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The Omni Homestead Resort

History: 
    The Omni Homestead Resort
 in Hot Springs

History

Long before the iconic Tower of The Omni Homestead was built in 1929, legend has it, Native Americans inhabited the region that is now known as Hot Springs, Virginia and used the refreshing waters to rejuvenate themselves during their many excursions. But even beyond the legend, archaeologists have found evidence of at least 9,000 years of human use of these local waters.

During the French and Indian War, Captain Thomas Bullett and Charles and Andrew Lewis were told of the healing qualities of the waters in the region. At the end of the war in 1764, Captain Bullett received Gold and Silver for his services and a colonial land grant of 300 acres which contained seven natural mineral springs from Col. George Washington.

Within two years, Captain Bullet moved his militia company and their families to the area, cleared the land, and built an 18-room wooden hotel. The Bullett family operated the resort until 1832, even after the Captain's death during the American Revolutionary War.

In 1832, prominent physician Dr. Thomas Goode purchased The Homestead in addition with the resorts in Warm Springs and Healing Springs, where he introduced the practice of European-style spa therapies. One of the most famous treatments, The Cure, a salt scrub followed by a Swiss shower, is still in practice at the resort today. Dr. Goode passed away in 1858 and upon his death, the family took over the ownership until the early 1880's.

Notable Cincinnati lawyer M.E. Ingalls originally came to the Hot Springs area in 1881 to survey the region for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. He was looking to expand the lines into the area when he came upon the resort. For the next seven years, Ingalls, J.P. Morgan, and other investors agreed to purchase the resort in hopes to build a spur into the Hot Springs area. Less than a year after the purchase, the investors raised over 1 million dollars to rebuild a new hotel.

On July 2, 1901, a fire, which started in the pastry shop, burned the entire resort. Luckily, everyone was able to escape without any serious injuries and the Spa, Casino, the cottages in Cottage Row, and the Virginia Hotel were saved.

Mr. Ingalls, Mr. Decatur Axtell, who was President of the resort, and other investors met the next day and decided to rebuild the resort. By, March 10, 1902, the Great Hall was completed and the hotel was back in business. Former guests of the resort were returning to the grand hotel they loved. Within two years, the West Wing was added.

In 1911, the Ingalls family acquired the resort and continued to enhance the structure. The East Wing was added in 1914, and M.E. Ingalls, Sr. passed away. In 1921, the Empire, Crystal, Garden rooms and Theatre were completed and in 1929, the iconic tower was finished. The last major addition during the Ingalls family ownership was the Garden Wing in 1973.

In 2001, the resort unveiled a new Grand Ballroom and outdoor pool, along with state-of-the-art snowmaking for the ski area and a new Shooting Club House and Pavilion.

In 2012, "The Next Chapter" was launched with the addition of Allegheny Springs - a new children's water play zone, family pool, 400 ft. lazy river and water slides.

On July 1, 2013, the resort joined the Omni Hotels & Resorts family and is now known as The Omni Homestead Resort.

Jefferson Pools
Regrettably, the historic Jefferson Pools are closed and will remain closed until further notice based on directive from Bath County officials. The Omni Homestead continues to evaluate all options to ensure the long-term viability of the Jefferson Pools.

Comprised of two main buildings, the Jefferson Pools were built for visitors to experience the great healing mineral waters that inspired the resort's conception. Built in 1761, the Gentlemen’s Pool House was designed as a large octagonal, white wooden building with a pool inside and is the oldest spa structure in the United States. The Gentlemen's Pool House was used by ladies and gentlemen alike, though at alternate times from early morning to late evenings. In 1836, the circular Ladies' pool was constructed to give the women guests a pool of their own.

President Thomas Jefferson, who suffered from rheumatism, visited these very pools in August of 1818. The Omni Homestead archives contain the original guest books documenting Jefferson’s 22- day visit, during which he found great relief in the warm mineral spring waters. The Gentlemen’s pool itself is similarly octagonal and about 120 feet in circumference. It holds about 43,000 gallons of constantly flowing spring water. During his visit, on August 13, 1818, Jefferson enjoyed breakfast at The Homestead, soaked in the springs, and took his dinner. He recorded that the entire day’s activities cost him $2.12 and wrote to one of his daughters praising the springs as among the best in America. That is why the pool houses are named in his honor.

The United States Geological Survey determined that these springs have a remarkably uniform rate of temperature and flow and are unaffected by changes of the seasons – their waters are natural body temperature all year and flow at the astounding rate of 1,700,000 gallons per day. The mineral content of the waters is so high that you float easily and so crystal clear you can read a book through them.

The Omni Homestead Resort, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 1989, dates back to 1766.

*****

Guest Historian Series

Stanley TurkelRead more about the history of The Omni Homestead Resort, as told by Historic Hotels of America 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year Stanley Turkel. Excerpt is taken from his latest book Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013).


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International Numbers

Austria 08000706176
Belgium 080081830
France 805542721
Germany 8007241217
Ireland 1800995320
Italy 800979444
Netherlands 08000200956
Norway 80054304
Spain 900814719
Switzerland 0800001798
UK 8009179622
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