What does this North Carolina golf resort have to offer for families? Find out here.
In the Past
This legendary North Carolina golf resort was originally built in 1901, and its stately, Victorian-style Pinehurst Hotel (800/487-4653; 910/295-6811) is a centerpiece of America's Historic Hotels group. One constant in the resort's history has been its overwhelming attraction for veteran golfers.
While once there were holes with one tee box, square sand greens with cups fixed in the center, and a cross bunker on every fairway, now there are holes with four tees, smooth bent-grass putting surfaces, and bunkers and hazards placed strategically by the most astute minds in the world of golf-course design.
In the Present
The charming town of clapboard houses and welcoming front porches has recently undergone a spring cleaning to return to its turn-of-the-century beauty.
Within its homey embrace, the over 200 room and 12-suite Pinehurst Hotel (actually named The Carolina) and nearby four-bedroom units in the Pinehurst Hotel Villas comprise most of the present-day resort. The Holly, a recently restored inn combining the Queen Anne Revival, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles features 77 deluxe rooms and 8 suites. The classic white facade of the Manor Inn, about two blacks away in town, masks an 45 additional hotel rooms.
In this safe and sleepy place, guests and village residents still roam around on bicycles. It is this ambiance, as well as the croquet games, topiary gardens, tennis center, polo matches and award-winning golf courses, that have lured families for more than a century. When the copper-domed towers of the 31,000-square-foot Pinehurst Spa open their doors in April, 2002, a new generation of fitness buffs will begin arriving.
For the Family
Although we enjoyed our chilly spring visit with a group including three generations of two families, a few golfers and kids under 4 years, it was tough for anyone but the elders to relax and enjoy the resort's timeless beauty.
It was clear that the older golf crowd already in residence was not thrilled to be dodging wind-up cars careering across the cavernous lobby. The smattering of children in-house, including our own, were not too pleased with having to sit through a long and formal supper each evening (bland but bounteous meals are included.)
We were told, however, that during summer, when the large pool and boating lake are put to good use, younger golfers arrive with their families. Also, since so much more time can be spent outdoors in the warm and often humid weather, the Carolina's chic and tasteful rooms would not seem as confining as they did to us.
In any case, we recommend you plan to visit after Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the seasonal, complimentary Pinehurst Kids Club for ages 3-12. Why? Because it really is one of those Old World resorts that believes, like many of its visiting parents, that children should be otherwise engaged so adults can relax in peace and quiet. Either you'll have to take care of the kids, or they will, and you might as well get your money's worth!
Returning couples prefer the restored Holly Inn, dating from 1895, where stenciled walls and artglass fixtures grace fully renovated rooms and suites. The original, imposing Carolina (also known as The Pinehurst), with a Victorian cupola, sweeping verandah, and formal chintz and plaid guest rooms and suites, is the region's largest inn, the largest wooden hotel in North Carolina, and the best choice for reunion groups. Families planning an extended visit should consider the one to three bedroom condos with full kitchens located on the Lake Pinehurst shore and along the #3 and #5 golf courses.
Pinehurst's golfers have selected spring and fall for high season rates, so summer often brings surprisingly good value specials along with the humidity. There are day-long complimentary Summer Games such as beach olympics for teens; and babysitting is available with advance reservation, year-round through the Resort Services Desk. Children 12 and under sleep and eat free when staying with parents.
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