Experiencing the stay at home effects of mitigation strategies, social distancing and other new terms derived from the coronavirus experience, I guess we all now know what it is like to hibernate. I’m certain that most of you are anxious to get back to some type of normalcy, visit with family and friends, engage in activities, shop; and, if you are like me, pack a bag and hit the road! I love traveling. It is my profession and also my passion to both see new places, as well as revisit locations that hold special memories for me. Hopefully, this terrible virus will soon be gone and we can get back to traveling again. I have spoken to many clients who can’t wait to satisfy their wanderlust, but also show a little trepidation about doing too much too fast. Perhaps a visit to a unique resort that isn’t too far away, and can easily be accessed via car or on a group trip, will fit the bill!
BLACKBERRY FARM is a luxury resort located in Walland, Tennessee bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has been rated the best small hotel in America by the Zagat Survey. The grounds cover 4,200 acres and the resort has 62 rooms. Blackberry Farm hosts culinary, musical and outdoor sporting activities both on and off the property. This cozy farm provides a true country experience with simple, elegant touches. The buildings are tastefully decorated with upholstered furniture, chandeliers, and warm fireplaces. The grounds are absolutely spectacular. The sprawling lawns, ponds, rustic barns and babbling creeks, as well as the Smoky Mountains in the background, create a peaceful, serene atmosphere.
Guests can stay in one of the various chic, private cottages or one of the cozy rooms within the Main House or Guest House. I stayed in one of the luxurious, charming cottages which offered a sophisticated, private place to relax. The cottages include plush, comfortable beds; large porches; stocked mini-fridges; flat-screen TVs; luxurious bathrooms; in-room coffeemakers; and, fully functional kitchens. The rooms in the Main House or Guest House are smaller cozy units individually decorated with a country-chic style adorned with antiques, elegant furnishings and charming details.
This gorgeous farm hotel is a secluded, serene haven for foodies and nature lovers alike. The all-inclusive plan includes dinner from your first night through lunch on the day of your departure. Blackberry Farm is renowned for its rustic-chic farm-to-table restaurant with a big wine cellar. There are many culinary activities to partake in such as wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and brewery tours. The resort also features two pools and a variety of activities including gardening, horseback riding and fly fishing. Or, you might prefer a visit to the Wellhouse which offers various spa treatments, yoga classes and a fitness center. There is so much to love at this luxurious resort.
FRENCH LICK SPRINGS RESORT is a major historic resort hotel located in West Baden, Indiana. Known as a mineral spring health spa and for its trademarked Pluto Water during the period 1901-1946, the resort has gone through many changes including a huge restoration project to become a very elegant property, reopening in 2006.
Over the many years of its history, especially between the 1880s and 1920s, the hotel hosted many notable guests and performers including John Barrymore, Howard Hughes, Lana Turner, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Louis Armstrong and politicians such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan; plus many wealthy socialites, such as members of the Vanderbilt family and numerous others. Today it is known as the French Lick Resort Casino complex which includes the hotel, adjacent casino and the nearby West Baden Springs Hotel. Refurbishment to the hotel included updating its 443 guest rooms and restoration of the lobby. The resort is located on approximately 2,600 acres and includes the hotel, casino, restaurants, boutique shops, spa, and conference center. Recreational facilities include swimming pools, three golf courses, a bowling alley, fitness center, horse stables, a kid’s activity center, and more than thirty miles of hiking trails. The resort offers fine dining and a variety of entertainment. There is much to do at this historic hotel and the nearby West Baden Springs luxury hotel. When visiting, be sure to take the historic tours of both hotels which brought people from all over the world to this area seeking health treatments from the mineral springs.
THE GREENBRIER is a luxury resort located in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Since 1778 visitors have traveled to this area to “take the waters.” Situated on 11,000 acres, the Greenbrier boasts 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges, 36 retail shops, and more than 55 indoor and outdoor activities and sports. The current Greenbrier was built in 1913 by the C & O Railroad. Following heavy losses and bankruptcy, the Justice Family Group bought the property in 2009, satisfying all debts and returning the hotel to its former status as a five-star resort. In addition, Jim Justice introduced tasteful gambling for guests only at the property. Mr. Justice was elected governor of West Virginia in 2017 and turned over control of the hotel to his daughter Jill. A total of 26 presidents have stayed at the hotel. The Greenbrier is also the site of a massive underground bunker that was meant to serve as an emergency shelter for the U.S. Congress during the Cold War. Tours of this bunker are available for guests to purchase. A spring of Sulphur water is at the center of the resort property, surrounded by the white-columned spring house and topped by a green dome that has been the symbol of the Greenbrier for generations. The property includes four golf courses: The Old White TPC, the Greenbrier Course, the Meadows Course and the Snead Course. Many of the PGA Tours are held annually here. The Greenbrier Clinic, adjacent to the hotel, has operated as an executive health facility since 1948.
Dining at the Greenbrier allows for many options. There is the Café Carleton, Draper’s, Greenbrier Royale, In-Fusion JJ’s Sports Lounge, Main Dining Room, Prime 44 West, Rhododendron Café, Sam Snead’s, The Forum and more. Activities include aerial adventure course, alpine climbing tower Animaland stuffed animal creation, bike rentals, bowling, jewelry making, bunker tours, river trail ride, indoor & outdoor pools, ice skating, horseback riding, Jeep driving adventure, pickle ball and so much more. This is a beautiful, historic resort that has something for everyone.
NEMACOLIN WOODLANDS RESORT is located in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania. This fabulous AAA 5-Diamond resort is where you will find a luxury vacation experience which has been taken to unparalleled levels. The resort is owned by the Hardy family who are the owners of the 84 Lumber Company. They take great pride in the resort and the property to be sure it retains its fine reputation as a premier resort offering fabulous accommodations, a vast variety of activities, and elegant dining experiences. The Chateau Lafayette building is one of three types of accommodations and it has a European flair and elegant guestrooms with vaulted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and jetted tubs. Dining at the resort includes Apex, The Tavern, Amber Bar and PJ’S Ice Cream & Pizza Parlor.
For golfers there are two distinctly unique champion courses, Mystic Rock & Shepherd’s Rock. Both courses provide a challenge and offer spectacular scenery. The Nemacolin Field Club includes the Shooting Academy & Orvis Fly Fishing. You can enjoy the Jeep Off-Road Driving Academy, Ohio Pyle State Park, Fat Bird Canopy Tour, bowling, a scenic chairlift ride, swimming, miniature golf, biking, art tours and classes, wine tasting, tennis, archery and much more.
The Wildlife Academy is all animals—all the time. You can share space with tigers, zebras, and bears. There are also Backwoods Trail Rides on horseback through the resort’s 2,000 acres. The safari tours, a wild animal show, nursery tours and carriage ride property tours are all part of the Wildlife Academy. Or, you might choose relaxing at the Woodlands Spa which offers 40 treatment rooms for nearly 100 rejuvenating treatments and services. Adjoining is a 2,400 sq. ft. fitness center and salon. Other options include the resort’s Lady Luck Casino, shopping at the Heritage Court Shoppes, or a nearby trip to the famous “Fallingwaters” concept home built by Frank Lloyd Wright which is also well worth a visit.
No matter what you enjoy, these are just a few of the fine resorts you can find close to home that will provide a great vacation opportunity. I hope we are soon ready to explore once again!