If You’re In Hot Water, Don’t Forget the Champagne
Jeffrey A. Rendall,
TravelGolf.com Senior Writer
Photos by Jeff Janas for OldDominionGolf.com
HOT SPRINGS, VA -- It all started
with seven people in hot water. Such a simple and basic statement only suggests what it then became-but what
we now call The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, began with a
traveling physician's discovery and subsequent diary entry mentioning some
naturally warm and hot mineral springs in 1750 (along with seven folks
soaking in them).
Adding to the irony, the area became a resort sixteen years later
because of a land grant from the Virginia Colony’s government to
a military officer.
And it was all due to something that
was a rare pleasure in those days—heated water. The Homestead Resort
was established in 1766 as a retreat for visitors to take advantage
of its warm and hot mineral springs.
The land that now makes up the town
of Hot Springs was granted as payment for service to a Captain in
the Virginia militia, Thomas Bullett, in 1764. Bullett then induced
some homesteaders to come and clear his land, improve the springs,
and build a rustic lodge for guests to stay in while enjoying the
natural benefits of the resort’s warm waters. Hence, The Homestead
was founded in 1766, and today is thought to be the longest continuously
running resort in the United States.
It’s hard to imagine what it must’ve
been like back then for travelers—10 years before the signing of
the Declaration of Independence and 20+ years before the adoption
and ratification of our Constitution--and in the middle of a wild
and untamed wilderness. Time puts things in perspective, but one
theme seems to come through the years unmodified since the inception—luxury.
Now, what was luxurious to the colonists
back then might not qualify for us contemporary folks, but times
change, and The Homestead morphed with them. It’s always been a
place to come and relax with style and elegance. That’s especially
The Homestead in 2001 boasts luxury
and relaxation in abundance. The golf found there is amongst the
finest you’ll find anywhere, as noted many times in respected publications
such as Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (which up until this year
bestowed upon the resort a Gold Medal, one of only 18 in the entire
United States. This year, it won a Silver.). The resort’s three
courses were all designed by legendary golf architects—Donald Ross
for The Old Course (with additions made by Rees Jones), William
S. Flynn for The Cascades, and Robert Trent Jones for the Lower
Cascades. I’ve highlighted each unique golf experience in a separate
Here, I’ll focus on the before and
after golf activities found at the Resort (bear in mind, this is
a partial list—there’s far too much to do to cover in a brief visit
or a brief article).
First off, I’ll note that The Homestead
was acquired by Dallas based Club Corp in 1994, which (under the
direction of the Pinehurst Company) has spent millions in upgrades
on the resort—everything from the refurbishment of the main hotel
building to an upgrade of The Old Course. The changes no doubt brought
The Homestead to where it is today.
Even before you jump into the activities,
you’ll marvel at the quality of your hotel room. If there was ever
a resort room where you’ll regret having to go back home—it’s at
The Homestead. The resort offers 506 guest rooms and 77 suites,
all decorated with fabulous classical accompaniments. Some feature
wood burning fire places, while others have porches to relax on
during a lazy summer afternoon. My only admonition—once you stay
there, you may find yourself checking your credit card balances
to see if you can afford improving your own home. It tends to spoil
Speak of spoiling—in addition to the
great golf at the resort, a visit to The Homestead’s Spa is a must.
Take a soak in the historic mineral baths, or receive a treatment
from the Homestead’s trained professionals. The Spa offers massages,
hydrotherapies, body wraps, facials and pedicures, amongst other
delights. The Spa was founded in the 1830’s by one of The Homestead’s
most famous proprietors, Dr. Thomas Goode—who was years before his
time in advocating the benefits of Spa ‘treatments’ for a person’s
Once you’ve been thrilled on the links
and pampered in the Spa, take advantage of the incredible dining
opportunities at The Homestead. Meals are part of many of the Resort’s
packages, which makes it all the easier to enjoy what the chefs
have to offer.
Bring your jacket and tie for an evening
at The Homestead Dining Room. The Dining Room offers elegant dining
and gourmet cuisine, an outstanding wine list and even better service.
You’ll feel like you’re taking a trip back in time to when more
formal meals were part of the American culture—but it’s not stuffy.
I brought my two little ones to the meal, who felt just as much
at home in their Sunday best as I did—and we all enjoyed the live
music and dancing on the ballroom floor. Quite a grand experience
for all of us.
For a more casual atmosphere, make
a trip across the street to Sam Snead’s Tavern—where you’ll still
be able to enjoy excellent food, but in a more informal setting.
And, if you’re lucky, Mr. Snead himself will drop in—now I can say
I’ve shaken the hand of a legend—a tremendous thrill. As you might
expect, there’s a plethora of Snead memorabilia on the walls, and
it’s more than enough entertainment for you to enjoy sharing in
the career highlights of one of the greatest golfers of all time.
As a side note, Snead makes regular
visits to The Homestead’s practice facilities and loves to hit balls.
He doesn’t play many rounds in his late 80’s, but still hits ‘em
sweeter than most of us ever will on the range.
Of course there’s more to The Homestead
than just golf, mineral waters, spa treatments and eating. Other
activities include tennis, skiing in the winter, horseback riding,
romantic carriage rides, miles upon miles of hiking trails, a world
class shooting range, fly fishing, mountain biking, on-site bowling
and even falconry—amongst other things.
The resort also offers children’s
programs for the kids, meeting facilities for your business needs,
and various kinds of instruction on all of the above activities.
Of special note in this regard is The Homestead’s Golf Advantage
School, a well-regarded instructional program that originated at
another of Club Corp’s fine resorts in Pinehurst, North Carolina—known
as the Capital of American golf.
All that’s found at The Homestead
can’t be covered in an overview, and really needs to be experienced
to be believed. It’s simply a timeless journey to a fine destination
in what seems like another world. So the next time you’re in hot
water, shed a glance towards the horizon—and maybe a good time’s
waiting for you.
The Homestead Resort
P.O. Box 2000
Hot Springs, VA 24445
Phone: (800) 838-1766; FAX: (540) 839-7954
Director of Golf: Don Ryder
The Homestead’s Historian:
John Hoover, a very valuable source of
Call the above number for further
information on resort packages and special events.