Greg’s Favorite Places
Written By Judy Ross
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As head instructor for the Land Rover Experience Driving School at Biltmore, Greg Nikolas has what many people consider an ideal job. Greg drives luxurious and highly capable Land Rovers to rarely seen places on the estate while instructing guests on how to improve their off-road driving skills. The experiences range from 1 or 2-hour lessons on obstacle courses with steep descents, side-tilts, and rock crawls to full-day training in off-road techniques and recovery.
He doesn’t deny that it’s fun—he’s worked for Land Rover for 15 years, including the past 9 years at Biltmore’s program. And while he enjoys the time he spends navigating and instructing guests as they pilot Land Rovers through woods and fields, there are two locations on the estate he considers his favorites.
The first spot is the statue of Diana, located at the top of the Vista that faces Biltmore House.
“The view of Biltmore House from Diana is spectacular. Every time I’m there I think about how George Vanderbilt must have felt seeing his home from this vantage point. This particular view really puts the house’s size and splendor into perspective,” Greg says.
His other favorite is less well-known but just as scenic. Picnic Hill is located on the estate’s west side, across the French Broad River from Biltmore House and Antler Hill Village. There is limited access to this spot; it’s primarily visited by guests participating in a Land Rover activity. Picnic Hill overlooks Long Valley Lake, the vineyards, and provides a unique glimpse of the Inn on Biltmore Estate.
“It is so peaceful and serene there that you could be miles from anywhere. In reality, you’re only minutes from Asheville and the rest of the estate,” Greg says.
“As its name suggests, we use it for picnics on our full-day adventures. And it’s been the scene for more than one marriage proposal!”