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.
- 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