By Trish Foxwell
Hot Springs, Virginia. A new era has arrived at the historic Omni Homestead Resort & Spa. Nestled in one of the most scenic corners of the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern Virginia, the resort recently completed a $150-million renovation and transformed the property, from updating its 483 guest rooms and suites to enhancing its spa, creating new dining spots, to adding a variety of indoor and outdoor activities making it a natural holiday getaway for Washingtonians and Virginians alike.
From mid-November through New Year’s, the towering brick Colonial Revival hotel, built in 1929, will be festooned in holiday splendor ensuring your holiday excursion will be all the more enjoyable. Everything from enjoying s’mores by the fireplace to caroling, gingerbread house decorating to carriage rides and sipping hot cider on a chilly afternoon, to artisan craft classes, wine tastings, afternoon tea served on Fridays and Saturdays, ice skating and horseback riding through its Equestrian Center provide additional choices. For fly-fishing fans, the Orvis Fly-Fishing School will offer lessons and fishing trips.
And don’t overlook a visit to Serenity Garden, the adult-only pool featuring the warm natural springs, a perennial attraction for travelers to the resort. Another exceptional outing is signing up for the Cascades Gorge hike led by a naturalist, lasting three hours. Walking by waterfalls and learning about the bird life and fauna of the region is also very popular.
The Great Hall with its graceful, trademark white pillars will greet you when you first arrive. A giant fir Christmas tree complete with dazzling decorations on display ensures you’ll be in the holiday spirit, and array of eclectic and unique shops can be found nearby along the corridors.
The Homestead’s storied history is also an attraction. As a member of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, the site has hosted U.S. presidents, notables and dignitaries. Woodrow Wilson spent his honeymoon here with Edith Bolling Galt in December 1915. Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed many weekends strolling the meandering fairways playing golf. And, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, arrived with his wife Eleanor on July 4, 1931 to not only enjoy the warm, healing mineral springs at the resort but to map out his bid for his presidential run while serving as Governor of New York. J.P. Morgan’s name can also be added to the list as well as that of Jacqueline Bouvier (Kennedy) who enjoyed the resort in the summer of 1945 while vacationing with her father and sister.
Accommodations range from traditional rooms offering one and two beds to spacious suites with views, some with fireplaces. Dining options include the elegant Audubon Dining Room with its white décor, serving breakfast daily and dinners on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, to the sporty and casual Jefferson Restaurant and the very popular Jefferson Tap Room open daily for lunch and dinner. Theater 1923, its classy movie and special event venue, offers snacks, beverages and the cocktail bar for evening entertainment. Martha’s Market is for guests on-the-go offering pastries, sandwiches and beverages.
The Omni Homestead – Owned and operated by Omni Hotels, is open year-round. Address: 7976 Sam Snead Highway, Hot Springs, VA 24445.
Phone: 1-800-838-1766. More information can be found here.
Amtrak offers service from Union Station on its Cardinal route on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The resort can arrange for transportation from Clifton Forge, the rail depot, to the hotel. The journey takes approximately one hour. For those who drive, the resort is approximately two hours west from Charlottesville.