Nothing screams ”road trip” like a crisp autumn day, and nothing whispers “history” like the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa in Bedford, Pa. Combine them, and you have a fabulous getaway 90 minutes from Pittsburgh.
Drawn to its mineral springs and their healing properties, Dr. John Anderson purchased the 2,200-acre property in 1796. Guest and bathhouses gave way to a 24-room inn, and, by 2007, the property had grown to a restored, 216-room resort and spa. The history that occurred over those years is fascinating.
Eleven American presidents have visited, seven while in office. It was the summer White House for James Buchanan. (He received the country’s first trans-Atlantic cables there—from Queen Victoria.) It had one of the country’s first 18-hole golf courses (originally designed by Spencer Oldham) and indoor swimming pools. During its heyday, from the 1850s–1920s, it was popular with industrialists and east-coast high society. It housed Union generals and their families during the Civil War and interned Japanese diplomats during World War II, while also serving as a naval communications center.
The property fell into disrepair following a 1986 flood, but, in 2007, it reopened, following a three-year, $120 million renovation. The attention to detail is impressive. From wall coverings and carpets, to furniture and coverlets on the beds, everything in sight is historically accurate. Walls and display cases abound with historical documents and photographs. It is truly like going back in time with all of the amenities of the modern world.
Guest rooms are understatedly elegant, with triple-sheeted beds, fluffy robes, iPod docking stations and free, high-speed, wireless Internet. The restaurants feature everything from hearty pub fare to the more elegant offerings served in the Crystal Room. The golf course, redesigned by Donald Ross in 1923 and restored by Ron Forse, was chosen the No. 1 Golf Resort in Pennsylvania by Golfweek magazine in 2010. There is fly fishing in a stocked pond, trap shooting, 25 miles of hiking trails (walking sticks are provided in each guest room), and biking. A kid’s club keeps little ones happily occupied while you push yourself to your limits or just relax. English tea is served daily, and chilly evenings are toasty with a nightly bonfire complete with s’more kits, cigars and snifters of brandy.
The 30,000-square-foot, full-service spa includes the signature Bedford Baths with every treatment. This multi-step bathing ritual relaxes guests in preparation for massages, facials or salon services. Guests may also rejuvenate in the spring-fed, indoor mineral pool or fitness facility—both are open 24 hours a day.
For something unique, arrange for the Chef’s Table culinary experience. Your group will work with the executive chef and his team in preparing a multi-course dinner, complemented with Champagne and wine. By dessert, you will feel like you’re on television’s “Top Chef!”
You can also visit the nearby Fort Bedford Museum, Old Bedford Village (check schedules for re-enactments and special programs), covered bridges, antique and gift shops, and the Fall Foliage Festival, which is held the first two weekends in October. Whether you want to enjoy the beauty of fall or just relax in historic luxury, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa is worth the drive.