Luxury and eco-consciousness co-exist at the family friendly Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary, North Carolina. No, that is not an oxymoron You can feel good about the environment while indulging in organic spa treatments, and your kids can come too! And if your family travels with furry members, too, your dogs are also welcome.
One of the unexpected perks of writing about cars is being flown to different locations to drive shiny new cars at launch events. Car company execs want to entice car writers with unique locations, and I recently got to go to North Carolina with Lexus, driving the new RX crossover and staying at the Umstead Hotel & Spa outside Raleigh.
Luxury and Green Can Co-exist
This destination spa has 12 acres of woods and a lake, yet it’s just seven minutes from the Raleigh Durham airport. The hotel cossets you and manages to be sustainable at the same time. For example, the EVOLVE tablet, an energy management tool, lets you turn off all the lights as you leave the room, or from the bed. No getting into bed and realizing you left that pesky little light on over the desk.
Of course, if you DID have to get out of bed, you would have a plush robe to keep you warm.
To encourage guest to refill water bottles, the Umstead has stations with filtered water on each floor, and the nightly turndown includes a pitcher of water. So much better than sipping from a plastic bottle.
The hotel’s restaurant partners with local farms, along with growing herbs on site for cooking and cocktails.
If you drive an electric vehicle, the hotel has EV charging stations; they also offer free valet parking for hybrid vehicles. My realistic dream car is a Lexus hybrid, so this is really the place for me.
The most important concession to eco-consciousness may not please all guests: the outdoor heated pool is closed from December to March to reduce gas and electrical consumption.
I left late in the day, and had a chance to use the the excellent fitness center, then the spa showers. The facilities were gorgeous; a steam room, whirlpool and sauna, great showers and everything you could need after, including razors, deodorant and hair gel. There is also an outdoor meditation courtyard and seasonal pool. Hotel guests can use the spa facilities for free Monday through Thursday. Anyone getting a treatment can hang out there all day.
My room had an incredibly comfortable king sized bed with a pillow top mattress. There was an entry way which set the room back from the hall and it was utterly quiet. Of course, I also didn’t have anyone snoring next to me.
There is also a separation between the sleeping area and the gigantic bathroom, a dressing area that made the room feel even more spacious. The bathroom had a deep tub, separate glass shower, lovely Gilchrist & Soames bath products and a few thoughtful extras: lip balm, a black makeup towel so you could remove your makeup and not destroy the pristine white towels, cotton balls and cotton swabs.
The restaurant, Herons, has a vegetarian and a gluten free menu. I was pleased that southern specialties like biscuits and cornbread didn’t have meat in them.
The bar features seasonal cocktails; I had one with fennel that was delicious, and there is an interesting selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including drinking vinegars.
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A sophisticated afternoon tea is served Wednesday through Sunday, with a harpist.
- Um, the spa…
- Great fitness center, with fruit and newspapers
- Pet friendly, with a doggie playground
- Free bikes, with helmets
- Keurig in every room
What Works for Families
- If your kids like dogs, they can make friends
- There are cribs and pack n’ plays
- Children’s menu at Herons
- Kids bikes
- Pool (seasonal)
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- No refrigerators in rooms
- Spa age limit is 18 (though that may be a good thing..) Kids under 18 can get a manicure or pedicure when accompanied by an adult
- Can you get your Zen on if you bring a little kid? I want to stay here all alone. Maybe I’d let my snoring husband join me.
Note: I was a guest of Lexus, which covered my travel and hotel accommodations; opinions expressed are my own.