The first time my husband and I visited the historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, we just about opted out of visiting the spa.
Thank goodness we reconsidered, because this may be my favorite spa ever. And I've never even had a treatment there.
The spa, nestled in the side of Sunset Mountain and surrounded by the huge U-shaped granite Grove Park Inn, is a labyrinth of the usual spa amenities: treatment rooms, gift shop, sauna, relaxation room and cafe. But take a step into the pool area and you've entered another world - an enchanted grotto with several mineral pools in which to frolic, relax or luxuriate in the warm water cascading from waterfalls with enough force for you to give yourself a massage just where you need it.
Since I had last visited, the spa added an outdoor relaxation area where I snuggled under a blanket for a while after enjoying the stunning outdoor whirlpool with gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And the spa boasts the best snack mix I've ever had - chunks of dried raspberries, chocolates and nuts that truly made me feel like a pampered princess.
If you're going for a spa treatment, entrance to the spa is free.
Only inn guests may purchase day passes on the weekends for $105; other visitors may go during the week for $80.
Go early, as they may sell out of day passes. And eat some snack mix. Details: www.groveparkinn.com.
Elsewhere in the Southeast...
SAVANNAH ROCKS: If you find yourself on River Street in stately Savannah, Ga., step into the Bohemian Hotel and dock yourself at this tasty eatery with a bit of panache. Rocks On the River offers a casual atmosphere where dishes are delectably prepared. Appetizers include scrumptious fried green tomatoes and amazing chicken and waffles sliders - yes, you read that correctly! Waffles encase a succulent chicken breast, covered with tangy Boursin cheese and pepper jam; it's the perfect start to a memorable meal.
Salads and soups include a yummy she-crab soup and a pulled-chicken chopped salad. Entrees include an array of burgers, stellar steaks, succulent seafood and a definite crowd pleaser, a decadent dish of chicken, sauteed dumplings and mushrooms.
An extensive wine list and signature drinks complete the lively atmosphere. Details: www.bohemianhotelsavannah.com.