Walking through the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Biltmore Village is like taking an instant day trip to Old World Europe. The lobby is adorned with intricately hand-carved furniture, tall columns inlaid with ivory and a clock from the Black Forest.
Vintage opera chairs face a stone fireplace in the center of the lobby that has a chandelier decorated with Austrian Swarovski crystal.
A statue of Diana, goddess of hunt, stands in a corner of the lobby along with a stuffed boar from the Black Forest, which seems to greet guests from its place on the fireplace hearth. A hallway on the first floor is created from stone to resemble a grotto.
On an upper floor of the hotel is the grand ballroom, which is modeled from one in Austria, said John Luckett, general manager of the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Massive crystal chandeliers hang from a decorative ceiling in the ballroom where events and gatherings take place. Hand-carved vanities are in the guest rooms.
The hotel has the theme of an elaborate 19th century European hunting lodge—with a few New World touches, Luckett notes. The bohemian flavor of the hotel is “part classic European and part gypsy California funky,” he said.
The elevator that transports guests to their rooms and the grand ballroom has cream-colored cowhide on its walls. And some of the chandeliers in the hotel are created from antlers, reminiscent of décor found in the American West. Selections of art found in the hotel gallery include paintings of local artists.
The dining room décor also reflects the hunting lodge theme with mounted deer heads on the walls and its name, the Red Stag Grill.
The bar in dining area offers guests draft beers from popular domestic breweries and the cuisine includes local beef and trout. The extensive menu also includes elk, pheasant, and lamb.
Luckett has served as manager of the hotel since 2008, beginning his position a year before it opened for business. Moving to Asheville from Vail, Colorado, where he had managed a property in a ski resort location, Luckett oversaw the details of opening the Asheville hotel for the Kessler Collection, which owns it.
“I knew this hotel was going to be special,” Luckett said.
Luckett says he enjoys working for the family-owned enterprise for which Richard Kessler serves as president and COO. And he also enjoys being in the Asheville area with its nearby mountains and proximity to family members.
As a manager, Luckett says his primary goal is serving guests who come to the hotel.
“You’re always focused on the people side of the business,” he said. “I learned service from my grandparents,”
As a youngster growing up in Kentucky, Luckett says he watched his grandmother and grandfather operate a restaurant they owned.
Although every day is somewhat different, Luckett says he constantly looks at the product to make sure it stays strong while also focusing on revenues and other financial aspects of hotel management.
Luckett also spends time working with hotel staff and ensuring that they receive ongoing training.
“I’ve had great mentors,” he says of his experience as a hotel manager. “Richard Kessler knows how to run a luxury, independent hotel.”
The Kessler Collection includes hotels in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Colorado.
By Sandra Barnes