Renovation work often conjures up modern designs, sleek aesthetics, and an “out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new” mentality. But the Omni Homestead Resort’s recent $150 million-plus rehabilitation and renovation was not intended to look like your average “new build.”
In fact, when it came to the rehabilitation of its historic Warm Springs Pools (the first spa structure in the country, established in 1761), it was determined that the 1920s would be the “period of significance,” says Lynn Swann, director of marketing and communications, as 1925 was the year in which the resort acquired the pools. All repairs and restorations had to adhere to this specific time period.
The team “worked really closely with the State Preservation Officer to make sure we were preserving as much of the original fabric as possible,” says Swann. The rehabilitation work just on the Warm Springs Pools (there are separate gentleman’s and ladies’ bathhouses) added up to about $4.6 million, according to Swann.
The Warm Springs Pools (located in Warm Springs and not to be confused with the resort town of Hot Springs) were closed from October 2017 to December 2022. The Warm Springs Pools are open to anyone, not just resort guests, and timed reservations are required (to prevent overcrowding). The resort provides a shuttle for hotel guests. These pools are open year-round, Tuesdays through Sundays, and there is a $30 per person fee for each 50-minute time slot. If you’re looking for some romantic, last-minute Valentine’s Day plans, the resort is offering a Starlight Soak, a private evening session for $400, which includes prosecco and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Although the bathhouses are not heated (in keeping with the authentic 1920s experience), indoor plumbing and modern heating were added to the restrooms and reception house.
“There is something magical about soaking in the warm springs while snow falls through the oculus,” says Holly Hicks, assistant director of the spa and Warm Springs pools manager. The water is constantly 96 to 98 degrees, and, according to Hicks, it’s rich in minerals such as calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.
“With that water being body temperature, it’s the perfect environment to open our pores and allow us to absorb all those minerals through our skin and get those benefits,” Hicks says.
The rest of the resort’s renovation was completed in October 2023, and, except for 20 days, the resort remained open throughout the entire project. This work included renovations of all 483 guest rooms, public spaces, meeting rooms, and restaurants, according to Swann. A new event pavilion and associate housing were added. The facade of the building received a refresh — everything from adding storm windows, repairing door frames, and replacing mortar.
One of the major “themes” of the renovation work was lightness — taking advantage of more natural light, switching to lighter woods — all the while making sure to honor the history and traditions of the resort and area. This is even reflected in some of the carpet designs, which showcase native birds, butterflies, plants, flowers, and even the iconic resort tower, Hicks and Swann say.
In addition to the offsite Warm Springs Pools, the resort boasts an on-site spa (renovated in 2012 and 2013). Resort guests can take advantage of Allegheny Springs (a 2-acre water park complete with lazy river, slides, and a whirlpool fed by natural spring water), a 24-hour indoor pool (fed by spring water but not free-flowing, so it’s chlorinated), and the Serenity Garden Pool (a spring-fed pool open to those who are 18 and older and have a qualifying spa service or day pass). Room rates start around $287, not including taxes and resort charges. 1766 Homestead Dr., Hot Springs
Feature image courtesy The Omni Homestead Resort
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