Head to healing Bedford Springs Resort this fall
This 19th century property has been lovingly restored to be one of the most luxurious and history-rich vacation destinations in Pennsylvania.
Fall is the perfect time to retreat to nature. But that doesn’t have to mean roughing it. Bedford Springs Resort balances the outdoors with opulence–from vast mountain views and the springs themselves to one of the nation’s top spas, an acclaimed golf course, fine dining and posh accommodations–all amid rich history.
Much like the southern genteel enjoyed the healing mineral springs at Bedford during the 1800s and 1900s, guests today luxuriate in the serene setting. Today’s amenities look a little different however, from the new Springs Eternal Spa to daily family friendly activities like geocaching and insect hunting.
Relaxation and Amenities
The famed Bedford Baths preserve the experience of the past as does the indoor spring-fed pool (one of the first in the country) that guests can enjoy year-round. The Bedford Bath ritual, part of the spa experience for all guests to enjoy (there’s a men’s and women’s bath), starts with a deluge shower and black walnut ginger scrub, followed by hot and cold treatments. Next is the eucalyptus steam room, followed by a plunge in the heated pool of mineral spring water with massaging jets. A cool refreshing mineral spring pool followed by an Indian cucumber root hydrating mist complete the ritual, leaving you invigorated, refreshed and relaxed. Guests retreat to a relaxation room before and after treatments where teas and healthy snacks await. (If the weather permits, lounge outside and relax to the soothing sounds of the mineral springs fountains and birds chirping amid the gardens of lavender and boxwoods.)
Old photos throughout the resort depict guests relaxing on the vast verandas, playing cards and music; today, Bedford Springs Resort is not all that different, as couples and families gather on the porches to rock and sip afternoon tea at 4 o’clock, play chess in the library, or gather around the bonfire for live music (and maybe even s’mores). Hiking and biking are also popular activities for the area.
Bedford Springs Resort comes to life for history buffs. It’s one of the only retreats of its kind not destroyed in the Civil War, though it came very close to being destroyed when it sat vacant for over 20 years after the last building closed in 1982; it was lovingly restored and reopened in 2007.
The 2,200 acre property dates back to 1796 when a physician named Dr. John Anderson purchased it, and in 1804 opened the Stone Inn, a 24-room inn for guests flocking to the medicinal mineral springs. But he wasn’t the first to discover the springs’ value. According to doorman and resident historian Scott Mallow, Native Americans taught Dr. Anderson and others about each spring and its properties, then testimonials posted in the local newspapers of guests further encouraged more traffic to the springs for their healing powers. As Mallow recounts, guests used to hike to the different springs in a circuit and then come back to the resort for breakfast.
Among the first guests of the resort were Vice President Aaron Burr and his grandson, followed by Presidents Jackson, Taylor, Polk and Buchanan (who came to make Bedford his “summer White House” and also received the first trans-Atlantic cable communication from Queen Victoria there in 1858). Other Presidential visits included Harrison, Garfield, Taft, Eisenhower, and Reagan; most recently, George W. Bush stayed in the Polk Suite over Memorial Day weekend 2012.
Of the resort’s original seven springs, the Crystal, Sulfur and Sweet Springs have been capped off. Most notable, the Black Spring produces 300-500,000 gallons of water each day, which is used to water the lawns and golf course. The Magnesia Spring, most medicinally sought after for its cleansing qualities, and the Limestone Spring, known for curing gestational ailments, are both still flowing just across the walkway from the resort. The Eternal Spring, discovered during the renovation, is located just outside the spa.
Everything you need is at your fingertips at Bedford Springs Resort, including dining options for every occasion. Enjoy an elegant breakfast buffet in the Crystal Room, which also serves lunch and dinner, a casual lunch in Frontier Tavern (go for the wingback leather chairs overlooking the lawn), or a lavish dinner at the 1796 Steak and Chop House. There, ask to sit in the cozy loveseats for two and note the antique coverlets hanging on the walls (be sure to visit The National Museum of the American Coverlet in downtown Bedford). Also available are wine tasting and dinners as well as cooking with the chefs.
Architecture and Design
Today the resort boasts 216 rooms throughout the different additions. After the original Stone Inn, the Bachelor’s and Crockford House were built in 1811, followed by the Evitt House in 1830. The main entrance is a Greek revival style building known as the Colonnade, built in 1838. According to Mallow, the resort as we know it today was built by wealthy southerners investing in Dr. Anderson’s operation, as many were guests who fled the hot south. But after the Civil War, when there was no more southern money flowing into Bedford, the resort began marketing toward the Industrial Revolution in Pittsburgh and Bethlehem. The Swiss Cottage was added in 1846 and is mirrored in style by the new Springs Eternal Spa and House, the latest additions after 1890’s Anderson House. The property is certainly a sight to see for those with an eye for architecture and design.
Another draw for architecture and design enthusiasts, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Fallingwater, built for the Kauffman family, owners of the Pittsburgh department store, and the lesser known Kentuck Knob, built for the Hagan family of Haagen Dazs ice cream, are both just an hour and a half drive from the resort. You can make a day of the mountainous foliage filled drive, having lunch at the café at Fallingwater, a treehouse like structure, while leaf peeping on the way to and fro. For more information and tickets, visit www.Fallingwater.org and www.KentuckKnob.com.
To plan your visit to Bedford Springs Resort, visit www.OmniHotels.com.