If you want to be treated like royalty, visit The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The Greenbrier gives you a chance to channel your inner Princess Kate, whether you are sipping wine in one of many plush public rooms, steeping in an herbal bath at the spa, enjoying one of several gourmet restaurants, exploring its 6000 landscaped acres – or playing golf, tennis, swimming, or one of 50+ other on-site activities.
Go to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia if you want the temporary illusion of living the life of a royal. At the Greenbrier, my 13-year old niece and I were spoiled rotten by the polite staff who seemed genuinely eager to see to our every need. This experience costs a pretty penny, but then royal life is not cheap.
55 Different Greenbrier Resort Activities
There are activities for everyone at The Greenbrier luxury resort. It is famous for its golf course, and hosts a PGA competition. The resort has gourmet restaurants, tennis courts, 6000 acres of landscaped grounds, a casino, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a movie theater, a bowling alley, falconry, upscale shopping, and 40+ other activities. The Greenbrier will even arrange for you to go whitewater rafting with Adventures on the Gorge, located a short drive from the Greenbrier resort.
From the moment you enter The Greenbrier, you’ve entered a different world. The hotel’s interior is a cacophony of bright color, a unique mash of bold florals and bright stripes. Bold floral patterns, green walls, red and green rugs, contrasting with turquoise striped wallpaper. A black and white marble floor like a giant chess board that contrasts with all of it – the floral wallpaper, the floral drapes, the fresh flowers, the bright stripes. After the staid plain white exterior of the building, your first glimpse of the inside may make your head spin.
But the colorful interior of the Greenbrier resort immediately grew on me. Somehow, the colorful mish mash conveyed both cheerfulness and elegance, and the backstory interested me. During World War II, the Greenbrier was a military hospital. After WWII, interior decorator Dorothy Draper completely renovated the hotel’s interior, substituting vibrant color for hospital white. While I had not heard of Dorothy Draper, her distinctive style was famous, and she was hired to “Draperize” elegant hotels in New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
Sumptuous Breakfast Buffet
Start your regal experience with a lavish breakfast buffet in an elegant formal dining room. Appreciate the gigantic chandeliers dripping with green crystals, the fresh flowers, the towering ceiling. Choose from extravagant offerings like brioche bread pudding with chocolate and almond, croissants warm from the oven, fresh fruit, blintzes, or spinach quiche with a light flaky crust so rich a sliver may make the fresh melon, grapefruit, and lox on your plate seem superfluous.
In the elegant formal lobby, dining and other public rooms of the Greenbrier, guests dress appropriately – no jeans, no T-shirts. While I appreciate a little formal style, my teenage niece lives in jeans and chafed a bit at the dress code.
Don’t Miss the Bunker Tour
That the elegant Greenbrier resort houses an underground bunker is strange enough. During the 1950’s Cold War, the U.S. government built the bunker as a nuclear fallout shelter for members of Congress. Even more improbable is that the U.S. government conspired with the Greenbrier to keep the bunker’s existence a state secret, code named Project Greek Island.
To explain the massive construction project at the Greenbrier, they concocted a cover story that the new building was a business conference center. The space actually did host conferences and the cover story worked for decades. And if all of that isn’t weird enough, during those decades, the bunker was kept stocked with fresh food, and maintained by high level technicians masquerading as TV repairmen, which sounds like a Get Smart plot.
The secret bunker’s existence was finally revealed in 1992. Don’t miss a tour of the bunker, a slice of Cold War history, and one of the strangest places you’ll ever visit.
Relaxing Spa at the Greenbrier
If you enjoy spas, carve out a half-day to luxuriate in a treatment at the Greenbrier resort. From the many choices of massages, facials, and manicures, I tried Wei to Wellness. It started with submersion in a steaming tub of the sulphur water that first attracted visitors to this part of West Virginia. The spa attendant, who has worked at the Greenbrier for 20 years, immediately masked the distinctive sulphur odor by pouring in a floral scent. After a relaxing soak, I had an 80-minute deep tissue massage.
The spa has a steam room and a dry heat room that you can enjoy with any other treatment. I alternated between them, then sipped lemon water in the relaxation room, stocked with magazines.
My 13-year old niece had the shorter teen spa treatment. After a manicure and pedicure, in a nice touch, the spa gave my niece a chiffon bag with the green and blue polishes she’d chosen.
Group Activities for Littler Kids
If you’re traveling with little kids and need a break, the Greenbrier offers group activities like bowling, movies, and games in the Adventure Zone. Located on the first floor, for ages 3 and up.
If you want to be pampered and catered to in a lavish luxury hotel, situated in the gorgeous mountains of West Virginia, The Greenbrier resort is for you. While our luxury experience was cut short by a flood emergency in West Virginia, the amazing reaction of the Greenbrier staff to the flood gave true meaning to the word “hospitality.”
What luxury experience in a hotel most appeals to you? Tell us about it in the comments.
Sarah loves discovering what’s unique about a place, its history, food, architecture and culture. She explores Philadelphia when she isn't traveling for fun or for work as a law professor. Both her college-age kids have been enthusiastic travelers since they were tiny. Follow her as Very Hungry Traveller on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. Recent: Spain, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Chile, Israel, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, France, Croatia, London, Korea, New York, California.