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Home Sweet Homestead

By Sarah Crosland | Photography by Courtesy of the Omni Homestead

Posted: Thursday, Jul. 31, 2014

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Arriving at the Omni Homestead feels like a trip back in time—more specifically, an elegant voyage to the gilded age of travel. The storied resort, nestled in Virginia’s misty Allegheny Mountains, welcomes guests with its signature brick tower rising from perfectly manicured grounds. Step across a rocking chair-lined front porch and into the white-pillared Great Hall to complete your entrance to its pastoral-meets-opulent charm. While the Homestead’s historic grandeur means it’s the perfect destination for an upscale retreat or weekend getaway (it’s only a four-hour drive from Lake Norman), the resort’s more recent additions also make it one of the region’s most family-friendly destinations.

Originally constructed in 1766 as a lodge near the area’s hot springs, the modern building dates from closer to the turn of the 20th century when investors including J.P. Morgan began construction. The famed hotel has welcomed 22 American presidents onto its more than 3,000 acres, which include the state’s oldest ski resort, an ice skating rink, championship golf courses, and a lavish European-inspired spa.

History and modern amenities blend seamlessly here where high-ceilinged guest rooms are decorated in traditional fabrics and antique furniture, and afternoon tea and biscuits are served in the Great Hall. Take a peek out one of the oversized windows and onto the lawn, where children and families mingle in the grass and around roaring fire pits in the cool mountain air. The resort’s outdoor activity list reads like a kid’s camp brochure with hiking, fishing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, and even falconry being offered on the grounds. But on warm days, you’ll find most families around the resort’s new playful two-acre water park, which features a lazy river, slides, and a sandy beach. And plan on splurging on one of the private cabanas where parents can relax in the shade as children splash in the nearby pools.

For the ultimate in relaxation though, spend at least one afternoon at the resort’s new spa. Still fed from the historic hot springs, the spa includes a warm outdoor mineral pool, ideal for soaking in on sunny days. Indulge in hot spring inspired treatments like the Mineral Spring Mud Wrap or 1766 Mineral Bath, but save some time for simply luxuriating in the spa garden. In addition to its meditative River Reflexology Walk and spring-fed pool for warm weather, on cooler days soft fireside sofas beckon guests to simply relax and warm up. Kids can get in on the fun here too with fun features like the Sparkles Manicure or Pink Bubbles Pedicure for guests ages 5 to 13.

One of the top spots on the resort for families is actually its elegant Main Dining Room. While the regal ballroom setting and business formal required attire may initially make parents wary, the live music and large dance floor prompt families of all ages to swing and spin around to tunes post dinner. For a more modern dining experience, visit the newer Jefferson’s Restaurant and Bar. This chic grill with mountain views offers craft cocktails and farm-to-table dishes like braised lamb shoulder and roasted squash pappardelle. And plan on ending your evening on Jefferson’s outdoor terrace where you can cozy up fireside overlooking the lush lawn below—and the whole family can unwind in the fresh mountain air at the end of a fun filled day. www.thehomestead.com

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