Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ho Ho Homestead

(Ho Ho Homestead was our tagline for the week!)

On Tuesday, 8 of us ventured to the Homestead to spend Christmas there. It was quite a chilly week, and by the time we got settled, there were even snowflakes. Nothing stuck, unfortunately. I swore that we were going to have a White Christmas this year! Bummer.
The Homestead is located in Hot Spring, Virginia. Back in the day, resorts like the Homestead and the Greenbrier were built along railroad lines because of the proximity to natural hot springs. It would be a place people would visit for the healing properties of the mineral water at these springs. Isn't it gorgeous? 
We stayed in the old part of the hotel, but they have definitely been upgraded recently. The rooms were comfortable and very tasteful.
The bathrooms also seemed brand new. So gorgeous!
We got there right around lunch time, so we made the (chilly) trek outside to the Casino to get some grub. It was such a pretty day!
I started with a cup-sized serving in an ENORMOUS bowl of clam chowder. I also ordered a half grilled veggie + feta + balsamic reduction salad that was really good. I stole some fries off of Connor's plate to balance out the salad, though. Don't worry!
My sister and I had afternoon appointments at the spa to get manicures. The Homestead recently did a $10 million renovation on the spa, and it is stunning. The pool area (hot spring-fed of course) and hot tubs were crowded all week, even with the 25 degree days!
We relaxed in the unisex lounge drinking tea and catching up on magazines before our appoitnment. I chose a festive sparkly red (OPI's Underneath the Mistletoe) and D got a pink glittery textured polish.
We met our family in the Great Hall for afternoon tea (every day at 3)

The Great Hall was all decked out for Christmas! Also, afternoon tea was PACKED! I think the whole hotel was full that week!
Growing up, afternoon tea was our favorite activity. They used to have servers come around and bring you the tea with a little tray of scones and tea sandwiches. Now they have a few "help yourself" stations, with long lines. How things change!
The tea sandwiches were just as I remembered, and I loved them. They also always have fabulous scones and other cookies and treats.
We all relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, and then got ready for our big dinner that night. We always have a big fancy meal on Christmas Eve that I usually prepare, so it was nice not to have to cook that night! I made us reservations at the Waterwheel Restaurant at the Inn at Gristmill Square in the town of Warm Springs (15 minute drive). It was a perfect spot for us! Nice and cozy.

We started off with the house pate. It came with nice pickled veggies, and a fabulous sauce that I could have eaten with a spoon.
I ordered a cup of French Onion Soup, and their twist on it was poppy seed crackers instead of french bread on top. I wasn't as wild about the crackers, but the soup was rich and hit the spot.
My mom ordered the potato leek soup, and when it came out like this we all laughed!
Luckily, the waitress came around and poured the soup for everyone. It was quite a presentation.
We didn't realize that our entrees came with salads, so I forged through this delicious house salad with thinly sliced fennel, apples, & carrots topped with a tangy mustard house vinaigrette. I also had a bite of Connor's Caesar salad and it was divine.
For my entree, I had the rack of lamb. Lamb is always a special occasion food at our house, and this was a perfect time to order it. It was cooked perfectly, and the veggies were light enough not to overwhelm the dish.
Connor ordered the petit filet mignon, with boursin potato puree, cippolini onions, mushrooms, and a truffle butter. Yum!
My sister ordered the pan-roasted chicken over duck confit cassoulet. It had lots of veggies in it, like lollipop kale (a new variety we hadn't heard of before!)
As if we needed more food, we ended up ordering 3 desserts (!!!???). The standout to me was the creme brulee. We also ordered the bread pudding (disappointing, save for the creme anglaise of course) and something else that I forgot. It obviously did not leave an impression.
After dinner, Brandon and I trekked down to the wine cellar to check out what they had. Lots of big bottles of bubbly! We definitely wanted to sneak that magnum of Veuve back with us...
We decided that it was a perfect time to take our family Christmas card photo for next year since we were all dressed up already, so we found the perfect backdrop: this gorgeous poinsettia tree!
What do you think? We were all feeling a bit piggy-pig after dinner, but sucked in enough for the camera
My gorgeous sister and her handsome hubby!
My & Hubs. Our first married Christmas!
Silly girls
On the way back to the Great Hall, we stopped to admire the gingerbread display that was set up. Isn't it gorgeous?
There were carolers all evening. Such a nice treat to listen to them!
And that night, they delivered cookies to leave out for Santa in a really cute box. How adorable is this? I bet the kids LOVED it.
On Christmas morning, Connor and I got downstairs a little early to walk around before breakfast. We relaxed in one of my favorite rooms, the Library. They have chaise lounges that are so comfy that a lot of times you see people sleeping in them!
The Main Dining Room was set up for Christmas! The food is buffet style for breakfast, and they have the best bacon ever. I swear, it's all my sister and I talk about! There is lots of fruit, an omelette station, and this year was something we hadn't seen before: a sausage gravy & biscuit station. We always stuff ourselves on the breakfast!
After we ate, we headed to my parent's room to see what Santa brought. There was even a little tree to put our presents by! They thought of everything.
I made sure we were stocked with mimosa fixins before we started swapping. This year, we had a $10 limit/person, and it was quite a challenge! I will share what I did later.
We always get a little silly, and love any festive head wear!
My dad and his sister
She always brings the BEST and most inappropriate gifts. This "Penis Pokey" book was a find in San Francisco, obviously. It was hilarious.
I also brought everyone crackers, which we usually open on Christmas Eve. My dad was down for the count, haha!
We added paper crowns to our silly headbands
The girls all had spa appointments that afternoon, so we all headed over a little early to explore. I had a body scrub, and it was amazing. I'm not a huge fan of massages, because I can't totally relax since I'm pretty ticklish, so body treatments are a perfect replacement for me!

We all skipped lunch, because we had early dinner reservations for the buffet in the grand ballroom. Seriously, there were trees everywhere!

They had a raw bar, carving station with ham, beef, and goose (!), a salad bar, and lots of yummy veggies/sides. I had a king crab leg, a sampling of goose and sides, and had to be rolled back to the room to change into my PJ's!
My sister and I always love posing with silly statues, and this was no exception!
Connor and I on the way to our parent's room for games that night! Robes and PJ's were the dress code.
The next morning, we made it down to breakfast and admired more trees.
Doran, Connor, and I had early spa appointments so the 3 of us headed over. I got a mud wrap that was HEAVENLY. I am now obsessed with mud treatments!! They suck out all the toxins in your skin. Yummy.

We met Leah in the Library later that day for a few rounds of Fluxx
And that night, we set out all the yummy treats my dad and I brought from Trader Joe's. We always do "munchies" on Christmas day, so we figured the next day was a perfect time to do it. None of us were really "hungry" that night, but we did some damage :)

We played lots of games, and watched funny videos
It definitely got a little rowdy, since we had lots of wine and champers. Cards Against Humanity is our favorite game!

A small sampling of out trash from that night. (I was definitely a little buzz-buzz by that point)
Isn't the view from my parents room so gorgeous? The whole lawn in front of the Homestead was decked out!
4 of us decided to keep the party going, and went down for a little pin bowling. It was a lot of fun, but we were definitely way older than everyone else in there by like 15 years.
Aaaaaaaand then on the way back, there was time for drunk selfies!
And more harassing statues. Poor Santa. (twerking on Santa not pictured!)
The next morning, my mom, aunt, Brandon and I went on a long hike after breakfast. It was definitely necessary! Connor and I got one last picture in front of the magnificent tree before we made the 2 hours drive back to Charlottesville.
We had the best time! If you have the opportunity to go to the Homestead, DO!

I will have more to share tomorrow!

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Dee Stephens said...

I love this post! I've never been there but it's on my bucket list. Drunk bowling=awesome

Classic Annie said...

Oh my goodness, what a FUN trip! This makes me want to do something different for Christmas. You guys have the best time together -- I love it!

The Reedy Review said...

Wow, what a fun Christmas! I am so jealous of all of your spa treatments. Sounds like pure heaven.

Sundresses and Smiles said...

This looks like such a special and fun Christmas with your family! I am DROOLING over all the food! We are hoping to fit in a weekend and The Homestead sometime in the next few months!