75 RECIPES & ENTERTAINING IDEAS
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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
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 greenbrier.com.
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