Tips to Plan a Perfect Greenbrier Vacation for Every Type of Traveler
The Greenbrier first opened in 1778 as a luxury resort and spa atop the curative waters of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and its elegance has withstood the test of time. Manicured lawns and gardens surround the manse in the midst of the Alleghenies. Inside, you’ll find gourmet restaurants, designer boutiques, a world-renowned spa, and an iconic interior design by Dorothy Draper. But the resort proves that luxury doesn’t have to mean inaccessibility—interspersed with its more opulent offerings, there are activities for couples, families, and even those on a budget. Read on for our tips for planning a Greenbrier vacation, and be sure to check out our deal.
The Greenbrier for Families
Save money on toys for the kids: Snag a VIP keycard at check-in that entitles kids aged 12 or younger to free prizes each day.
Indoor and outdoor pools mean you can splash around all year long. Both areas are well stocked with lounge chairs and thick towels.
Send kids to The Adventure Zone so you can enjoy alone time with your spouse. Half- and full-day programs (extra fees) entertain ages 3–14 with a mix of indoor and outdoor activities.
Best room type for families: Each garden suite features a separate bedroom with a king-size bed for parents and a parlor with a queen-size sleeper sofa for kids.
Best time to visit for families: During the summer, when kids can work off excess energy exploring the 10,000-acre grounds. Go horseback riding (extra fees) on trails that wend through the Alleghenies.
The Greenbrier for Couples
Best spot for romance: The main lobby’s fireplace earned a place on Travel + Leisure’s list of the most romantic hotel fireplaces in 2015. You can also leave a note at the Love Clock (pictured above), located in the North Parlor.
Book a couples massage: Relax side by side during a 50- or 80-minute custom massage. Condé Nast Traveler called The Greenbrier Spa one of the best in the world.
Request a romantic add-on in your room: Set the stage for romance with champagne and chocolates, a bouquet of fresh flowers, or rose petals strewn on the bed (extra fees).
Best room type for couples: A step up from traditional rooms, deluxe rooms contain king-size beds and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs.
Best time to visit for couples: Valentine’s weekend, one of the themed weekends in The Greenbrier’s 2015 Discovery Series. The schedule includes complimentary dance lessons and cabaret performances, plus wine-and-chocolate pairings (extra fees).
The Greenbrier for Groups of Friends
Hit the casino to try your luck on 320 slot machines and 37 table games. Afterward, dance the night away to live DJ music in the casino’s 21+ dance club, 42 Below.
Book a tee time at one of three 18-hole golf courses on the property—The Greenbrier course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1977—or at nearby Oakhurst Links, a historic golf course where you use period hickory-shafted clubs and gutta-percha balls.
An eight-lane bowling alley has automatic scoring for up to six players per lane. Shoe rentals and a round of drinks are included in the group rate (extra fees).
Best room type for groups of friends: The Greenbrier’s cottages are ideal for larger parties, with up to four bedrooms, wet bars, and spacious front porches.
Best time to visit for groups of friends: Wellness weekend; the schedule includes complimentary wellness lectures, as well as group fitness and meditation classes (extra fees).
The Greenbrier for Foodies
Dress to Impress in the Main Dining Room: Chefs whip up 48-hour beef short rib, rainbow trout basted in brown butter, mushroom crepes, and other gourmet eats in a white-tablecloth restaurant that’s been around since 1913.
Hosted food events held throughout the year include foraging excursions with lunch and dinner and a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen with a five-course tasting menu paired with wine (extra fees).
Re-create your experience at home: You can order The Greenbrier’s legendary chocolates and snacks and find recipes for its most popular food and drinks on its website.
Request a gourmet add-on to your room: Indulge in a tasty treat upon check-in, such as a charcuterie board, frosty margaritas with chips and dip, or a chocolate tower stacked with decadent pastries (extra fees).
Best time to visit for foodies: Culinary weekend; the schedule includes complimentary culinary demos and tastings, as well as multicourse dinners with wine pairings (extra fees).
The Greenbrier for History Buffs
Walk through a declassified Cold War bunker: Commissioned in the 1950s by the Eisenhower administration, the bunker is now open to the public. Explore its dormitories, medical clinic, and power and water-purification plants on daily 90-minute tours (extra fees).
Falconry and archery lessons led by knowledgeable instructors hark back to ancient times (extra fees).
Take a historical tour of the resort and grounds to learn more about the flamboyant interior design of Dorothy Draper and visit the Presidents’ Cottage History Museum, which contains photographs and artifacts from the 26 US presidents who have stayed at The Greenbrier.
Best room type for history buffs: The presidential suite has seen the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Best time to visit for history buffs: Arts and Culture weekend; the schedule includes complimentary historical tours and talks, as well as craft workshops (extra fees).
The Greenbrier for Travelers on a Budget
Grab a drink during happy hour: Save as much as 50% on beer, wine, and well drinks with daily happy hours at Café Carleton Wine Bar, JJ’s, and Twelve Oaks.
Make time for afternoon tea: The complimentary service includes fresh pastries, cookies, and unlimited coffee and tea, as well as live piano music.
Groomed hiking and meditation trails crisscross the picturesque property, and you can access them free of charge.
Best room type for travelers on a budget: Traditional rooms have all the charm of The Greenbrier’s fancier rooms—including Dorothy Draper’s flowery wallpapers and fabrics—without the hefty price tag.
Best time to visit for travelers on a budget: During January and February, when room rates are the lowest. Check out our deal for The Greenbrier.
Before becoming a travel writer, Shelby lived and traveled in the Caribbean for 2.5 years with the Peace Corps. She once ate a raw sea urchin right from the ocean.