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Triangle Residents Don’t Have to Travel Far to Find Paradise

Article by Caroline Barnhill

Photography by Catherine Nguyen

Originally published in Cary City Lifestyle

For more than 12 years, The Umstead Hotel and Spa has tempted local residents to forgo their boarding passes and instead find relaxation right in their own backyard. Nestled among 12 acres of natural woodlands overlooking a private lake in Cary, The Umstead has elevated the Triangle’s hospitality scene. Today it is the only hotel in the area boasting of both the AAA Five Diamond Award and a Forbes Five-Star rating.

It’s easy to see why the moment you walk through the gleaming glass doors. Worries seemingly melt away upon entering the light-filled lobby featuring warm wood and earth tones. Guests sip on the chilled, strawberry-mint infused water waiting for them at the reception desk before stopping to marvel at the stunning floral display supplied by local florist Watered Garden.

“We change our floral displays every week, and the arrangement in our lobby is always an iconic spot to take photos,” says Caroline Jackson, marketing manager for The Umstead. “Our key elements are art, nature and wellness, and we want you to experience all three the moment you walk in the door.”

Throughout the hotel, guests can find quiet spaces that entice them to sit, relax and enjoy nature—but perhaps none more serene than the spa. The Umstead Spa, a destination in its own right, incorporates natural elements of river rock, granite, bamboo and glass. Visitors can get pampered with an array of unique spa treatments, like the seasonal sparkling passionfruit pedicure that is inspired by the scents of summer.

For the art lovers, The Umstead features an impressive private collection, along with a quarterly rotating artist gallery with pieces available for purchase in the hotel’s carefully curated Umstead Gift Shop. Herons, the property’s five-star restaurant, also offers the Art Tour, a special tasting menu inspired by The Umstead’s art collection, which includes the chef’s signature dish, a 62-degree egg plated in a hand-crafted bowl inspired by Raleigh-based artisan Jason van Duyn.

“You so often hear people say, ‘I need a vacation from my vacation,” Caroline says. “Traveling can be exhausting. By choosing instead to take a staycation at The Umstead, you still experience the feeling of being miles away but without the hassle.”

The Art

The Umstead carefully curates and displays the work of celebrated artists from across the state and nation. Currently, there are nearly 100 pieces of original art in the hotel’s collection, including a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture titled "Ardea Figura," pottery by acclaimed North Carolina potters Ben Owen III and Mark Hewitt, plein-air landscapes by Lynn Boggess and earth cast outdoor sculptures by Thomas Sayre.

The Accommodations

Guests can unwind and sleep soundly in one of the hotel’s 150 spacious guest rooms and suites, all elegantly decorated and many offering stunning lake views. Amenities include Italian bed linens, deep soaking tubs, in-room VertuoLine Nespresso machines and Umstead Spa Signature botanical bath amenities—along with 24-hour concierge service and access to spa amenities.

The Dining

Herons, The Umstead’s signature restaurant, has earned national acclaim for its progressive American regional cuisine and has been touted in Newsweek, Condé Nast Traveler, Southern Living and more. Executive Chef Steven D. Greene, a three-time James Beard Award semifinalist, creates tantalizing menus that promise a new experience with every meal—all highlighting fresh, seasonal produce from OneOak, the nearby SAS sustainable farm, as well as other local farmers and purveyors. 

The Spa

The Umstead Spa offers an intimate wellness experience, from its organic botanical treatments to its signature product line, that draws inspiration from nature to engage all the senses. The lavish 16,000-square-foot spa features 11 treatment rooms, men’s and women’s private lounges with eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, a coed relaxation lounge, an open-roof coed current pool, a meditation courtyard and more.

Create Your Own Retreat | An Umstead Itinerary

8 a.m. | Wake up to breakfast in bed. We recommend the brioche French toast.

9 a.m. | Find your Zen with a complimentary outdoor yoga class.

10 a.m. | Take in the great outdoors with a trail hike around the 3-acre lake in Umstead State Park.

11:30 a.m. | Snack on lunch by the pool under a private cabana.

1 p.m. | Head to the spa for a Swedish massage and European facial before relaxing in the steam room.

4 p.m. | Enjoy a self-guided art tour while exploring the hotel’s grounds.

5:30 p.m. | Grab a pre-dinner cocktail like the Anjou—a refreshing citrus concoction featuring La Poire Grey Goose, St. Germaine, lemon and sparkling wine—at the full-service bar and lounge.

7 p.m. | Arrive for dinner at Herons before stopping for a nightcap at the Lounge for live entertainment.

11 p.m. | Return to your room, with its nightly turndown service, and enjoy a blissful night’s rest.