Keswick Hall at Monticello
Just 90 minutes south of Washington and ten minutes from Charlottesville, Virginia, lies Monticello, which Thomas Jefferson called the “Eden of the United States.” Nearby is another Eden, Keswick Hall. First built as a private home in 1912, Keswick Hall is now a luxury resort (owned by Orient-Express Hotels) with a serene 25-meter infinity edge pool, as well as lush golf greens which Arnold Palmer once called “the finest on the East Coast.” Set on 600 acres, the resort's natural beauty makes it an enchanting spot for a long weekend away from the city.
Rooms: The resort has 48 rooms and no two are alike. Each is beautifully decorated in the “squire's lifestyle” theme with prints depicting fishing, hunting and the arts. High ceilings, antique books, feather stuffed chairs, rich wood armoires, French doors leading to patios, and large wood-burning fireplaces make each room an inviting retreat. At night, homemade shortbread, chocolate truffles or palmetto cookies are left as a bedside snack. Room nine, once served as the estate's original master bedroom, is a favorite with such celebrities as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. This Louis XV-inspired room is the most requested lodging on the property.
Service: The resort has a highly-trained staff. As the resort puts it, “No request is too daunting – nor too diminutive.” Guests are promptly greeted. Room service arrives within a few minutes. All staff members are knowledgeable about the grounds and surrounding areas. Somehow they manage to appear when you need assistance and remain out-ofsight when you prefer privacy. Keswick Hall has specialized butlers, including a Baby Butler to assist with every childcare need from warming bottles, to serving specially prepared baby food by a world renowned chef.
Home away from home: Keswick Hall has many public sitting rooms with grand, wood burning fireplaces. Each contains a variety of books (over 400 about Virginia or by Virginian authors), magazines, and overstuffed chairs that make it an ideal place for relaxing, reading, conversing, or playing cards and board games. In addition, there is a large snooker room with an adjacent bar that is open anytime of day or night. On Christmas morning, the resort hangs personalized stockings for each guest in one of the public rooms, an example of how the management seeks to create a home-like ambiance.
Dining: There are two restaurants on the property. The main restaurant, Fossett's, offers delicious, innovative, Nuevo-American cuisine featuring local produce. Main courses include chateaubriand, Virginia red deer lion, Jameson rabbit cassoulet and Polyface Farms chicken. The extensive, award-winning wine list offers a selection of “exotic and eccentric” local wines. For a more casual meal, the Palmer Room offers club fare with a gourmet twist. Meals include seared rattlesnake sausage with cactus pad sweet pepper salad. More traditional lobster bisque and club sandwiches are also available.
Golf: The original course at Keswick Hall dates back to 1939 and is dotted with lush cedar, maple and dogwood trees. In the early 1990's, Arnold Palmer redesigned the 18-hole course surrounded by the Blue
Ridge Mountains to span 6,506 yards. Golf at Keswick Hall is taken so seriously that an on-staff psychologist is available to help with the mind-game connection throughout.
Hiking: Guests can roam on the many trails on Keswick's property. Twenty minutes away are Raven's Roost and Twenty-Minute Cliff, ideal spots for a beginner mountain climber that offer gorgeous views. Those wishing to be more adventurous can drive a bit further into the higher mountain terrain and hike for three miles on a trail adjacent to a waterfall. The resort can also arrange a guided tour with a gourmet picnic lunch.
Cycling: Whether you are looking for easy paths that wind through the countryside or a serious trek up the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are many idyllic bicycle trails. Bicycles are complimentary for all hotel guests.
Fishing, Rafting and Tubing: Broadmoor Lake is located conveniently on the property. A fishing permit is required and must be obtained when making reservations. In Scottsville, the James River offers canoeing, tubing, white water rafting (with class I and II rapids). Hot Air Ballooning: Keswick Hall's helipad doubles as a hot hair balloon launch. This attraction is popular in the fall, when you can glide over the picturesque country-side and view the colorful foliage. Keswick Club and Spa: Adjacent to the hotel and located on the property is one of the countries oldest country clubs, which offers hotel guests spa services, golf, tennis (clay and hard courts) and swimming. There is also an exercise facility on the premise. Wine Tasting: The area is surrounded by a surprising number of award-winning vineyards, twenty-five to be exact, including musician Dave Matthews's own Blenheim Vineyards. The landscape of the cut red clay hills and plains makes the terrain ideally suited for viniculture. The Virginia Wine Guide www.virginiawineguide.com has many suggestions to plan a tour.
Other Attractions: Central Virginia is home to several Civil War reminders, including the White House of the Confederacy; Danville, the last capital of the Confederacy; and the Appomattox Court House, where General Lee surrendered to the Union. The Albemarle County Historical Society provides regular tours of historic downtown Charlottesville, where you can also wander about the streets and visit the shops. In the winter, skiing is available nearby at Wintergreen Resort. In addition, Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, is well known for its many antique stores. Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, is not to be missed. Knowledgeable guides provide political and historical details that give insight into the mind of one our most revered founding fathers.