The Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst
What We Love
- An elegant hotel at a historic golf retreat in the Sandhills, with your choice of spa and golf perksTeeing off at a resort that’s hosted more single golf championships than any other site in America
- Enjoying a complimentary smoothie while relaxing poolside at the award-winning spa
- Exploring the 2015 Travel + Leisure 500 pick’s culinary program, staffed by a team of more than 100
- Splitting up days on the golfing green with trips around the Village, housing croquet and tennis courts, shops and more
What To Know
- Free valet parking and WiFi throughout
- Rocking chairs on the veranda are the best place to unwind
- The on-site Pro Shop has surprisingly decent prices for such a historic golf resort
Have the fairway your way at The Carolina Hotel, a century-old, AAA Four Diamond gem dubbed “the Queen of the South.” This elegant hideaway is part of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence-winning Pinehurst Resort, a mega-historic golfing retreat in the North Carolina Sandhills. The resort boasts a whopping nine courses, with a wide range of styles and by a wide range of designers (Donald Ross, Tom Fazio and Jack Nicklaus are three). They include one where Tiger Woods won the 1992 Big I Junior Classic (No. 7), one that dates back to 1898 (No. 1) and three that appeared on Golfweek’s 2015 list of the best in America: No. 8, No. 4 and No. 2. The latter has been described as one of the two places in the world that every golfer should visit – by Ben Crenshaw, no less – and hosted both the US Open and US Women’s Open in 2014.
In fact, Pinehurst has hosted a lot of single golf championships – more than any other site in America. It also houses a golf academy that Golf Digest called one of the best of 2016. And you might say that the accommodation, dining and wellness offerings are, ahem, on par with those in the golfing department: The various residences are elegant and comfortable, the seasoned culinary staffers number more than 100, and the spa provides treatments like a sweet-tea sugar scrub and marine mud wrap. The Village of Pinehurst, with its charming shops and historic homes, is just steps from the hotel. All this, plus biking trails, shops and courts for tennis, croquet and lawn bowling, make this property a true luxury-travel destination, worthy of its spot in 2015’s Travel + Leisure 500. So whichever of those world-class fairways it is that brings you here, consider it your fairway to heaven.
Traditional accommodations at The Carolina Hotel are exactly what you’d expect from a century-old, AAA Four Diamond winner: elegant and sophisticated, with classic details like a wood-and-wrought-iron headboard and calming neutral hues. Don’t worry, there are plenty of modern touches, as well, from the LCD flat-screen TV to the complimentary Wi-Fi.
With a staff of more than 100 culinarians, Pinehurst is able to offer a first-class dining program, one whose restaurants run the gamut from the AAA Four Diamond 1895 Grill at the Holly Inn to a tavern and a coffee shop. The formal dining room is under the supervision of Chef Thierry Debailleul, a graduate of Paris’ prestigious Ecole Jean Ferrandi who cut his teeth at various Michelin-ranked and Mobil-rated restaurants around the world, and its breakfast is widely considered one of the best in the golf world.The Carolina Hotel itself is home to Carolina Dining room, serving seasonal fare for breakfast and dinner in a super-sumptuous setting. You can dine on unique American dishes at Ryder Cup Lounge, open Monday through Saturday from 11:30am to 11pm and Sunday from 11:30am to 2pm. Carolina Coffee Shop is also on hand for coffee to go or a casual pastry or sandwich.
If swinging around that iron leaves you with some kinks to iron out, put yourself in the skillful hands of the Spa at Pinehurst therapists. Various massages are on offer for sore golfers, including the Champion’s Massage, which incorporates a golf ball. Of course, these are just a few of the many treatments on the spa menu, which run from a contouring seaweed wrap to a customized aromatherapy soak. Salon services are on hand, too, such as haircuts, manicures and waxes.
In the heart of the North Carolina Sandhills, Pinehurst Resort is one of the world’s most iconic golf resorts, featuring multiple Golfweek Best Courses in America 2015 and the legendary No. 2, where the US Open has taken place and which Bob Crenshaw described as one of the two places in the world that every golfer should visit. Golfing is just one of the activities that you can enjoy here, however, with biking paths and tennis, lawn-bowling and croquet courts also dotting the grounds. There’s also some shopping to enjoy in the Village at Pinehurst, and the streets of historic homes make for a lovely setting for a leisurely stroll.
How to Get There
The Carolina Hotel is a wonderful grand old hotel. Yes, the floors creak a little, but this is part of the charm and the history. Part of what elevates this hotel into the 5-star range is the customer service and extras. There is a golf concierge in the hotel from early morning if you want to change your tee time or get insider advice. Check-in is seamless, and they seem to know your name before you say it. The buffet breakfast is expansive, offering any option one could want, accompanied by a live pianist playing at a grand piano. The rooms are quite comfortable, although not overly spacious. Our room on the second floor was quite quiet at night, and had all the modern amenities. Could the bathrooms be a bit bigger? Sure, this is not a brand new hotel, but who wants a brand new hotel when you can have all the southern charm and hospitality that the Carolina offers. Oh, yes, and world class golf, too! We can't wait to come back.
Very pleasant staff and very comfortable bed. Rooms are charming and food is quite good, but it’s caught between a need for upgrading bathrooms and keeping the charm. It’s worth the trip, but not a habitual one unless there’s some upgrade.
We had a total of 8 in our party and the resort definitely knows how to handle golf groups (including groups much bigger than ours). The resort will help you with tee times, rooms, transportation and can even help with keeping score. In order to set up tee times more than 7 days in advance, however, you must book a package (i.e., room, breakfast, dinner, first round of golf is bundled together). This type of thing is fairly typical for many resorts and was not a problem for me. The restaurants were all very solid (we ate dinner in the Carolina Dining Room and 1895 Tavern). The lunch options were adequate, but nothing special. Breakfast buffet in the Carolina Dining Room is a perfect option when you have an early tee time (it opens at 6 am and the food is great, with wide selections). The hotel itself could use an upgrade - it felt a little rundown. The service was first-rate; the staff was very helpful. We played No. 8, No. 2, No 7, No. 4 and took a trip to Pineneedles, which is close by. We also played the Cradle, which i only recommend as a warm up, if you have time for it. I cannot recommend the newly re-designed (Gil Hanse) No. 4 enough-- it is spectacular. 2 and 8 were memorable and 7 was challenging. I agree with some of the other reviews that the handling of golf bags was a little chaotic and you really need to allow a little extra time to confirm the location of your bag. Overall, this is a first-rate facility and has earned its reputation. I particularly recommend it if you have a group. I would return for sure.
Had a group of 16 visit the Pinehurst Resort on a golf trip. Some of us had been there before, others not. We all stayed at the Carolina Hotel and played the #8, #4 and #2 courses, in that order. There are 5 additional courses which are less of a challenge. We found the #8 course, a Fazio design, to be a largely enjoyable course to play with the occasional exception of a few pin positions that were nearly impossible due to green contours, roll off edges and green speeds around 12. #4, recently renovated by Gil Hanse, is a terrific course and we all would highly recommend it, especially now, before they put a surcharge on it. The #2 course is, well, the #2 course. Originally designed by the legendary Donald Ross and renovated by Coore/Crenshaw, it remains a Top Ten, bucket list course. A few general comments: 1. We saw very little drinking water available on any of these courses, possibly two fountains randomly placed, which we took to mean the resort would like you to buy water from the cart ladies at $4 a bottle. 2. Tee times on #4 are spaced 8 minutes apart, which is ridiculous and resulted in a 5-1/2 hour round with waiting on every shot and 4 groups simultaneously playing all the par 5's. An unfortunate consequence of putting revenue generation ahead of guest satisfaction. 3. The golf bag situation at the main clubhouse can be chaotic. You have to go down into the basement, find your own bag and have it put on a cart or given to your caddie. This despite the fact the resort was given all of our pairings and their respective tee times in advance of our arrival. One of our group had his bag lost and had to play 9 holes with loaner clubs until they could find his own, despite having the bag tagged with the courses and times we were playing each day. 4. The #4 and #2 courses are cart path only and the paths themselves can be a far walk from the fairways. Push carts are available on #4 (an experimental program through the end of this year) if you don't want a caddie or an electric cart. They are not available on #2, but IMO they should be.
Regarding the Carolina Hotel, we found the staff to be courteous and helpful. The breakfast buffet is, of course, much celebrated and justifiably so. The Ryder Cup bar is an excellent gathering place for couples and groups, and has a number of TV's which were tuned in to college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday. The shuttle system is excellent and will take you to all resort facilities and downtown as well, a great alternative if you plan on enjoying a few adult beverages. All that being said, the Carolina Hotel is not a 5 star hotel. It needs some serious updating, given the existence of elevators with scarred walls, worn carpet, dated furnishing and decor in guest rooms, along with unlevel hallways that squeak when trod upon. I stayed in Room 259 and was treated to elevator type piano music emanating from the dining room below me through a vent in my room, which required a call to the front desk and the intervention of hotel security to get it shut off so I could get to sleep. It started up again promptly at 6 AM the next morning, coinciding with the start of breakfast downstairs. I've been to Pebble, Kohler, Kiawah and Streamsong, among others, and this type of thing would never happen there. There's a fine line between being charming and historic and just being old and dated, IMHO. Food prices were largely reasonable, beverage prices were largely unreasonable, e.g. $8.50 draft beers. It is what it is, as the saying goes.
Despite the negatives noted above, a trip to Pinehurst for the golf and camaraderie is well worth the time and expense for anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to visit the cradle of American golf.
The hotel building is very old and given experiences I've had at other antique hotels, this visit stood out for exceptional amenities and updated functioning comfortable rooms and dining experiences. I really loved sitting on the veranda, sipping wine, listening to the live music. Only feedback would be to make coffee available (without paying) in the lobby early in the morning for those who awake before their roommates and want to sneak out for morning beverage of choice.