Writer’s weekend at the Homestead

Here is a great looking retreat for writers at one of my favorite Virginia resorts.




Enjoy a weekend of lectures, live demos, book signings, fine dining and more with successful Virginia authors of many genres at the legendary resort  

February 27, 2015 Hot Springs, Va. – The Omni Homestead Resort is celebrating Virginia’s history of great writers with its inaugural Writers’ Weekend, Saturday, March 21 – Sunday, March 22. The thought-provoking program will feature acclaimed authors sharing their personal experiences and insights topped off with a delicious maple-themed dinner amid the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains.

Virginia-based authors who have seen success across several genres will lead the weekend, including:

  • Lynn Seldon began writing while stationed in Germany as a young Army officer. His work has been published in more than 500 publications including Southern Living, TrailBlazer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Charleston Post & Courier and more. Additionally, Seldon has published a half-dozen travel books and his first novel,Virginia’s Ring, was published in 2014. Seldon will lead a Writer’s Session titled “Pat Conroy, Crowdfunding & CreateSpace: How Virginia’s Ring Rang Up Sales” on Saturday at 11 a.m.
  • Learn about the elements of mystery writing from acclaimed writer Mollie Cox Bryan. Author of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbooking Mysteries, the first of which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2012, Bryan will lead a Writer’s Session titled “Adding Murder to Your Resume” on Saturday at 10 a.m.
  • Kendra Bailey Morris is a food writer, culinary instructor and cooking show host who has been featured in Better Homes and GardensGarden and GunTaste of the South and Richmond Times Dispatch. She also served as a judge for the James Beard Awards and authored The Southern Slow Cooker: Big Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics. Morris will lead a culinary demonstration at noon on Saturday where she will share valuable tips, tricks, and recipes. She will also showcase her delectable Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork BBQ Sandwiches with Creamy Cider Slaw.
  • Beau Beasley‘s Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters won the prestigious Excellence-in-Craft Award in 2009. He is also the author of Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic and an editor at Eastern Fly Fishing, Fly Fish America, and Southern Trout. Beasley will be leading a Writer’s Session titled “Effect Fly Patterns for the Old Dominion” on Sunday at 10 a.m.

To round out the weekend, participants are invited to celebrate the 57th annual Highland Maple Festival that’s taking place in nearby Highland County, affectionately known as “Virginia’s Sweet Spot.” Guests can take a seat for a Maple Bourbon Dinner in the resort’s Dominion Room and enjoy a four-course menu of savory dishes such as Maple Sugar Dusted Diver Scallop and Cherry Braised Duck Leg with crispy maple Brussels Sprouts. Each course is paired with expertly crafted Woodford Reserve bourbon cocktails.

Special rates for the Writers’ Weekend start at $255 for one night, or $230 for two nights. The weekend’s full schedule can be viewed online here. For more information or to make reservations at The Omni Homestead Resort, please contact (800) 838-1766 or visitwww.thehomestead.com.


Anticipating the new Canyon Ranch Spa at the Homestead

I have openly griped about The Homestead’s Spa for years finding it inferior to its hype and longing for something better at this gorgeous, gracious Virginia resort.  At last, what may prove to be the upgrade I have dreamed about is to happen.  Canyon Ranch has taken over the spa’s operation.  The new improved spa is expected to open mid-June and to add to the good news, several spa packages have been put together to entice spa junkees and normal people alike.

Read this sent from Laura Lopez this morning:

Anticipation is growing as Canyon Ranch SpaClub®at The Homestead prepares to open this June in Hot Springs, Virginia. Part of a $25 million resort renovation, the state-of-the-art facility will allow guests to experience a touch of Canyon Ranch at its first location in the mid-Atlantic region and the first SpaClub location to offer treatments and activities for children and teens. Now, a quartet of packages is available for guests to unwind at the historic resort in the Allegheny Mountains.

Four new packages offer guests a chance to escape, relax and unwind:

The SpaClub Spa Sampler includes two nights’ accommodations, a $200 Spa credit, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental and Spa Garden. Rates from $1,268.

Spend three nights with the SpaClub Relax and Unwind package including a $400 Spa credit, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $2,130.

The All About You package includes five nights’ accommodations, a $600 Spa credit, 50-minute consultation with a nutritionist, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $3,625.

Truly indulge and pamper with seven nights’ accommodations with the Healthy Indulgence package. This package includes a $800 Spa credit, 50-minute consultation with each nutritionist and exercise physiologist, unlimited activities (including golf, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more), meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $7,005.

Three day-packages including spa treatments, spa retail credit and complimentary lunch are also available. Minerals do Miracles, Head to Toe and Forever Young start at $300 per person.

The signature feature at the SpaClub is Aquavana®, an exclusive European-inspired thermal oasis. The Aquavana experience aligns harmoniously with The Homestead’s historic healing tradition of “taking the waters” which has drawn travelers since the mid 1700’s, including Thomas Jefferson. An adults-only spa garden is open year-round offering historic hot springs, therapeutic geothermal mineral bath, naturally-pressurized deluge shower, river reflexology walk, co-ed Finnish sauna, spring-fed whirlpool, and private poolside cabanas.


Sounds delicious, yes?  You will certainly find me zoning out in the spa in the next month or so.


Getting wet in Hot Springs

One of my favorite getaways, The Homestead, in Hot Springs, Va. will be opening its pool/water park on May 17th this year.  The pool complex is fairly new and on my last visit this past fall, I enjoyed a relaxing soak in the hot tub while other visitors toasted marshmallows around the outdoor fire pit a little ways down on the lawn.

Here is part of a press release sent about the pool opening:

 Family fun will be front and center this May asThe Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, launches the first full season of its newAllegheny Springs attraction. A gleaming highlight of the historic resort’s recent and ongoing $25 million renovation, Allegheny Springs offers family-friendly features with water drawn from the surrounding Allegheny Mountains.  Located next to Allegheny Springs, the Mini Cascades miniature golf course will also open on Friday, May 17.


Spanning two acres, Allegheny Springs offers a family pool and whirlpool with chaise lounges scattered across the deck for basking and relaxing in the Virginia sun. Soak in the action from the charming spring house, which sits like a landmark over a babbling brook. Meanwhile, kids will love playing in the water play zone and on the sandy beach and all ages will get a thrill at Mountain Rush with two 100-foot water slides, a 400-foot lazy river, and private cabanas.


Family fun will be front and center this May as The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, launches the first full season of its new Allegheny Springs attraction. A gleaming highlight of the historic resort’s recent and ongoing $25 million renovation, Allegheny Springs offers family-friendly features with water drawn from the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Located next to Allegheny Springs, the Mini Cascades miniature golf course will also open on Friday, May 17.

Spanning two acres, Allegheny Springs offers a family pool and whirlpool with chaise lounges scattered across the deck for basking and relaxing in the Virginia sun. Soak in the action from the charming spring house, which sits like a landmark over a babbling brook. Meanwhile, kids will love playing in the water play zone and on the sandy beach and all ages will get a thrill at Mountain Rush with two 100-foot water slides, a 400-foot lazy river, and private cabanas.

Other exciting news: The new spa at the Homestead will be managed by Canyon Ranch which I hope will be a vast improvement.  Time will tell.

Destinations for Weddings and Other Romantic Adventures

Valentines is fast approaching, and though it is of late not my favorite holiday, I encourage the rest of you hopeless romantics to knock your socks off.  To me there is nothing more romantic than a wedding. In our culture, weddings are where two people who hopefully love each other profess their undying love, loyalty and devotion in front of friends, family and other sundry connected peoples.  Since, also in our culture, at least half of those who make those statements will end their unions in divorce and roughly half of marriages have at least one unfaithful partner the 50/50 chance of those vows being kept (is that the correct stat based on the numbers provided?) makes weddings exceedingly idealistic aka romantic.
The above paragraph may make me sound like a hardened cynic but au contra ire, I am a hopeless, dyed- in- the- wool, grade A romantic.  I adore weddings.  I cry my eyes out at romantic movies.  I am still distraught over the recent death of a nameless Downton Abbey character four days since the fateful episode aired in my country. Why I am such a romantic that even after two failed marriages (does the first one REALLY count?) I hope to find Mr. Right for me and walk down the isle once again – AND I will probably wear white!
for all of you lucky dogs out there with sweethearts, I suggest you think about visiting one of these wonderful places for a special romantic visit.
A Destination in your Mind
You can be transported during your wedding without leaving Virginia
Issue: Richmond Bride Winter/Spring 2013
Posted: 12/11/12 10:10 AM
Photo by Jen Fariello

You want your wedding to be someplace out of town but wish to spare yourselves (and your guests) the airfare? Here are three full-service resorts within a day’s drive of Richmond that will give you the feel of a destination wedding. All three have spas and activities such as swimming, golf and croquet to please you and all your visiting guests while offering distinct details to make your wedding day as special as the two of you are.

Ralph Lauren Country
Keswick Hall at Monticello is about an hour away from Richmond, but the softly rolling landscape and its views of the Blue Ridge Mountains give it that upscale hunt-country look like nothing else around. In addition to gorgeous vistas, fantastic catering and classically beautiful facilities, this resort has a meticulous wedding coordinator, Adam Donovan-Groves, who says he has walked every foot of the property to determine the best backdrops for wedding photos. Other extras include a child-care room with kid-friendly entertainment during the reception, plus complimentary massages or a day of golf for brides and grooms. keswick.com/weddings

Photos courtesy Tides Inn

Upon the Water
What separates the Tides Inn from other close-to-home wedding destinations is its relaxed, casually elegant atmosphere and proximity to water. Nestled on the north side of the Rappahannock in Irvington about an hour-and-a-half drive from Richmond, the inn has been a favorite destination for area families for generations. Brides can choose from a variety of indoor or outdoor venues, including the Carter Room with views of Carter’s Creek, the croquet lawn or a private beach. For a special grand exit, the newlyweds can arrange to be whisked away from the dock on a boat and deposited near their suite on the other side of the inn. There awaits a matted watercolor painting of the terrace — inscribed with their names and wedding date — as a special token of the occasion.tidesinn.com/weddings-events  

Mountain Springs
A traditional destination for Richmond brides throughout the centuries is The Homestead, amid the mystical Allegheny Mountains in Hot Springs, roughly two-and-a-half hours from our city. This grand landmark of Southern hospitality offers a multitude of options for weddings, the most popular being the simple Pergola on the Casino lawn and the stunning Crystal Room with its graceful arched windows, white pillars and gleaming chandeliers. “The festivities begin from the moment the guests arrive,” says conference service manager Tricia Fry, who also acts as wedding coordinator. The resort can handle weddings with up to 800 guests. The Homestead also offers horseback riding, skeet shooting, mountain biking, guided hiking or Segway tours, falconry, fly fishing, archery, a back-country driving school, paintball and an on-site water park to entertain guests and create memorable bridal-party activities. Brides and grooms can book a carriage to make their grand exit from the reception and will find a bottle of bubbly waiting in their room on their wedding night as a special gift. thehomestead.com/weddings


Gardening at The Homestead

The Homestead Logo





Enjoy three days of distinguished lectures and garden tours fashioned in partnership with American Horticulture Society, August 17-19

July 24, 2012, Hot Springs, Virginia – Whatever your skill set, take your gardening to a higher level with the In The Garden Weekend at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. The 14th annual event created in partnership with the American Horticultural Society unfolds August 17-19, with lectures, seminars, luncheons, walking tours and exquisite accommodations at the historic Allegheny Mountain resort.


The In The Garden Weekend is designed to educate and inspire gardeners of all ages to succeed in environmentally responsible horticulture. Andre Viette, a highly regarded horticulturalist, prolific author, lecturer and host of the “In the Garden” radio show, leads this delightful botanical adventure. Other special guests include Gabriele Rausse, assistant director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello; James Piggott, an expert on grape-growing who produces and sells his own grapes to Charlottesville-area wineries; June Mays, a widely published specialist at garden design; and Ross A. Hotchkiss, director of the American Daffodil Society, who will share insight on the influence flower gardens had in Shakespeare’s literature.


In addition, The Homestead’s own green industry expert, Forrest Lee, will lead two walking tours of gardens at the 3,000-acre resort. Look for plants both local and exotic, and learn his tips on how The Homestead’s gardens grow.


The “In The Garden Weekend” from Friday-Sunday, August 17-19, at The Homestead includes:

  • Guest room accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Welcome reception – meet the speakers
  • Seminars and breaks
  • Lunch on Saturday
  • Wine tasting
  • Tour of The Homestead Gardens
  • Membership in the American Horticultural Society
  • Cost $479 (not including taxes and daily 15% resort charge). Rate is per person for two nights based on double occupancy. Two-night minimum stay required. Valid August 17-19, 2012. Based on availability and some restrictions apply.

For more information or to make reservations at The Homestead, please contact (877) 549-9506; or visit www.thehomestead.com.


About The Homestead

Since 1766, The Homestead has been recognized as one of America’s most storied resorts, offering unparalleled hospitality and Southern charm in a 3,000-acre setting within the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern Virginia. Renowned for its natural healing springs, The Homestead is distinguished by 483 luxurious guest rooms and suites, 72,000 square feet of meeting space, a wide array of fine and casual dining choices, a world-class spa, three championship golf courses that include one of the nation’s finest mountain courses (The Cascades), the South’s first downhill ski area, a 48-stable Equestrian Center and show ring, one of the top-rated Shooting Clubs and a wealth of other recreational attractions. The resort is currently undergoing a $25 million transformation. The first phase to be completed in 2012 will include the addition of Allegheny Springs, a new family water complex which includes a children’s pool, winterized family pool, whirlpool, sandy beach, three 100-foot water slides, a 400-foot lazy river and private cabanas as well as a new miniature golf course, the Mini Cascades and the tranquil Jefferson Springs spa garden. The second phase to be completed in 2013, will see new dining experiences, including Jefferson’s Grille, and renovations to the interior of the Spa.




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