The Greenbrier Resort
What We Love
- Sense of history all around, including a Cold War–era bunker
- Perfect for families
What To Know
- Formal atmosphere not popular among twentysomethings
- On-site fine dining restaurants and casino enforce a dress code (no shorts or jeans, jackets for men after 7 p.m.)
Designed in the 1940s by society decorator Dorothy Draper and maintained by her protégé Carlton Varney, the Greenbrier does everything in a big way. The reception rooms are immense and boldly designed, the vast dining room is lit by imposing chandeliers, and there are 6,500 acres of grounds to wander. The Gilded Age decor includes black and white checked marble floors, towering floral-print drapes and overstuffed plaid chairs.
Bed & Bath
The 721 guestrooms run the gamut from single rooms to four-bedroom estate houses to seven-bedroom suites. Features included private porches or patios, in-room wet bars, dedicated entertainment and dining areas and/or wood-burning fireplaces, depending on the room. But all are united by a warm, inviting feel thanks to sunny color schemes and playful mixes of plaids and florals.
The resort has three championship golf courses (Jack Nicklaus was involved in the design) and a spa where guests can soak in the thermal waters and choose from a myriad of treatments. You could spend a month here and not try all the activities on offer (from falconry to carriage and sleigh rides, from skeet shooting to bowling). For dinner there’s the casual Draper’s, the steakhouse Prime 44 West, and the main dining room, which offers haute fare with Southern touches, like garlic herb–crusted rack of lamb with Yukon potato pavé. Afterward visit the newest edition to the resort, the swank 103,000-square-foot casino.
How to Get There
For anyone who lived through the Cold War, have no knowledge of the Cold War or any understanding of continuity of government should make the trip to the Greenbrier and tour the Bunker. As the close of WWII occurred a standoff took place between the USSR and the US resulting in the Cold War. During that time school children were taught to hide under their desks and families to hide in their own shelters in the case of atomic attack. Not many people thought about what the government would do or where they would go under those circumstances. Fortunately, President Eisenhower was concerned with that issue and developed a solution with the assistance of others. The Greenbrier was the chosen site for an under ground bunker for all of Congress.
Our recent trip to the Greenbrier to see the Bunker was a walk back in time. It showed what our technology was like in the late 50's - 60's. The need, requirements, maintenance of this space, life cycle logistics, fiscal responsibility and so much more can be found at this incredible location. I highly recommend everyone visit this bunker. You will be amazed at what you learn.
Five stars doesn’t do it justice! From an incredibly beautiful arrival to outstanding service and unforgettable experiences, this is a destination I will visit time and time again! I was there with my wife and three young kids. We were greeted with a welcome beverage (champagne) and treats for the kids(free ice cream). I golf, no one else does but there was plenty to do. My wife loved her day at the spa, the kids loved the indoor pool and kids camp, and we did an awesome off road 4 wheel drive experience. All staff and facilities were exceptional. We had one conflict with billing and after pointing out a discrepancy, the manager was completely reasonable and action was taken overnight to adjust the error on the website. We ate at the 44 restaurant and it was excellent. Other food outlets were good too, but that was our more formal evening. Oh yeah, and there’s a full movie theater for guests. We literally were the only ones in it both nights but the movies still played and started on time.
We had a situation where one of our kids gifts was switched by accident with another kids’ from the kids camp. Lane at the front desk went well above and beyond to help us, and when we got home, the appropriate gift had been shipped to our house. Our boys were so excited and thankful, as were mom and dad. I can not overstate how incredible this place is. Truly a piece of living history that is an absolute treasure to visit. If you are even slightly considering visiting, you must!!!!!
We arrived on 11/08/2019 at 11:15 AM. The outside of the property was magnificent. The grounds were beautiful. One drawback was that before we arrived, how to park was confusing. They should have directions on parking on the website. However, the guard explained to us that if we did not valet park, we could park across the street at the train station and take a shuttle. The shuttles ran frequently and the drivers were very friendly and personable.
Check in was easy. The clerk was able to accommodate our request for an early check in. We stayed in a spacious superior room that was very well decorated, huge and clean. My wife said the HVAC was loud, but it did not affect me. When we went back to get our car and luggage, our luggage was set up in our room before we got back from the train lot. Now when we went back to get out luggage, we noticed one of our tires was low—more on that later.
We had lunch at Drapers and the portions were huge. Service was fine and the waiter was all over the water refills.
We arrived early so we could do time for truffles at the Candy Maker. This was fabulous. Cheryl G was fantastic and we had a blast. Cheryl is a real gem. The class was very hands on and we made/got lots great chocolate. If you do the Time for Truffles, don’t eat before it. There is a lot of chocolate you can sample.
Afternoon tea was crowded, but acceptable. We had no problem getting served and after a while we found seats both days we went.
We went to the lobby bar a few times. Now a word about prices: they are high. A glass of wine costs as much as a bottle it seemed. However, this is an upscale resort so for us price did not matter. We were there for the experience. Service was a mixed bag. At times it was slow and at other times it was a perfect mix of attentiveness and the respect for space.
We had dinner at Prime 44 on Friday night. It was a great place to eat. Service was excellent and the food was great. I had a bone-in ribeye and my wife had a petit filet mignon.
The bed was comfortable, but we would have liked to have more pillows. We could have asked but didn’t. But it would still have been nice to have them in the room.
We did a carriage ride on Saturday morning. Before we did that, we asked the concierge if there was a garage nearby so we could get air in our tires (it was cold). She made a call to the garage and they said they would do it complimentary. When we went back to our car to get my wife’s gloves, we were waiting for a shuttle. The airport shuttle was there, and we asked if he went to the train lot. He said he did not normally, but would take us. We mentioned our low tire and that we had to go to the garage to get air in it, but did not know where to go. He took us to the car and showed us where the garage was and told us how to get in. He took us back to the hotel. He did not have to do that. He truly was committed to customer service. Wish I caught his name.
The carriage ride was great and we saw the beautiful grounds. The “driver” explain things nicely and answered our questioned, but also respected our privacy.
We went to the garage and they put air in our tires. They were so friendly and kind. When we tried to tip them, they refused our tip.
We did the Bunker tour. This was an interesting trip back in time through history (which occurred during the time my wife and I grew up). The guide was informative and wryly funny.
We had dinner in the main dining room. It was a disappointment. The food was OK, but the service was inattentive. We should have done breakfast instead.
On our way out, there was a concert with singers in the upper lobby. It was very good and entertaining. After it was over, the singers said they would be in Carlton’s Café.
We went to the Casino, but I was overwhelmed as I never was in a casino and had no clue what was going on. It would have been nice to have a greeter or two to explain to newbies like me how to play. But I guess people who go to a casino know what it’s all about.
We then went to Carlton’s café for a drink. Service was terrible. We waited for 10 minutes for a drink menu and another 20 to order. Then we waited another 20 before I had to ask for our drinks. I ordered an IPA beer and they gave me a wheat beer instead. Upset, we just paid and left. Not good end to the evening.
A word about the 20% service charge. They ought to do away with it. I think the service that was lackluster or slow was a function of the servers knowing they would be guaranteed to get 20% and likely to get nothing more. Leaving the tipping to discretion for subjective level of service likely will motivate better service.
Check out was fast and they corrected a mischarge on my bill. My luggage was in storage, but the doorman noticed I was standing for a while and went to check on my luggage and loaded it into my car. He was very attentive and committed to customer service.
Overall, the experience was very good. It was pricey, but to be expected for a trip back in time. I would go back.