I have to admit, when we decided to go The Homestead for vacation, I worried it would be too stuffy for my five and seven year old. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Our three day vacation included a falconry course, archery, bowling, swimming, and enough rest and relaxation to make up for all of that activity!
TAKE THE WATERS! THE POOLS OF THE HOMESTEAD
The Homestead is nestled in the legendary Alleghany Mountains of Virginia, famous for the healing properties of its hot springs. The phrase “Take the Waters” refers to floating in these springs for health benefits. My family, on the other hand, took to the swimming pools!
Though the resort is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion that will soon include a lazy river and water slides fed by natural mineral waters, my family was able to enjoy a newly renovated outdoor pool featuring a kids’ water play zone with water sprays and fountains. There was also a large sand area for little ones, a second swimming pool, and a hot tub which children were welcome to use. We could have spent the entire vacation at this pool.
In three days at The Homestead, we managed to try more new activities than we have in the past year! Falconry, archery, paintball, and a carriage ride were the family favorites.
Falconry was amazing. The falconer lectured on the history of the sport and the husbandry of the birds. My seven year old daughter hung on her every word. When she brought out the Harris Hawk, both children gasped. I felt a little nervous donning the falconer’s glove, but fear turned to exhilaration as the hawk landed on my outstretched hand.
Falconry was just the tip of the iceberg. In every activity, the instructors were patient and encouraging with the children. Most impressive was the archery instructor, who took extra time to help my 5 year old perfect his aim and hit the target. My son usually shies away from attention, but our instructor was soft spoken and gentle. Before I knew it, my shy guy looked like an Olympian.
REST AND RELAXATION THE HOMESTEAD WAY
In between activities, we needed downtime. Tea in the Grand Hall was the perfect break. Families filled the lobby. A pianist played. Children nibbled sweet treats and sandwiches, while parents and grandparents relaxed with tea.
After tea, I treated myself to a spa visit. A reflexology treatment left me feeling restored and ready for dinner.
DINING AT THE HOMESTEAD
Dining options are abundant at The Homestead. We chose The Casino Club and were happy with both the food and the company; most of the tables were content families with children. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in the Main Dining Hall. Thanks to a combination of chandeliers, white table cloths, and waffles and doughnuts; this meal was a visual delight and the kids’ culinary highlight.
PLANNING OUR NEXT TRIP
As our trip came to a close I asked the kids what they enjoyed the most. My daughter loved the carriage ride. My son voted for the kids’ pool. They both wanted to know when we would return to enjoy the lazy river. There were so many activities we didn’t have time to try - horseback riding, the hot springs of the Jefferson pools, guided hikes, and mountain biking - I’m already planning our next trip!
If you’re planning a trip to The Homestead, here are a few tips to make your trip the best possible.
Attire: Dress at the Homestead is resort casual. I felt very comfortable in a sundress or slacks and a blouse. That said, designer attire abounds. If you are fashion conscious, pack accordingly.
Activity Packages: The Homestead offers seasonal room and activity packages. Some resort guests mentioned trouble scheduling activities they wanted because they weren’t included in a package, their children didn’t meet age or size requirements, or the activity was full. Choose your preferred activities then consult the concierge or activities coordinator before booking a package.
The Price Tag: Most of the pricing information can be obtained from The Homestead’s website. Be aware that most activities, including the Jefferson Pools, bowling, and, I believe inner tubes on the lazy river will require an additional fee unless included in your activity package.
Disclosure: I received complimentary lodging and activities while at The Homestead. The opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by the Homestead or its affiliates.
The 500 room Homestead Resort is nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, a 4 hour drive from the Washington DC area. The magnificent Georgian revival buildings are graced with a stunning clock tower, a beautiful and eye catching example of colonial revival architecture. As we drove up to the resort, my children thought we had arrived at a palace and said it was “the most beautiful hotel” they had ever seen. As we stood in the Grand Hall, I was amazed to be in the same gracious foyer that has welcomed presidents and princes for over 100 years.
Our spacious 1 bedroom Homestead Suite had two double beds and a separate living room with a full sized pull out sofa. Rooms are decorated in a warm and comfortable southern style, with smart plantation shutters, beautiful Virginia art work, and colonial style furnishings. Our magnificent beds were plush and cozy, with crisp down comforters, luxurious linens, and plenty of deep soft pillows. When we arrived in our room after dinner, our beds had been turned down, and the sofa bed was made up without us even having to ask. I am a huge proponent of staying in hotel suites, because the extra space and privacy go a long way to ensuring a relaxing vacation for both parents and kids.
Both the living room and bedroom had 40 inch LCD televisions, so I could relax and watch TV after the kids went to bed. I purchased an on-demand movie for my older daughter to watch while my younger daughter took her afternoon nap. The living room TV had very poor image quality and the movie was difficult to see, so the hotel staff graciously refunded the $16 charge with no problems.
The bathroom was spanking clean and beautifully appointed in a sleek plantation style. We loved the deep soaking tub, luxurious bath amenities, and window overlooking the park-like grounds. Rack rates for the Homestead’s Classic rooms are about $225. The one bedroom Homestead Suites are about $500 night, which I felt was reasonable for the amount of space and privacy they afford families who desire extra room.
POOLS AND ACTIVITIES
Bath County is home to the largest hot springs in Virginia, and the Homestead offers two different hot springs experiences for families. The beautiful Georgian revival indoor pool is entirely hot spring fed, and the water felt like a comfortable 75 to 80 degrees. It was perfect for my children, and we spent many hours swimming here. Lots of kids and families hang out in the indoor pool, but it never felt crowded. There were plenty of large bath sheets for drying off, and there is a beautiful locker room with shower facilities down the hall. The depth ranges from 4 – 7 ft., so I strongly recommend bringing inflatable flotation devices.
The Homestead also manages the Jefferson Pools, about a 15 minute drive away. There are shuttle buses that run throughout the day, which we found very convenient. Admission to the Jefferson Pools is rather expensive- $17 per hour, regardless of age. The wooden, hot-spring fed pools have never been significantly remodeled and it is a rustic experience. They were designed to be a therapeutic soaking treatment, and swimming and loud talking is discouraged. Instead, guests are meant to float and “take the waters”, using provided pool noodles. While my children enjoyed the relaxing soak, they had a hard time not playing and splashing. I think the Jefferson Pools would be best for older children.
Lastly, the resort has a large outdoor pool which is heated but not hot-spring fed. The pool ranges from 3-5 feet, and is perfect for families. There is also a pool bar, so families can grab lunch and eat around the pools while the kids play. Beautiful locker rooms are mere steps away, with shower facilities and bathrooms.
The Homestead does a great job of catering to families, and offers many free activities. There is a bouncy house that is open in the afternoons and evenings on the lawn game area adjacent to the Casino Club Restaurant. My kids loved this! My older daughter also had a great time playing bean bag toss and watching the shuffle board games. Additionally, there are myriad hikes in the mountains, which we did not have time to experience. The Allegheny Mountains are sublime, so I am sure the hiking is wonderful.
I recommend booking dining reservations, because the restaurants fill up quickly. We dined at the Casino Club Restaurant, and while securing a table at lunch was not a problem (plan to arrive at 11:30 if you don’t have a reservation), dinner seating was more difficult. We ordered food to go and ate al fresco on the gorgeous wrap around porches. It was relaxing just to have a quick family dinner without worrying about my kids getting fussy. For breakfast the first morning we grabbed a quick bagel and hot chocolate from Martha’s Market, which was easy, inexpensive and very kid friendly. The second day, we experienced the glorious breakfast buffet in the main dining room. The buffets costs $25, but kids 5 and under are free, which I felt was a very good value.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The Homestead is a bastion of southern gentility, and children should be clean, well-dressed and on their best behavior when dining in the Main Dining Room or enjoying daily High Tea in the Grand Hall. Parents should pack resort wear and plan to dress up for dinner.
Disclosure: While I received complimentary lodging and passes to the Jefferson Pools, my review reflects my honest opinion and was not influenced by the Homestead or its affiliates.
Swanky digs, to be sure. But, if you don't like golf, and aren't into fly-fishing (and I LOVE fishing, but not everybody does, especially fly-fishing) then there's not much to do. Plus, you dress for meals, and the only restaurant I found that wasn't theirs was the Subway over the way. For all its pomp and circumstance, I wasn't impressed and I can't see what the kids would do after their third game of checkers.
Soaking, supping, or simply relaxing is easy here. This year-round resort, long favored by the rich, politically influential (including presidents), and famous, offers families lots of recreational possibilities, including a snowboard park. Most activities cost extra, so a stay here can get pricey, especially for an active family. Adults can re-energize at the spa, which employs the county’s famed healing waters in a variety of tub and rub combinations. The KidSpa makes this grande dame resort in the Allegheny Mountains especially appealing to preteens and teens. This hard-to-please group can now indulge in facials designed just for them, try Swedish massages, sign up for personalized makeup lessons, and luxuriate in treatments that soak their toes in a rich chocolate milk-like mix and their fingers in strawberries and cream. In season, families enjoy golf, tennis, falconry, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding and pony riding (for smaller children), hiking, bowling, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice-skating, and snowshoeing. The Homestead KidsClub, for ages 3 to 12, operates year-round, with half-day and full-day supervised play. Kids’ Night Out is offered on Saturday evenings in the summer and winter. Day activities include computer games, arts and crafts, science projects, kite flying, pottery making, swimming, pole fishing at the Children’s Pond, and hiking.
The Homestead, A KSL Luxury Resort is a family friendly Hot Springs resort in the mountains and close to Homestead Ski Area and The Cascades Golf Course.
Dining options at The Homestead, A KSL Luxury Resort include a restaurant and a coffee shop/café. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available during limited hours. Recreational amenities include a golf course. Also located on site are an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a children's pool, and a health club. The property's full service health spa has massage/treatment rooms and beauty services. This 4.5 star property has a business center and offers audiovisual equipment and business services. Wireless Internet access (surcharge) is available in public areas. This Hot Springs property has event space consisting of banquet facilities, conference/meeting rooms, a ballroom, and exhibit space. For a surcharge, the property offers a roundtrip airport shuttle (available on request). Guest parking is available for a surcharge. Additional property amenities include a rooftop terrace, a library, and a concierge desk.
483 air conditioned guestrooms at The Homestead, A KSL Luxury Resort feature coffee/tea makers and safes. Beds come with pillowtop mattresses. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, bathrobes, complimentary toiletries, and hair dryers. Wireless Internet access is available for a surcharge. Guestrooms offer complimentary free local calls (restrictions may apply). Televisions have pay movies. Rooms also include electronic check out and irons/ironing boards. Guests may request a turndown service, refrigerators, and microwaves. Housekeeping is available daily.
Notifications and Fees:
Unless otherwise indicated, the charges below are not included in the overall room price. If not included in the overall room price, they will be charged by the property at check in or check out. Charges can vary, for example, based on length of stay or the room you book. This property told us they will charge you for the following:
The following fees and deposits are charged by the property at time of service, check in, or check out.
The above list may not be comprehensive. Fees and deposits may not include tax and are subject to change.