With Emily off on her mini-moon (Congrats Mr. and Mrs. THOMAS!), what better time to give you a little mental vacation at your desk to start the week? Y’all know we’re in the thick of making a [gorgeous, stunning, amazing, phenomenal] fifth anniversary issue happen, right? And y’all know we work hard around these parts, right? I couldn’t have asked for better timing with my recent visit to The Umstead Hotel and Spa right here in our neck of the woods in Cary, NC! Oh, what a delightful overnight visit we enjoyed and such fabulous Southern hospitality!
The Umstead Hotel and Spa was conceived and built with the muses of Art and Nature. These inspirations paired with impeccable, sincere service make for an exquisite hideaway that will comfort and rejuvenate. Everything – from the naturally landscaped grounds to the central Chihuly glass sculpture, the locally sourced cuisine to the botanically infused Umstead Spa products – is designed to stir the senses and inspire. And inspire it did!
From the sweet peach tea that greeted us in the lobby to the friendly staff to the warm natural elegance of the décor, it was right up my alley. And they know how to treat every guest like family, y’all! When we walked into our gorgeous lake-view suite, we were overwhelmed with the size of the room (so perfect for the wedding party to get ready or just for a couple to relax in) and then I squealed when I saw what was waiting on the desk…
A box of hand-crafted artisan chocolates and a lavender eye pillow with a luxurious bath soak. They gift this to all of their brides as well. What a treat! But, the best part for me was the adorable little stuffed bird that accompanied the luxurious treats with a note to Grace. Oh my stars, how thoughtful! Naturally, it is now one of her favorite toys.
They had even set up an adorable crib for Grace in the room with the best view in house! This, plus many other touches during our stay, were sure signs of a property that truly embodies what it means to be gracious and giving. Being surrounded by those two qualities on your big day is truly priceless.
We had our sweet nanny Susan babysit Grace in the room (Susan said Grace’s smile was a mile wide when she saw the giant bath she’d be playing in that night) while we enjoyed a phenomenal six-course meal at The Umstead’s signature restaurant, Heron’s.
As a Florida girl who grew up on the water, the heron has long been one of my favorite birds. Tall and graceful, we’d sit out as a family and watch them careful wade in the water in search of the best fish to eat.
I could write a book about our meal, but to avoid making you all salivate on your keyboards, here are just a few highlights: heirloom tomatoes with parmesan ice cream (!!) and bacon (!!!)… OK, need I say more? The food was divine!
One of my favorite things about Heron’s is that they have a resident culinary farmer who cultivates and gathers produce from local farms for the chefs to use. I would love to meet her and follow her for a day. What a lovely job to have!
I now see why so many friends have enjoyed anniversaries and life celebrations here. There were at least three couples in the dining area with us that were there for anniversaries. The food is amazing, the service perfection and the atmosphere is ultra-romantic with warm golden lighting and old jazz standards cooing softly as people dine.
I could also see why people travel in to have weddings here. It’s truly a hidden gem. We were 15 minutes from my house and I felt like we were across an ocean at a secluded retreat. Ari and I will definitely be back next year to celebrate 7 years of marriage.
After an indulgent and delightful meal talking about our marriage and the blessings of the past year with Grace, we settled in to sleep in the plush bed. A+ for comfort, y’all! I felt like we were at home.
The next morning, after some fun time playing around with Gracie in her “fort” – i.e. the covers – we went to the gym (another A+ from the former personal trainer gym rat here!).
Post-gym, I had the pleasure of enjoying a massage at the spa. Let me rephrase that… the spaaaaaaaahhhhhh. Oh, it was so good! Ari and Grace headed off to the gorgeous pool for some daddy/daughter swim time while I drifted off into a state of spaaaahhh bliss.
I’ve had the pleasure of touring and enjoying a lot of spas over the years through the hospitality industry. (Yes, major job perk.) The Umstead is my new happy place. With natural stone and beautiful furnishings, streaming natural light in the gigantic showers and steam room area and dozens of treatment rooms, the spa is something out of a dream and quite huge. I had no idea something like this existed in the South, much less 15 minutes from my house. I sipped on hibiscus tea, munched on spa snacks and took some much-needed deep breaths. It was lovely. As a bride, I’d be on cloud nine to spend my pre-wedding hours here. In fact, I saw a bridal party getting a tour of the spa while I was there and they were positively giddy! Most definitely a recipe for zero wedding day stress!
After the spa, I reunited with the cutest 9-month-old on the planet in her little cute bathing suit and her handsome daddy and took a quick tour of the property. Besides the 12 acres of gorgeous wooded land and natural surroundings, including a beautiful ceremony lawn that overlooks the lake, the property boasts some of the most beautiful ballrooms I’ve ever seen! I’m such a fan of outdoor ceremonies, but I have to say I’d have a hard time choosing at The Umstead.
The ballrooms are beautifully decorated (even the carpet, y’all!) and the golden fabric-paneled walls had me swooning. The hallways are decked with local artwork and the ceilings are taller than oaks. Any combination of outdoor beauty and ballroom elegance would make for an unforgettable beginning to married life.
After our inspiring property tour, we [sadly] packed up to head home. We’ll be back for a visit soon again, for sure! Huge thanks to the gracious Umstead staff for hosting us!
I’d love to hear from our local brides. Have you visited The Umstead? What did you love most?