November 18, 2011
With Thanksgiving one week away it is almost time to start planning for Christmas, and that means digging out all of the decorations from the basement or attic and preparing for the time honored tradition of putting up the tree. While most across the country will opt for the plastic version there is truly no substitute for the real thing, and luckily for Festiva owners, Blue RidgeVillage is located in the heart of the tree growing industry. Check out this updated blog post from last year and be sure to visit the North Carolina Tree Growers Association online to find the perfect tree farm for you and your family.
As a child growing up in South Florida I recall the excitement each year of waiting on that fresh Christmas tree to arrive from my uncle and aunt’s farm high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Avery County, N.C. Everyone we knew had the classic plastic tree, while sitting in our living room was six feet of sappy Fraser Fir, dark green and lush, emitting a distinct pine aroma that brings back memories in an instant. There was something about cutting open the box, sawing off some of the branches and screwing the tree into the stand, and after being drenched in sap, standing back and proudly admiring the real tree I had helped put up.
Years later I now find myself residing in the same mountains where our tree would come from each year, providing the opportunity to now choose and cut my own tree. As late November rolls around vehicles can be seen one after the other exiting the area with that prized tree strapped on the roof, and why not? North Carolina, after all, is second in the country for the number of Christmas trees harvested each year and the five-county area that makes up the High Country has seen 11 of their trees end up as the Blue Room Christmas tree, the official tree of the President of the United States.
The High Country region sits at an average elevation of 3,300 feet, the ideal elevation and climate for growing Fraser Firs, what many consider the perfect Christmas tree due to its longevity, full and lush branches and sheer beauty. As you drive up into the mountains Fraser Firs can be seen lining the hillsides, creating a patchwork quilt of forest green dots. Signs for tree farms seem to be almost as abundant as the trees themselves, making it difficult to decide where to stop for the perfect tree. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association has a great search engine that will allow you to select which county to search, the type of tree you’re looking for, and for additional amenities offered at the farms, such as hayrides, petting zoos, and refreshments like apple cider and hot apple pie.
After selecting a farm the hunt for the tree of your dreams will begin. Meander up and down the hills between rows of trees, surrounded by vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the crisp smell of pine. Once selecting the tree, only limited in size by your living room, the farm will either cut the tree or allow you to cut the tree prior to bailing and packing atop your vehicle for the ride home. All that’s left now is to decorate the tree and gather around with friends and family to enjoy the holiday season.
August 5, 2011
Our last few posts have highlighted some of the great free festivals, concerts and art shows taking place in three of Festiva’s vacation destinations along the coast. Today we’re going to head inland to the North Carolina High Country and explore the quaint town of Banner Elk and some of the best activities in the area that don’t cost a dime.
Downtown Boone Art Crawl: Not just a summer event, the Downtown Boone Art Crawl is held on the first Friday of each month on King Street. Located just 20 minutes north of Banner Elk, Boone is an artsy college town filled with galleries and local restaurants, 35 of which open their doors from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. for an evening of leisure. Guests are invited to shop, mingle and enjoy free wine and live music as they stroll through the heart of this historic town. While there are plenty of galleries to visit, Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts is a must see. The modern multi-level complex features a wide variety of mediums, from the work of students to internationally known artists.
49th Annual Art in the Park: A short 20 minute drive up the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway from Banner Elk is the friendly town of Blowing Rock, home to the juried art series, Art in the Park. Compiled of 90 artisans at each show, the event takes place on Main Street one Saturday a month from May to October. Patrons are invited out from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. to walk amongst the artists and enjoy the beauty of this charming town. The remaining shows this year will be held on Aug. 13, Sept. 10 and Oct. 1.
Todd General Store: Resting in a valley along side the New River 10 minutes north of Boone is the Todd General Store, a place where time seems to move at a slower pace. While the antiques, crafts, tools, homemade jellies, ice cream and deli are all intriguing, it’s the people and culture of the store that have earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Get lost in the stories of local folk legend every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. as local storytellers weave tales that have you hanging on every word. Come back on Friday night from 6:30- 9:15 p.m. and enjoy the best local bluegrass around, including frequent visits from Todd legend and National Banjo Picking Champion Steve Lewis.
July 20, 2011
Since 1952 the outdoor drama Horn in the West has been a summer time tradition for families visiting the North Carolina High Country. Billed as the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War drama still being performed, Horn in the West transports you back over 230 years to the North American frontier, telling the story of early Appalachian settlers seeking freedom from British tyranny.
Nestled into a forest-covered hillside in Boone, N.C., the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre is the perfect setting for American playwright Kermit Hunter’s legendary drama. Nearly 50 actors adorned with time-specific costumes relive the story of a group of colonists that take up arms against the British in 1771. Dr. Stuart, a fictitious character, is torn between his loyalty to the crown and the new colonies until his son is taken prisoner by the British. Along the journey Stuart is joined by Appalachian legend Daniel Boone and others as they battle the Redcoats, small pox and the elements of Mother Nature.
The 90 minute story concludes in 1780 with the group of settlers joining with the Overmountain Men as they march from Tennessee to southern North Carolina, where they defeated Major Ferguson at the Battle of King’s Mountain and help change the tide of the war.
Only a 20 minute drive north of Banner Elk, Horn in the West is an educational and entertaining way to spend an evening for anyone staying at the Blue Ridge Village Resort. Tickets are $18 for Adults and $9 for children with showtimes at 8 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday from July 19 through Aug. 13 at the Daniel Boone Amphitheatre in Boone, N.C.
May 23, 2011
Nestled high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk, N.C., is a tourist town that is often associated with activities such as hiking and camping in the summer and some of the best skiing on the east coast in the winter. A little known fact however is that Banner Elk is surrounded by a selection of public golf courses that offer golf enthusiasts the opportunity to play some of the most scenic holes in the Southeast.
Sugar Mountain Golf Club – A short five minute drive from Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain Golf Club sits at and elevation of 4,000 feet offering cool temperatures in the summer and majestic views of the foliage in the fall. Designed by Frank Duane, the longtime project manager for Robert Trent Jones Sr., the short 18-hole par 64 course is challenging enough for the avid golfer yet forgiving enough for the novice to build confidence.
Mountain Glen Golf Club – Located 15 minutes from Banner Elk in Newland, the par 72 Mountain Glen Golf Club features 6,723 yards of golf and boasts a 129 slope rating, making it the one of the longest and steepest public course in the area. All skill levels will enjoy warming up on the driving range, putting green and chipping green before selecting between three sets of tees on the 18-hole course.
Boone Golf Club – Considered to be a local favorite amongst the public courses, the Boone Golf Club is nestled in the Watauga Valley 25 minutes north of Banner Elk in Boone. The par 71 course is home to the Appalachian State University golf teams and features gently rolling fairways and large undulating greens that challenge players to focus on every shot.
Linville Falls Mountain Preserve & Club – According to course designer and golf legend Lee Trevino, “The club sits on the most gorgeous piece of property I have ever seen.” Surrounded by sharp mountain peaks and covered with mountain laurels, the par 71 course offers four sets of tees and is only 30 minutes south of Banner Elk. Recently renovated in 2006, golfers will be awestruck with the new facilities and challenging layout of the course.
Grassy Creek Golf & Country Club – The par 72 course at Grassy Creek Golf & Country Club offers a challenge to the low handicap golfer yet is friendly enough for the novice to enjoy as well. The semi-private course takes particular pride in their fast bentgrass greens that are painstakingly maintained to present the best putters a challenge. With superb greens, rolling fairways and picturesque views the Grassy Creek course is a must visit for anyone in the area.
With a cool climate, majestic views and countless challenging holes the public courses of the North Carolina High Country are waiting to be discovered by golfers of all levels. Any golfers looking for accommodations while exploring the courses of the region should check out the fully-equipped condominiums at the Blue RidgeVillagein Banner Elk.
May 17, 2011
Posted in Banner Elk, NC, Entertainment & Attractions tagged Banner Elk, Elk Creek Outfitters, fishing, fly fishing, Foscoe Fishing Company, North Carolina High Country, trout at 3:00 pm by festivatravel
Sitting quietly in the North Carolina High Country, the quaint town of Banner Elk is quickly earning a reputation amongst anglers in the Southeast as a prime fishing destination. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler the hundreds of miles of cool mountain rivers, streams and lakes provide the perfect opportunity for an adventure not to be forgotten.
A strong hatchery program which is run by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and perfect water temperatures combine to create the perfect environment for Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout along with other varieties like Smallmouth Bass and Musky. Two local guide companies, Elk Creek Outfitters and the Foscoe Fishing Company, offer a variety of float and wade fishing trips all guided by an experienced staff. Anglers can choose from multiple picturesque trips on the Watauga, Elk, Linville, Toe and New River or explore one of the many small streams that carve through the countryside. No matter the experience level or size of the group both outfitters are prepared to provide a mountain fishing experience of a lifetime.
For those who are a little more experienced and prefer to venture out on their own there is a listing of the stocking schedule along with maps and directions to each location located on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website. One fishing hole that is still considered a hidden gem and is worth a visit by any angler in the area isChinquapinLake. Located 45 minutes north of Banner Elk, this small unassuming lake is stocked with over five thousand fish per year and is still mainly frequented by locals. Another favorite spot that is less visited and known for large trout is Beech Creek which is on the back side of Beech Mountain less than eight miles from Banner Elk.
Located in Banner Elk, the Grandfather Trout Farm is ideal for families and anyone looking to catch their own dinner. The farm is comprised of three lakes that are maintained and stocked with trout guaranteeing that every member of the family will catch a fish. All of the equipment including license and bait is provided on site and you only pay for what you catch. Best of all the trout farm employees will clean, filet and pack the fresh catch on ice to be enjoyed later. If you have your own equipment families can also stroll over to Wildcat Lake which is also in Banner Elk and is stocked by the state.
With plenty of stocked lakes, stream and rivers the North Carolina High Country offers some of the most picturesque fishing opportunities in the Southeast so grab your friends and equipment and head to Banner Elk this summer. Also be sure to obtain the correct fishing license through the NC Wildlife Resources Commission at www.ncwildlife.org. For accommodations be sure to check out the rustic appeal of Festiva Hospitality Group’s Blue RidgeVillage, which also has a fishing pond on site, no license required.
April 20, 2011
Located in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk, N.C., is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery Mother Nature has to offer, including a wide selection of breathtaking waterfalls that carve through the rugged terrain. Below is a brief list of the main waterfalls in the area that are not to be missed along with their relative location to Banner Elk.
Linville Falls: Owned by the National Park Service, Linville Falls is the most popular and accessible waterfall in the area. Located at milepost 316.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the park features four overlooks of the Linville River as it plunges 150-feet over four drops. At 1.4 miles round-trip, the mostly flat trail makes catching a glimpse of this powerful waterfall easy for all ages. More skilled and adventurous hikers can access the base of the falls by taking a steep trail that descends through brush. (30 minutes South / 20 miles)
Elk Falls: Situated in the Pisgah National Forest only minutes from Banner Elk, Elk Falls is a local favorite for its easy accessibility and large natural swimming pool at the base. A brown and white sign along 19E right outside the town of Elk Park will pinpoint the trailhead. The 50-foot waterfall is only a quarter of a mile from the parking area and features a swimming hole and massive rock formation where sunbathers can be seen relaxing the day away. (12 minutes West / 7.5)
Cascade Falls: Located at milepost 272 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, E.B. Jeffress Park and Cascade Falls is perfect for families. The park includes restrooms, benches, grills and a large open field with vistas of the surrounding mountains. A short half-mile loop leads hikers along a small stream that suddenly widens to about 15-feet before dropping off the mountain side. Two overlooks are stationed only feet away from the cascading falls, providing the perfect photo-op. (45 minutes North / 35 Miles)
Glen Burnie & Glen Marie Falls: This set of falls can be found at the beautiful Annie Cannon Park in downtown Blowing Rock. The trail to the falls follows an ancient Native American Indian path that was used for hundreds of years to access the valley below. While the trail drops 600 feet over 1.6 miles and may leave some huffing for air on the way back up, it does not entail any treacherous obstacles and will reward hikers with views of two separate falls. (30 minutes East / 20 miles)
While all the waterfalls listed are safe to access it is always important to remember the risk involved with jumping off or approaching the edge of a waterfall so enjoy nature with safety in mind. For more information on outdoor activities in the area visit www.nchighcountryhost.com. For accommodations in Banner Elk be sure to check out Festiva Hospitality Group’s mountain retreat, The Blue Ridge Village.
February 28, 2011
The latest Festiva Adventure Club complaints resolution effort (www.festivacomplaints.com) has helped to open new lines of communication between the company and its guests. The site is set up to handle issues at a corporate level, as well as individual Festiva resorts complaints.
Festiva Hospitality Group and Festiva Adventure Club recently launched a new web presence, Festiva Complaints Resolution Center, aimed at resolving online Festiva Resorts complaints and providing information to owners and guests trying to resolve their various Festiva complaints. Festiva has experienced an immediate positive reaction from its resort guests who have used the new service
“Since the launch of the Festiva Resorts Complaints Resolution site we have seen an overall decrease of complaints submitted to third-party websites as our customers are finding that when they contact us directly, their issues are resolved much faster and more effectively than when they submit their complaints to a third-party site that offers no resolution,” says Sara Little, Festiva’s Director of Corporate Communications.
One of the most significant accomplishments of the new site is the facilitated direction of complaints to the proper departments within the company for quicker resolution and away from false “Festiva scam” websites which were set up in the past to masquerade as the company’s complaints department.
Little explains, “We realized several years ago that in order to keep up with the fast-paced and ever-changing world of the internet, and specifically social media, we need to actively participate in the online conversations that are already taking place within our industry. We have since taken several steps to utilize various forms of technology to improve customer service and communication with our owners and guests, and festivacomplaints.com is the latest tool we are using to reach out to our web-savvy customers.”
Festiva Hospitality Group and Festiva Adventure Club’s family of resorts include a wide range of properties across the U.S. and Caribbean, including a fleet of luxury yachts. Festiva resorts include such premium properties as the Church Street Inn, the Atrium Resort, and Ellington at Wachesaw Plantation East.
Visit Festiva Complaints Resolution Center at http://www.festivacomplaints.com.
February 10, 2011
Posted in Banner Elk, NC, Entertainment & Attractions tagged Appalachian Ski Mountain, Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, Festiva Hospitality Group, NC, Ron White, Russian National Ballet Theatre, Sugar Mountain, Turchin Center, Winter activities at 5:10 pm by festivatravel
This year on Groundhog’s Day Punxsutawney Phil declared that the arrival of spring weather is just around the corner so grab your bags and take a trip the Blue Ridge Village in Banner Elk, N.C., to hit the slopes one last time this season. While you’re there be sure to explore the surrounding towns and communities as plenty of attractions and events are waiting to be discovered as winter winds down.
With Sugar, Beech and Appalachian ski resorts not closing until the end of March there are still about 6 weeks left to take advantage of this year’s great conditions in the High Country. All three offer ice skating, snowboarding and a variety of other special events. On March 6, 2011, Sugar Mountain will be celebrating their resident mascot’s birthday. Join Sugar Bear and his friends for a magic show, races and of course cake and ice cream. The following day kicks off Sugar Mountain’s March Madness, where lift tickets, rentals and even lessons are up to 25 percent off for the rest of the season. Always the last resort to close, Appalachian Ski Mountain will hold the annual Meltdown Games on March 26 & 27. Competitions and games will be held all weekend long with special prizes and awards given out to the winners in events such as the cardboard box race.
If you’re not the adventurous type there are always plenty of alternatives. The Performing Arts Series at Appalachian State University, only 20 minutes away in Boone, always has a good variety of entertainment to choose from. On Feb. 27, 2011, at 8 p.m., Grammy Award-nominated comedian Ron White will perform at Farthing Auditorium. Hailing from the popular “Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” White has sold over 10 million CDs and has appeared on Comedy Central, “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Only a few days later on March 2, 2011, Farthing Auditorium will host the Russian National Ballet Theatre as they perform Romeo & Juliet and Chopiniana. Originally performed in 1907, Chopiniana is a celebration of the music of Frederic Chopin and has become a staple in the world of ballet. Following is Tchaikovsky’s take on the classic Shakespearean tragedy of love, Romeo & Juliet. With limited seating at Farthing Auditorium both Ron White and the ballet are expected to sell out so be sure to order tickets ahead of time.
Anyone attending a show is highly encouraged to also check out the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, a short walk from Farthing Auditorium. The Turchin Center exhibits a variety of local, regional and national artists and is free to the public. The Turchin Center is also the home to the Downtown Boone First Friday Art Crawl. Each month restaurants, galleries and the Turchin Center keep their doors open late into the night as guests meander about while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine.
Whether shredding on the slopes or enjoying a ballet the mountains of the High Country are calling out for one last winter time visit. For lodging be sure to check out Festiva Hospitality Group’s Blue Ridge Village in Banner Elk.
January 6, 2011
Festiva Complaints Resolution Center, a new online presence by Festiva Resorts, offers members and guests at Festiva’s timeshare resorts a unique opportunity to interface with Festiva’s customer care team to resolve problems, submit complaints, and read frequently asked questions and resolved complaints from other guests.
The timeshare industry’s online reputation has been inundated in recent years with various “consumer scam” and complaint sites, claiming to help consumer solve their problems. In reality, these scam sites are set up to produce ill-gotten advertising revenue for their owners and offer little value to the consumer trying to open a dialogue that ends in their complaint being resolved or to obtain more information about their issue.
“We’re trying to make a proactive effort to meet online complaints “head-on”. We are able to resolve an overwhelming majority of the issues that our guests bring to our attention, and we constantly strive to improve our methodology and service as it applies to consumer complaints”, says Sara B. Little, Festiva’s Director of Corporate Communications.
Guests are able to read special announcements from Festiva; for instance, a recent letter to members regarding special assessment has been posted on the site, along with updated comments from members, in order to dispel confusion about the program. Along with various resolved Festiva complaints, member-specific information specially suited to resolving common issues can be found throughout the site.
Festiva Hospitality Group and Festiva Adventure Club operate a chain of resorts located in destinations across the United States and Caribbean. Offering a full range of resort locales from luxurious beaches to historic neighborhoods, Festiva’s timeshare resorts provide the utmost in comfort, service, and luxury, while maintaining a family-oriented environment.
December 3, 2010
Posted in Banner Elk, NC, Entertainment & Attractions tagged Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain, Blue Ridge Village, Festiva Hospitality Group, Ice Skating, Ski North Carolina, snowboarding, snowshoeing, Sugar Mountain at 6:15 pm by festivatravel
For all the snow bunnies who love to ski, snowboard or just frolic around in the cold white stuff, winter is just around the corner. Of course, the arrival of snow is a welcomed sight as it signifies the beginning of ski season. With a lower occupancy rate in the winter it is the perfect time for Festiva Adventure Club members to take advantage of the “late reservation” points break* and book an exciting excursion on the slopes to the Blue Ridge Village. Conveniently located in Banner Elk, N.C., the Blue Ridge Village is only minutes away from 3 major ski resorts. With an average base elevation over 4000 feet and peaks as high as 5,500 feet the High Country’s ski resorts are known as the best in the Southeast.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
Appalachian Ski Mountain is about a 30 minute drive from the Blue Ridge Village and is located in the quaint town of Blowing Rock. While the mountain is the smallest in the the area with a 365 foot vertical drop, it is also regarded as the resort with the best conditions and is home to the French Swiss Ski College, making it ideal for beginners learning to master the slopes. Another feature that distinguishes Appalachian Ski Mountain is their Burton Learn to Ride Center and Burton Progression Park. Skiers and snowboarders alike can learn how to ride freestyle or watch the area’s best riders soar through the air at Burton’s only sponsored park in the state.
Beech Mountain Resort
Less than 8 miles from the Blue Ridge Village, Beech Mountain features 15 trails on 95 skiable acres with a 830 foot vertical drop, making it perfect for those seeking more of a challenge. Peaking at 5,506 feet, Ski Beech is the highest ski area in Eastern America, making conditions often slightly better than some of the other resorts in the area. Also setting Beech Mountain apart from the competition is their high speed quad chair lift. The high speed quad reduces a 20 minute ride into a 5 minute blast off, making it easy for guests to maximize the number of runs in a given day.
Sugar Mountain Resort
Visible from the resort parking lot, Sugar Mountain is the area’s largest ski mountain and is also the closest to Blue Ridge Village. With 20 trails, 11 chair lifts and a 1,200 foot vertical drop Sugar Mountain has become a favorite amongst more experienced skiers and snowboarders. The 115 acres of skiable trails provide enough terrain to be explored for multiple days. Sugar Mountain is also the only resort to offer snowshoeing, a great alternative to anyone who does not know how to ski. Strap on the specially designed shoes and walk on top of the snow through an enchanting forest blanketed with powder before returning to the club house for hot chocolate.
For those looking for adventure but not wanting to hit the slopes both Sugar and Beech mountain offer snow-tubing, a safe and entertaining option for the whole family. All 3 resorts have ice skating rinks for those seeking to strap on a pair of blades instead of challenging the slopes.
Be sure to make your winter adventure dreams come true this season with a trip to Festiva Hospitality Group’s Blue Ridge Village. Spend a weekend concurring one mountain or book a week and challenge all 3.
*must reserve within 29 days or less of check-in date and subject to availability.