Looking to steal away for a romantic tryst or just need a place for some R&R? Then you should definitely consider the historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort.
Feeling the doldrums of winter, friends and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend of spa treatments, cocktails and good food. So we packed up the car and headed north.
Located about 2 1/2 hours away in the Allegheny Mountains of southern Pennsylvania, the Bedford Springs Resort was built around eight mineral springs in 1796. As word spread that the springs contained curative properties, guests traveled from far and wide to “take the waters.” Eventually, the resort became a legendary place for celebrities and notables to rejuvenate.
Decorating every corner of the hotel are historic artifacts and memorabilia. I am not a huge history buff but it was really fascinating to see the pictures and read old guest books. The property’s function has changed several times during it’s span, even operating as a US Navy training facility!
The hotel’s website lists some significant dates and events that occurred on site:
- 2012 Former President George W. Bush, 43rd United States President, visits the resort.
- 2007 Omni Bedford Springs Resort is restored to its historic grandeur after a $120 million restoration.
- 1984 The resort is designated a National Historic Landmark
- 1975 Future U.S. President Ronald Reagan visits while governor of California.
- 1943 – 1945 Japanese diplomats captured in Germany during WWII are housed at the resort.
- 1941 – 1943 The U.S. Navy occupies the resort, using it as a training facility for radio operators.
- 1923 Renowned golf course architect Donald Ross remodels Bedford Springs’ 18-hole golf course.
- 1905 One of the first indoor pools in the nation is constructed at Bedford Springs, complete with a mineral water-fed swimming pool, solarium and hydrotherapy rooms.
- 1895 One of the first golf courses in America is laid out by Spencer Oldham at Bedford Springs.
- 1858 First transatlantic cable is received by President Buchanan in the lobby of the Bedford Springs Resort. He spent 40 summers in Bedford Springs.
- 1848 James K. Polk is the first sitting president to visit Bedford Springs. A total of 10 U.S. presidents will eventually be hosted by the resort, including visits by seven presidents during their time in office. These include Presidents Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, James Buchanan, James Garfield and William H. Taft.
- 1821 Future U.S. President James Buchanan makes the first of many visits to Bedford Springs, which will become his “summer White House” during his time in office.
- 1819 Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, visits the resort for several weeks. The resort will host several other Presidents while not in office, including William Henry Harrison, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and James Garfield.
- 1806 The Stone Inn, the first of the hotel’s buildings, is constructed from stone located on a mountain across from the resort.
- 1802 Patients of Dr. Anderson experience the healing properties of the springs in new bathing facilities.
- 1796 Dr. John Anderson discovers the mineral springs of Bedford, long known by the Native Americans, and purchases the property
The resort boasts four distinct restaurants, each with it’s own personality. 1796 Room is a classic steakhouse, Che Sara Sara is a quick serve cafe, and the Crystal Room is the main dining room and features farm-to-table seasonal fare. But my favorite was the Frontier Tavern.
The Frontier Tavern is a cozy bar with a billiards room and comfy leather chairs situated perfectly for an intimate cocktail and conversation.
The menu is amazing and takes “bar food” to the next level — think braised beef poutine and house-made potato chips with blue cheese and balsamic. Full disclosure — I had the chips twice!
Another disclosure, their Bloody Mary bar is dangerous. I ordered a double and it cost me a whopping $31! But it was worth it. The Tavern has created an entire menu of add-ons like jumbo lump crab meat, mussels, clams and prosciutto. In theory, you could skip an entree.
The Springs Eternal Spa is the main attraction at Bedford Springs. It’s a fully renovated facility that includes a soaking pool and well-appointed relaxation room. It is also one of the few spas in the country utilizing natural spring water in all of its treatments. The menu includes a large array of salon and spa treatments, plus special healing offerings like Reiki.
For obvious reasons, I was not allowed to take pictures within the spa.
One of the coolest features of the resort is the heated indoor spring-fed pool built in 1905. Apparently, musicians would serenade the swimmers from an elevated opera box, and according to their website, “daring sons of visiting dignitaries would plunge into the two-story pool from its upper level.”
The architecture and tile work reminded me of the pools at Hearst Castle in California (albeit more minimal). I was instantly transported into another era. I didn’t have my bathing suit with me, but I plan to spend a lot of time in this pool on my next visit.
The resort also has a beautiful outdoor pool with a bar that was closed for the season. There is also a fabulous fire pit for s’mores. By the way, kids would love this resort! There is plenty for the whole family — hiking paths, bikes for rent, an 18-hole golf course, a playground, and the aforementioned s’mores.
Lastly, the rooms. The rooms are gorgeous and the bathroom was phenomenal. Talk about a perfect way to escape the weekly grind.
The Omni Bedford Springs is just a short ride away and well worth crossing a state line. I certainly can’t wait to go back!
Bedford, PA 15522