Depending on your itinerary, you can fly into one of several places: Washington's Dulles International Airport; Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville or Roanoke, Virginia; or the Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg, West Virginia.
Interstate 64 is the main artery linking most of the Virginias' finest golf destinations. The highway runs from Norfolk northwest through Williamsburg, Richmond and Charlottesville and then on toward the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. If you're heading by car to either the Greenbrier or the Homestead, plan a detour on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in western Virginia.
Traditionalists can travel to either the Greenbrier or the Homestead via the Amtrak Cardinal. Coming from the east, the train rattles up the Blue Ridge Mountains and arrives in White Sulphur Springs as darkness falls. You can see the lights of the old Greenbrier hotel from the depot and, for a moment, imagine you're back in the 1930s. You can also get to Colonial Williamsburg by a connecting train from Washington.
Where to Stay
In the nineteenth century, the South's elite used to summer here, enjoying the cool mountain air, "taking" the sulfurous waters and introducing eligible young ladies of fine families to eligible young men of similar stock. The place still has an old, refined feel, with more square yards of floral carpet and wallpaper than a Laura Ashley factory. Guests can try their hand at more than fifty activities, from falconry to gourmet-cooking classes. The spa offers twelve styles of massage and seven types of facials. For kids, there's an "adventure zone" that includes art classes, puppet shows and pony rides.
300 West Main Street, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; 800-624-6070, greenbrier.com. Rooms: from $389.
Like its rival the Greenbrier, located fifty minutes away, the Homestead has been offering thermal soaks and timeless serenity since the eighteenth century. Though the resort now provides a panoply of activities for adults and children, it remains faithful to its beginnings as a retreat at which to take the waters. Guests can make a short jaunt to the Jefferson Pools in nearby Warm Springs and use the same octagonal spa building that our third president availed himself of in 1818. The water is still a consistently soothing ninety-eight degrees.
1766 Homestead Drive, Hot Springs, Virginia; 540-839-1766, thehomestead.com. Rooms: from $245.
Keswick Hall at Monticello
Starting with the core of a 1911 country villa, Sir Bernard Ashley (widower of the aforementioned Laura Ashley, the famed Welsh designer) spent lavishly to create this stately forty-eight-room hotel, the centerpiece of a six-hundred-acre estate. The Italianate architecture, the grand antiques and the hilltop setting make you feel as if you're the honored guest of a Tuscan aristocrat. The hotel's celebrated restaurant, Fossett's, has floor-to-ceiling windows and inventive regional fare. As well as offering golf and a fine spa, the hotel arranges for guests to participate in that enduring central Virginia pastime: riding to the hounds.
701 Club Drive, Keswick, Virginia; 800-274-5391, keswick.com. Rooms: from $465.
The Williamsburg Inn
This charming hotel recently reduced its hundred rooms to sixty-two, essentially turning each into a minisuite, furnished, as always, in splendid style. For the best experience, book one of the eighteenth-century houses the Inn maintains, sit around a fire and enjoy an early-American breakfast that just might be delivered by a waiter in colonial livery. If the kids get tired of all the living history, the roller coasters of Busch Gardens are close at hand.
136 East Francis Street, Williamsburg, Virginia; 757-220-7978, colonialwilliamsburg.com. Rooms: from $339.