WE (AND BY THAT I MEAN I) were severely underdressed for lounging at the Umstead. The Forbes five-star resort and spa set in a 12-acre wooded grove in Cary, North Carolina, requires slink; champagne satin a la Harlow, marabou mules.
Sleek blond furniture, Frette linens, plush carpets, triple layers of drapery, it’s tres 1930s drawing-room comedy. Bring on Jeeves! Enter Clark Gable. (You can add Asta, but a pup will add $200 to room tabs that begin at $329.)
Our 1,080-square-foot suite runs $599, including a foyer, powder room, huge balcony overlooking the pool (open through November) and a lake with a trail that skirts splashing fountains and basking turtles. The bath, large enough for a rumba and standard in all rooms, features a soaking tub, separate glassed-in shower and toilet, double vanity and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries.
What magic have they done with the lighting and mirrors? One looks 10 pounds lighter, three inches taller. You won’t regret a final glance before sashaying off to Herons, the hotel’s extraordinary restaurant, or a nightcap in the bar and grill, which borrows glitter from the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture. The hotel’s artwork alone is worth the visit.
A zip down the road from the Research Triangle that is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the Umstead is perfect for visiting the college kid–also a fine stopping point on trips south.
Included with your room are separate but equal facilities for men and women, including eucalyptus-infused steam baths, saunas, whirlpools, lounges, a meditation garden and a co-ed current pool. There are cucumber slices for the eyes (though we can’t swear they offer them to guys), teas and waters for system cleansing and invigorating.
Extras include massage therapies from thumping to soothing, exotic body scrubs, collagen facials and more. To understand the whole layout a tour guide is required. One is provided.
And have you ever been in a scented gym? We (and by that I mean I) kid you not. Sweat never smelled so sweet.
— Stephanie Cavanaugh
Stephanie Cavanaugh is a freelance writer who covers
everything from luxurious hotels and spas, to homes haunted by ghosts and ghastly odors.
The Umstead Hotel & Spa, 100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary, North Carolina 27513; 919-447-400, theumstead.com. Room rates start at $329.