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 January/February 2009
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                            QUICK & EASY ONE-DISH MEALS

          Ever Enchanting
                        Journey with us to The Greenbrier, one of the nation’s most
                    historic resorts, and you’ll find a grand oasis of snow, style, and spa underscored
                                  by the illustrious stories of yesteryear. BY KATHLEEN JOHNSTON

F     For a midwinter mother-daughter getaway, we couldn’t
      dream of an escape better than West Virginia’s The
      Greenbrier, a place that claims extraordinary legends and
      secrets and the imprint of one of history’s most iconic
      interior designers. In this wonderland, chandeliers are as
      crucial to rooms as ceilings and walls, and luxury flows as
      freely as the white springs that made it famous.
                                                                   as Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay, and later, Robert E.
                                                                   Lee, further fueling its reputation as a destination of the
                                                                   social elite. Appointments grew in both size and opulence
                                                                   as what started as a countryside clearing of tents and log
                                                                   cabins gave way over time to rows of summer cottages
                                                                   and eventually a hotel. The storied resort has survived the
                                                                   Civil War, the Great Depression, even a run as an Army
         As early as the late 18th century, Southerners sought     hospital during World War II, and its legacy lives on at
      out this spot between Kate and Greenbrier mountains          The Greenbrier of today.
      for its lovely locale and the supposed healing powers
      of its natural springs. Also treasured for refreshing,       Dynamic Décor
      mild summers, this Alleghenies valley known as White           Mother and I arrived to swirling flurries, which, like
      Sulphur Springs began drawing prominent visitors such        an unfurling carpet, led the way to a freshly blanketed

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                                                                                                             “    Come, drink at this fount, and you’ll certainly find
                                                                                                                           Relief for the body, as well as the mind.
                                                                                                                                                              — from “Upon the White Sulphur Springs, Virginia,” published 1833
     Well Dressed
     In 1948, Dorothy Draper’s legendary                                                                     Rest and Exhilaration
     decorating revamp of The Greenbrier                                                                        Indeed, The Greenbrier and its fascinating stories
     included the addition of a 9-foot                                                                       proved the perfect place for mother and daughter to
     chandelier, designed from an old                                                                        renew both bonds and spirits. The Greenbrier Spa topped
     Russian print, to the Cameo Ballroom,                                                                   our de-stress list—after all, what would a visit to a resort
                                                                                                             founded on healing springs be without indulging in some
     shown right. Elsewhere in the hotel,
                                                                                                             of its rejuvenating treatments? Once the spa therapists
     she added fresh style with 30 miles of
                                                                                                             worked their wonders by way of a facial and a hot-stone
     carpeting, 15,000 rolls of wallpaper,                                                                   massage, we enjoyed the further restorative powers of
     45,000 yards of fabric, approximately                                                                   good company by settling in to the spa’s cozy chairs to
     34,000 fittings and accessories, and                                                                     exchange whispers and quiet giggles. (The evening movie,
     40,000 gallons of color-rich paint.                                                                     shown daily in the resort’s 300-seat theater, offered a
                                                                                                             chance to exchange much louder laughter.)
                                                                                                                Our snowflake-scattered days brimmed with activity:
                                                                                                             afternoon tea, historical tours, culinary demonstrations.
                                                                                                             Branching off from the spa and salon, the exquisite indoor
                                              Greenbrier. We approached the colonnaded entrance              pool area, which features ornate mosaic tile work, regal
                                              slowly, reveling in the brisk mountain air. It may have been   columns, and an elegant canopy ceiling, offered places to
                                              fair summers that put this tucked-away destination on the      read and enjoy a few rounds of classic board games. Hour
                                              map, but my wanderlust mother and I came with a longing        after hour saw us wandering through the Art Colony,
                                              for a silver white winter.                                     just a short walk from the main hotel. This collection of
                                                 We put our plans for an old-fashioned sleigh ride on        summer cottages, originally known as Alabama Row, now
                                              hold long enough to step inside, and to our delight, the       features the crafts, art, and handiwork of talented metal,
                                              palatial interior unfolded quite differently than the world    glass, leather, wood, and pottery artists. The Art Colony’s
                                              of white beyond its windows. All around us was dramatic        Doll House, in particular, captured our hearts, with its
                                              color and bold pattern, the quintessential signature of        many miniatures recalling deeply cherished days in our
                                              Dorothy Draper. After The Greenbrier’s four years under        own histories.
                                              government ownership, the renowned New York designer
                                              undertook what was then the largest redecoration attempt
                                              of its kind; it is also said to be the most cherished of her
                                              portfolio. She envisioned a scheme of “romance and
                                              rhododendron” and enlivened the interiors in five key
                                              colors: blue, yellow, red, green, and pink. These glamorous
                                              hues still saturate nearly every inch, while romantic florals
                                              and vivid patterns spill from fittings, drapes, and walls.
                                              There is something spectacular to catch the eye at every
                                              turn, and one almost needs to spend an entire day savoring
                                              such a visual feast.                                                                                                                             Healing Waters
                                                 So we did, from the Victorian Writing Room, once
                                                                                                                                                                                               A steadfast symbol of The Greenbrier,
                                              called the most photographed room in the country, to
                                              the North Parlor, where Dorothy famously cut a single                                                                                            the Springhouse has remained mostly
                                              painting in half to create a canvas for each side of the                                                                                         unchanged save its original statue,
                                              fireplace. We marveled at the upper lobby’s range of                                                                                              which was lost during the Civil War.
                                              colors and chintz, all pulled together by the striking black                                                                                     Guests, however, have come a long
                                              and white marble floor. And in the pink and peachy tones                                                                                          way since the old days of “taking the
                                              of the Cameo Ballroom, with its 9-foot Czechoslovakian
                                                                                                                                                                                               waters” and now enjoy their spring-
                                              crystal chandelier, we couldn’t help but feel transported to
                                              one of the glamorous socials of yore, dining and dancing                                                                                         inspired baths and treatments in the
                                              alongside the likes of Bing Crosby, the Kennedys, and the                                                                                        resort’s top-rated luxury spa.
                                              Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

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                                                                   Ride of a Lifetime
                                                                      A fresh snowfall eventually returned our attention
                                                                   to the silver white winter for which we came searching.
                                                                   We eagerly bundled up for our first-ever sleigh ride.
                                                                   As we dashed through the snow, the words of Carleton
                                                                   Varney, president of the Dorothy Draper Company
                                                                   and Greenbrier’s current interior designer, came to
                                                                   mind. Upon first seeing The Greenbrier, he said it was
                                                                   “everyone’s fantasy Georgian antebellum mansion, the
                                                                   one everyone dreams of occupying, from which women
                                                                   emerge as Scarlett O’Hara and men stride through the
                                                                   library as Rhett Butler…The place had room after room
                                                                   of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen.” But with
                                                                   views of magnificent snow-kissed mountains all around
     More to Explore                                               us, the beauty of Greenbrier’s outdoor spaces was also
                                                                   undeniable. Of course, it’s exactly this resort’s dynamic
     A nod to olden days, The Greenbrier offers carriage rides—
                                                                   combination that, for 230 years and in any season, has
     and sleigh rides, snow permitting—as one of its many
                                                                   made many a spirit bright.

     activities. Tours of the Presidents’ Cottage Museum and the
     Cold War–era bunker reveal the impressive, and sometimes
     surprising, breadth of the resort’s place in history.         For information, contact The Greenbrier at 800-453-4858
                                                                   or visit

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