Lounge near an outdoor spa.
Photograph courtesy of Omni Homestead Resort
Above, guests celebrate a 50th birthday in the main dining room at the Omni Homestead Resort. Photograph by Rob Garland Photographers
The Homestead offers skiing, hiking, golf on three courses, archery, fly fishing, skeet shooting, horseback riding, bowling, indoor swimming, outdoor swimming and a top of the line spa. But fireside chatting and reading are my favorite winter sports. (No wonder Franklin Roosevelt was also a fan.) The Great Hall is great indeed with 14-foot ceilings, but small groupings of love seats and wing chairs make it a cozy spot for guests to enjoy cocktails, hot chocolate and the daily spread of afternoon tea. Our group had cocktails at Jefferson’s Restaurant & Bar that night. Then the guests from various paths of my friend’s life made their way to the Crystal Room for the birthday dinner. We were met by rows of white Ionic columns, a wall of arched glass doorways and gleaming wood floors. The menu was Southern cuisine at its best with garlic chicken, roasted winter squash, eggplant casserole, butter beans, a farmer’s salad and mint chocolate ice cream cake for dessert. A live band played after dinner for dancing. Another friend joked that Jay Gatsby might be lurking about somewhere. It was that kind of night and that kind of place. Overthe-top elegance.