Rejuvenate Your Senses at a Historic Wellness Retreat
Everything about Springs Eternal Spa is softness: plush towels, soothing music, delicious seasonal teas and snuggly blankets as you sink into a plump-cushioned chaise set by the fire or overlooking the gardens. And that’s just the spa’s cozy relaxation room within Pennsylvania’s historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Set in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, the resort makes the frazzled feel refreshed, which may be why it has played host to 13 U.S. presidents; President James Buchanan made it his summer White House in the mid-1800s. Originally renowned for the purported healing properties of the area’s mineral springs, the 2,200-acre property today includes a golf course, tennis courts, 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, lawn croquet, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool complex and the 30,000-square-foot spa.
Renovations during the pandemic included the addition of Evitt House Coffee cafe, a fitness center, an archery range, off-road vehicle trails and Tally Ho Outfitters. Stop by Tally Ho to book yoga and Pilates classes or private sessions, guided hikes (including a meditative walk), carriage rides, horseback riding, and equipment rentals for biking and fishing.
The resort’s 220 rooms and suites (some pet-friendly) come in an assortment of room types, each with high-end down comforters and sheets. Several also have balconies with rocking chairs, and some have bathrooms with soaking tubs. Dine on classic American gourmet fare in an 18th-century setting at the 1796 Room.
The outdoor pool opens in May. Daily activities for children begin Memorial Day weekend. A “Spring Into Wellness” weekend—think spa, sunrise yoga and lazing about in a hammock—is June 2-4, and the Tally Ho Outfitters’ fishing tournament is June 18. Room rates begin at $274.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort, 2138 Business 220, Bedford, Pennsylvania; 814-623-8100; omnihotels.com/hotels/bedford-springs
America’s Whiskey Roots
Did you know that when he died, our first president was one of the nation’s largest whiskey producers? After a nearly 200-year hiatus and multimillion-dollar reconstruction, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill started producing spirits again 16 years ago, using Washington’s original methods and powered in part by a 16-foot waterwheel. Tours began in 2022.
Led by team members who personally distill the product, the tour provides an opportunity to learn about Washington’s expertise in whiskey production; U.S. patent No. 3, the Oliver Evans automated gristmill system; heirloom grains; and how the team produces unaged rye whiskey (just as Washington did).
Tours are available through October with a George Washington’s Mount Vernon admission ticket, or a distillery-and-gristmill-only ticket for $10. Better still, you can sample three spirits on a whiskey tasting and tour, held Saturdays and Sundays in May, June and September from 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets: $50 for Mount Vernon members; $60 for nonmembers. The distillery is located less than 3 miles from the Mount Vernon estate. A shuttle runs between them. The whiskeys are served at the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant and also can be purchased at whiskey.mountvernon.org. The distillery serves as a gateway to the American Whiskey Trail, a collection of sites in Virginia and beyond that tell the history of spirit production in the United States.
George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, 5514 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Alexandria, Virginia; 703-780-2000; mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/distillery/
Bed Down in Charm City’s New Creative Haven
Opened in the fall of 2022 in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, the Ulysses hotel reflects an amalgam of the city’s notable people and creative soul with a name that references James Joyce’s mythical novel and a ship that brought Bavarian immigrants to Baltimore. Designers for parent company Ash Hotels traveled to India, Europe and Vietnam to collect furniture and art for the Ulysses, along with pieces from Maryland estate sales. American filmmaker, writer, actor, artist and Baltimore native son John Waters’ brand of counterculture served as inspiration for several campy elements, from suite themes to carved wooden flamingo side tables.
The 116 guest rooms and suites feature hand-beaded lampshades, ornate dark wood furniture, four-poster beds and handmade quilts. All-day bistro Ash Bar, inspired by steam train dining cars, serves up everything from coffee and housemade pastries to pasta, fish and veggie items. Try the popular 24 Hour Pressed Potatoes. Sip cocktails—Midori sours and old-fashioneds are favorites here—at Bloom’s, the feast-for-the-senses lounge. Room rates begin at $179.
Ulysses, 2 E. Read St., Baltimore, Maryland; 443-682-8578; hotelulysses.com
This story appears in the May/June issue of Bethesda Magazine.