Classic American Glamour and Leisure at The Greenbrier
Sometimes the best places are the most remote - I myself, have always been a lover of islands - as it takes time and effort to reach them. That same effort that it takes to get to islands keeps only those who truly value them coming back.
The Greenbrier is definitely not on a physical island - but one might surely consider it a cultural island unto itself. A four plus hour drive from Washington, DC, in the scenic Allegheny mountains of rural West Virginia - The Greenbrier - boasting 4 and soon to be 5 renowned golf-courses, a gun club, indoor and outdoor pools, croquet, and tennis - is a landmark resort.
Some families have been coming to The Greenbrier every year for generations, never missing a summer in the green valley that holds decades of memories.
The Greenbrier just celebrated its 236th birthday. 236 years of hosting some of America’s most discerning leisure-seekers. Over two centuries of storied visitors - like Princess Grace of Monaco, sitting Presidents and celebrities.
It does not shrink from its past - it embraces it. Decorated by the famed Dorothy Draper - the resort transports you back in time - to when distressed denim was not en vogue and men and women dressed up to travel. Covered unabashedly in pink and green, Dorothy Draper names The Greenbrier as the first place with the now famous banana leaf wallpaper.
It has a kind of glamour and style that you can’t manufacture. Of course - there are chic places across the globe, but The Greenbrier offers something that comes with centuries of glamour and style, something that only a place with a legacy as monumental as The Greenbrier can hold.
There is a laundry list of reasons why The Greenbrier has cemented its place in American history and style. From the invention of the Mint Julep to the hidden bunker for politicians during the 20th century, it’s no wonder that America’s oldest families feel a connection to the resort. But the resort has adapted to the needs of modern travelers as well, without giving up age-old traditions. They may have opened a casino in the hotel - but think Monte Carlo - jackets required, no jeans - not Atlantic City. Modern amenities have not changed the essence of one of America’s oldest and most classically stylish resorts.
Golf, tennis, shooting, bowling, off-road driving, blackjack, fly fishing even falconry - there is without a doubt something for everyone to do at The Greenbrier.
If you are a golf enthusiast, even a mild one, the Greenbrier is worth the trip. The Old White Course, a TPC course which hosts the PGA Greenbrier Classic tournament every summer, is a course that will challenge even the best golfers. Surrounded by mountains, it is a oasis of green that sets golfers’ hearts aflutter.
The gun club, located atop Kate’s Mountain is the perfect excuse to get your hands dirty, figuratively speaking of course. Trap, skeet and clays for novice and advanced gunmen and women alike, the seasoned instructors will walk you through everything you need to know about shooting.
If pure unadulterated relaxation is your calling - they have something for that too. The five-star spa offers every treatment imaginable, including their traditional sulfur soak and scotch spray. If you have never done a scotch spray, I suggest you make your way down to The Greenbrier for an invigorating experience. Head to the spa after a long day of sporting activities to pamper yourself like guests have been doing for centuries at The Greenbrier.
There are plentiful food options - some of my favorites include the truffle lobster mac and cheese at Sam Snead’s restaurant and the lobster mashed potatoes at Prime 44 West. The bananas foster flambéed table side is an experience unto itself. But The Greenbrier has more than just excellent steak and lobster. The expansive breakfast in the main dining room is not to be missed and neither is a poolside lunch at Tree Tops Cafe in the warmer months for lighter fare. They now offer a farm to table dinner experience, with all the ingredients coming from their gardens. They also have a casual Italian bistro and a pan-asian dining option. Quite literally - something to suit everyone’s tastes.
Having first gone to the Greenbrier as a young child, I remembered it as one of those places where you had the freedom to do almost any activity you could imagine. An expansive and glamorous playground. But after being back there as an adult, I realize, what my five and 10 year old selves remembered were still true - not overly exaggerated in my youthful eyes. For the sporting type, the foodie type, even the gambling type, it is an adult playground. Just as grand and impressive as I remembered it being - but even more fun, now that I could enjoy the hotel’s champagne toast every evening and a full eighteen holes of golf.
But though playground it may be - it is one of the most civilized. Enjoy a glass of southern bourbon in the oak paneled bar over a game of backgammon before dinner or enjoy a nightcap at Twelve Oaks bar with friends late into the night. But do so with the kind of demeanor that my Virginia, plantation-born grandfather would have approved of. In a coat and tie or a dress and always well-mannered.
The Greenbrier isn’t like anywhere else. It evokes a time when ladies and gentlemen truly enjoyed leisure - often for months at a time and they did so in an evening gown and tuxedo. Though the flight from DC is little more than an hour, you will feel years and galaxies away from a city. Where life is simple in rural West Virginia - you can enjoy the simply glamorous life at The Greenbrier.