Sometimes, the best way to identify that you live in a wonderful place is when family visits.  My brother and his wife, Cindy visited this July.  Being very well versed in concierge after all this time, I began the compilation of the list of “fun things to do.”  In the making of the list, I could not help but be impressed, as I always am, with the circuit of really awesome activities available from zip lining, white water rafting, hiking of a lifetime to the more sedate activities of pub crawling to partake in our vibrant craft beer scene or gallery trolling in thorough examination of all the variant forms of art our city is known for.  Whether you are into canvas, glass, metal, wood or fiber~you can likely find your heart’s desire in Asheville.

Meanwhile, things at the inn moved forward just as predictably as the hands of a clock.  We refurbished the gravel in the parking lot and driveway, repaired a post on our back deck, had a, no pun intended, bird’s eye view to the birth of not one but two families of Robin’s. Beloved staff of long standing moved inevitably into new arenas of their lives and new staff members were introduced.  The front door was re-varnished and looks lovely, a quasi, but very functional sprinkler system was installed to help our flora friends get through one of the driest summer seasons we’ve experienced since we arrived in Asheville.  Mounting water usage enabled creative garden re-design thinking.   In the aftermath, we made some really significant changes to the lay of the garden carving out some of the greenery to create simplicity and a  less robust design  resulting in some very  awesome views of the waterfalls in the back.   It all looked so fresh, invigorated and inspired, a complete window washing was in order so that all this work would not go to waste wanting the views from guest rooms to be just perfect.  It was at this point standing in the garden or possibly the need to sit down for a spell… that we thought to really thoroughly clean the teak garden furniture we have spotted all about the garden to enhance guest enjoyment of this area.

If you will remember my starting of this blog about life being cyclical: so is activity.  One thing starts, it’s finish creates another idea, spurring on yet but another…. each feeding on the impact and success of the last.   Now that I’ve reviewed Summer time 2016,  it is little wonder I got the Fall wreath up a bit earlier than Fall actually began.  I think we might have been trying to cycle out of Summer before I spotted something else that needed tackling.  Well, there’s always Summer 2017.

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Trip Insurance Can Save The Day 8 Sep 2016, 7:58 am

Life is uncertain.  No one can argue that nor likely would they.
When making plans for a successful trip all kinds of decisions are made.  What location would make for the very best, most memorable of trips?  What kind of accommodations would be the best fit to enhance the mission statement of this vacation; a cozy bungalow, a huge, multi activity resort, private cabin among some stately evergreens? Clothing to be packed, plane reservations to be made and a host of other incidentals.  Sometimes, depending on the level of responsibility connected to your job, it may seem that the preparations for your departure take longer than your vacation lasts.Two poster mahogany bed, small sheepskin rug beside bed, wood and brown leather stool sitting bench bed's end, cream colored spread with bedskirt, to right of bed is window with valance.

Travel is fraught with timetables.  The plane takes off at exactly….It should take this long to get to the airport, unless there is an accident or traffic jam so we should leave X hours early to be sure making it to the plane on time.  Accommodations have cancellation periods, so do scheduled treatments or activities.  Somehow, we often forget about securing a really important part of planning a successful trip; Trip Cancellation Insurance.

As I began this piece…Life is uncertain.  Sometimes we plan everything down to the minutia and then something completely out of left field happens affecting our health, our children’s health, our livlihood or some other aspect of this thing called life we could not possibly have had on the radar.  It is an emergency and it cannot wait.  No sense in going skiiing for instance if you’ve broken your leg 3 days before your scheduled vacation.  No one plans on that but your failure to have put Trip Insurance in place could leave you holding the bag for some very costly expense.  Your plane is non-refundable, there is insufficient time to meet your cancellation policy in lodging you booked, your spa treatment had a cancellation period and you owe for that too.  Never has more money been spent that will prove completely valueless to you.  All this could have been avoided with Insurance to protect your trip funds.

We learned this lesson the hard way.  We were finally, at long last, getting to go on vacation from the bed and breakfast we purchased in 1999.  We were so excited to board the plane and had driven to Greenville, S.C. the night before as our plane left at 6:00 a.m. We wanted to take no chance on missing it.  My sister agreed to spend the night at the inn with the guests. The innsitter was to arrive the next morning.    Long about midnight, our cell phone rang.  The voice on the other end of the phone was immediately recognizable as my sister.  She sounded so sad as she related to my husband and me that there was water leaking at a rather rapid pace through our foyer light into a bucket she’d just installed there.  Uncontrolled water in a historic building can be very expensive.  We had no idea as to the source of the water leak.  It could be a pipe, it could be anything.  We looked at each other as I disconnected the phone call with only six hours remaining until we were to be sitting in a plane.  We each knew that the plane was leaving without us. We lost the flight and we lost the accommodations money.  We lost an entire vacation we’d paid for and could not leave to enjoy.  We had not purchased Trip Cancellation Insurance. We had no children left at home and we just didn’t plan on this very unexpected occurrence completely de-railing a trip we’d planned on and saved for during the entire year.    We’re quick learners though.  We never plan travel, save a day trip, without insurance.  Once burned, twice shy.  The very next year it saved our bacon when a trip to the beach was short circuited due to an unexpected situation with my Mom.

One of the definitions of insurance is the following: ” a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality.”  Not getting to take your trip is disappointing.  Having to pay for it anyway is an expense we can all avoid with securing Trip Insurance.