The Greenbrier Hotel is one of the finest luxury resorts in the world. Along with numerous celebrities and golf pros, 26 presidents have stayed here, surrounded by the beautiful Allegheny mountains. And now, thanks to my Trail Angel sister, I got to spend a couple of nights here too. I can only imagine what was going through the bell hop’s mind when he pulled my smelly backpack out of the trunk of the car.
This area has been pulling in tourists since 1778, who came to “take the waters” of White Sulphur Springs. In 1910, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad bought the 11,000 acre property and gradually developed the hotel to its present day size of 710 guest rooms. The interior is a throwback to old school luxury and the main dining room even features a crystal chandelier used in the movie “Gone With the Wind.” There is zero subtlety to the interior color palette, with bold primary colors used throughout the property. This hotel is truly a sight to behold.
Over the years, one of the main features of the Greenbrier has been its golf course. Redesigned in 1978 by Jack Nicklaus, the course has hosted the Ryder Cup, the Greenbrier American Express Championship on the Senior Tour, and, more recently, it has been part of the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, much of the golf course was destroyed by the 2016 floods, and has only partially reopened.
After completing her seminars for the day, my sister treated me to the “Bunker Tour.” In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the West Virginia wing (where we are staying) was built as camouflage to conceal a bunker designed to house the entire US Senate in case of a nuclear attack on Washington, DC. Although it came close to being used during the Cuba Missile Crisis, it sat unused in a complete state of readiness (including three days of fresh food, that was rotated through the hotel food supply, and 45 days of long term food) until its existence was revealed 20 years later by a Washington Post article written by Ted Gup. For security reasons, no pictures are allowed on the tour because most of the space being leased for a huge CSXIP server farm, but I was allowed to get a picture with my sister at one of three blast doors.
We enjoyed excellent food at several restaurants during my stay, but the standout meal was this evening at Sam Snead’s Restaurant where I demonstrated what a thru-hiker can do to a 20 oz ribeye steak. That was perhaps the best steak I have had I my life, and made for a perfect ending to this wonderful “zero.”
My sister had been planning this trail rendezvous for over a year, and I am eternally grateful for her kindness and generosity. Not only did she give me the opportunity to experience this amazing resort, but she also brought me my resupply and summer gear, and is taking my winter gear back with her. It was a most enjoyable break from the trail, and it was wonderful to get to spend some time with my sister and her hubby. Thank you both so much!