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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Honeymoon Locations in the South: Part 1
I'm starting a new series this week - honeymoon locations in the south! [yes, I love the Disney movie Robin Hood. Sue me.]
Today is Part 1, so we will start at a place near my hometown - the Homestead.
The Homestead was founded in 1766 by Capt. Bullett and Andrew Lewis of the Virginia Militia. They built a wood lodge near the famous Hot Springs of Virginia on a tract of 300 acres. Visited by the newly-formed United States Presidents while they were in office (or not), the Homestead grows in popularity. By the early 1800s, Bath County and the Town of Bath, named for the English city are founded. At this point an average of 6,000 people come to "take in the baths" every year.
As early as 1832, the Homestead starts to form itself into the resort that stands today. However, the Homestead has had to resurrect itself many times due to major fires that occurred in previous centuries (literally).
In 1888, J. Pierpont Morgan (of J.P. Morgan fame) purchased the Homestead, as it had gone down in popularity during the Reconstruction era. In 1892, Morgan and additional financiers started renovating the resort and added a new wing. Thomas Edison, a frequent seasonal guest, provided a state of the art power plant. The Virginia Building, West Wing, ladies indoor badminton courts as well as the golf locker room, were completed by 1893.
The Ballroom is added after a major fire in 1901. From 1892-1913, the Old Course at The Homestead is completed by Donald Ross. Almost every single President that has ever been in office has golfed and/or stayed at the Homestead.
Here is a photo of a family taking a carriage ride with a view of the Homestead as it is today:
The Front Porch has tons of rocking chairs to encourage conversation between guests. The entire resort is heavily influenced by the Victorian era.
Be sure to book a suite at the Homestead! Most suites are immaculate in the details of the decor and they are so comfortable. The suites really give you the best deal for your money, and if you are able to drive to your honeymoon, spend that money that would have gone to a plane ticket on a room upgrade! The smallest rooms are almost 200 square feet, with suites going up to 630 sq ft (not including the President Suite). I believe the room pictured below is a Preferred Homestead Suite - which has both a living room and a bedroom and goes up to 500 square feet.
I would recommend honeymooners to stay at the Homestead if they are people who enjoy the outdoors. They offer horseback riding, carriage rides, skiing, ice-skating, canoeing, fly-fishing, archery, paintball, sporting clays, skeet, falconry, riflery, mountain biking and hay rides.
Traditional people would enjoy the Homestead for its classic Southern features that occur indoors as well. Every afternoon Tea is served in the Great Hall. You can enjoy reading by the fireplace or playing games in the Sun Room. You can also go bowling. There is also a spa, too!
Isn't this scene beautiful? Families enjoying the outdoors together. A big band would often play in the Pavilion or out on the lawn. As a child, I enjoyed watching my parents dance cheek to cheek here. I grew up attending Easter brunch, Mother's Day brunch, Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Labor Day parties here on the back lawn by the Pavilion - I even had a few birthday parties here myself!
And if you have kiddies, you should know that in 2010, Travel & Leisure ranked The Homestead #12 of 52 of "The World's Best Hotels for Families." (including my own, below, on my brother's birthday/New Year's Eve... yes I am that kid in the red dress)
Thanks to Disney for the Robin Hood screenshot. Most photos of The Homestead are public domain, Library of Congress or the Virginia Historical Society. If they are not, then they are my own or The Homestead's property.