Stayed at the Greenbrier for a conference Mar. 29 - April 1. I booked two rooms at the conference rate, brought the family (husband, two kids & grandparents). I upgraded to a Tansus Cottage, which although it was not in the main hotel was only a short walk along beautifully blooming pathways. The last time we were there, the hotel was under construction to build a new casino. The casino is finished, and I am so happy that it hasn't detracted from the tremendous charm of this old, posh resort. Everything is much improved and the whole experience was grand. First and foremost, the staff -- as ever -- was top quality. The grounds are completely restored to their former beauty. Everything was in bloom and the weather was fine, so it made for an especially lovely experience to walk all over the grounds. The restaurants (I will review each separately) have much improved and were of the highest quality and value. In addition to the gorgeous facilities, from housekeeping to activities, the staff's professionalism and focus on service made this visit completely sublime. We're definitely not waiting three years to return for our next visit.
The cottage: three bedrooms en suite, dining area, kitchen, living room, front porch, working fireplace. A great choice for our family. The furnishings are beautiful, soft, comfy, and clean. However, the super-soft mattress with lumps in it was a bummer. Also, the climate control in the cottage was very difficult to regulate despite that each room had its own thermostat. the temp fluctuated between 77 and 38 degrees during our stay and the HVAC had difficulty adjusting. The water pressure in the showers was very low and none of the valves worked properly to switch between the bathtub spigots and the showers. Each room had a flat screen tv, large closet, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, towels, extra bedding and mini bar. The kitchen was a full-size, eat in kitchen circa 1968. We liked the full size frig and microwave. The dining room lighting was very dim, so we moved the dining table into the living room so we could work. I didn't request it, but there was turn down service each night. I like turn down service, but I don't like walking into my cottage with four blaring TVs on!
The conference space in Colonial Hall was immense. As I am always freezing in conference rooms, I was well prepared to wear my winter coat during the entire conference. There were lots of nooks and crannies to sit down and check email and make phone calls.
The main lobby, lobby bar, and its adjoining spaces (including the back porch with rocking chairs) provided lots of space for ad hoc get togethers with friends and colleagues. The lobby is bar is so lovely, but doesn't serve food. You have to order Room Service, which I felt discouraged from doing, its weird. It's one of my favorite spaces in the hotel and it would be nice if it had a real menu to gnosh.
Tea served at 4:00 p.m. also featured live pianist and ballroom dancing. Kids loved it. Typical tea foods & cakes, iced & hot teas available.
The kids used the indoor pool and locker facilities, they had a lot of fun swimming for about four hours one of the days. We also booked an outing for the climbing tower, expertly supervised by Steve. Kids spent an hour climbing, swinging and free falling. I can't believe I am going to say this: it was well worth the $89 per kid splurge. We got really great attention and would definitely do this again.
The breakfast in the main dining room was really nice, lovely setting. You could order off the menu or from the buffet. The buffet was smallish compared to the Homestead, and had no omelette chef. There was a great selection of buffet items, including tons of fresh fruit, casseroles, eggs, meats, biscuits & gravy, pastries. I longed for some veggies, though, like their delicious microgreens, arugula, asparagus or tomatoes. The service was par excellence, except that every single morning the bill was wrong and required close scrutiny.
The casino is far underground and is not readily visible or offensive unless you go looking for it. When you are in the casino, it is the same as every other casino I have ever been in. Because I hate casinos generally, it is hard for me to give an objective opinion. However, I will say this: because there was no smoking and the dress code in the casino is after-five, it seemed slightly less disgusting than most casinos.
The retail shops are adorable, and despite the fact that the goods carried are pricey generally, I found that the prices are actually competitive rather than a gouge. I am not much of a shopper, but I bought several pieces of clothing, sundries and souvenirs. The sundries were a gouge, but when you need certain items its just the price of travel.
We attended the comedy show, which was $30 per person. We missed the family movies, which I wish we had done instead. The comedy show was fine, but only about 20 people were in the audience. If the price were lower or free, or if the show was promoted more, I think it would have been more fun for the audience. The performers were fine, but it lacked the audience reaction that really makes every comedy show funnier than it really is. The subject matter was generally clean, no foul language, and I enjoyed having it as an option.
We also went on the bunker tour, which I have been wanting to do for a long time. The tour was 90 minutes long. It was too long. I would do the tour differently: first start in the theater with the film and museum artifacts to give the whole tour context, then tour the actual bunker, then the exhibit hall, then the hotel so people can peel off if they want to when you emerge in the West Virginia wing by the blast door. The docent was very good, we enjoyed it very much. I later walked the grounds to find the airshafts, etc. I would redo the film, too, if possible and play in on GBTV to build interest, enthusiasm and basic context.
The bowling alley is a real treat and very busy. A great option, especially on a rainy day.
We ate at the following restaurants, all of which were excellent. I am going to review them separately when I get a chance: Drapers, Main Dining Room, the Forum, Slammin' Sammy's, Prime44. When restaurants like Drapers and the Forum are so very good, one might wonder whether Prime44 is worth the extra freight: it is.
We didn't get any spa treatments or play golf this time. We attended Palm Sunday mass at St. Charles Borromeo. We drove there, but there is also a shuttle that will take you to mass. It was a really great service, we feel lucky to have a Catholic Church so close to the resort.