Friday, July 14, 2017

Nick's Notes 7.13.17--Time to Relax...Stop and Smell the Roses



Time to Relax...Stop and Smell the Roses

Outdoor activities, food tours, brewery tours, the Biltmore Estate, Trolley Tours, waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountains, lakes, and so much more…there’s always something fun to do in Asheville and that’s why so many travelers come to visit our great city.  

On average 29,800 people visit Asheville each day. In 2016, Asheville attracted 10.9 million visitors and continues to be named on Top 10 lists of why to come visit Asheville.

Our guests at Abbington Green spend their days out and about doing all the fun things mentioned above that Asheville has to offer.  Many of them spend their mornings or evenings before our 5pm Social Hour relaxing on one of our many porches and walking our gardens on the property…and they provide a nice reminder to take the time to relax, slow down, enjoy nature and see the beauty that surrounds us.
Carey and I felt it was important to create a guided walking tour of the Gardens at Abbington Green, so we revised our website to reflect their beauty and now included in each guest room’s information folder we’ve included a copy of the garden walk that you can take with you to walk through the property.  

Starting at the front porch and winding your way through to the back garden, guests will see and learn about what we have growing, the style used to create the garden, and also the 4 fountains we have on the property.  The gardens at Abbington Green surround the house as a series of authentic English garden “rooms”, each with a different theme.  

The Shade Garden is an informal space located beside the front porch. Guests will notice the St. Bernard fountain at the front of the porch placed there in memory of our dog Bailey, who was an amazing Pet Therapy Dog for 6 of her 12 year life.

The Chartreuse Garden is a small formal space surrounded by trellis fences.  It is named for the variety of yellow foliage, variegated foliage, and yellow and white flowers in this garden.  Also included is a pineapple fountain planted with Water Iris and a Garden Fairy given to us by a guest to attract good fortune to our gardens and home.

The Vegetable Garden is tended to and planned out by Steve every year.  During the Winter season ahead of planting, Steve combs through the seed catalogs to find what he’ll plant in the Vegetable Garden.  Tomatoes, asparagus, radishes, a variety of lettuce, carrots, spinach, peppers, and cucumbers are commonly grown in this garden.  We love having fresh, homegrown produce to use in our breakfasts and 5pm Social Hour offerings such as Steve’s Mom’s recipe for Bread and Butter Pickles.
The White Rose Garden’s floral color scheme is pink and white throughout.  A tiered fountain at at the center adds soothing sounds to this space much of the year.
Mom’s Rose Garden is planted with pink shrub roses, pink and white peonies, many perennials, and is interplanted with annuals for constant color from Spring to Fall.  In addition, four cherub musician statues represent fictional angels of love to symbolize the love a mother has for her children and the love we have for our mothers. Here, in the beauty of this garden, they come together to honor our Moms.
The Oriental Garden has a Chinese and Japanese influence including two small statues of Foo Dogs to greet you and decorative pagodas and an Asian lion statue.  Guests can easily find the 4 Chinese stepping stones which represent the Four Seasons, as well as a small statue of Buddha.
The Lower Garden can be seen from ground level well as from the porches and decks of both the Main House and the Carriage House at Abbington Green.  Laid out as a central “wheel” pattern of radiating pea gravel paths lined with over 180 boxwoods with benches to rest at each end point.  In the center stands an antique gazebo that Nick found at a local antique store and the team here at the Inn restored. Each “pie slice” shaped bed is planted with one primary type of plant for a beautiful effect, and at the very back of this garden is a trellis adorned with a lion head fountain flanked by climbing roses.
In 2015, the gardens became a Certified Wildlife Habitat.  We use no chemicals nor pesticides in maintaining the gardens, in an effort to create a safe environment for our wildlife friends and also our guests.  
Valerie, the original owner at Abbington Green, created these award-winning gardens, and our Steve continues to bring out their beauty in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
We hope the next time you come to visit us you take the tour, and the time to enjoy the gardens at Abbington Green. Time to relax…stop, and smell the roses.

All the best,

Nick

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nick's Notes 4.14.2017--The Spa is No Longer Just a Dream...


The Spa is No Longer Just a Dream...

 As many of you know, my original dream was to open a Spa in Greece with a small Bed and Breakfast attached on the Island of Santorini...
Over the years the dream evolved into owning a Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina. Abbington Green Bed and Breakfast Inn filled a big part of realizing my dream.
But something was still missing for me, and I knew what it was.  I kept it in my mind, and kept thinking that one day it would happen.  Well, I am happy to tell you all that that day is here.  My partner Steve, and Handyman Dennis thought that the parlor of our home would be a perfect location for the Spa...and it is!

Welcome to Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn and Spa...
a peaceful oasis in the original parlor of our home.

After Christmas this past year, the parlor furniture was removed and we began the conversion.  We found antique pantry doors with original hardware from 1908, complete with a skeleton key to close off the entry to the foyer.  The sliding pocket doors leading to the living room were closed off as well. Soundproof curtains were added over both doorways and blackout blinds went up in all windows.

A 6ft. corner water feature was added in the opposite corner from the original, working fireplace, and a sink was installed in an antique cabinet in the other corner of the room.

We furnished the room with top of the line spa equipment and linens (I love the linens so much--they will soon be in all guest rooms in the Inn too).  We have two massage tables in the spa for couples massages if requested; a facial steamer with magnifying options, hot stones, and more.  Guests have already begun booking spa appointments for massages and facials and their feedback has been amazing.

I personally handpicked each of the therapists we are utilizing. Yes, that does mean that I had to force myself to get a massage from each of them....

Ben is the head of our spa, and his expertise has been instrumental in product selection and the set up process. 
Ben, Courtney, Angeline, Tessa, Raven, and Samala were all trained on the high service standards at Abbington Green.  The Spa is an extension of the Abbington Green Experience featuring details, service, and localization.

As you know, it is our mission to help our guests experience as much of North Carolina as we can share with them during their stay with us.  From the organic and locally-sourced products we use to prepare our multi-course breakfasts and 5pm Social Hour offerings (including local cheeses from the WNC Cheese Trail and beer from local brewers), to the NC produced bath amenities in each guest room, and the local art we display in our 2nd Floor Gallery created by local artists, we like to introduce as much local and NC made products as we can!

The Abbington Green Spa is no different, and fits right in with the local NC experience.  Most of the products we are using in the Spa are made right here in Asheville by Zenjenskin, and are created using native plants which are harvested and then combined with nourishing botanicals and extracts that work synergistically together to create and amazing facial care line.
photo by David Simchock  www.DavidSimchock.com
We chose to decorate the Spa walls with the work of local photographer David Simchock--including photographs of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a collection of photos he took at the Biltmore Estate of the Biltmore Blooms.
photo by David Simchock  www.DavidSimchock.com
photo by David Simchock  www.DavidSimchock.com

photo by David Simchock  www.DavidSimchock.com

Check out our Spa Menu on our website abbingtongreen.com, there are multiple massages, facials, and added enhancements to tailor your spa treatment the way you want...including a nod to our local beer scene with our Beer City Bliss Massage that uses local beer in the treatment. You can book your spa services via our reservation system on the Abbington Green homepage when you book your stay (this is not offered on 3rd party booking agents such as Hotels.com,  Expedia, Travelocity or Bed and Breakfast.com) .  We'll reach out to find out times and dates and then match one of our Spa professionals to your request.

I am so fulfilled by everything my team and I have accomplished in the 2 1/2 years since we purchased Abbington Green.  Adding Carey as our General Manager has allowed me to focus on completing my dream.  

Now you can enhance your stay at Abbington Green with a wonderful spa treatment.  Thank you for participating in making the second part of my dream for Abbington Green come true.
photo by David Simchock  www.DavidSimchock.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

Nick's Notes 1.27.2017--What's New at Abbington Green...

 
What's New at Abbington Green...

January is usually a pretty slow month for Tourism in Asheville, in fact the Asheville Convention and Visitor's Bureau has dubbed this time of the year the "Undiscovered Season".  We though, have been keeping pretty busy as a team here at Abbington Green, working on special projects and doing a lot of planning for the future.

I thought I would take some time to fill you in on some exciting things happening at Abbington Green for 2017. Our weekends this month have been busy and the Inn has been full of guests, but during the weekdays, the Abbington Green Team has been keeping busy with other things...

   

The month started with taking down and storing our Christmas decorations. Over 20 trees, 180 Nutcrackers, and all of the outdoor lights got boxed up and put away for another year.  Let's just say that with all of the decorations put away, the house looks so much larger!


This was our 3rd year of participating in the Montford Historic District Tour of Homes.  We had over 600 people tour our B&B from 1-5 pm on December 10th. Once again, we had Santa on our front porch and a full table of holiday cookies and hot cider in the Dining Room at Abbington Green.  I'd like to take a moment to thank Greg, Dennis, Carey, Zack, Katie, Ivy and Ken for all of their hard work that day.



Next on our list for the month was our semi-annual deep cleaning project.  The Housekeeping team led by Greg cleaned and detailed each room from top to bottom.  For those of you who know me, I have high standards and cleanliness is a top priority at Abbington Green every day.


The third project we are taking on this month is publishing our next volume of our cookbook--A Taste of Abbington Green, Volume 2.  Guests continue to ask for recipes that didn't fit into Volume 1, so we decided to go ahead and create Volume 2.  It will contain the following 8 sections:  Fruit Courses, Cakes and Breads, Side Dishes, Breakfast Main Courses, Social Hour and High Tea Entertaining, Cookies, and we've updated this next volume to include two new sections that feature our Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner Favorites and our Natural Indoor/Outdoor Home and Garden Remedies.


The biggest news that I get to share with you is the realization of the second part of my dream for Abbington Green is finally coming true.  My original dream for over 15 years was to open a Spa with a small Bed & Breakfast attached all on the island of Santorini, Greece.

With the tough economy in Greece, I had to adjust my dream to making it happen in the U.S.  So here we now are, in beautiful Asheville, NC, with a wonderful Bed and Breakfast...but no spa.  My dream just wasn't complete.

I am very excited and proud to announce that it will be completed soon, with the opening of our new spa in the original Parlor of Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn.  The room is a perfect size for 2 massage tables.  We will be offering various massages and facials, using products sourced from here in Asheville.  Zenjenskin has created specific products for us to use in our treatments and to sell along with her entire line of skin care products.  Her motto is "Keep it Pure and Simple".

Our handyman, Dennis, has been hard at work with the Parlor renovation project. He's been calling it the "Sparlor".

He has refurbished and repurposed an antique cabinet into a sink and has added French Doors, circa 1908, with their original hardware.  Both were great local finds for us at the Tobacco Barn, my favorite antique store.



The Spa at Abbington Green will offer our guests (and eventually locals!) the opportunity to expand their experience and relaxation time at Abbington Green. It fits right in with my philosophies of providing our guests exceptional service and the experience of locally sourced, North Carolina products.

 



I owe a lot of my being able to achieve my dream of adding a Spa here at the Inn to 2 people:  Steve and Carey.  Steve continues to believe in me and to support my dreams.  Having Carey as our GM has allowed me to take on new things and to grow the idea of having the Spa come to reality at the Inn.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to be the first to welcome you all to Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn and Spa!

All the best,
Nick


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Nick's Notes 12.9.2016--I Love the Holidays Each Year!



I Love the Holidays Each Year!

We begin to decorate Abbington Green on the first of November for Christmas to coincide with the Biltmore Estate being fully decorated.  I always tell our guests that the main difference between Abbington Green and the Biltmore is that they have 2000 employees to help and we have 8... so it takes about 2 weeks to finish the 20 trees in the house, display the over 180 Nutcrackers, string hundreds of lights, and to light the exterior of the Inn and the property.

We always leave the dining room decorated for Fall until after Thanksgiving, and we host a full 3-course Thanksgiving Dinner for our guests that are interested. We will do the same for Christmas Day Dinner, since most restaurants are closed for the holiday.

This past Thanksgiving was wonderful.  We had 6 repeat guests and 12 new guests for dinner--we are always welcoming new guests to become a part of our Abbington Green family!

The dinner this year was amazing! We served 2 turkeys, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean and sweet potato casseroles, Steve's Mom's stuffing recipe, salad, cranberry relish, and rolls.  To finish off the meal, we had an amazing assortment of desserts.

My compliments to Zack and Carey in the kitchen for helping me prep for days ahead of Thanksgiving.  Also to Steve and our friends Ivy and Ken who helped on Thanksgiving Day by serving our 18 guests.


I thought you all might want to see a few photos from our Thanksgiving Dinner:







We have so much to be thankful for.  The holidays are always busy, but it is really important to take a moment and stop to think about how fortunate we are.  I'm extremely thankful for my family and great friends. I'm thankful that I believed in myself and that Steve believed in me so much that he'd be my partner in taking steps to achieve my dream of owning an Inn.  I'm thankful for the wonderful staff and great guests I get to meet each week--all of them with interesting lives and stories to share.

Abbington Green allows me to experience so many wonderful things and people from all of the world.  I've truly been blessed with a great life!

All the best,
Nick

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Top Ten Lists and Doing What You Love--Carey's Turn at the Blog



Top Ten Lists and Doing What You Love--Carey's Turn at the Blog

Not so long ago, when I traveled back and forth from up North to visit Abbington Green and pitch in a little help in decorating for the winter holidays and such, I was lucky enough to meet a guest staying at the Inn and “his lovely wife” as he jokingly asked us to refer to her during their stay in order to gain some husband points…

At that time, the idea of coming to Asheville to work at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn hadn’t yet been hatched.  Somehow, though, the guests had a premonition that I’d be here permanently and wrote out this list, David Letterman Top Ten style, to influence a decision to come and work at the Inn should the opportunity arise.
  

I have been carrying this list, written in their handwriting, around with me since last year November:  

Top 10 Reasons Carey Should Move to Asheville…(and work at the Inn)

10.  Husband can work from anywhere
  9.  Shop small, also = work small
  8.  Clearly you are a hostess at heart
  7.  Embrace your inner decorator
  6.  The view from the front porch at Abbington Green B&B Inn
  5.  Free breakfast
  4.  Puppy love from Lady Amber Abbington whenever you need a fix
  3.  Mild winters and cool summers
  2.  Guests love you
  
And the #1 reason to move to Asheville and work at the Inn…Never miss an opportunity to work with someone you love.

So…that is just what we did. Our lease in Connecticut came to a close and we moved to Asheville this past June.  We love it here and we’ve never looked back.
We are still exploring and learning about the area. It is always fun for me to hear about what the guests are up to during their day as it gives me great ideas of things to do on my days off. We have a list of restaurants (really, it is the one that Nick sends out to our guests that are his favorites) that we have been exploring and my husband and I have no trouble hopping in the car and taking off to see the sights from the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting an orchard or two, or picking an interesting named place (like Bat Cave) and pointing our car in that direction.
We have always loved taking drives, and living in Asheville has certainly given us inspiration to get in the car and go!  
Beauty surrounds you here in Asheville. It catches me by surprise every now and again. The mountains, beautiful sunsets, getting to see a black bear in the mountains…it is all a part of the Asheville experience. In addition, the great restaurants, shops, donut shops and ice cream joints will keep me busy exploring for a long time.  Not to forget the Biltmore Estate and its beautiful grounds…we have season passes now and popping over for an afternoon is in our plans.
Abbington Green is also such a pretty place to get to come to work in every day. This historic house is one of a kind, and getting to see our guests appreciate it is very rewarding. As I type this, there is a lively 5pm Social Hour taking place on the grand front porch of the Inn. Conversations are easy, wine is flowing and friendships are being forged. It is terrific.
We have big plans coming up in the coming months for the Inn. We’ve started decorating all of the rooms but the dining room (which stays firmly rooted in Autumn/Thanksgiving) for the winter  holidays—to match the Biltmore’s holiday decorating schedule. I can’t wait to see what design Nick has planned for us to implement…as it changes each year.  This will be my third time getting to decorate the Inn for the holidays, but my first full holiday season at Abbington Green!  We’ll also be cooking and hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with and for the guests of the Inn…

As far as plans for next year, we’ve been hard at work updating the Abbington Green website, www.abbingtongreen.com , to better reflect the updates and improvements that have been made to the Inn.  I have gotten the chance to be a part of some terrific initiatives at Abbington Green:  such as having fresh flowers in each guest room, and our work with Clean the World to create new soap bars from our gently used soap that our guests leave behind.  We send them to Orlando to be boiled down and reshaped in to new soap bars that are then distributed to the people of developing countries to help curb dysentery. We also have plans for a new on-site spa to offer services and treatments that will enhance our guests experience even more! Stay tuned for details....

It is an exciting time to be at the Inn and to be in Asheville. I'm honored to work with this wonderful team and I look forward to having the chance to meet you and have you stay with us!

Best,


Carey