Scenic spot in Virginia offers relaxation and fun for all
By Bonnie Siegler
Hot Springs, Virginia, wasn’t on my list of places to visit—in fact, I hadn’t really heard of it. Wanting to try a new getaway for some rest and relaxation with my husband, I decided on the historic Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs. The Homestead promised diverse activities, and my husband was drawn by the allure of two 18-hole golf courses, while I was attracted to the pampering spas and hot springs.
After a 45-minute drive along winding roads with breathtaking views, we had arrived at our destination. Located across more than 2,000 acres of scenic Virginia landscapes, in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains, the resort is modern and expansive yet with a traditional style. It also features an abundance of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages.
“Our golf, spa and the Cascades Gorge Hike are three of our most popular activities,” says Lynn Swann, Director of Marketing and Communications at The Homestead. “Generations of guests have been visiting our resort for more than 250 years. While they enjoy a wide variety of activities, guests also appreciate our traditions.”
As we entered, the spacious lobby with soaring ceilings evoked the feeling of a bygone era. Inspired by the historic décor, I was excited to experience the traditional Southern hospitality and charm that have made the resort such a popular destination over the years.
The Homestead was opened in 1776 and named in honor of the Homesteaders who built the resort and bathhouses. The main draw at that time—and still to this day—is the two major hot springs that flow onto the property. Soaking in the outside mineral pool does wonders for the mind, body and spirit.
Drawn by such relaxing natural attractions, a total of 23 U.S. presidents have been guests at The Homestead. President Jefferson visited in 1818 and experienced relief from his rheumatism in the waters, which have a high natural mineral content. “The Octagon Mineral Pool is rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium; it remains a constant 99 degrees year-round,” explains Swann.
Along with the hot springs, the resort offers championship golf courses, an alpine ski resort, clay tennis courts, horseback riding, ice skating, a zip line tour, water slides, an indoor pool and nightly movies at the on-site theatre. The fitness centre emphasizes wellness of mind and body, with an array of yoga classes and a Zumba class for those inclined to shake things up a bit.
Focusing on R&R rather than workouts for the weekend, I indulged in a relaxing Swedish massage and a mani-pedi. By the time I found my husband three hours later, he was blissed out from a mineral springs soak.
The Homestead offers many dining options. With Southern charm and genteel manners in mind, we chose the formal Dining Room, where men are required to wear jackets and women are decked out in their finest. A wonderful trio was playing so my husband and I decided we would take to the dance floor.
A couple who must have been Dancing with the Stars contenders beat us to the floor. We were so awed (and slightly intimidated!) by their graceful moves, we opted instead to simply observe and enjoy our delicious romantic dinner–chateaubriand for him and almond-crusted trout for me.
For those seeking a more contemporary setting, Jefferson’s Restaurant and Bar is a popular alternate choice. The Casino Restaurant is very family-friendly, with wood-fired pizzas and flatbreads. Several other dining options are offered on-site and supplied with herbs and vegetables from the resort’s own organic Chef’s Garden.
At the end of a day of comforting amenities and delicious food, our room was a blissful retreat. From our patio, we caught a glimpse of the International Space Station passing over in the sky—a perfect ending to complete the relaxing getaway we were looking for at the Omni Heritage Resort.