If you drink bourbon, you probably know there’s Pappy Van Winkle, then there’s everything else. Pappy is Pappy because it is aged, and the aging process makes the product better than just about anything else out there.
Consider these seven, then, the Pappy Van Winkle of resorts.
Still somewhat on the more formal side, they have housed, nurtured and refreshed thousands of discerning travelers for decades. Their classic décor, gorgeous settings, fine dining, impeccable service and storied histories are part of the experience.
To visit is to take your own place in the history of one of America’s great resorts.
Here are seven such resorts, each worthy of the title “Grande Dame”:
1. Omni Bedford Springs Resort – Bedford, Pennsylvania
Located in central-southern Pennsylvania, Bedford Springs has delighted travelers—including ten United States Presidents—since it opened in 1806. Since 1895, golf has been the primary recreational concern, and the course boasts both A.W. Tillinghast and Donald Ross design influence. The hotel’s guestrooms are cozy and vary somewhat in design style from the classic to the more contemporary. www.BedfordSpringsResort.com.
2. Biltmore Coral Gables – Coral Gables, Florida
Dating to 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables towers over its adjacent Donald Ross-designed and Brian Silva-restored golf course. More than 250 guest rooms and suites range from the merely luxurious to the world-class. An acclaimed spa and a number of on-site restaurants complement the golf. www.BiltmoreHotel.com.
3. The Broadmoor – Colorado Springs
Opened in 1917, the Broadmoor is the West’s grandest dame of a golf resort. Three courses designed by Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Jack Nicklaus provide varying challenges, with the Ross course having hosted U.S. Senior and U.S. Women’s Opens of late. The hotel, according to past experience, is just about as good as it gets. www.Broadmoor.com.
4. The Equinox – Manchester Village, Vermont
There’s a reason there’s been a hotel on Equinox property since before the American Revolution: the beauty of the area and the hospitality of the people factor greatly into the resort’s success. The golf course, most recently renovated by Rees Jones with particular emphasis on playability, dates back to 1927. www.EquinoxResort.com.
5. The Greenbrier – White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Among most, The Greenbrier needs no introduction. It is perhaps the greatest of America’s old resorts. With three golf courses on property—the Old White TPC hosting the Greenbrier Classic later this summer—and a seemingly endless array of other activities, from bowling to falconry, even a week spent at the Greenbrier seems like too short a stay. Whether you stay in the magnificent Old White Hotel or an outlying cottage, it will be a memorable vacation. www.Greenbrier.com.
6. The Homestead – Hot Springs, Virginia
Not far afield from the aforementioned Greenbrier, The Homestead also has a long history of graceful lodgings and quality golf. The Lower Cascades course has closed, but the Old Course and Upper Cascades still endure, with the latter being one of the best courses in the region thanks to Tom Doak’s tender restoration of William Flynn’s original course’s splendor. The hotel maintains its stately presence as a lovely retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. www.TheHomestead.com.
7. Hotel Del Coronado - San Diego, California
The Hotel Del Coronado 'technically' isn't a golf resort in that the golf course belongs to the hotel, but this list would not be complete without mentioning the impressive circa-1888 edifice. The scenic Coronado Golf Course is nearby, and the hotel is glad to make arrangements for guests to play the likes of Torrey Pines, as well. www.HotelDel.com
8. Ojai Valley Inn - Ojai, California
Ojai's George Thomas (of Riviera Country Club fame) golf course opened in 1923 and was updated in recent years to reflect and maintain the integrity of Thomas' artistry. The resort came along shortly after. Rather than a stately hotel, Ojai's lodgings comprise more of a compound, but the whole place exudes a classic aura. Small wonder why the Inn has been a retreat for Hollywood luminaries for decades. www.OjaiResort.com
9. Pinehurst Resort – Pinehurst, North Carolina
If The Greenbrier is America’s most comprehensive overall resort, Pinehurst is its grandest resort where golf is the primary focus. The Donald Ross classic No. 2 Course hosts this year’s U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in consecutive weeks, turning much of the month of June into a well-deserved celebration of the greatness of this place. www.Pinehurst.com.
Are there any "grand" resorts you would add to the list? Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.