Traditions are as essential to a family’s holiday enjoyment as presents on Christmas morning. They bring a sense of nostalgia and comfort to the occasion, providing insights into what lies ahead in the coming season. Of course, most of all, they give us something to look forward to with excitement and anticipation of what this year will bring. It’s never too late, however, to form new traditions that will last for generations to follow.
Nestled behind the large hardwood trees just off the Reynolda Mile is Graylyn, located at 1900 Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem—North Carolina’s second largest home only to Biltmore, and the similarities don’t end there. The estate belonged to Bowman and Nathalie Gray. They resided at Graylyn after the house was completed in 1932 with their two sons, Bowman Gray Jr. and Gordon Gray. It took approximately three years to build what is now the massive Manor home, Bernard Cottage, Bungalows, Gardener’s Cottage and the Mews.
A History of Giving Back
Many in this area know Bowman Gray as the son of the co-founder of Wachovia Bank, James Alexander Gray, and the former Aurelia Bowman; and as Past-President of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company beginning in 1924, succeeding William Neal Reynolds. He eventually took over as Chairman of the board in 1931, a position he held until his passing in 1935. The Grays were well known for their philanthropic projects, including orphanages, hospitals and gifts to our local community. According to historian William S. Powell, a benevolent fund created by Gray was instrumental in establishing the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest College in Winston-Salem. It ultimately led to the remainder of Wake Forest College relocating here from Wake Forest, North Carolina, and becoming what is today Wake Forest University.
This time of year, however, brings to mind some of the Gray’s very special holiday traditions. For instance, each year at Christmas they held a Christmas party for the children of this area, providing gifts that for many often would be all they would receive. Mrs. Gray was well known for her freshly baked butterscotch cookies, famously named after their beloved Scottish terriers—Butter and Scotch; Mr. Gray as well for his love of ice cream. The present chef and staff at Graylyn are careful to blend in these special treats for their guests to share insights into a little of what life was like for the Gray family. Alyssa Armenta, Marketing Manager for the Graylyn Estate, adds, “Mr. Gray loved ice cream so much that he created an ice cream room in the Manor House. Graylyn shares Mr. Gray’s indulgence with guests 24/7, with special ice cream rooms on each floor of the manor house and several buildings throughout the estate.”
Celebrating the Holidays in Style
Christmas brings a new dimension to Graylyn that enhances its grandeur all the more. From room to room its visitors are delighted in the spirit of the holiday with no less than seven themed Christmas trees providing the central focus, surrounded by dozens of colorful, bright poinsettias and the visual splendor of holly and attractive holiday decorations that adorn the estate both inside and out. Each holiday tree is decorated in a fashion that resembles a part of the rich Gray family history. Another special holiday tradition for visitors is the Graylyn replica gingerbread house. As Alyssa explains, “The gingerbread house created each year is made from Chef Rollins’s own personal recipe. This is Chef Rollins’s 11th year of preparing our amazing gingerbread house creation. It is completed the last week of November and showcased in the house for approximately four to five weeks. It takes about 72 hours to create, from the dough to baking in the molds and assembling and decorating. When completed, it stands about two feet tall, five feet long, and weighs about 30 pounds. Chef Rollins crafts his own royal icing (a special frosting that acts like glue and dries quickly), and uses many types of candy to decorate the house, such as jelly beans, skittles, M&Ms, sprinkles, wafers, gum drops, etc.”
In describing the manor’s atmosphere, Alyssa says, “It’s difficult not to get into the holiday spirit at Graylyn. The weekend after Thanksgiving, the estate transforms itself into a festive atmosphere. Delightful wreaths grace the large stately windows, brightly lit holiday trees adorn the various rooms and over 200 poinsettias embellish the home with style and elegance. The gingerbread house is a wonder to see and the highlight of every child’s visit. When you enter the lobby, you are immediately greeted by the smell of warm hot chocolate and apple cider, and if the weather is chilly, guests can enjoy a warm, crackling fire in the living room and grille room.”
A Grand Estate for an Illustrious Family Tradition
The setting for these important holiday family traditions and for the tradition you and your family can begin is the French Normandy style manor, encompassing 46,000 square feet, containing 35 exquisitely appointed bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool, a grand circular stair tower, and a uniquely rich stone facade. There are 86 guest rooms in total on the estate that spans 55 acres. The surrounding landscape throughout is as lovely and striking as the manor home. The Grays paid very close attention to every detail in building a residence that defined elegance combined with intricately ornate details both inside and out, coupled with pristine landscapes and superb gardens, making every day on the property one to enjoy and relish. Once you enter the estate, one would never imagine that all this peace, solitude and beauty are just minutes away from Reynolda House and Old Salem Museums and Gardens, combined with an excellent variety of shopping options to choose from just steps away.
For the guests’ dining pleasure, Graylyn offers nine private, elegantly adorned dining rooms in addition to the Grille Room, which serves cocktails and appetizers. Of course, guests can enjoy dining in their rooms as well, if they so desire. When it comes to dining on the estate, it doesn’t get any better than the Chef’s selected dinner menu options. Visitors can choose from such inviting entrees as slow- roasted prime rib; a petit filet and salmon, shrimp or crab; roasted rack of lamb; herb-crusted veal loin; and grilled filet mignon and lobster tail. Guests are served these delicious meats and seafoods with select vegetables like Spinach-Parmesan Risotto, Drawn Butter and a Wild Mushroom Bordelaise, and Buttered Red Bliss Potatoes. Add in the sensational aroma of mouth-watering soups, like Lobster Bisque, Grilled Chicken with Morel Mushroom Soup, Roasted Corn and Country Ham Chowder, and New England Clam Chowder. All of these serve to complement the garden-fresh signature and premiere salad choices, made with only the freshest ingredients and prepared in the unique Graylyn style of fine dining. These are just some of the delicacies that await you. (Note: select menu options are seasonal and based on availability.) Alyssa suggests, “Graylyn offers an intimate dining experience anyone can enjoy. Reservations are required for lunch and dinner, and can be made by calling (800) 472-9596, or through Opentable.com.”
The pampering doesn’t end there, for Graylyn offers an assortment of amenities that are sure to satisfy any guest’s desires. In addition to the three-course dining already mentioned, Graylyn offers guests complimentary lobby coffee and refreshments, a fitness room, an outdoor pool, tennis courts, the most picturesque walking and jogging trails, and a lounge serving cocktails. It also provides billiards and darts for your leisurely enjoyment, daily newspapers and evening turndown service. Additional necessities include high-speed internet access in all guest rooms, same-day valet and dry-cleaning service, and transportation services, including airport transfers. One of Graylyn’s amenities you won’t find just anywhere involves their person
al butlers on call for guests. This unique service provides guests with the full-on Graylyn experience unlike any other. And one last Graylyn-only experience for guests staying in the Mews—a short distance from the Manor House—involves freshly baked Butterscotch cookies made available each afternoon in the spirit of the Gray’s beloved Scottish terriers.
Guests Enjoy Even More with Unique Package Offers
You don’t have to be a Gray, however, to enjoy some of the same holiday traditions and splendor they relished years ago. Graylyn offers special packages that make your holiday planning a simpler task. Their Historic Holiday Package, for example, provides all you need for a uniquely rewarding experience, including a gourmet breakfast, a deluxe tour of the manor and tickets to Reynolda House and Old Salem Museums and Gardens. There’s also the Living and Learning Package that allows guests to sample the rich history that is Graylyn at their own pace, and the Historic Garden Getaway Package for flower and plant lovers alike. Finally, there’s the European Touch Spa Package, the ultimate way to pamper yourself as you indulge in the splendor of the holidays. During this time, children can enjoy Graylyn’s ever-popular Breakfast with Santa event, which is always a big hit. And once Christmas is over and the gift-giving has passed, it’s time to celebrate ringing in the New Year Graylyn-style with their New Year’s Eve package, topping off your holiday with flair and sure to get 2017 off to a good start.
This holiday season, make Graylyn a part of your family’s celebrations and enjoy the season in style, with all the grandeur, joy and luxury your family deserves. This is one holiday gathering they’re sure to remember for years to come.
To find out more about special packages, dining, yearly themed events and more, visit their website at graylyn.com. You may also give them a call at 1-800-472-9596 or visit them at 1900 Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem. Graylyn is a great place to hold your next company holiday event, meeting or conference. Businesses may contact Shelley Brown, Director of Sales at 336-758-2425 for more information.
This season, why not share in the majesty that is Graylyn with your family?