This story starts a couple of months before I would visit The Omni Homestead Resort, a stunning historic hotel in Hot Spring, Virginia. I needed to be in southern Maryland at 10am on a Monday morning to visit the new Camp Kesem summer camp location I helped fund by hiking across England with a gaggle of dad blogger buddies to honor a dear friend who succumbed to cancer. Phew that’s an emotional mouthful. D.C. traffic, 100 miles of hiking, terminal cancer.
Facing the daunting prospect of battling both the Baltimore and D.C. beltways in rush hour traffic, I instead found a guest room on AirBnB about 45 minutes south of the District for that Sunday night. Avoiding Monday morning gridlock cost me only $29.76.
As you read this, I’m in London wearing a massive grin watching hours upon hours of English football. Using AirBnB again, I scored a pair of nights near Wembley Stadium and in West London for $29.47 and $57.47, respectively. I love a good value for a clean, well-made bed when traveling alone but even in the new age of AirBnB there’s still a case to be made for the classic, sprawling American family vacation resort.
The Omni Homestead and Making the Case for the Classic American Family Resort in the Age of AirBnB
I recently spent a couple of nights at The Homestead, an Omni Hotels property now, and one of the truly great Historic Hotels of America, in Hot Springs Virginia.
The Omni Homestead Resort dates back to 1766, and is a sprawling property nestled in the lush green hills of Appalachia and the Allegheny Mountains along the West Virginia border, in tiny Hot Springs, Virginia. While there, I tried my shaky hand at falconry and shooting skeet over at the shooting club (turns out I’m calm during the former and pretty darn good at the latter!), but the recreation on offer at this Hot Springs resort could’ve kept me busy for at least two weeks without repeating a single sport or activity.
Whatever your pleasure — United States history, Sam Snead memorabilia gazing, riding horses, zip lining, golfing (there are two 18-hole championship golf courses (the Cascades, and the Old Course (exclusively for guest use)), waterfall-dotted gorge hiking, kayaking, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, tennis, lawn games like volleyball, cornhole, and badminton, paintball, swimming, fly fishing, water slides (at the nearby Allegheny Springs water park), whiskey tasting and distillery touring at nearby Smooth Amber, arcade games, or blissing-out in a spa — PHEW! — there is literally something for everyone at this historic resort.
There’s even wooden trail Segway tours…if you absolutely must.
And all of those activities at the Omni Homestead Resort off Sam Snead highway are just the warm weather stuff! In winter, the hotel becomes a wonderland of snow skiing and boarding, tubing, ice skating, and mini snowmobiling exclusively for 6-12 year olds.
Luxury American Family Resort, indeed.
Renting a room with a shared toilet makes impulsive travel affordable, and as a frequent traveler who isn’t exactly youth hostel material, I’m incredibly grateful that such a service exists nowadays.
But you won’t get a roaming violinist or a tuxedo-ed piano player tickling the ivories during complimentary daily 3pm tea and sandwich service in a grand lobby in some stranger’s house — not even an AirBnB Superhost…
And you won’t be sitting down to anything like the decadent Maître D burger at Woody’s…
…or taking dinner in an elegant Main Dining Room!
You also won’t have the opportunity to experience an herbal cocoon, Arctic or Caribbean experiential showers, a cold cabin where flaked ice is applied to your skin, or hot springs-fed heated pools in the Serenity Garden.
All of those deluxe experiences are waiting in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia, waiting for you and your family at the Omni Homestead.
Sure, maybe a long weekend at the Omni Homestead Resort isn’t in the budget for a just-because spontaneous long-weekend-family-getaway, but there’s a reason multiple generations of guests keep returning to this expansive, luxurious, historic hotel; it’s an all-encompassing, pampered experience that lets you valet park your car once then proceeds to take away the logistical challenge of making everyone in your traveling party happy.
With as hectic as our modern world is, even a guy like me who likes to plan everything himself, be constantly on the move, and explore new neighborhoods, can appreciate the all-encompassing nature of a stately classic American family resort delivering a low-stress experience to modern parents and their kids.