GETTING THERE: Colgan Airways flies twice daily, April through November, from Washington National to Ingalls Field in Hot Springs, Va., a 17-mile taxi ride from the Homestead. The round-trip fare is $180. That's the quick way.
The scenic way is by car, via I-66 west and I-81 south through the Shenandoah Valley. At Mount Crawford, just south of Harrisonburg, turn west three miles to Bridgewater. At Bridgewater, head south again on Rte. 42 through attractive farm country to Goshen. At Goshen, turn west again on Rte. 39, a Virginia scenic byway, to Warm Springs. At Warm Springs, turn south on U.S. Rte. 220 and it's five miles to the Homestead. The entrance is just past the hotel through the village of Hot Springs. The distance is about 200 miles or four hours. This is country driving; in all of Bath County, there isn't a traffic light.
A sightseeing alternative is to head west from Rte. 42 at Churchville on U.S. Rte. 250 to Monterey and then turn south on Rte. 220. It will add an hour to your travel time, but the views are worth it. Rte. 250 climbs and descends three high ridges in one of Virginia's most remote corners, and Rte. 220 winds through the beautiful cattle-raising valley of the Jackson River.
American Zephyr, operator of old luxury rail cars, has scheduled five weekend trips from Washington to the Homestead this summer and fall. At Clifton Forge, Zephyr passengers will transfer to limousines or buses for the 30-mile drive from the station to the resort. Friday lunch will be served en route and Sunday dinner on the return in the vintage car attached to Amtrak's Cardinal. The price, including rail travel and on-board meals, transfers, two nights at the Homestead, breakfast and dinner daily, is $549 per person (double occupancy). Departures: June 21-23, July 19-21, Aug. 16-18, Sept 13-15 and Oct. 11-13. For more information on the train package only: (202) 223-6026.
Amtrak's Cardinal departs Washington for Clifton Forge on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m., arriving at 3:20 p.m. It departs Clifton Forge for Washington on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 3:20 p.m., arriving at 8:10 p.m. The round trip is $60. Limousine service from Clifton Forge is available to the Homestead at $50 one-way for one to four passengers. Reserve through Independent Livery, (703) 839-2752.
WHAT IT COSTS: A double room at the Homestead, including two meals daily, goes for from $100 to $131 per person a day. Children sharing a room with parents are charged between $22 (age 1 to 3) and $77 (15 and older) per day. A suite for two, including bedroom and sitting room, is $157 per person a day.
A service charge of $9 a day per person is added to the bill for dining room and housekeeping tips. Bellhops, room service and other services are tipped at the guest's discretion.
Sports fees are as follows: Golf, $20 per day for greens fee and $20 per round for a golf cart; tennis, $7 per player per hour for singles play and $5.50 per player per hour for doubles; horseback riding, $14 per hour; trout fishing, $18 creel fee plus nonresident license, $3.50; skeet and trap shooting, round of 25 "birds," $15.75.; swimming, no charge.
The Spa, next to the indoor pool, offers a variety of body-pampering treatments, including use of the sauna ($9), a whirlpool bath ($11) and a massage ($15).
INFORMATION: The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va. 24445, (703) 839-5500.
SIGHTSEEING: Another famous old luxury resort, the Greenbrier, is less than an hour away in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Drive south from the Homestead on Rte. 220 to Covington, then head west on U.S. Rte. 60 for a short distance and pick up I-64 to White Sulphur Springs. When you are staying at one of these places, you're curious about the other. The Greenbrier looks grand, too.