Biltmore’s founder, George Washington Vanderbilt, foresaw great things when he arrived in the mountains of western North Carolina in 1888. Doubtless, he imagined a beautiful future while creating the grand estate for himself and his family, but Vanderbilt probably never dreamed his home would become so important in later years.
Fast forward more than 100 years, and his descendants also saw great things when they looked into the future of Biltmore. Thanks to the careful direction of George Vanderbilt’s descendants, Biltmore is now a national brand.
Today, the physical estate is a National Historic Landmark and a thriving tourist destination that welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year. Guests enjoy tours through Biltmore House – America’s largest home – an award-winning winery, a bustling farm, four-star hotel, outdoor center, six restaurants and 13 shops.
Equally impressive is the network of retailers that sell specially-branded products across the nation. Thanks to the careful management of the Biltmore brand, consumers can bring the gracious spirit of Biltmore into their home through a variety of products ranging from linens and cookware to home building materials.
Staying True to the Vision
The expansion of Biltmore as national brand and tourist destination dovetails nicely into the company’s mission statement. The mantra of “The preservation of Biltmore Estate as a privately-owned, profitable, working estate” drives every decision made within the company, which is overseen by William (Bill) A.V. Cecil Jr., great-grandson of George Vanderbilt.
The company’s core values of community service, hospitality, integrity, profitability, teamwork, authenticity, quality, and leadership shape the expansion of the brand and provide guidance for the future.
Keeping It in the Family
Biltmore originally began as a home for George Vanderbilt and his family. After his death in 1914, his wife, Edith, managed the estate until her daughter, Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil, and son-in-law, John Francis Amherst Cecil, took over in the 1920s.
While Biltmore House officially opened to the public for tours in 1930, Biltmore began its revival as a company in earnest when George Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, Sr., left a promising banking career in New York in 1960 to save the family home. A Harvard University graduate, Mr. Cecil personally oversaw all the details concerning the management of the company in the early years.
As the company grew and time passed, Biltmore welcomed a new generation into its fold. George Vanderbilt’s great-grandson, Bill Cecil, Jr., is now President and CEO of The Biltmore Company. He is also a member of The Biltmore Company Executive Committee and its Board of Directors. His sister, Diana “Dini” Cecil Pickering, serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, is a member of the company’s Executive Committee, and acts as the Family Office Director and Chairman of Biltmore’s Corporate Philanthropy program.
Understanding the Biltmore Company
Under the family’s guidance, the company has grown through the years to incorporate a variety of businesses.
• Biltmore: Defined as the physical 8,000-acre estate located in Asheville, N.C., this incorporates the 250-room Biltmore House filled with George Vanderbilt’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Alongside Biltmore House, the estate encompasses renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm, Outdoor Center, Equestrian Center, restaurants, and event and meeting venues.
• Inn on Biltmore Estate: Located on the estate, the inn opened in 2001 as an extension of Biltmore’s legendary hospitality. The 210-room inn boasts luxurious guest rooms and suites, a full-service restaurant, spa, library, lobby bar, exterior swimming pool and fitness center. It has received Mobil Travel Guide’s Four-Star rating, Four Diamonds from AAA, and a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List for several years running.
• Biltmore Wine Company: George Vanderbilt was known for his love of entertaining and a devotion to agricultural technology. When the Winery and Wine Company began in 1977, it fulfilled what some could call destiny. Today, Biltmore produces award-winning wines using fruit from its 94-acre vineyard and juice from partners across the state and other premium wine-growing regions. Biltmore ranks in the top 1% of the U.S. wine business and produces more than 170,000 cases of wine annually. Guests to the estate can sample Biltmore wine at the Winery, housed in a converted dairy barn. The Winery is America’s most-visited winery.
• Biltmore For Your Home: Launched in 1990, the home products division shares the spirit of the estate through a variety of unique products. More than 12,000 retailers sell Biltmore For Your Home and Biltmore Chateau Reserve products, which are inspired by historical details found in Biltmore House and the surrounding estate. Distribution channels include furniture stores, department stores, custom frame shops, designers and architects, lighting showrooms, floor covering retailers and grocery stores.
Continuing a History of Philanthropy
The past strongly dictates the future at Biltmore, especially when it comes to Biltmore’s philanthropic spirit. George Vanderbilt was known for his generous spirit that benefitted the community. He created job opportunities and apprenticeship programs through Biltmore Estate Industries and donated money for local hospitals, churches and schools. He also championed innovative farming techniques that benefitted the surrounding rural region.
Today, Biltmore continues the path set forth by George Vanderbilt through a spirit of corporate giving that manifests itself through a scholarship fund for employees’ children, fundraisers for local charities, and donations to organizations in the community.
The estate continues to embrace innovations and technology that honor Biltmore’s self-sustaining spirit. In 2011, the estate installed a 6-acre, 1.5 mega-watt solar panel system that generates 25 percent of Biltmore’s energy needs. Green building practices, water conservation practices, recycling programs and employee-led “green teams” ensure the estate protects and nurtures the land.
Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Today, Biltmore has grown to include Antler Hill Village, which features the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm; the four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate; Equestrian Center; numerous restaurants; event and meeting venues; and Biltmore For Your Home, the company’s licensed products division. To learn more about Biltmore, or book a visit to Biltmore, go to www.biltmore.com or call 877-BILTMORE.