Life Letters Retreat at
The Biltmore Estate
Asheville, NC 2024
Set amid 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore House in historic Asheville, NC, was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and is known as America’s Largest Home®. This spectacular venue is the ideal setting to step away from everyday distractions and reflect upon your very own Life Letter.
The Life Letters Retreat is open to individuals as well as couples. You’ll map your life’s narrative to date and be expertly led to write a personalized document that you can be proud of. No matter your writing experience, you’ll walk away with craft techniques about storytelling that will strengthen your voice on the page. You might even forge a path to publication.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the stories, history, and experiences that have shaped your life’s journey. It’s a gift to you, your loved ones, and your community.
Curious to hear excerpts of other students reading their Life Letters? Watch here:
- William Silvers, M.D.
"I've wanted to write a legacy document for my family for many years. With Nancy's guidance, I finally did it."
- Evi Makovsky
"Nancy is an extraordinary teacher and muse for anyone looking to reflect more deeply on meaningful life experiences."
- Damon McLeese
- Kathy Feigal "
"Nancy sees things in each student that makes them see something purposeful in themselves and one another, leading to real growth. Anyone who works with her is lucky to come under her spell."
- Don Donato
"Participating in this retreat and writing my Life Letter is one of the bravest, most authentic things I have ever done." - Deana Kennedy
- Eric Sondermann
"We all need gurus to guide us, and Nancy Sharp has become mine as I strive to find meaning in my life story, and share it with loved ones."
- Leland Rudofsky
All interested participants are encouraged to apply now as applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Life Letters Retreat Leader:
Nancy’s corporate clients include the New York Life Insurance Company, Eagle Strategies, Lincoln Financial, Virginia Credit Union, Dallas Bar Association, Women’s Estate Planning Council, University of Denver, American Academy of Psychotherapists, New York's 92nd Street Y, The Rose Community Foundation, and numerous other businesses and groups. She also works with private clients in every corner of the globe.
Nancy holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and is a certified instructor in Guided Autobiography. Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and First Book Finalist for Books for a Better Life, her debut memoir Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living is a portrait of the surprising turns life takes and the resilience it takes to keep stepping forward. She is also the author of the picture book Because the Skyis Everywhere and has ghostwritten several other works, including a family legacy book for a client that led to an interview with Warren Buffett in his Omaha office and to her becoming an associate producer on a forthcoming documentary called Who Are the Marcuses?
Nancy has been published in several essay anthologies, and articles, essays, columns, and letters by her have appeared in The New York Times, AARP’s The Ethel, Katie Couric's Wake-Up Call, Next Avenue, The Huffington Post, journals for the American Academy of Psychotherapists and the University of Colorado Hospital’s Center for Bioethics and the Humanities, and elsewhere. She has guest lectured at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Regis University's MFA Program, The Writing Center at Marshall University, and The New School. Nancy teaches storytelling and legacy writing workshops online and hosts creativity retreats. She lives in Denver, CO with her family and absurdly cute Havanese dog. Email email@example.com for inquiries.
About The Biltmore Estate
Lodging at The Biltmore
The Life Letters Retreat takes place at The Biltmore. Only here will you find America’s Largest Home® nestled amid 8,000 acres of manicured gardens and thoughtfully designed landscapes, an award-winning Winery, and myriad dining, shopping, and outdoor pursuits…all in one unforgettably beautiful place.
*Each participant will have their own room. If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
2024 Life Letters Retreat Schedule
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Thursday, April 11, 2024
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Workshop in Olmsted Room, including detailed history and overview of Life Letters; reading and discussion of sample letters; and personalizing the document – salutation, values, unique circumstances. You will also work on a "Through the Decades™ exercise to map key events, themes, and narrative threads.
11:00 AM – 11:15 AM: Break.
11:15 AM – 1:00 PM: Identify dominant theme and/or main components for the body of the Life Letter; think about how the Life Letter might support or clarify the legal will; and reflect on stories, poems, letters and/or other items that you may wish to include in the Life Letter or keepsake box.
6:30 PM: Dinner at Stable Café.
Friday, April 12, 2024
11:00 AM -11:30 AM: Break.
6:00 PM: Dinner in Asheville. Restaurant TBD.
Saturday, April 13, 2024
9:00 PM – 11:30 AM: Put finishing touches on Life Letters document; Decide when and how to present your Life Letter.
1:30 PM: Celebratory Reading of Life Letters.
5:00 PM: Tour Biltmore Winery
6:30 PM: Dinner at Bistro
Sunday, April 14, 2024
- Daily breakfast and four nights at the historic Biltmore Estate.
- Life Letters Retreat, led by Nancy Sharp.
- Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Lisa Culhane.
- Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
- Opening night reception and dinner.
- Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
- A once in a lifetime experience.
- Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
- A video recording of you reading your Life Letter.
- Note: If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
- Expanded FAQ at the bottom of this page.
Application & General FAQ
What is the application deadline?
Applications for our April 2024 Life Letters Retreat with Nancy Sharp are now open and close on January 3rd, 2024, but early applications are encouraged.
What will my application include? The answers to the following questions:
- What excites you most about being accepted into this workshop? Why do you think you’re a good fit for this workshop?
- What is your comfort level writing autobiographically? Have you ever journaled? Are you a letter writer? Ever been published?
- Who are you intending to share your Life Letter document with? Family? Community? Both?
- Tell us about a symbolic object that has great significance. Family heirloom? Painting? Handwritten note?
When will I know if I've been accepted to the workshop?
Our goal is to provide an intimate and memorable retreat so that participants can find meaning during and after the retreat. We will accept applicants on a rolling basis until the retreat is full and then begin waitlists. Writers are encouraged to apply early.
How much does it cost?
Tuition is $2,995 for participants who stay at The Village Hotel at the Biltmore Estate, or $3,995 for participants who stay at The Inn at the Biltmore Estate.
Are Payment Plans Available?
Yes. Accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting Shop Pay or Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) at checkout.
What does tuition include?
-Life Letters Retreat, led by Nancy Sharp.
-Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Lisa Culhane.
-Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
-Opening night reception and dinner.
-Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
-Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
What is tuition payment schedule?
If your application is accepted, full tuition is due within 14 days of acceptance. You can pay your tuition in full or opt for a payment plan by selecting Affirm or Shop Pay at checkout.
What is your refund policy for The Biltmore Retreat?
Given the intimate nature of our destination workshops and our own, non-refundable deposit schedule as organizers, our refund policy is as follows:
90+ days before your trip, tuition payment minus a $250 deposit is fully refundable.
60+ days before your trip: 50% of your tuition is refundable.
30+ days before your: 25% of your tuition is refundable.
Less than 30 days before your trip: no refunds can be offered.
Where is the hotel and workshop venue?
Set amid 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore House in historic Ashville, NC, was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and is known as America’s Largest Home ®. Asheville Regional Airport is the nearest airport to the Biltmore. The address for the entrance to Biltmore Estate is 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803.
Can I bring my spouse/partner?
If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
What will happen if Nancy Sharp is physically unable to attend for any reason?
In the event the Life Letters Retreat workshop leader, Nancy Sharp, is physically unable to attend the retreat for any reason, Lisa Culhane will step in to lead the retreat in Nancy's place. Lisa Culhane is a Martha Beck certified life coach and Guided Autobiography instructor. She has also completed the Life Letters experience with Nancy.
What will you do with my email?
We respect your privacy. We will only use your email to send you information about Writing Workshops. We won't sell or rent your email to other organizations.
I have a question not answered here.
Please contact us and we’ll reply promptly. You can also Chat with us (lower left of your screen).