A friend of ours just came back from a short trip to Asheville, North Carolina. If you’ve not been, go. It’s a lovely town.

A highlight of any trip is a visit to the Grove Park Inn. This resort and conference center is now part of the Omni chain, and is truly a spectacle. Opened in July of 1913, it shows why so many selected Asheville as the go-to retreat from summer heat in the South. They do a Sunday Brunch that’s not to be believed. Rooms and rooms of every sort of food imaginable, and the dining room offers stunning views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

The true highlight, however, is just walking into the lobby. The architecture is Craftsman style, with nods to Frank Lloyd Wright. The cavernous space is scattered with groupings of comfortable leather chairs, sofas, and occasional tables. Each end of the lobby is dominated by an enormous fireplace; large enough to accommodate an 8-foot log. They are so big that one actually houses an elevator that rises up the side of the chimney.

It’s breathtaking.

We also talked to another friend who was in the market for a new dentist. They decided to visit a few practices to see what sort of fit this particular DDS might make for them. The first one they dropped in on, however, quickly removed themselves from consideration. The reception area was poorly lit, with cheap plastic chairs, was in need of a good dusting, and certainly would have benefitted from a bit of artwork to brighten things up.

First impressions are important, aren’t they?

DARRAN_Central Park Reception_01When a client or customer walks into your business, what do you want them to think of your operation? That you’re crisp and professional? That you’re warm and inviting? Either way, your lobby or reception area should say that you’re serious about your business, about their needs, and you’re a professional. The design should intuitively point them towards a reception area or whatever information brought them to you – you don’t want them wandering around. Organization is crucial. If your business receives daily packages or products, the reception area is not where you want them to live. Lighting should be ample, but not overwhelming. If seating is appropriate, make it comfortable. You may not need comfortable leather chairs and giant fireplaces, but make them feel welcomed.

One of our favorite vendors is DARRAN. They offer the Central Park Collection for reception areas. While it’s crisp and professional, the rounded seating and earthy colors make it very inviting. It says, “Step right in. We’ve been expecting you.”

That’s a good first impression.