The Homestead – Hot Springs, VA
Our first empty nest trip took us and good friends to The Homestead in Hot Springs Virginia. I think I could easily write a book about this fabulous place, so it will be hard for me to condense this into one blog post. We’ve been coming here off and on for 20 years and have so many great memories. We’ve come with parents, siblings and children. Only one other time have we come without the girls and that was the first summer they both went to summer camp. One year we were here for Halloween and someone was trying to break the Guiness record for carving the most pumpkins. The place was filled with Jack-o-lanterns. As you can imagine, it’s beautiful for Thanksgiving and Christmas with a huge tree in the lobby. The last time we were here, Natalie tried her hand at snow boarding while we watched drinking hot chocolate.
Summer is really my favorite time to come though because it’s always a little cooler than at home and there are so many outdoor activities for kids and adults. This time we went on the Cascade Hike with Brian who has been leading these for 27 years. We had been about 10 years ago, but had forgotten most everything other than his ability to make an acorn cap whistle. You will not only enjoy a gorgeous hike, but you’ll learn quite a bit about nature. The falconry is also something not to be missed. Of course if you’re a golf lover, the Cascade Course is one of the best mountain courses to be found and while rain postponed my husband’s game, they were still able to tee off later in the afternoon.
If you’re a runner, this is a challenging place to be. It’s extremely hilly, duh! After running a few miles on Friday, I was discouraged that I would never be able to find somewhere to get in a long run. I chatted with the starters at the lower golf course and they told me I could run the golf course if I started at 7. Some local golf courses may allow this, but I’ve never had a resort golf course do this. That’s just one example of how friendly everyone is. The prevailing attitude is low key and not “snooty” in the least.
Over the years the spa just keeps getting better. The improvements they have made each time we’ve come have turned this into the best spa I have experienced. Try the soak in the mineral spring bath before a massage, and you will feel like a noodle when you’re done. But that’s ok because you can go to the aqua thermal room and relax in their heated chairs looking at a bubbling spring. There are several pools and other amenities to enjoy also.
Mike tried something new this time, he shot skeet or trap, or maybe both. They have a top notch facility and they really enjoyed it. We, opted for yoga, zumba and chilling in the Library, my favorite spot in the resort.
Another huge improvement over the years has been the food. Breakfast has always been fabulous, with a mammoth buffet offering everything you can imagine. Sam Snead Tavern, a short walk down the hill, is a great casual place for dinner. After a big breakfast, most grab a snack at Martha’s Market or walk down to the Casino for lunch. Tea is served at 3 with pimento cheese or cucumber sandwiches and cookies to tide you over to dinner. We ate at The Jefferson dinning room which is a little more intimate then the main dining room. The last couple of times we were here, we thought the food was OK but nothing to write home about. This year the changes made by the Omni brought the food up to the caliber of the rest of the resort. I wasn’t sure if the feel of the place would change with the new ownership, but we only noticed subtle improvements which made our stay even better.
While different from when we have been here with family, it was fun sharing this special place with friends. We can’t wait to come back soon with the girls. One final note, don’t follow your GPS and take business 220 and 606. It looks like it would be quicker but it’s not, and even if it was quicker, the narrow winding roads are not my cup of tea. If you think I’m exaggerating, it’s so narrow, there is no yellow line, and the curves are so steep, some engines may have trouble making it. Choose 220 that goes through Covington and ignore your GPS.