Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up: Greenbrier Edition

It only took us 9 months to finally use the gift card I had received for "10 years of not quitting" from my work. The Greenbrier Resort is not a place we'd ever stay on our own volition, but having a $1000 gift card in hand was a great way to experience the place without constantly worrying about the cost.

We drove down on Thursday via I-81, which looks just like it did a decade ago but with four times as many long-haul trucks. We took a brief stop in Staunton for lunch and a wine tasting at the Ox-Eye Vineyards in the Wharf District. I had envisioned stevedores and paddleboats, but apparently the Wharf District consisted of an old creek mostly paved over. Staunton was nice though -- we might go back someday.

For our first afternoon in grandeur, we took tea and biscuits in the main dining room. Although mindful of the constant dress code, we put minimal effort into being classy, and I wore my khaki pants that were three sizes too large, last worn as an ear training instructor at Florida State. We then had happy hour in the casino bar and used up our "free" casino cash being thoroughly befuddled by the newest in slot machine technology. Gone are the days where you pull a lever and line up some cherries -- every machine had multiple play modes and win patterns, to the point where only career slot-grandmothers could ever understand them. For dinner, we ate Italian food at The Forum, followed up with a tiramisu the size of a pug.

On Friday, we went hiking in the Allegheny Mountains. The private trails were very well-fashioned, if poorly mapped, and we continued to stumble across super rich homes higher up the mountain. In the afternoon, Rebecca had a full sulphur spring and spa / massage treatment followed by more tea and crumpets. We had delicious coffee stouts at happy hour in another hotel lounge, and then split a gigantic pizza back at The Forum. In the evening, we watched a free showing of Gravity in the classic theatre.

We went out for another hike through the shale barrens on Saturday and then returned to swim in the gigantic indoor pool in the afternoon. We then had an early dinner in the casino bar and spent the evening wandering through all of the ridiculously decorated halls, beset by floral prints on all sides.

On Sunday morning, we took a tour of the secret nuclear bunker designed to hide Congress during the Cold War. It was hit-or-miss, with a blend of interesting exhibits and facts interspersed with "there used to be a door here but it's covered up now" tour guiding.

In spite of being able to charge things to the room and the automatic 20% service charge on everything, we only ended up spending $1210 for the entire weekend, which became $210 after applying the gift card. The facilities felt a little dated, but the service was impeccable. Overall, it was a fun, lavish experience although there's no reason for us to ever go back.

On the drive home, we stopped at Blue Mountain Brewery for lunch, and then braved the scads of drivers on Route 29 to get back to Sterling around 5 PM. Yesterday (Monday), we had a recovery day, doing nothing but playing Hearthstone and watching American Hustle.

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