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“Serene Setting”

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The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Ranked #1 of 22 Hotels in Cary
Certificate of Excellence
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Serene Setting”
Reviewed November 6, 2009

My husband and I stayed at the Umstead one Friday evening in October 2008 for a friend’s after rehearsal party. We live in Raleigh but decided to stay at the hotel for a one- night escape.

Our first impression of the hotel was not pleasant. It was raining when we arrived, and we had to carry our luggage and open the lobby doors for ourselves. Granted, we only had one hanging bag and two smaller bags, but even at check-in we were not asked if we needed assistance with our things. A woman gave us a brief overview of the hotel and walked us to the elevators. I thought it was weird that we were left to find our room ourselves. Definitely not what you expect from “A Leading Hotel.”

I was very impressed with our room, as it was decorated with elegant furniture, an earthy, calming color palette, and state of the art technology. The bed was heavenly- fine linens and comfortable duvet. The bathroom was also magnificent- soaking tub, marble walk-in shower, double vanity, and dimmer lights.

I would describe the overall vibe of the hotel as “earthy elegant.” I think it’s wonderful that the Umstead showcases works from renowned North Carolinian artists. The gift shop is also unique in that is has a wide array of books and collectibles that reflect the history of our area.

On Friday evening we decided to have a light dinner in the bar area. Our waiter’s name was Adam, and the only reason I remember his name (a year later) is because of how much training he lacked. He was young and had too much of a “what’s up” attitude- definitely not the professional demeanor you would expect from Umstead employees. My husband’s burger was delivered plain. He wasn’t asked if he wanted lettuce, tomato, etc…Our drinks were never re-filled, although we made two requests, and he didn’t remove our plates until 20 minutes after we had finished eating. We stayed to listen to the piano player, who was very talented and engaging. Several guests made song requests that he entertained. I could have stayed and listened to him all night!

The next morning we ordered room service that was bland and unimaginative for over $50. Before check-out I had a facial appointment at the spa. After I changed into my robe I was unable to find a seat in the waiting area. I was told I could wait in the co-ed area, but I didn’t feel comfortable wearing my robe among men. A crowded, loud waiting area is not the most relaxing way to start a spa appointment. Nonetheless, the facial was wonderful, and the therapist provided many tips for my skin type. I found all of the spa staff courteous and helpful.

I am a year late in writing this review; that being said, I have great confidence that the Umstead has since fine- tuned the service disappointments we experienced.

Although I am shocked, I also applaud the Umstead for being NC’s only member of Leading Hotels of the World and for receiving the AAA 5 Diamond award. NC was in dire need of a luxury hotel. Now, the Umstead needs to fill the shoes of these awards with the highest standard of staff training and customer service and appreciation.

I don’t know if the Umstead is special enough for a second visit since we live nearby. But for first time visitors, this is still the top choice. Enjoy the serene setting, and if you’re into the outdoors I highly recommend renting a bike from the concierge and exploring Umstead Park’s many trails.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank passionforadventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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802 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (231)
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English first
Greenville, NC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2009

I was there for a wedding, and due to our large group and the stature of the hotel, I was expecting more. I travel close to 10 days a month for business, and I get better service from Courtyard and the Holiday Inn. I would never recommend this hotel!!!!

  • Stayed October 2009
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Ontheroad020
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
north carolina
Level Contributor
23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed September 30, 2009

I've actually stayed at the Umstead twice, so this my ratings are an average of my 2 experiences. My first in July was not wonderful. The second in August was a little better:

July:
Staff/ Hotel: The staff at the front desk were very nice and helpful- gave me a tour of the lobby- however, did not mention that there's a free continental brkfst in the lobby (nor is it listed on ANY of their literature)- I just happend upon it. Also, they aske my preference of morning paper which was not delivered- oh, but to be sure the invoice arrived on time. The room are very clean and comfortable but I was placed next to the laundry and it was very noisy until about 11:00pm, plus I had a view of the hotel roof complete w/ air conditioning units.

Restaurant: I also had dinner at Herons on my first night. I'm a vegetarian and had heard they had a separate veggie menu- I was very excited as usually I have only one or two options on a menu. It only had 2 options on it. I asked for a variation of one and the waiter made it seem like it was a huge inconvenience.

Spa: this was the worst part. The front desk folks checked me in and then left me standing for 15 minutes until the spa 'concierge" came to get me. Then the massage therapist I had was horrible. She did not listen to my preferences on pressure, was 10 minutes short on the massage- didn't use the stones they advertised and generally made it clear that she did not want to be there.

Because of this experience- I called the hotel who apologized and gave me 1 night free. The next experience was better though I did not eat at the hotel since they did not have any additional veg*n options. The spa was MUCH better, if you can book Christopher as a massage therapist I highly recommend it- he is extremely concienious and listens to clients. He even showed me some things I can do at home for neck tension. I only waiting for maybe 1 minute before they took me back this time. The spa itself is great, good refreshments, whirlpool, dry/wet sauna and pool. The hotel side was not much better- I got the same view, and room next to the laundry which they refused to move me from.

All in all, I would highly recommend a visit to the Spa- but would recommend staying somewhere else.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled on business
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ajnc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Carolina
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed August 4, 2009

We visited the Umstead in late July for a romantic anniversary weekend away from home. We live about 2 hours away but have family who live in Cary. Almost everything about the weekend was womderful.

Room:
We stayed in a regular king room facing the entrance of the hotel. It was exactly as described on the website and extremely clean. Since it was our anniversary, they had a complimentary bottle of wine sent to our room directly after arrival. The first night we did not receive turn down housekeeping service. Therefore, on the second night, we pressed the digital housekeeping button beside the door and the room was ready for us when we returned from dinner. They even organized my makeup supplies in the bathroom and put our the (provided) robes and slippers!

Herons:
The food and service was excellent! Try the Foie Gras and the Kobe filet! I usually don't even care for Foie Gras but this was great! My martnini was perfect. We brought a very nice bottle of champagne to enjoy that night, but they would not let us bring it into the restaurant because it is on their wine list. I understand this is the policy of many hotels because that is how they make a profit; however, it would be helpful if they would put a wine list online so that guests could prepare. They offered to send it up to our room in an ice bucket with champagne flutes.

Spa:
My husband and I got the Shared Bliss 50 minute couple's massage. It was wonderful. The massage rooms are very relaxing and it is one of the nicest spas ever. In the women's lounge, there is a room with toilets and vanities. The vanities contain razors, combs, brushes, makeup remover pads, hairdryer....basically anything you would need to get ready if you weren't staying at the hotel. There is another room that has the shower stalls. They are HUGE and lovely with an outdoor view. The one thing I thought was strange was that the provided shaving gel was at the vanity location in a huge container and not in the showers. What woman is going to shave her legs in the sink? Farther down from the showers is the "wet area". There is a steam room, sauna, and whirlpool. I wish I had known to bring my bathing suit for the whirlpool. It was inground and looked very clean and nice. They have a bathing suit spinner available to dry it when you are finished. My husband agreed that he would have liked to have had his bathing suit as well; however, there were no other men using the men's side of the spa.
There is a lounge room with magazines, tea, water, fruit, and many chairs to relax. Many people were having multiple treaments and would come and use all of these facilites while waiting on their next service. No need to book back to back! They will also provide you with a menu so that you can order food to the lounge. If you go upstairs, there is a co-ed lounge if you are spending the day with someone of the opposite sex. By far the best spa experience I have ever had! We both wished we had planned for more treatments!

Room Service:
We ordered a cheese plate on afternoon. It was very good and delivered on time. It could have used a few more crackers though. Breakfast was better downstairs at Herons. The menu looks the same and the prices are the same, but the dishes lack some of the details. For instance, my smoked salmon didn't come with the creme fraiche or caviar, the bowl of berries didn't have any brown sugar, and it was not seved with the complimentary biscuits as it is down in the dining room. Minor details, but had I known, I would have gone downstairs.

Pool Bar:
Great service! The staff was constantly coming by to offer (free) Voss water, cold towels, frozen grapes. We ordered lunch and it was delivered quickly and was very good. Try the Mark of Summer cocktail. I plan to recreate it at home this weekend!

The staff is trying VERY hard to make your stay a 5 star expereince. If you politely let them know you are having a problem I am sure they would do the best they could to remedy the situation. We will be back for sure!

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LRS0507
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed July 14, 2009

My family and I have stayed at the Umstead many times since it's opening. We have had few problems and they were always corrected in a quick and professional manner. However, after our last visit we will not return again. Our maid service was terrible. Our 75 minute massage treatments lasted 60 minutes and one of them was unbelievably bad. The therapists actually never used her hands, only her elbows. When ordering our meal the appetizer was forgotten and a person was allowed to smoke a cigar in the middle of the eating area on the deck. When I complained to the general manager about the number of problems he was very indifferent and the problems with the maid service continued. We don't mind paying for five star service, but the Umstead has become a three star hotel with five star prices. Don't waste your money.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank fivestarfanatic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bay Area
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed July 2, 2009

My husband and I stayed 2 nights at the Umstead. We had a very late check-in and when arriving at the room we found we had been upgraded to a lake view room, when we had paid for a room in which we were expecting no view at all. (nice surprise)

The room contains high quality linens, down comforter, down pillows, and a very nice bathroom with a deep soaking tub. Overall, it was a very comfortable bed and room. The large window with a view of the trees, the lake and the pool in the background made the experience of being in the room all the more relaxing. We didn't miss out on our lack of a balcony--it was much too hot outside for sitting on a balcony.

We spent part of an afternoon by the pool. There were very few people at the pool (not crowded at all). The pool water does slightly smell of chlorine (only a slight pet peeve of mine), but was a perfect temperature for swimming and just relaxing in the pool. We ordered a cheese and fruit platter and smoothie by the pool. The cheese and fruit were good (smaller in portion--yes); the berry smoothie was just okay (not much flavor to it). The price of both were within reason for a luxury hotel. Overall, very relaxing to just lay by the pool under an umbrella with a beautiful view of the trees and peek of the lake.

I don't have any real complaints. We really enjoyed our stay here. The hotel was relaxing, staff were attentive and very polite, but not pretentious. We didn't eat any of our meals at the hotel restaurant, so I can't comment.
We would return if we were in the mood to splurge again on this hotel.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank StandingRoomOnly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
chapel hill, nc
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2009

We got the "Do It Wright Spa Package, after being told that the $440 included lunch as wll as the tax and tip. I does NOT include tax and tip! If you price out each of the treatments that are included it comes to $425, and lunch can be a little as $10, so it's cheaper to go that way. Also they advertise it as 5 hours of treatment, when it is really only 4!

Spa and Hotel were wonderful, pricing system for spa is bogus!

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank chapelhill2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Property: The Umstead Hotel and Spa
Address: 100 Woodland Pond Dr, Cary, NC 27513-2131
Phone Number:
Location: United States > North Carolina > Cary
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Cary
#1 Romantic Hotel in Cary
#1 Family Hotel in Cary
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Umstead Hotel and Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 150
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled lakeside on 12 acres of beautiful grounds in Cary, N.C., The Umstead Hotel and Spa is a calming retreat and luxury destination. The Umstead features 150 oversized guest rooms, elegant furnishings and signature amenities. The Umstead welcomes and inspires guests to find comfort, tranquility and indulgence in the meticulously landscaped property, as well as the plush Umstead Spa and contemporary American cuisine of Executive Chef Steven Greene at its signature Forbes Five Star restaurant, Herons. Independently owned and operated, The Umstead Hotel and Spa is North Carolina's first full-service hotel to receive the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award and is a Forbes Five Star rated property. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Umstead Hotel Cary
Umstead Hotel Cary

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