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The Greenbrier

by Sally Bernstein

The Greenbrier is a legendary, full-service resort situated on 6,500 acres in the Allegheny Mountains in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Just off Interstate 64, this true tradition of the Old South is located 250 miles southwest of Washington, DC. The spring of mineral water in the middle of the grounds has been the center of resort life since 1778, even though the rituals and routines of this life have varied considerably in those centuries. For over 200 continuous years there has been a resort at White Sulphur Springs. During the 19th century, only the finest families, the powerful and fashionable were among those who summered at the Old White, as it was called, drinking the famed mineral waters reputed to cure all manner of ailments, bring color to the cheek and ensure longevity. The springs gained fame when a woman's rheumatism was "cured" within seconds after being immersed in the sulfur water.

The hotel has been closed to the public twice, once during the Civil War and then again during World War II. Today, this five-star, five-diamond resort offers a haven for romantics, golfers, families, spa enthusiasts or those seeking wonderful recreational facilities or seasonal holiday activities. The La Varenne Cooking School and a Clinic are other available activities.

Staff, Accomodations, Activities

The service-oriented Greenbrier staff of 1,600 employees outnumber the guests. And many staff members are second and third generation employees.

The hotel offers 672 rooms, of which 100 are cottages on the ground and separate from the main hotel, a conference center with 30 meeting rooms, and an exhibit hall. The Spa, Mineral Baths and Salon offer a "get away from it all" attitude. The Spa has 18 different treatments designed to refresh and renew. Massages, mineral baths, aromatherapy, whirlpool baths, sauna, steam, Swiss shower, and Scotch spray are all options as well as the natural White Sulphur Springs sulfur water baths.

Golf is king here and there are a total of 54 holes in three courses: the Old White Course, the Lakeside Course, and the Greenbrier Course. In 1993 after a hiatus of 18 years, golfing great Sam Snead returned as Golf Professional Emeritus, a position he holds today. Just shy of his 81st birthday, he shot a 71 on the Old White Course. Snead arrived at The Greenbrier in 1936, his first professional job, at age 23.

Golf is only one of the many diversions at The Greenbrier. There are fifteen outdoor and five indoor tennis courts, two croquet lawns, indoor and outdoor swimming, a recreational area (bowling, billiards, and ping pong), trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, carriage rides, mountain biking, the Falconry Academy, aerobics, a hunting preserve, trap and skeet shooting, and white water rafting.

Room charges are based on the Modified American Plan which includes breakfast and dinner. Meals are prepared by a staff of 120 culinarians who serve 4,000 meals per day during the peak season (April 1 through October 31). There are five dining venues on site, from the Main Dining Room to the Golf Club. The cafeteria was designed to feed 400 persons at one seating.


As is tradition at the resort, The Greenbrier cuisine is based on a blend of classical, continental and American recipes. Greenbrier Light (GL) offers healthy entr»es which contain approximately one-third the calories of a normal restaurant meal, half the sodium, and no more than 30 percent of the calories are from fat. These leaner, lighter menu choices are featured on many of the resort's restaurant menus.

For those visitors not watching their calories, there is candy made on the premises at The Greenbrier. Although their are 44 products, the seven different varieties of truffles seem to be the favorites. Don't miss the pina colada truffle made of white "chocolate" or the raspberry chocolate truffle. 16,000 pounds of Merken's Chocolate from Mansville, Massachusetts is ordered four or five times a year. That's a lot of chocolate! Mail order available.

The Big Surprise

In 1992, a fantastic discovery was made at The Greenbrier. According to Robert S. Conte (author of the book The History of The Greenbrier: America's Resort; $25.00; available at The Greenbrier or by calling 800/624-6070):

The Greenbrier Government Relocation Facility was a top-secret of the Cold War and was designed to permit the continuation of the American form of constitutional government in the event of nuclear war.

Planned by the Eisenhower Administration, in cooperation with the leadership of the United States Congress, the facility was built under The Greenbrier between 1958 and 1961. Since its completion, it was maintained in a state of constant readiness by a cover company called Forsythe Associates.

The secrecy of its location was paramount to the facility's effectiveness, and the secret was maintained for more than 30 years prior to May 31, 1992 when the Washington Post published a story effectively exposing it...

The Greenbrier has taken over the facility which is now open for daily tours, and is also used for gourmet cooking classes and special group activities.

For more information, contact The Greenbrier at: (800) 624-6070

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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