The Biltmore Company doesn't need to build more. It oversees the Biltmore Estate, which includes the 250-room home (the largest privately owned in the US), as well as a hotel, a winery, restaurants and retail shops, and licensing rights for a line of home decor products. (Guests don't stay at the Biltmore House, but at the Inn on Biltmore Estate.) Some one million visitors tour the home and grounds each year. The house sits on 8,000 acres of land and encompasses four acres of floor space. It has 35 bedrooms, some 40 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and three kitchens. The Biltmore is family-owned by descendants of the Vanderbilts, and is one of the few National Historic Landmarks that is entirely privately funded.
The Biltmore expanded in 2010 with the opening of the Antler Hill Village, which features a new exhibition space, a venue for live entertainment, dining and shopping outlets, and a new outdoor adventure center for exploring the grounds. The project is estimated to have cost more than $18 million. Concurrent with the opening, the Biltmore added a new Friends & Family Tour. The tour is designed to reveal details about the lives of people who lived and worked in the house during the founding Vanderbilts' day.
The company continues to expand its operations beyond its core Biltmore Estate, adding products such as Biltmore For Your Home, a line of home furnishings, decorative accessories, home building products, and live plants. In 2010 the company launched a party plan business called Biltmore Inspirations. The direct selling, home-based business unveiled its product line (tabletop products, chef-selected foods, home decor, wine accessories) to consultants in early 2011 with the first parties following shortly afterwards.
The company's estate and grounds are steeped in history. President and CEO of The Biltmore Company, William Vanderbilt Cecil (Bill Cecil, Jr.), is the great-grandson of George Vanderbilt, who had the house built in the 1890s. George was the grandson of legendary American businessman Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. The estate's name comes from combining two words: "Billet", the region in Holland where the Vanderbilt family originated, and "more," an old English word meaning upland rolling hills. The grounds at the Biltmore were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of New York's Central Park. The family first opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 in order to help spur tourism in the area during the Depression. – less