The Homestead carriage ride
By Victor Block
This is the first of a two-part series. Part two will be published in the November 2016 issue of the Fifty Plus Advocate.
In 1740, a Native American chieftain helped lay out an east-to-west route through Great Britain’s Maryland and Pennsylvania colonies.
Years later, if America’s Founding Fathers had sought a retreat to celebrate victory over England, they could have partied at the Homestead, a humble 18-room lodge in what then was the Virginia colony.
Two years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the first guests traveled to White Sulphur Springs in present-day West Virginia to restore their health by “taking the waters.”
These historic episodes are associated with three outstanding resorts located in Eastern states.
The Omni Homestead is nestled in rolling hills around Hot Springs, Virginia. The Greenbrier resides among forests that blanket West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, which is named for the Native American trailblazer, lies in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands not far from where that early path was marked.
Each of these venerable vacation venues offers the array of facilities and activities that guests expect at upscale resorts. At the same time, they keep one foot firmly planted in their storied past.
Many attractions show up at all three. These include accommodations fit for a president, a number of whom have graced the resorts’ premises.
When feeding such dignitaries, the goal is to satisfy palates that are used to the finest cuisine. This challenge is met in both formal dining rooms and casual eateries. For example, Nemacolin offers food options ranging from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor to the luxurious Lautrec, one of only 25 restaurants in the world to have simultaneous Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond rankings.
The list of offerings shared by these esteemed destination resorts continues well beyond food and board. Outstanding golf and tennis? Check. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools? Of course. Archery and fishing? Natch.
There also are unique activities that help each resort stand out from other top-notch vacation properties around the country.
At home at the Homestead.
The setting at the Omni Homestead, which is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, is very different than what greeted guests in the past. The complex now sprawls across 2,300 acres, and its offerings range from winter skiing, snow tubing and ice skating to warm-weather hiking and biking, fishing, canoeing and horseback riding.
There also are some welcome surprises. The Homestead, like the Greenbrier, has a falconry where guests interact with trained falcons and other birds of prey. Resort tours are available by Segway, hayride and horse-drawn carriage.
Then there are “the waters.” Native Americans discovered natural springs in the area hundreds of years ago. The Jefferson Pools in which guests soak today were so named after Tom spent three weeks enjoying the mineral baths.
Were he to visit today, Jefferson also would find other appeals to his liking. Given his fondness for haute cuisine, which prompted one biographer to call him “America’s first foodie,” Tom would enjoy the elegant Main Dining Room, which features continental fare “with regional influences.” He also would be pleased that an eatery which focuses upon farm-to-table ingredients is named Jefferson’s Restaurant.
For more information about the resorts, contact Omni Homestead, 800-838-1766, omnihotels.com/hotels/homestead-virginia; The Greenbrier, 855-453-4858, greenbrier.com; and Nemacolin, 866-344-6957, nemacolin.com.