05 Jul Virginia Getaway – The Omni Homestead Resort
I love my home, but sometimes, ya just gotta get away. And with our birthdays happening at the end of the week we had a great reason. A week would be too long and a weekend just not long enough. Three nights away would be perfect. But where?
We knew we wanted to head to southern Virginia again. Love the scenery, love the people. A web search turned up the oldest resort in the U.S. just 200 miles down the road in Hot Springs, VA, The Omni Homestead Resort. Turned out they were more than happy to help out a busy travel advisor and her husband and show us around their property.
When would you like to visit, they asked?”
“Tomorrow, I said?”
“No problem. We’d love to see you!”
So we hit the road.
The best thing about traveling in a car is you can throw in darn near everything you need and want, AND the stuff you might need and might want so as long as you leave some room for your passenger. Since the weather called for a chance of rain, we threw in rain slickers and couple of umbrellas. There’s great trails so pack the hiking shoes and a good pair of socks. There’s a pool and hot springs… bring your bathing suit and an extra towel. They have two pretty famous golf courses so throw in the clubs and golf shoes. It’s about a three and half hour (four if you take the backroads like we did) drive so pack a cooler with lunch, snacks, drinks, cookies…
The drive down was easy; Route 66 East to HWY 81 South, turn off on 262 at Staunton, miss the right on 254, make U-turn about a mile later, circle back, make a left turn on 254 and then keep left when you hit 42 in Buffalo Gap. At Goshen make a right on 39. At Warm Springs make left on 22. Easy! There are faster ways, but none prettier.
Just a few miles short of our destination is the town of Warm Springs, the sight of the Jefferson Pools. Managed by the Omni Homestead Resort, the old octagonal wooden buildings house pools fed from a 98°F mineral spring. Thomas Jefferson “took the waters” here to treat his “rheumatism” when he visited the area in 1819.
Hot Springs, VA is home of the Omni Homestead Resort, the site of the oldest resort in the U.S., founded in 1766. The town is also the hometown of Sam Snead and has two great golf courses, The Cascades, and “The Old Course” site of the oldest first tee in continuous use in the United States.
The Homestead’s brick buildings and tower are striking after the long drive down country roads. We were greeted by the friendly staff. The lobby, open and grand, was filled with guests when we arrived. Cake was being served to everyone in the lobby. “It’s our birthday celebration,” one of the staff told us.
“How did you know it was my birthday?”
“Actually, we are celebrating the resort’s 250th year. But we can celebrate yours too.”
We did and the cake was wonderful!
The front desk staff treated us like long lost family when we checked in. “Your first time here? Y’all are going to love it.” Zach from the concierge took care of every reservation request with a smile and a willingness to make things happen.
“Family” is a special word at The Homestead. Most of the staff has been at with property a long time (Woody, the maitre’d had just celebrated 56 years), and guests we spoke with have been coming for generations.
“My grandfather drove that horse carriage.” “My parents got married in that big suite in the tower.” “I was born in the hospital just down the street.” “Both our daughters got married here.” We heard it all.
The Homestead means a great deal to a lot of people. Whether you worked here for a couple months like Alex or Bernell, or for years like Woody and Keene; whether this was your first stay or you’ve been coming for a week every July since ’63, The Homestead was, and is, a home to many folks. Thankfully, Omni Resorts, who took over the property in 2010, takes this responsibility to guests and staff to heart. While much of their business caters to meetings and conferences, families are catered to like, well… family. The pool with tubing and waterslides, the Downtime arcade, Kid’s Club, miniature golf, fishing, archery, croquet and the lawn filled with families playing catch, tossing the football, playing card games in the library and nooks and crannies or kids of all ages running up and down the hills – are very busy. Us grown-ups get our fix in the ambiance of the Lobby Bar and romance of dinner in the Dining Room with live music and a classic dance floor. Just outside the resort, Sam Snead’s Tavern has one of the best hamburgers ever!
And The Spa! Just do it. The mineral fed pool, the massage, the yoga, another massage…
During our visit the area experienced heavy rain that flooded nearby towns and closed The Greenbrier Resort located 40 miles away in West Virginia. The Homestead graciously opened their doors to accommodate some of The Greenbrier’s guests, while The Greenbrier used many of their rooms to house local residents of White Sulfur Springs who’s homes were flooded. I love it when our hospitality industry graciously reaches out to the community.
Must dos at The Omni Homestead Resort:
Take the 90-minute historic tour with Keene Byrd.
Treat yourself to a classic southern dinner in The Main Dining Room. This is the one place that men require a coat at dinner. Something for everyone and occasion – young ladies and gentlemen, anniversary couples, newlyweds, extended families, and birthday celebrations! The chateaubriand and the trout were wonderful along with the fresh baked bread and chocolate ganache. Oh, and I almost forgot, the lobster bisque is a must!
A drink in the Lobby Bar – Try the Greyhound made with fresh squeezed grapefruit and vodka. The martinis were amazing too, with enough olives to qualify as a main course at some places. Check out the portraits of all the visiting presidents. And, we even spotted Monte Durham, the Fashion Director on Say Yes to the Dress.
Morning coffee and a fresh baked croissant or donut in a rocking chair on the porch.
Pizza in the Casino Restaurant.
Dinner at Jefferson’s Restaurant. Casual fine dining. Loved the brussel sprouts, scallops, ribeye steak and crème brule.
The Spa – my favorite was the sports massage.
The family pools and the adult pool with cabana.
Hike or explore the 3 trails on the resort and dozens of easy-moderate-difficult trails in the surrounding Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Our pick is Falling Springs Falls. Pack a deli lunch from Martha’s Market.
The next time you are wondering where in the world you want to go; The Omni Homestead Resort is a perfect year-round getaway. Let me know when you have a trip in mind and I’ll help you by recommending the “perfect” room for you at the best rate. Each season offers something special and in the winter months, you’ll enjoy skiing, ice skating and roaring fireplaces at the resort. Activities abound from outdoor barbecues, concerts and even fireworks on our birthday!