A few weeks ago, we took our second trip as a family of four/of 2020! We travel with our good friends, the Shaners, every year, but with everything going on right now, we fully expected to sit 2020 out. After weighing a handful of options (and feeling pretty discouraged by them), we found out about the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. Dave and I rarely opt for resort-type vacations, typically preferring to immerse ourselves in new cities that we can explore. Obviously, our usual vacation style felt far less appealing this year…both due to covid and to the fact that the Shaners and we would have four kids under four in tow (between our two families, we’ve added a baby each year we’ve traveled together so far!). The promise of crisp fall weather, mountain views, and family activities we could walk to around the resort sounded too delightful to resist. Encouraged by the resort’s CDC-certified cleaning policies and flexible cancellation option in case we changed our minds, we moved ahead with planning a fall weekend trip. It has been ages since I wrote a travel post, so I am excited to share a peek at our time there today!
Unfortunately, our drive to Virginia did not go very well (anyone else have a quarantine baby who has STILL not warmed up to the car?), but that only made pulling up to the beautiful resort sweeter. We arrived just in time to catch the sunset, and, as you can see, we were thrilled to be there! To keep things really easy on our first night, we grabbed dinner at Woody’s, the most casual restaurant on the property. The food was fine, but I was most impressed by the service–our waiter was so sweet with the kids and came armed with coloring books, crayons, and French fries while we waited for our meals.
While this was Azelie’s first hotel stay, we have brought Charlie to just two hotels before–one where we stayed in a suite and he slept in a separate room, and one where he slept in our room and Dave and I drank wine on the floor of the bathroom after his bedtime! It goes without saying that we prefer the former :) We stayed in a beautiful executive suite*, which had a separate living area and bedroom. The living area was spacious enough to separate the kids a little, and then we were able to hang out comfortably in our bedroom after their bedtime. Since the Shaners were on the same floor as us, they came by our room with their baby monitor so that we were all able to hang out after 8 P.M.–another big plus to the suite!
We drove in on Friday afternoon, so Saturday was our one full day. We definitely made the most of it! Our first stop in the morning was the pool. There are actually three to choose from–one indoor, one outdoor connected to the spa (pictured–note that kids aren’t allowed in this one!), and one outdoor family pool. They are naturally heated and fed by the waters from the nearby springs, which felt amazing on the chilly morning. We made it back to Jefferson’s restaurant just in time to catch the end of the breakfast buffet (my favorite!) before the next activity: mini golf! It was Charlie’s first time playing, and he had so much fun. While Azelie and one-year-old Clare napped in the afternoon, Stephanie and I hung out in the suite while the boys ran around outside on the lawn, which was equipped with cornhole boards and rocking chairs.
After a snooze for the little girls and exactly zero rest for the boys, we bundled up for one of our most-anticipated events. The resort does a tractor-pulled wagon ride up to the ski lodge for s’mores! Not only was this a total thrill for the kids, it was also a great way to see some other parts of the resort that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Being in a ski lodge had Dave, who grew up skiing, itching to book a return trip during the snowy months. We got back to our rooms after dark and picked up some family-style barbecue takeout from Snead’s 1912, which Dave and David walked to to pick up. Considering the resort is nestled up in the mountains, we were so pleasantly surprised that this was an option, especially since the resort restaurants are more upscale than we were comfortable bringing our whole crew to :)
This is really the only trip we ever do with friends since we generally prefer to travel on our own. One big benefit of a group trip, though, is that you can trade off watching each other’s kids and go on mini dates in the lobby!
On Sunday morning (after sweet Azelie’s Cheerio breakfast in the room, thanks to this portable high chair and this mat), we walked about five minutes to a beautiful little church for Mass. It was TINY (there were only about 25 people there, all masked and appropriately spaced out), which is always a little nerve-wracking with loud kids, but the priest was so, so kind. He even asked our two families to come up for a blessing at the end of Mass and gave the kids prayer cards to take home! Back at the hotel, we capped off our weekend with another delicious breakfast at Jefferson’s and a few family pictures before hitting the road. Falling Springs Falls is just 15 minutes down the road, so we stopped to admire it on our way!
While anyone who has traveled with little kids knows that trips are more about new experiences than relaxation, we loved our time at the Omni Homestead and would eagerly return to experience more of what they have to offer. From (non-mini :)) golf and hikes to horseback rides and the spa, there were so many activities we wish we had had time to try! I will also say that I felt totally safe throughout the weekend–employees and guests alike were masked, and there were many different efforts in place to keep things contactless and socially distanced. This is a weird time to travel, no doubt, and I absolutely acknowledge that everyone has a different comfort level right now. We thoroughly reviewed the “Omni Safe & Clean” policy before booking our trip to see if it aligned with our personal comfort level and were pleased to see it being followed well in person!
*The Omni Homestead Resort graciously comped our rooms in exchange for blog and social media coverage. I loved working with them and am so happy to share our experience with you!