Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Size: 127 rooms, six suites and five private cabins
Meeting Space: More than 70,000 square feet
Access: Asheville Regional Airport
Opened by a man who needs no introduction, the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove is as inspirational and welcoming as the man who founded it.
Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, first came to this Asheville property in the early 1970s, dreaming of one day providing a place of refuge for anyone looking to study the Bible alongside like-minded people in the peaceful hills of North Carolina.
Their dream was realized in 1988 when the center opened to offer year-round programming for believers to come and receive training on how to lead others to know God. Some of the world’s best Bible teachers have studied and taught at the training center, where tens of thousands of guests have stayed and prayed on the retreat grounds. Today the direction of the Cove is overseen by Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, who is vice president and associate evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
The Cove is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on more than 1,200 acres of verdant woodlands and is only a short drive to downtown Asheville. The two inns — Pilgrim’s Inn and Shepherd’s Inn — at the Cove were designed and furnished with rustic elegance: 127 rooms, six suites and five private cabins provide comfortable accommodations to meeting groups. The inn’s 24-hour complimentary beverage service makes it possible for guests to get cozy during chilly mountain mornings with a hot cup of coffee and a blanket in a rocking chair on their private decks. Some rooms feature gas fireplaces and two queen beds for comfortable room-sharing options.
The lobbies throughout the resort are warm and inviting, but the Cove’s ample meeting space options are what provide the necessary platforms for fellowship, learning and growing together. Along with two auditoriums, there are 14 additional meeting rooms and breakout spaces available for meeting groups. Dedicated event planners work alongside groups to make sure all needs are met during, before and after events.
The meeting spaces at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove are spread throughout the 1,200-acre property and equipped to host everything from board meetings to national conferences in a range of beautifully furnished spaces. There are two large auditoriums to accommodate a range of group sizes. One can host groups of up to 450 guests, and the other can host groups of up to 119 guests. Breakouts or smaller meetings are held in the Cove’s 14 additional meeting rooms with flexible floor plans, setup options and room dividers.
A team of professional chefs are at the helm of the catering kitchen inside the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, where meals are served buffet style in the dining room. Floor-to-ceiling windows add to the ambiance of the dining room, looking out on the Blue Ridge Mountains and offering a scenic viewpoint from every table in the space. The menu offers something for every palate, from vegetarian dishes and salads to quality meats and seafoods. Alcohol is not allowed.
Along with free parking and access to the business center, groups get complimentary high-speed wireless internet during their time at the Cove, as well as access to state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and qualified technicians. Beverages such as coffee, tea and soda are free for group guests 24/7, and many guests enjoy the Cove’s cappuccino bar and frozen yogurt station, where delicious soft-serve flavors are doled out in cones or cups in generous portions. The fire pit is another favorite amenity for many groups, where marshmallows and good company provide the entertainment for the evening.
Before and after events, visitors are invited to tour the Billy Graham Conference Center at the Cove, where popular sites include the impressive Chatlos Memorial Chapel in the woods and the 1.5-acre garden adjacent to the chapel known as Ruth’s Prayer Garden. Guided tours are available for groups and typically last around one hour. They include a six-minute film, a Billy Graham exhibit and a visit inside the chapel and prayer room. Hiking trails surround the property, and many groups’ favorite hikes take them to the top of the mountain for a scenic overlook of the entire grounds. It’s a three-mile hike back down.