Whether you approach Hot Springs from the north or south along Sam Snead highway, you become aware of the presence of The Omni Homestead Resort well before you arrive in town. The first things you notice are the impeccably groomed golf courses with meandering golf cart paths and signs indicating “golf carts crossing.” Soon, though, you see the steeple-like top of the iconic tower.
Actually, along a sharp curve in the road where Sam Snead Highway meets Main Street, visitors get an up close look at some parts of the resort, including the spa and conference center. It surprising to some that a grand resort that sits on 2,000 acres has sections so close to the road. It’s a reminder that for all its history and magnificence, it’s still part of the neighborhood. Above it all, the tower dominates. As you stroll down Main Street visiting shops, restaurants and the county’s local craft brewery, the top of brick tower is always visible just above the trees. It lets you know that you’re close to The Homestead and all that it offers and represents.
The resort opened as an 18-room hotel in 1766. It was named in honor of the Homesteaders who built the resort and bathhouses. The resort enjoyed prosperous times as visitors came to soak in the healing mineral springs. Then in 1901, much of the property was destroyed by fire. The very next day, the owner and investors met and decided to rebuild. They did so in grand fashion. The Great Hall was opened in 1902. The West Wing and East Wing were added in 1904 and 1914, respectively. In 1929, the Tower was completed. It has been the most visible and iconic part of the resort ever since.
The Homestead knows how to make an impression. The first sight of the golf course is a just a subtle hint that you’re close. Then you spot the top of the tower just above the top of the trees. The entrance on Sam Snead Highway is marked by a tasteful sign. All this modest understatement makes what happens next so special. After the turn at the entrance sign, you’ll briefly wind through some tree-lined streets when all of a sudden there it is. The resort laid out in front of you, complete with a mountain backdrop and impeccable green lawn in the foreground. You see the impressive tower and a covered porch that seems to go on forever. It’s a stunning sight and an appropriate welcome to one of America’s great resorts.
As inspiring as that initial sight may be, only a portion of the resort is visible. That’s something to reflect on while sipping a beverage in rocking chair on that endless porch.