Homestead -- Sights From The Homestead -- Countering the Stereotypes of Western Virginia

Text and Captions by Jeffrey A. Rendall; Photos By Jeff Janas

HOT SPRINGS, VA - It's funny how the word on the street gets started, establishing reputations, stereotypes and behavioral patterns amongst those who easily believe.  It's also interesting to see just how wrong those impressions can be -- which makes the original beliefs seem all the more ridiculous once the truth is revealed.

One of those odd local stereotypes (at least amongst Washingtonians) is that the land in the southwestern part of Virginia or West Virginia is inhabited by toothless simpletons, bent on producing moonshine and living in rickety, broken-down wooden shacks.  Perhaps because Washington itself is composed largely of migrants from the around the US and the globe, such beliefs are born and fostered.

For those who've ventured outward, however, they know that's not the case.  While the outer reaches may be a tad more rustic than the streets of our downtown metropolis, there's also some of the most opulent luxury you'll ever see out there, far from the noise and confusion of the city.  And nowhere is that more true than at The Homestead, in Hot Springs, Virginia (about three and a half hours southwest of DC).

The Homestead, like its sibling resort The Greenbrier (another half hour further west, in West Virginia) offers unparalleled luxury in a mountain resort setting, where guests are pampered in just about every way imaginable -- and have been for over 235 years.  Established in 1766, The Homestead's thought to be the oldest continuously run resort in the United States.

Golf is one of many recreational activities at the resort, featuring 54 holes designed by some of the game's greatest architectural names -- Ross, Flynn and Jones.  You might say The Homestead started golf here in America, since the Old Course's first tee is the oldest in continuous use in the country (from 1892 to present).  As if that wasn't enough, The Cascades Course remains the #1 ranked mountain golf course in the US, and also stands as Virginia's highest ranked layout in many publications.

As impressive as the golf courses are, the resort's amenities might even top them.  There's a world-class spa, where you can get a soothing massage or soak in the natural mineral baths.  There're horseback and carriage rides, an excellent shooting sports club with traps, skeet and English sporting clays (together with world-class instructors).  There's also mountain biking, hiking, tennis, and lawn bowling (amongst other things) available for your post-round enjoyment.

Don't forget the culinary delights.  The Homestead's dining room features cuisine worthy of your finest Washington DC restaurants, and after dinner dancing is a tradition at the resort.  It's a look back to gilded age style luxury, and the service is impeccable.  Here are a few of the sights you'll encounter at the Homestead:

The Homestead exudes tradition and history. If you begin your golfing visit on the Old Course, you won't hit a shot before realizing just what playing here means. This is golf at its traditional finest.

Coat and tie is required for the evening serving in The Homestead's dining room. It's more formal than your average resort experience, but dressing up is appropriate to match the elegance of the occasion.

One of these men is thought to have had the sweetest swing in the history of golf, and the other... doesn't. Virginia lost a local legend when Sam Snead passed on, but at least our party was fortunate enough to meet him during a visit to Sam Snead's Tavern in 2001. Who's the other guy, you ask? Jeff Janas. Sweet swing....? Uh, no.

The 15,000 acres that make up The Homestead contains seven mineral springs -- two hot springs, two warm and three cold. Mineral water has long been thought to have healing qualities, and it's still in use everyday at The Homestead's Spa.

If you'd come here in 1766, you wouldn't have seen the present day version of The Homestead Hotel. The central building opened in 1902, and there've been several additions and renovations in the hotel's century plus of existence.

As you'd probably guess, the grounds at The Homestead are impeccably maintained. Here, after receiving a treatment at The Spa, take a stroll in the gardens. Much tranquility is found there.

The Homestead's lobby has enough seating to entertain many for afternoon tea. Despite its formal looks, it's actually quite family friendly, too.

The Cascades Course's Clubhouse was once the summer home of New York stock trader Jakey Rubino. Now it houses the pro shop, locker rooms and a restaurant...hardly your run-of-the-mill clubhouse.


The Homestead Resort
P.O. Box 2000
Hot Springs, VA 24445

Director of Golf:  Don Ryder

The Homestead's Historian:  John Hoover, a very valuable source of information!


Toll Free: (800) 838-1766
FAX: (540) 839-7954


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