Hot Springs, Virginia, located about an hour and a half from the city of Roanoke, has attracted visitors for generations because of its natural, healing mineral springs that flow through the mountainous area.
As you drive down Highway 220 a few miles away from the majestic Homestead Resort toward the town of Warm Springs in the County of Bath, you stumble upon a structure that looks like it hasn’t changed since it was built in the 1700s. You’re looking at the first spa in the United States.
The historic Jefferson Pools, named after America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson, who “took to the waters” three times a day for three weeks as a hydrotherapy treatment for rheumatism in 1818, is now operated by The Homestead Resort.
I ran out of time on my trip to Virginia and didn’t soak in the springs, which stay at a perfect body temperature year round, but I did take a peek inside the pools on my way out of town. The pools are quite deep, and there is a smell of sulfur as you enter its doors. The pools are amazingly crystal clear, and you can see rocks and minerals on the bottom. Guests were easily floating around on noodles. There are two bath houses for each gender, and in the afternoon bathing becomes clothing-optional. As I stared at these pools which have not changed much since Jefferson’s visit, I couldn’t help but wonder if he sat in here in the buff, too.
Needless to say, I chose to keep my clothes on during my stay and take a more modern approach to “taking on the waters.” My family spent a lot of quality time at the new Allegheny Springs at the resort, which is two acres of water fueled by water from the natural springs.
One word: Awesome
I could have stayed in this area all day, and I think it is an amenity that would keep me coming back year after year to this genteel Southern resort. There is just something about splashing around in warm water, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, that feels therapeutic. Three 100-foot water slides were not complete on our visit, but they will be open this fall.
The lazy river was perfect, and I loved that the water was only three feet deep. My son could go on his own tube, and my daughter could easily go with one of us. We could also relax about my 6-year-old and not worry about him in the river if we chose to lounge on a chaise for a while. We, of course, visited in the height of the hot summer months, but as fall and winter seasons approach, the pools will still be used.
When the temperatures drop, the pools become steamy, and the chaise lounges are propped along a wall warmed by radiant heat.
While at The Homestead Resort, I slipped away for a little “me” time, too. There is an award-winning spa on property, and I decided I was overdue for a little pampering. I left my daughter with my husband at Allegheny Springs, and my son tried his hand at archery with other kids at the resort’s top-notch operated kid’s club. My time at the spa away from any responsibility made me feel like I was really on vacation.
After a long summer of wearing backless shoes, I chose to have a Mineral Springs pedicure, which incorporates a foot scrub with mud created from the healing springs. The spa also offers a “Jefferson Soak” treatment, fused with salts containing the restorative properties of the healing Jefferson pools. It’s more expensive than a soak in the original pools, but I think I would prefer this luxurious method a little more than the original.
My two hours in the spa were pure bliss. I later joined my family for dinner feeling relaxed like never before.
Here’s an insider tip: The Homestead Resort is about to renovate its spa and open a brand new outdoor spa garden for adults with a mineral pool as the main feature for solitude and relaxation. During this construction time, you may find some great deals on spa treatments since the spa will be in temporary locations. Trust me, the Homestead is a luxury property, and during this transition you will still feel like a queen, so don’t let renovations stop you from scoring a great deal.
To learn more about vacationing at The Homestead Resort, visit the resort’s website for its latest news and offerings.
Disclosure: I was a guest of The Homestead Resort as part of a press trip. My spa treatment was complimentary on this trip, but my family did have other out-of-pocket expenses while staying at the resort. As always, my opinions are my own.