Frommer on ‘Good Morning America’: Asheville is 2015’s No. 1 travel destination

“Good Morning America” ushered in the new year with a Jan. 1 segment touting Asheville as the No. 1 destination in the country to visit in 2015.

“It’s an amazing place. It’s really coming into its own. It’s a glorious natural setting,” said Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the popular Frommer travel guide. She went on to promote the area’s thriving craft beer scene to the national audience.

However, Frommer jumped the gun when discussing New Belgium Brewing’s major new development in the River Arts District, which isn’t scheduled to open until the end of 2015. Local artists who have long worked in the area might also take issue with her use of the word “sketchy” to describe the area before New Belgium’s construction.

“We’re picking [Asheville] this year because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths,” says Frommer. “It’s just a great place to go. It has the most breweries per capita, so always a party.”

At the same time, Frommers published a story calling Asheville the “Austin of the East — accessible, youth-friendly, affordable and the place to go for a sweet lifestyle.”

Tourism in Asheville is already booming. In October, hotel occupancy shattered previous records and several new hotels plan to open downtown in the coming year.

Watch the GMA segment here:

More ABC News Videos | ABC World News


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112 thoughts on “Frommer on ‘Good Morning America’: Asheville is 2015’s No. 1 travel destination

  1. Joe

    I just moved out of asheville yesterday literally. Great place to live if you bring a lot of your own money with you. No local economy outside of service industry government or healthcare. Plus it’s the south so employers feel entitled to your labor (think about a form of inexpensive labor practiced in the south only a short time ago). I moved 8 hours away making 4 times the salary with only a slight jump in rent. Don’t be so big headed Asheville.

    • Jason W.

      I think Frommer’s picked Asheville as a travel/vacation destination, and not a relocation destination.

  2. Grant Millin

    I can’t wait for the Riverlink response to this Frommer/Good Morning America quote:

    ““We’re picking [Asheville] this year because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths,” says Frommer. “It’s just a great place to go. It has the most breweries per capita, so always a party.”

    Happy New Year, Riverlink!

    By the way, the tens of thousands of citizens in Asheville who live near and under the unethically low Federal poverty levels are not in party mode. They are frightened what 2015 holds for them.

    • Cat

      Yep! From Asheville. Peeps I grew up with cannot keep family property because the taxes have gone crazy high. But, I guess buyers of said property don’t mind. So… on!

  3. AshevilleVISITOR

    This is about Asheville being an amazing TRAVEL destination, which will help BOOST local economy.

    • Asheville expat

      Help the economy? With higher rents and minimum wage jobs? I left Asheville because there were no real jobs there, and no feasible path to home ownership with the outrageous real estate prices. The tourists are killing everything that made Asheville great.

      • Robin Neill McGraw

        I am a native of Hendersonville, 20 miles south of Asheville, and I work in Asheville. It is beautiful, but these other people are correct when they say there are no “quality paying jobs” ( can’t have industry in a Tourist town) and the highways are terrible, clogged with traffic, and how many breweries can a small city support??? You can drive 40 miles south ( Greenville SC) and get a job at BMW or other industries, with much higher pay than anywhere in this area. Homes are outrageous and wages are low, unless you are Andie Mcdowell or some other wealthy person who retires here. Its home and I love it, but we don’t need more tourism, we need jobs where people can make a decent living!!!!!!!

      • Diane Duckett

        I aslo grew up in Asheville for the first 18yrs of my life. Beautiful place then no so much nowadays

  4. AB

    NOO Thanks — Hip-Billies Everywhere and Drunken Fools Dressed Up In the Streets Always — Backward Politics!!!

    • Elizabeth Hill

      I guess you did not stay long or come with an open mind. It’s OK. We don’t cotton too much to narrow minded Conservatives.

      • ErinAverill

        Hahaha. OK relax. It is beautiful and yes living here is not as pleasant as it seems. We have a vast majority of outsiders trying to make this place home but the problem is that good things never last. Asheville will keep moving down hill being filled with big city profiters, a mooching corporate America, twisted politicians and abusive powered police officers. Rest easy their will be change as history has taught us.

  5. RG

    As a 20 year resident of the Asheville area, I am not sure being a beer capital is such a good ‘moniker’. Downtown is crowded with parking at a premium and plenty of tourists; good for restaurants and hotels not so great for locals who came here for a less urban feel. Jobs in hotels and restaurants are not comparable to the good ops provided in tech centers or companies that actually produce something.

  6. bsummers

    “Austin of the East”

    “Paris of the South”

    “Miami Beach of the Mountains”

    “$100 Per Night Couch of my Living Room”

    • jonathan wainscott

      That’s illegal and the neighborhood snitches will report you.

      • bsummers

        Oddly enough, that’s how I came to be a resident of the “Paris of the Mountains”. I visited for a few days in the late ’90s, a ‘contradance tourist’, paying $15 a night to sleep on another dancers couch.

        A significant number of the new crop of tourists coming here “for a few days” will decide to settle here, and that will persist for years to come. That’s a good thing. But are we ready for it?

        • jonathan wainscott

          And then, in five years, they will leave. Asheville is not bubble proof just because it weathered the “Great Recession” better than most cities. Asheville, I believe, is creating its own growth bubble. People who moved here ten or fifteen years ago are going to be staying here longer than the more resent transplants. “Yeah, moved to Asheville because I had a good time, even had a decent job, but I lost that job and couldn’t find another one that paid enough for me to stay.” You’ll be hearing lots of that.

      • jax

        The people of Asheville the artists, musicians, craft workers, fiber artists, clay arts, jewelry makers, performers, small business owners put Asheville on the map. Asheville WAS a place of slow simplicity and downhome southern hospitality. 3pm Shop closings for “siesta” courteous drivers, street musicians, visionaries and colorful characters…

        The sterization and homogenization attempts by those wearing dollar bill colored glasses is making Asheville “just another town”

        Fortunately she will survive the hype. The locals here soon come to see the good old boy club in Asheville is alive and thriving. We are here, we are watching and we are a vocal bunch.. Expect every attempt to rape this fine city as a direct assault on the amazing folks that live here and love her…

    • Bill

      just want to say I usually enjoy your comments.

      Not a big deal, but I consistently like ’em…….so why not say so?

      :) Bill

  7. Sandy

    So many more interesting things and history in Asheville than being a “beer capital”. I don’t want my home to be known only as a party town. And the River Arts District developed over night thanks to a brewery? I wasn’t aware of all these new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths that we have now thanks to a beer maker. Where are they? How much has New Belgium contributed to our tax base? The only thing I agree with in this segment is “It’s a glorious natural setting.” Guess that’s why I stay out in that glory and the tourists can have downtown. All you tourists stay downtown…I’ll take to the woods. Xpress is a disappointment to me now too. No more local politics-you had the best coverage, but now I just use you to start my wood stove.

    • Rylin Mariel

      I totally agree with you about the River Arts District thing – begs the question: is Frommer hired to preach for corporate credit for initiative? Did she even bother to talk to people in the arts community before she made that determination? I live downtown, and I’m stuck living downtown because I don’t have a car and the bus service stinks (tourists don’t take buses here, so there’s no incentive to improve it much). I don’t like what’s happened here at all. I felt like MountainX started their decline as soon as they fired Cecil Bothwell: they obviously were moving into a position of toadying to business interests over the interests of average citizens, and from then on they began to progressively soften their coverage of big business’ effects on our lives. I don’t think they’ve gone heavily to the right, but they definitely have lost their edge!

  8. karen cragnolin

    RiverLink and the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay have brought millions and millions to the rebirth of this precious natural resource and helped make the river a VERB. We are not just a mountain city now we are also a river city. The challenge now is to not get lost in the hype and to stay authentic figure out the rules and keep our soul in tact . The river is our melting pot our multimodal mixed use, mixed income opportunity to do it right.

    • Grant Millin

      What are the strategy and responsible innovation ‘rules’ around here? Who owns the voice of reason and what is ‘unacceptable’?

      What is our community ethic?

    • jonathan wainscott

      Karen, could you please use “river” as a verb in a sentence please? I thought Riverlink built all the parks. I thought the artists in the River ARTS District were responsible for the revitalization. New Belgium hasn’t planted a blade of grass and they are already taking credit for your whole career. Ha!

    • Rylin Mariel

      Karen, I think you need to contact GMA and Frommer, and demand they issue a correction to Frommer’s crediting New Belgium for all the hard work you and others in these organizations have done. This is slander by omission!

  9. jonathan wainscott

    Where exactly are the million dollar parks and farmers markets that New Belgium built? How did New Belgium participate in establishing art collectives? Really? The artists in the RAD (which is not where the New Belgium factory is, it’s in West Asheville) built the RAD. New Belgium defines Asheville? Really? Tell me that Frommers sent out real journalists to find the real Asheville and they came up with New Belgium as the main attraction. It’s not even built!!! There is no greenway for a journalist to take a photo of. This is nothing but selfish PR on the part of New Belgium and their legendary marketing department. It’s ridiculous that our local news outlets allow Good Morning America to define Asheville at New Belgium’s beck and call.

    Shame on the Mountain Xpress for not correcting the “reporting” by Frommers. Show me the park!

  10. Cliff

    New Belgium didn’t write the article. Frommers should have done a better job researching, for sure, but there’s no reason to blame New Belgium for it any more than the non-existent farmers market that was also mentioned.

    • jonathan wainscott

      Oh hell yes New Belgium put this together. Their guerrilla marketing is legendary. No way did Frommers come to Asheville and discover a “redone riverside district” and conclude that New Belgium, which is nothing more than an unfinished construction site, built non-existent parks. How the hell did a “journalist” come to this conclusion? Do you think someone visited the River Arts DIstrict, popped into Curve Studio and gleaned the history of the RAD from Pattiey Torrno and walked away with the impression that New Belgium built the RAD? And New Belgium is in West Asheville, not the RAD anyway.

      • Cliff

        I’ll put my money on sloppy reporting. I think the article was written from a desk somewhere with a handful of disparate articles over the last couple of years showing things like a farmer’s market, greenways, New Belgium, artists, etc., and a poor timeline was made. I agree that New Belgium has an awesome marketing team which is why it doesn’t make sense that a team like that would force feed multiple specific falsehoods to a national media outlet. These aren’t disagreements over their influence in the area, these are things that people with eyes can see and know they aren’t there. Good or bad, New Belgium has already helped to significantly increase property values in the area, but that’s about it. I hope the brewery puts out a piece explaining their embarrassment for being given credit for things they didn’t do, because they are easily a victim of this report as much as the overlooked artists who have been working for 20 years to clean up what really was a “sketchy” part of town.

    • Keane Wainscott

      There is a fairly new farmer’s market in the River Art’s District on Wednesdays (seasonal). New Belgium sometimes has a PR tent there, where New Belgium community relations rep Susanne Hackett shows up and hocks her deliciously organic New Belgium PR.

    • Keane Wainscott

      There is a fairly new farmer’s market in the River Art’s District on Wednesdays (seasonal). New Belgium sometimes has a PR tent there, where New Belgium community relations rep Susanne Hackett shows up and hocks her deliciously organic New Belgium PR.

    • jonathan wainscott

      Except that the farmers’ market that doesn’t exist also doesn’t have a marketing and pr department, and the farmers’ market that doesn’t exist doesn’t have anything to gain by this happy accident of sloppy journalism the way New Belgium does, but yeah, other than that there’s no difference between something non-existent and something that does exist. And yeah, boy, New Belgium is quite a victim being favorably mentioned on Good Morning America and in Frommer’s Guide. Poor those guys.

      Ya know, I sound like a guy with an axe to grind, and you sound oddly familiar…
      LCR, is that you?

  11. LNM

    I live West of Asheville in Sylva . Does everyone have blinders on ???? WTF > It’s not so pretty anymore. Is there every anything going to be done about the roadside litter/trash on virtually ever road I travel from here to Asheville . Jackson county where Cashiers is , is a complete PIG Sty . Near WCU the trash is covering both sides of Hwy 107 . I’ve been picking up trash with the orange bags from DOT BUT for Christ sake I’m only ONE person!!! NC was voted the 20th dirtiest State in the Country ( Entire USA) in 2014 . Yeah come flock to our trash filled region . I’m disgusted with society in general . What happen to the Crying Indian Campaign from the 70’s ??? What a disgrace because I can’t see past the friggin trash to see the beauty I miss !!!

  12. GET OUT!

    I live in the neighborhood next to where they are building the New Belgium Brewery. Thanks for calling my home “Sketchy.” I liked Asheville better before it started becoming commercialized and homogenized in the past few years.
    As for bike paths, I used to regularly bike down Waynesville Rd and then turn on to Craven St to get to my job downtown, but construction for the brewery has blocked my normal path for the past few months.

    • Jillian Wolf

      This is image is disgusting…and way too real for me. I feel like I live in some weird Disney Pub half the time. An upside might be that these kinds of ads draw people to town, the kind of people who are interested in that kind of town, and they leave our wilderness areas alone. Still, if some of them move here, what do we have to look forward to? You can have Beer City. I’m putting my faith and our future in the likes of Bee City USA.

    • Big Al

      This video looks like a “Portlandia” spoof. Even the women look just like those in the “Save the World…One Part At a Time” video.

  13. It is totally irresponsible for the folks at New Belgium (who I am sure provided these talking points to the Frommer’s spokesperson) to not issue a statement clarifying the gross inaccuracies in the Frommer’s commentary regarding the RAD made by their mouthpiece on GMA (and elsewhere)… is the brewery even technically in the RAD or is it in West AVL.

    “the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths…”

    Anyone seen a park, a bike path, farmer’s market or artist’s collective that NB is directly responsible for or has privately funded?

    Perhaps they have “poured” millions into thier own property…

    but there have also been millions in “incentives,” and millions paid, and to be paid, by the taxpayers to redirect, widen and update roadways, build sidewalks, the aforementioned bike paths, and other infrastructure improvements.

    • Here’s the response I received from NB over on their FB page:

      “Jeff we are just hearing of this ourselves. We were surprised to see that we were mentioned in the Good Morning America story about Asheville as a top travel destination, and are quite sure that all of Asheville was wonderful long before we arrived. The River Arts District and West Asheville have a rich history that reflects the social and cultural distinctions that made us fall in love with this city. We agree that Asheville’s a great place to visit, and we also know that Asheville is a fantastic place to live and work. As we open our brewery at the end of 2015, we will continue to contribute to making Asheville a place we’re damn proud to call home.”

  14. To those that decry Asheville being featured on national TV and chosen by the leading travel guide as their number one pick — this city is built on tourism so get off of your high horse. People love to come to the mountains to get away from urban life and if you can’t figure out a way to “tap” into the billion dollars a year they spend here, you are passing up on a great opportunity. If you are creative you’ll turn the hype about Asheville into a decent living. Start a tour company, create t-shirts, rent your spare room out, set up a street cart, busk, write a guide, be creative! There’s money to be made so put the whining aside and get to work. Or just move to another dead, depressing mountain town and make it yours.

    • Redwood Jones

      ????? Hocking t-shirts and playing guitars on street corners does not bring in enough to pay $1300a month for a 2 bedroom.
      Let’s get real here. Manufactured hype (in any city) brings with it ridiculously inflated housing prices, prices that typically drive artists out.

    • Thomas K Williams

      I was born and raised in Asheville (1952-1983), your comment is the best could have said it better.

    • P.M. Smith

      I was born and raised in Asheville, and I resent being told to “get creative” to fit in with all of the tourists, Mr. Tripp. Busking, are you freaking kidding me?? To expect our 80 year old parents, who helped to build this place to get out and BUM (same as busk) to survive in a town now known as “BEER CITY”? Sell T-shirts? The prices and taxes that the newer folks have brought with them are steadily growing higher, and I don’t think “busking” will pay the prices for long. As far as “skechy”, that is only a term to describe the most recent incarnation of what used to be a good Southern city.

      • If you can’t figure out a way to tap into a billion dollar industry maybe it’s time to move? Plenty of quaint little towns that would welcome you with open arms.

  15. Sarah

    “Jobs in hotels and restaurants are not comparable to the good ops provided in tech centers or companies that actually produce something.”

    Yes, these hotels only pay 8.00 – 11.00 an hour, depending on your position. Biltmore Estate and Grove Park Inn pay just about the least to workers and they charge most for rooms.
    Yay for the hotel makes investors and hotel developers rich..that is it.

    • Mike

      Actually there are quite a few hospitality jobs paying over $30K per year, with good benefits. And you don’ t need a college degree to get a supervisory job in hospitality, either.

  16. Jonathan Wainscott

    For those that don’t think New Belgium was in on this:

    This is how marketing and journalism work. It’s called PR. Has anyone ever heard of a “press package” or a “press release”? The world is not made up of gum-shoe journalists scouring the world for stories. Most of what you read is regurgitated from press releases submitted to “news” outlets to gain free publicity (for the publicitee) and ready-made content (for the publicitor). I just made those two words up and I am very proud of them.

    This isn’t an issue about Asheville getting some attention, it’s about a company that doesn’t even function here at the moment taking credit for a major transformation that hasn’t happened, from millions of dollars that provided by New Belgium which isn’t at all true.

    • cliff

      I went through the slideshow looking for some dastardly deed or smoking gun and couldn’t find anything. It seemed like ‘Do good… Tell other people who like doing good that we do good… Buy spray paint.’ Did I miss something? There’s a difference between branding and making outrageous lies to national media… Branding is how we know that certain companies make good products, share our values, use certain fonts, etc. This four year old slideshow shows that… Nothing more…

      • jonathan wainscott

        Guess you missed the whole concept of cultivating a positive image for your company by doing things behind the scenes to get good press, i.e. renovating a riverfront because you are AWESOME!!!

        • Cliff

          If you actually do good things and then tell people about them, you are still doing good things. What you have failed to do in your argument against NB is provided any evidence that they provided misinformation to GMA. Just because a company has a track record for doing good things for communities and markets that as part of their brand doesn’t mean they lied to a national media outlet about their involvement in Asheville. Without evidence you seem more like a guy with an axe to grind than someone blowing the whistle on a company lying about their accomplishments.

          • Jonathan Wainscott

            If you do good things like rehab an entire riverfront, then yes, you get good press from your good deeds. When you get good press from something as entirely untrue as this Frommer’s report, well as they say, sompin’s rotten in Denmark (or should I say New Belgium)

            I firmly believe NB was behind this. You don’t. Wanna end it here?

  17. Jeff D. Lawrence

    It’s funny to me how some people think NB should have responded immediately. And how their ad team had to be the one giving out info. People, come on. You should be glad that NB thought enough of Asheville to pour any money in to it. Quit looking for a reason to blame someone else. Crappy reporting, there is your problem. So quit your bitching. Move on

  18. Elizabeth Hill

    I have lived here since 1976. I have seen a downtown waste land and the gostly Merrimon Ave corridor bloom, maybe Merrimon too much. I have seem the restaurant scene go from one fine eatery, The Market Place, to tons in all price ranges. We have a good symphony and a fine art museum, not to mention all the craft/art galleries. There are wonderful hiking trails, The Blue Ridge Parkway, a national park, two aboretums and The Nature Center. Oh, lets not forget Biltmore House, The Grove Park Inn which hosts a national conference on all aspects of the Arts and Craft Movement, a richand diverse cultural herritage in Asheville and the delightful small towns within an hour’s drive. I only skimmed the top.
    BTW, I don’t consume alcohol. The brewerys and Biltmore Winery are a very small part of a delightful, liberal, artsy, and funky town. I am proud to be fortunate to live here.

  19. bsummers

    The Frommer online story is slightly more accurate (?), but at the same time weirdly science-fictional in the sense that it praises New Belgium for doing all these great things for Asheville in the future:

    “In late 2015, the $175 million, employee-owned New Belgium brewery turns the formerly forbidding French Broad River district into cyclable parkland for beer lovers, and as the company actively stimulates the growth of farmers’ markets and the local River Arts District, it’s helping push Asheville over the line from a pleasant mountain burg to a Great American Town where it’s a pleasure to hang out for a while.”

    “…and by 2035, hoverbikes are replacing their dowdy earthbound cousins, and the New Belgium City Council officially changes the name of “Fat Tire” beer to “Fat Nothing”.

    OK, I made up that last part.

    To whatever degree that this inaccurate portrait of Asheville came from any NB press releases, etc., I do think that it would be nice if they made it real clear that Asheville was pretty cool before they came here.

  20. Cecil Bothwell

    I think it’s hilarious to read the crazy reactions to a few minutes of froth from Frommers. I mean, really. Jeez.

    • Jonathan Wainscott

      Cecil has no problem with Asheville being defined by inaccuracies and Thomas Kinkade. What huge slap in the face to everyone who made Asheville great without any handouts. Hey Cecil, how much wind power is New Belgium buying these days? I hear it’s a significant amount.

      • bsummers

        Yeah, Cecil. What is your position on Thomas Kinkade? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say anything about it. What are you hiding, Councilman? With your huge face-slapping hands…

    • bsummers

      Forget it, J̶a̶k̶e̶ Cecil. It’s ̶C̶h̶i̶n̶a̶t̶o̶w̶n̶ Asheville!

      • Jonathan Wainscott

        Glad you’re happy with McAsheville BS. I thought Cecil was Captain Grassroots. Local. Organic. Nope, he’s a pimp selling Asheville to the highest bidder. Cecil is a total sellout and this is what it’s all about. Real art and artists? Forget about it. Craft beer? BEER FACTORY CITY! Truth in advertising? Who cares?

        • bsummers

          Glad you’re happy with McAsheville BS.

          I’m pretty sure you know that’s not true.

          With all due respect, I think your irrational white-hot hatred of Cecil is causing you to lose perspective.

          • Jonathan Wainscott

            With all due respect I have yet to see Cecil Bothwell respond to the concerns of citizens with anything other than contempt and disdain. He is constantly calling people stupid, idiot, piece of crap, liar, etc.. Why should I or anyone else have any respect for him? He pretends to be a man of the folk but where is that in action? Cecil Bothwell is the least humble person I have ever encountered and his faithful entourage follows him blindly, marching around in his own self glory. Sorry I’m not a Bothwellite. He’s not an atheist, he worships himself.

    • Keane Wainscott

      Cecil Bothwell, you recently stated “I don’t believe that NBB, for example, has EVER stated it was 100 percent wind powered – but I’ve been to their Fort Collins site and discussed with City officials, Colorado State engineers and the NBB staffers the Zero Energy District there. Part of the guidelines for participation in the FortZED Challenge to get to net-zero is to buy into wind power from the region. That’s a lot like buying carbon-offset credits in a cap-and-trade system. I can’t tell you the precise amount of wind power NBB is purchasing – but it is significant. They also have lots of PV installed, they capture methane from predigesting spent mash and use it to run generators, use fermentation heat with jacketed containers to pre-heat their hot water, recycle hot water through their washing process and otherwise are doing a hell of a lot more to live lightly on the planet than most of the people in Asheville.
      So I rather irritably defend that company. And I’d rather be an upright cactus than a weeping willow.”

      Cecil Bothwell, many of your constituents would like to know if you’ve done any *actual* research about New Belgium Brewing other than the marketing information written by New Belgium Brewing. Can you please advise where you’ve gotten your facts/information to support the statement you made in this quote? You have described yourself as an “investigative journalist”, I’d like to know your sources.

      • Cecil Bothwell

        As I stated in the post you quote: I went to Fort Collins. I talked to the architects of the FortZED project, the City planners, the power company reps, the Colorado State professors and engineers, toured the Engine Lab, met multiple people at the incubation project there … and toured and interviewed the relevant people at New Belgium.

        I’d bet few or none of the people who are trashing me have done the same. Their energy conservation/alt energy projects are real and meaningful.

  21. Mike

    This national exposure is priceless for the area’s tourism industry. There are many hospitality jobs paying well over $30K per year, with good benefits, too. Tourists help this area survive. Asheville doesn’t have the abundant flat land and water sources for large industry, nor does the state provide economic incentives like South Carolina. So we have to deal with commerce and industry that “fits” our area – many smaller, high-tech firms find the Asheville area perfectly suited for them. Area business and government leaders have explored, are exploring and will explore as many avenues as possible to find industries that will match up with Asheville’s strengths.

    • Jim

      LOL. Used to have Gerber and Ball until the elitist took their water away. Now you have Gerber Village. Used to have a pasture right down the street with cows on it. Now you have a bank and a McDonalds on it. And horrible traffic. Downtown was never the money center people like you thought it was. Somehow we managed way before the tools and the greedy took over. And there WERE better city services before it was revitalized. But now those services are giveaways to the clicks like the art museum and Cragnolin. Not too worried because those houses that dot Town Mountain on its steepest parts that used to be empty will be entertainment when they slide down off of it.

      I’ve lived my entire life here and I can tell you that Asheville was cool growing up. Now it’s just full of crap.

  22. It would seem Frommer’s would want strive for accuracy when they go on national TV to discuss their ratings of places to visit. The “sketchy River Arts district” , has been rising from it’s “sketchiness” for quite a few years before NB came into the mix. Thank you artists, and visionaries like Karen Cragnolin and the Riverlink group for what you’ve done for that area of Asheville.
    Too bad Framers missed that important aspect.

  23. Jonathan Wainscott

    This just in!!!

    New Belgium’s flagship beer, Fat Tire, has been found to cure cancer!

  24. Let me give everyone some insights from a 25-year visitor to Ashville (at least 1/yr, now 3-4 x/year):
    1. Be thankful for the tourists. When I first visited in 1990 for the Wolfe festival, it was by no means a thriving downtown. If tourism dollars leave, what would sustain Asheville’s tax base?
    2. Corollary: Be kind to the tourists. My family and I have a rule: when I enter a shop if I am not greeted by the employees, I will not buy anything. We are antiques buyers and have had some of the downtown stores completely ignore us (on repeated occasions). By the way, we don’t have two heads or b.o. This applies to the owners of B&Bs also. Stayed at a $200 / night B&B and the owners were very arrogant. Apparently, we are the only tourists to ever drive a Highlander they’ve met. I don’t understand arrogance in any service industry. Without me, there is no you.
    3. Don’t put all your money and effort in the hipsters. Asheville used to be a great mix of old conservative money, progressives, etc. Now the downtown seems geared more for the 20-30 year-old crowds. I was just there mid-Dec with family from FL, spent Wed. thru Sat. downtown and noticed there were very few couples in there 40s, 50s or older. Almost everyone we encountered was 20-30, with or without kids (and apparently Asheville gives away yoga pants at the City gate). I also noticed signs at Battery Park Book Exchange for the last year or so reminding people that they are not in a library–the books are for sale. I visit there every time I’m in town and have noticed it’s now a free meeting place–in the stacks I’ve overheard counseling sessions, first dates and job interviews. Hopefully they at least buy the cheese tray. My point here is that customers sometimes need to be reminded they need to consume.
    4. Don’t forget the hallmarks of Asheville: genuine craftsmanship, great restaurants, spectacular scenery and a solid literary history. By the way, a year or so ago the welcome message in one of the hotels had the Mayor (female, I forget her name) referencing Thomas Wolfe, but the commercial included a picture of some old-time 70-80 year old man. You have a rich history with Wolfe, Fitzgerald, O’Henry, etc., but a lot of service industry folks don’t even know who Wolfe is. Hopefully release of Genuis next year will remind people of that great talent.
    5. Don’t let drugs and violence get a foothold. Recently read in the Citizen Times about a gang member from LA involved in a shooting. Nothing puts off tourism like the threat of drugs and violence. Just ask Detroit.

    Hope this outsider’s perspective helps. Asheville is a great city.

    • Keane Wainscott

      With all due respect Lolly, your list of “insights” and “perspective” for Asheville residents reads as a lesson in Tourist Snobbery 101. While I agree with some of your points re: celebrating and spotlighting the local history of our region, your statement of “Without me, there is no you.” and your lecture on gang violence, well… it seems that even after 25 years you have never really experienced the true soul of Asheville.

    • Jonathan Wainscott

      “Hopefully they at least buy the cheese tray.”
      Thank ya mum. Spare a half pence for a cripple like me self mum? Shine your shoes for ya?

      • Lolly

        My point was that if your economy relies in large measure on tourism, and tourists are not welcomed, when the tourism leaves so does the local economy. I had to laugh at the snobbism comment. All I expect when I walk into an establishment to buy something is to be acknowledged. That’s it. It tells me my business is appreciated. I’ve experienced the snobby tourist myself–they won’t get over on the sidewalk, talk loudly on their phones in public, gas it to beat me to a parking space, etc. But in a tourism-based economy, you have to deal with that. If it were a manufacturing-based economy, then you have to put up with the noise and smell. I’m not a hippie, but neither am I a taker. I’ve always enjoyed my visits, and will continue to do so.

  25. Cecil Bothwell

    And oh, wise Jonathan Wainscott – ye who campaigned claiming that we could sell our water for much more money than to sell it to NBB. Who claimed that a New Mexican city was bottling and selling their water. Except, that I called the city manager of that city and discovered that your story was a total fabrication. They had bottled a few bottles for a City event – just as Asheville had done in the past.

    Your problem, Jonathan, is that you long ago proved yourself to be a false witness, the bearer of lies. So, I don’t take your criticisms or those you manage to spin off with your crowd, with even one grain of salt. My information on NBB’s energy systems investment is based on personal witness, discussions with national level energy experts, with the great team at North Carolina State that helped engineer FortZed, and with the Rocky Mountain Institute. I prefer facts to fantasy.

    • Jim

      Right. And when the housing values plummeted a few years ago yet property tax evaluations remained the same, didn’t members of council lie when they claimed there was no property tax increase??? Sure there was. Ever since 2008/09 and up until the last increase last year. When taxes don’t follow property values down, that IS the same as an increase is it not???. But your friends needed the $375K wall to match their neighborhood.

    • Keane Wainscott

      Hold up. Cecil Bothwell, are you STILL on this? Let it go man. It’s clear that you have no ability to concede when you are in the wrong. Here is video evidence that it’s, you, Cecil Bothwell that was the real (cue dramatic music) “false witness, the bearer of lies”.
      I get it, you were trying to win an election, so you lied, you called names, you played dirty. You’re a real champ.
      Sorry, but just because you fancy yourself a “writer”, does not allow you to revise history the way Frommer’s magically revised the history of the “sketchy riverfront” on Good Morning America. Maybe you’re just a glutton for bulldinky.

      Oh, and as for that bottled water thingy…
      “09/25/2010 LAS CRUCES – It says so, right there on the bottle: “Water, the elixir of life.”
      It also says: “Water source city of Las Cruces municipal wells in the Mesilla Aquifer.”
      Yep, the label says it all. The city is bottling water. There is even a city council resolution, approved last week, that restricts the purchase of bottled water other than city water by city departments and agencies.
      Restraint of trade? Nah, not really. City officials just want department directors to realize they’ve already got a good thing going in the city’s water supply, and it’s something they want to promote.”

    • Jonathan Wainscott

      Oh Cecil, you sad man. First, I never said the City could make more money selling bottled water rather than selling it to New Belgium. I used the amounts of water to be used by New Belgium to illustrate how inexpensive the raw resource of water is compared to the retail value of that bulk amount of water. Period. I used Las Cruces as an example of how a municipality found a work around to the Federal restriction imposed by the FDA when it comes to municipalities selling bottled water. I never used Las Cruces as a business model, again, just an example of how a creative municipality (unlike our own via your faux leadership) could find a way to benefit its citizens by using THEIR OWN resources.

      So, again, you are flat out lying and displaying total ignorance. You have also said that to your knowledge New Belgium has never claimed to be 100% wind powered. You poor guy. ( )

      Now you are under the impression that New Belgium is buying wind power. Nope. Not true oh great man who diets on nothing but facts and sunshine. Not true, at all.

      Maybe we should go for a good ole stroll along those awesome parks we have now.

    • Keane Wainscott

      Cecil Bothwell wrote: “I don’t believe that NBB, for example, has EVER stated it was 100 percent wind powered – but I’ve been to their Fort Collins site and discussed with City officials, Colorado State engineers and the NBB staffers the Zero Energy District there.”
      Fact: New Belgium Brewing’s entire eco conscious, green, brand identity was built on the marketing claim that they were “100% Wind Powered” and that they used “100% Renewable Resources”. Their packaging included pictures of wind turbines, it was the center point of all their marketing. Turns out this claim proved to be false, and in 2007 was brought to the attention of the national media (Denver Post, NY Times) by a former whistleblower employee when he revealed that the company was making false claims to “look sustainable”. In turn, New Belgium Brewing began marginalizing the employee and his claim by referring to him in press statements as “a former disgruntled employee”. NBB also took out a restraining order against the employee after he revealed the the truth. NBB eventually openly admitted that they not really 100% Wind Powered. “New Belgium doesn’t run a wind farm. It buys renewable-energy credits, paying a premium for the right to claim that the electrons it uses come from a wind turbine instead of a power plant, even if it is not technically so.” New Belgium also uses fossil fuels. Since then, they have shifted their marketing claim to something more nebulous and claim that their beer is “Alternatively Empowered” and play up the fact that they are now 100% employee owned, yeah, just like hundreds of other companies. Even sketchy daytrader companies like Edward Jones Financial are 100% employee owned, so there’s that.

      Cecil Bothwell wrote: “I can’t tell you the precise amount of wind power NBB is purchasing – but it is significant. ”
      Why don’t you go look that up and get back to me with your answer pronto.

  26. Audra

    One OF 10… not #1. the article states that they are in alphabetical order. I’d still give it #1 though!

  27. Will

    My concern is Asheville becoming the Eugene of the South. Trash the tourists, outside investment, if you arrived here after me you just just drop dead. Typical Eugene “native” comment (actual quote to me): “I’m surprised you don’t go back to where you came from to look for work.”

  28. cherise89

    Gosh, yet another reason to move away from our fair city. Bad enough was the New York Times writing about us 17 years ago now GMA?? Please do not move here unless you are gainfully employed, a working artist, a ” real “hippie, a working musician, a spiritually evolved human, a kind person….. you get the idea. Please have something to offer Asheville and not just be a taker. We have way too many of those folks and oddly enough they are the ones who complain about the cost of living, low paying jobs and unaffordable housing. Tourists are great as long as they support our local economy and don’t complain about the stuff like lack of parking, street performers etc. because you (TOURISTS) are part of the problem and not the solution. Please do not move here. We have enough retirees, transplants from NY and LA, drunk frat boy types and losers that just suck the energy out of Asheville. Big clue here folks…. we have a homeless problem, children whom often if not for free lunches would go hungry , real people who are from this land who cannot afford to live here. This is shameful and sad. This is the truth Good Morning America! Sketchy River District? Belgian Brewery bailing us out? Wrong.

  29. Elias Winkenwerder

    Asheville Has been a town with an economy based off of tourism since the early 1920s. Even durning the economic hardships the town faced between the 30s to the 80s the main industry in Asheville was still tourism and I think it will be that way for many decades to come. Even if that tourism now looks different now than it did in the 90s or the 20s its still Asheville’s money maker.

  30. Veronique McKenzie

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  31. Edison Carter

    If they call it “Tourist Season”, then how come we can’t shoot em?

  32. Audrey Robinson

    I was born and raised in Asheville. To be quite honest it really rubs me the wrong way when someone not from here calls my home town “sketchy” . I really can’t stand the fact that all these new people are coming in and rubbing away all the character of this town I grew up loving so much. Since then rent has shot up to high for locals to live here and the pay rate doesn’t help either. I can hardly afford to eat or take care of myself. So thanks a lot for ruining my lovely city.

  33. someone

    Lots of artists but seemingly no art supply stores unless you count Michael’s way out past the mall, which might lack some items like a broader array of Oil Paint Varnish. The artists here must be heavy Amazon shoppers.

  34. WOW

    WOW! You guys win! You make me not want to visit Asheville. And as I was planning to in the coming months, I will change my plans. Certainly do not want to go somewhere that I am not wanted. It would be interesting to see what would happen to your precious city if you never had another visitor. GOOD LUCK!

    • No no no

      I wish it wouldn’t have another visitor. We’re already besieged by people from NY and NJ! We don’t need anymore big city transplants charging Big City prices for all the housing they buy up. Visit Boulder, CO instead. It’s just like Asheville, but a lot nicer with a lot less drunken hillbillies.

  35. No no no

    If you’re thinking about visiting Asheville realize there’s a homeless problem. You will be besieged by them if you venture out at night. Prices are outrageous and the economy sucks. If you’re from a big city… Run away! Asheville’s prices for living downtown are comparable to the same prices to rent a flat in NJ and NY! This is because NY and NJ people who move here buy up all the houses and charge the same prices. This is a small town! It’s just that but in the mountains. Want to see a town just like it? Go to Boulder, CO.

  36. Kat

    Anyone whose a local here can tell you we are tired of the tourism. Apartments are going up left and right and the traffic is absolutely horrible now. I don’t even want to leave me house to enjoy the city I’ve been living in for 15 years! The vibe is different downtown, and not to mention, I live in the mountains, where people have found it’s a shortcut to avoid the awful traffic, and the increase of litter, and animals being hit by cars have gone up by incredible numbers. We used to have white squirrels near our house, now, I’ve seen 4 dead hit by cars. It’s sad what’s happening to Asheville. Local artists can barely even afford to live here now. It’s another playground for the rich folks to come in and intrude, taking the spirit of Asheville away. Not to mention how many houses near me going up for sale and the amount of houses being put in my area. Truly upset to see this happen and I am sad to say I can’t wait to get out of here before I see Asheville completely destroyed.

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