The highlight of our recent holiday in the US was our stay in the beautiful Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. While The Greek Mister and I were planning for our US autumn drive before our holidays, choosing which hotel to stay in as we break our drive was probably the most stressful for us. There were so many grand hotels to stay in for every budget but it was the stunning photos of the Omni Homestead which caught our eye and while it was slightly above our budget, we went ahead and booked it. Since then, I was mostly looking forward to our stay there and couldn’t have been happier when our check-in day came.
Omni Homestead occupies 2,300 acre of land and has been welcoming guests for more than 2 and a half centuries. It started as an 18-room wooden hotel in 1766 and has welcomed dignitaries including US Presidents since then. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark and is a member of Historic Hotels of America. The most interesting fact about the Omni Homestead for me though is it’s the first resort in America. So much history and so much grandeur in this hotel but how was my stay exactly? Let me break it down for you:
PRO: With the Allegheny Mountains as a backdrop of the entire resort, you can’t choose a better property than Omni Homestead if what you’re looking for is scenic and natural beauty. The drive up to the resort gives you an amazing preview of the natural beauty you’re about to see in the resort, it was simply stunning.
CON: You will have to drive as the location is quite secluded. Prepare to also have all of your meals within the resort as there’s not much option around you. There is a small town nearby that you can walk to from the hotel but most of the restaurants are closing early in the evenings.
PRO: To say that the hotel is magnificent is an understatement, it’s possibly one of the most beautiful resorts I’ve ever stayed in. It is fancy and glamorous but not in a snobbish way. You still feel comfortable and relaxed which is what we’re there for.
CON: While the hotel have taken extra care of the areas easily accessible to the public, I do feel like it needs a bit of a revamp in areas which are mostly accessible only to the guests. The hallway towards the rooms in particular have carpets so stained you can’t even make out how it looks like anymore. You can also see some parts of the carpet were torn.
PRO: It was a good size and really cozy! I like that the floor in the bathroom was heated including the tub. The heating was also really good, in fact it was too hot at some point in our room but we couldn’t figure out how the heating control works. Not their fault as we were simply being our silly selves.
CON: I can hear the guests outside of our room as they walk across the hallway, it actually woke me up one morning. I did read a review somewhere about the walls being thick and solid so I’m guessing we were in the older part of the hotel.
PRO: It’s massive! There are so many activities that you can do in Omni Homestead for every season. From fly fishing to skiing, from shooting clubs to horseback riding, from tennis to golf, from zip lining to segway tours, from falconry to hiking and from outdoor to indoor pools – they have it all! I don’t think I’ve ever been in a property so massive that it can actually cater to all guests of all ages at any given time of the year. You definitely won’t run out of things to do even if you stay here for a week and if you get bored here, there is seriously something wrong with you.
While there, we did the 3-mile hike around the property. It was our first time to hike as we’re not really the outdoor-sy kind of couple. It was a good hiking introduction for us though as Omni Homestead’s grounds was simply stunning.
CON: While they do offer so many activities for their guests, you’ll have to pay an extra fee to do most of these things. We were only there for 2 nights and we really weren’t planning to do any of these activities even if it was for free but for the amount that we paid for our stay which includes a 15% resort fee for every day that we’re there, I’d expect that there will be a lot more activities included in it. Accessing the adults only pool area by the spa even requires a USD65 day pass per person which I thought was extortionate but then again, that’s just me.
PRO: We were able to visit two of the restaurants onsite – The Dining Room where they serve their breakfast and the Jefferson’s. They serve a buffet-style breakfast which was great, I actually was looking forward to our breakfast on our third day just before we checked out. I also liked the colonial look and feel of the Dining Room in the mornings, it felt like a breakfast area for a queen. The Jefferson’s has a bar area where we had one of our dinners and our nightly drinks, it’s always lively and full. The fireplace area near the oversized television was a favorite of mine, it’s really cozy specially having spent the day outside in the cold. 🙂
CON: While I couldn’t find fault in the breakfast they serve, the food at Jeffersons wasn’t to my liking at all. I think it’s overpriced and I feel like the dishes they serve were already cooked and they’ll just reheat it. It just doesn’t taste fresh. It was the reason why we decided to have our dinner on our second night somewhere else even if it meant that we had to drive for 30 minutes or so.
Having dinner at the Dining Room wasn’t also ideal for us as it becomes an ultra exclusive restaurant during dinnertime. Men will have to wear coat and tie and women must wear something formal as well – only to dine in a place which looks like the dining area of a cruise ship. I don’t know why but somehow, it changes its look in the evening.
PRO: The staff were all very helpful and informative. They’re all so cheerful and ready to give you help as needed. We were wandering the hallway once, trying to find our way around because it’s just so massive and one staff who probably saw us looking lost and confused gave us directions and even tips on what to do that day. They just make you feel comfortable.
CON: Both times that we had our breakfast in the Dining Room, the staff were a bit too eager to tell us multiple times that the service charge isn’t included yet. There’s nothing more annoying than to have staff tell you that you need to tip them when you’ve just woken up and still trying to re-acquaint yourself with the world. I never do understand the tipping culture in the US.
CON: I can’t find a PRO about the price to be honest. I actually don’t mind paying for the price that they charged us but it was all the extra charges that we got which I think was quite extortionate. The 15% resort fee gave us some extra services which we didn’t use except maybe for the wifi but it’s 2017, wifi should be free of charge in every hotel by now. We also had to pay extra for parking which doesn’t make much sense because the resort is located in the middle of nowhere, it’s not like public transportation is available around the area. They do offer airport transfer services which again you’ll have to pay for.
Also, as previously mentioned, you’ll have to pay extra for most of the activities that you’ll do while staying in Omni Homestead which includes the access to the adults only pool. For the price that they’re charging, I think they should consider some of these activities to be included.
I may have included cons in all aspects of our stay in the resort but it’s actually only the price which annoyed me. If given a chance, I’d definitely stay in Omni Homestead again even if I don’t feel like I’m getting value for my money with all the extra charges they’ll impose on me. The resort is just truly impressive that I think I’d be able to look over this one (huge and expensive) flaw.
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