By Meghan McCloskey
Like a lighthouse in the Allegheny Mountains, the enormous tower and complex of the Homestead Resort marks the location of healing waters of the natural springs in central Virginia. The rejuvenating mineral waters were once sought out by Native Americans and early colonists alike. Established in 1766 by a French and American War soldier, the Homestead resort has hosted 22 American presidents in its nearly two and a half century history. When you visit, you can see why- the Homestead prides itself on its authentic southern hospitality.
We visited the Homestead in March to take advantage of the unusually long Virginia winter and hit the resort’s ski slopes. The Homestead makes skiing convenient; a shuttle brought us right to the bottom of the lift where guests can rent high quality ski equipment.
In April, flowers will start blooming and warmer weather activities will debut. As temperatures rise, the resort will begin to offer hiking, mountain biking, falconry, kayaking, canoeing, a shooting club and more. It is an ideal base to explore the outdoors and experience the scenic George Washington National Forest.
Like Thomas Jefferson did in the 1700’s, guests can soak in the therapeutic springs and receive spa treatments. This spring, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub opens at the Homestead, with an aqua-thermal bathing experience using hot and cold water for therapy and an adults-only spa garden. The kids don’t have to feel left out when mom and dad go to the spa anymore, Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers spa treatments just for kids. Kids enjoy yoga, the Stars Facial and the Pink Bubbles Manicure; the whole family will leave feeling pampered.
The Homestead offers an array of dining options. Guests should be aware of the dress code for the restaurants when packing; the Main Dining room requires a sport coat and no denim. Kids are welcome – I saw some tots looking adorable on their way to dinner dressed in their mini sport coats! We opted for the casual Sam Snead’s tavern for our dinner.
Sam Snead’s menu featured local trout and Certified Angus beef. I decided to try both, with an Alleghany trout escabeche as an appetizer and the tenderloin with truffle sauce as an entrée. The dishes are scrumptious and artfully paired with seasonal vegetables. The cinnamon rutabaga is served in a tiny skillet and was the sweetened to make the healthy vegetable taste like a treat. Our server Kellie says, “They do really amazing things with vegetables around here. Sometimes when can even get kids to eat them!” I can believe that!
The Homestead offers so many activities for families from outdoor sports to history tours and evening movies that it would be easy to spend a week and plan a different itinerary every day. Don’t forget to relax on the cushioned chaise on your balcony and lounge by the pool. Maybe you’ll run into the President’s kids doing the same thing!