by Candyce Stapen
Nearing the Omni Homestead, a resort situated in the Allegheny Mountain Valley, we pass bailed hay and mares in paddocks as well as roads with names such as Sweet Springs Lane and Stage Coach Drive. These lanes harken back to the resort’s beginnings more than 240 years ago as a place to sample the region’s healing springs.
The 2,300-acre property is a four-season resort that gains fame for its golf and formal dining. Spring through fall, families can also hike mountain trails and in winter ice skate, ski and snowboard.
The resort was founded in 1766 — a decade before the Revolution. That’s when the land’s owner erected the first wooden structure for those who came to soak in the healing waters. Among the famous who bathed in the mineral springs were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Robert E. Lee and Thomas Edison.
As a historic hotel, the resort maintains a period feel. You won’t find minimalist furnishings or sleek, edgy decor. Instead the octagonal Jefferson Parlor, with its murals depicting eras in the property’s past, has Colonial-style furnishings. The Great Hall, or lobby, with its two-story ceiling punctuated by double rows of ornate columns, suggests the prosperous mid-19th century when Dr. Thomas Goode built his hotel. That resort changed hands and grew in size over the decades. Rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1901, the Homestead resort now features 483 rooms. On our visit, the resort, perched on a hillside, looks spectacular framed by the red, rust and gold mountains of fall.
Our Editor Loves
- Supervised KidsClub
- Ice skating in winter
- Family Spa Suite Menu
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Both the west wing, built in 1904, and the tower, built in 1930, were renovated in 2010. Pedestal sinks and marble tile floors were installed in the bathrooms and new bedspreads, carpets and other items were installed in the sleeping area.
Rooms have Colonial-style headboards, blue-and-cream striped wallpaper and blue floral swag drapes and the accommodations come with flat-screen TV's. Although the decor is far from trendy, the spacious room is comfortable and can accommodate a crib or a rollaway bed.
All guestrooms come with stocked mini-fridges and complimentary Wi-Fi, but, typically, no coffee makers. If you wake-up coffee, request (at no charge) a coffee maker with coffee packets.
For a splurge and extra space, book one of the five presidential suites, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area and a porch with great mountain views.
Located adjacent to the Convention Center, the Garden Wing, built in 1972, has a more modern decor, but typically attracts business people.
This was our second visit to the Homestead. We love the relaxed yet elegant ambience of the resort.
We only spent one night en route to KY. Our room was very comfortable, nicely decorated and quiet. Our view was awful, looking out onto a roof where workers were making repairs. Definitely worth upgrading for a better view.
We enjoyed the 12+ mikes of walking trails around the resort and the complimentary afternoon tea with cake. The lovely indoor pool was being refurbished during our stay. There are more than enough activities on-site to keep most people entertained for 2 full days (more if you golf), I believe.
The hotel’s restaurants can accommodate dietary restrictions which makes dining easy. We had a good dinner at Woody’s Pub. The only drawback to this restaurant is that it is popular with families. During our dinner, several families came in together, sat down next to us. The 8-10 young children were allowed to run around and scream. I don’t fault the wait-staff, but rather the parents.
The drawbacks during our stay were three-fold:
1. The hotel allows smoking on the large front porch, which is unusual in this day and age. During our stay, the weather was lovely so the big front doors into the lovely lobby were kept open. So anytime you were in the large lobby or on the porch, you had to endure the strong smell. It rendered relaxing on the rocking chairs on the front porch unappealing. While waiting for our vehicle upon departure, my sweater absorbed the smoke odor.
2. We had almost no water pressure in our shower. We took showers with just a trickle of water. It would spurt out at 50% strength for a couple of seconds then return to 10% flow. We informed the front desk and were told “yes, we have a community-wide water problem”.
3. We used valet parking and my SUV’s door was dinged. We didn’t notice it until we pulled out and stopped for gas. I expected more care. Note: departing on a weekend at checkout time is a bit of a zoo. It takes about 20 min to get your car and it is a rushed feeling.
While I have outlined several negatives, I think we would consider staying here again if we are assured that the hotel has adequate water pressure.
by Janet R
My husband and I took a mid-week trip to the Homestead and had a nice experience. Our accommodations were great and service was good the entire stay. Had lunch and dinner at the Jefferson and were quite pleased with our meals and service. As always, afternoon tea in the Great Hall was enjoyable.
There's much to do at the resort, whether for free or for an extra charge. At check-in kids receive an Omni Sensational Kids backpack with activities to keep them occupied when bored, though this should be a rare event.
Resting on 400 acres, the Homestead provides a number of hiking trails.
This wood-paneled sitting area featuring wicker furniture provides a comfy place to lounge with the family. Chess tables, checkers, resort memorabilia keep families "busy" and relaxing in the sunlight streaming in from the large windows was one of our favorite (and free) resort activities.
Pools & Springs
The Allegheny Springs pool area is open year-round and offers a water play zone for little ones. This pool area features a lazy river and watersides, too.
From June through October, families can soak together from 12 to 2 p.m. in the historic Jefferson Pools down the road in Warm Springs.
Enjoy free nightly movies, typically held at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the theater that was built in 1923.
Allegheny Activities Center
Located in the hotel's shopping corridor, you can pick up complimentary badminton, bocce and croquet equipment to play on the expansive lawn.
Depending upon the season, you can also book Segway tours, archery lessons, canoeing outings, falconry experiences, mountain biking expeditions, horseback riding and rounds of golf on the resort's two courses.
The resort features two golf courses. In 2010, the resort established junior tees on the Lower Cascades Course and kids clubs are available for rental. In summer 2012, a miniature golf course was added for little ones. The 18-hole Mini Cascades was inspired by the resort's Cascades Course and is located near the Allegheny Springs water park area.
The Spa at The Omni Homestead Resort
Kids aren't left out of the spa either, which offers a Family Spa Suite menu for ages 5 to 13. It includes massages, manicures and pedicures and facials. Girls can also have their hair and make-up done. Children can participate in children's yoga as well.
In winter the Homestead shines, as well, with an ice-skating rink at Allegheny Springs, adjacent to the outdoor pool. Warm up with hot chocolate or by the fire pit.
The Homestead also offers cross-country skiing and guided snowmobile tours. While the 45-acre ski are won't generate any thrills for your teens accustomed to black diamond runs, the Bunny School for ages 5 to 11 might be just the right size for younger ones wanting to take up the sport but intimidated by big ski schools and big mountains. Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowmobiling is available from December to March (weather permitting).
The resort's year-round supervised children's program operates Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thoughtfully, the program mixes indoor and outdoor activities that make use of the Homestead's resources. Along with creating crafts, ages 3 (potty-trained) through 12 visit the stables go on nature walks and fish in the resort's pond.
The KidsClub facility is located down the hill from the main building in a row of former cottages. The colorful, multi-room structure has areas for arts and crafts, meals, games and video watching. With enough children registered, counselors divide the kids into groups for 3 to 7 year olds and 8 to 12 year olds. Kids also romp on the nearby climbing equipment. Kids may be signed up for full day or half-day programs with or without lunch.
On Saturdays, Kid's Night Out from 6:30 to 10 p.m. lets children bowl, create crafts and watch movies while parents get some adult time. You can register kids to eat dinner with the group or to arrive after eating dinner. A Friday evening Kid's Night Out program operates during June through August.
The former teen facility has been turned into a family activity center. We found it small, uninviting and relatively expensive (each person pays an hourly rate) for air hockey or Wii games. DownTime is located across from Jefferson's Restaurant and Bar.
Main Dining Room
The dining room recalls an era when guests dressed in their best to dine and dance to live music. Although you won't see tuxedos, men are requested to wear jackets. A nice touch: the music still plays on. Kids 12 and older are asked to abide by the dress code (resort causal). Seasonal dishes are served, such as crab, lobster, lamb and beef. And a dessert favorite that you won't want to miss is the gold brick sundae.
Kids' menus are available. The Homestead also serves a buffet breakfast every morning in the Main Dining Room.
Jefferson's Restaurant and Bar
This eatery is more casual than the others, and offers American favorites from the grill. Lunch and dinner are served daily. The resort casual dress code is required here, as well.
Sam Snead's Tavern
This comfortable Virginia Tavern serves pub-style fare for families. Enjoy fun appetizers like corn dog bites and Irish nachos, before digging into a classic Shepard's pie or roasted vegetable lasagna. Top it off with a fried apple pie for dessert! The resort casual dress code is required here, and advance reservations are recommended.
Located near the Allegheny Springs pool area, Casino Restaurant serves up casual plates, such as pizza, chili, sandwiches and wings. Open for lunch and dinner, this restaurant also required the resort casual dress code.
Stop in Martha's Market for coffee, tea, juice, and specialty drinks. Pick up pastries for breakfast or a cake for a celebration. Salads and sandwiches are also available for lunch.
Rubino's at the Cascades
This quick service eatery is located at the Cascades Course and features American dishes, like sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. Rubino's is open for breakfast (7 to 11 a.m.), lunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and dinner (4 to 8 p.m.). Resort casual dress code is required.
Room service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. On-the-go lunches can also be arranged through room service for those families visiting the local sights.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting services are available for a fee per hour for the first child, and a smaller fee for each additional child. Parents must request services at least 72 hours in advance.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season runs from April 1 through October 31 and low season runs from November 1 through March 31, excluding holidays. The resort does not have a shoulder season, but the property offers a number of seasonal packages.
The resort is located about 220 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The property is also 70 miles north of Roanoke and 170 miles west of Richmond. There's limited air service from three regional airports, the Bath County Airport, 20 minutes from the Homestead, the Greenbrier Valley Airport, 50 minutes away, and the Roanoke Regional airport, about an hour away.
For Mom and Dad
Hire a babysitter and take advantage of the Spa, which provides an indulgent experience like no other. After your treatment -- which might include a body wrap or massage -- head to the Spa Garden and Aqua Thermal Suite for another pampering experience.