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For many folks, the mention of Pinehurst Resort evokes memories of professional golf tournaments, including Majors like the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship plus Ryder Cup matches between the U.S. and Great Britain. While Pinehurst certainly is a golfer’s paradise with nine courses on the property to challenge duffers of various skill levels, you don’t have to ever pick up a club to have a great time at this luxurious resort nestled among the pine forests of south central North Carolina.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is the most convenient spot to fly into, and shuttles are available to the resort for a fee, but the drive to Pinehurst can be an enjoyable part of the trip. No matter where you are coming from, you’ll probably pass through some of North Carolina’s beautiful scenic mountains, foothills and woodlands on the way to the resort. Pinehurst Resort is actually made up of several properties and accommodations options including The Holly Inn, The Manor Inn and The Condos at Pinehurst, but the jewel of the crown is the stately Carolina Hotel.

Welcoming guests since 1895

Welcoming guests since 1895

Capped with a copper cupola and ringed by sweeping verandas, this hotel has offered the epitome in Southern hospitality to guests for more than a century. Immaculate landscaping is impressive, but also expected when you consider that the groundskeeping staff also maintains the largest acreage of golf courses anywhere in the country.

Featuring 230 guest rooms and suites, The Carolina has been called “The Queen of the South” and measures up against any of the region’s other historic resorts like The Greenbrier or The Homestead. Rooms are nicely appointed with Wi-Fi, LCD televisions, marble bathrooms, desk/workstations, feather-top bedding, minibars and safes. While there’s no confusing them with more modern hotels that cater to business travelers by offering extra power outlets and spots to charge your multiple devices, Pinehurst is definitely a place to unplug instead.

Rooms are functional, but not flashy.

Rooms are functional, but not flashy.

Leave your phone and tablet in the room and settle into a rocking chair on one of the wide verandas, conveniently located steps away from the clubby Ryder Cup cocktail lounge or Carolina Coffee Shop depending on the time of day and your desired beverage. From these comfy perches, you can watch golfers returning via carts or complimentary shuttles from a day of beating themselves up on the course, knowing that you enjoyed the same lovely scenic pines without the exertion.

These rocking chairs must somehow enhance gravity, because you won’t want to get up. (Unless you need another Bourbon Smash.)

These rocking chairs must somehow enhance gravity, because you won’t want to get up. (Unless you need another Bourbon Smash.)

Free bicycles are available right next to the front door of the resort. All guests need to do is check one out and pedal around the property or to the charming Pinehurst Village located just outside of the resort’s main parking lot. Two wheels are actually excessive, since it’s not even a five-minute stroll from The Carolina to the Village.

These bicycles have no gears, but then again, there aren’t any hills either.

These bicycles have no gears, but then again, there aren’t any hills either.

Definitely make that trip because Pinehurst Village has everything a traveler could ask for in a compact little package. Fun little pubs, a wine store where locals and tourists gather in afternoons for tastings or to shop for gifts, trinkets and decorations, boutiques, gift shops and antique emporiums are all worth poking your head into. Drop by the Pine Crest Inn for a nightcap, and you might even be invited to take part in the tradition of chipping golf balls from the hallway carpet into the fireplace. There is also a walking tour guide to the Village available in The Pinehurst Gift Shop inside the Carolina Hotel.

You may find yourself browsing the listings at the real estate office here in the Village.

You may find yourself browsing the listings at the real estate office here in the Village.

Be sure to carve out some time for relaxation during a visit to Pinehurst Resort, including scheduling a treatment in their popular spa. From mani/pedi services to facial and body care to all sorts of specialty massages, the spa offers packages that range from one therapy to day-long regimens. There is also a “Gentleman’s Menu” for men that want a little pampering.

Admission to the spa also includes access to their spectacular indoor pool facility plus the sauna and steam room.

This impressive spa facility is separate from the main building.

This impressive spa facility is separate from the main building.

Ahhh ...

Ahhh …

If you prefer to spend your poolside time out of doors, there is also an expansive pool complex on the West Lawn of the Carolina Hotel. Open year round and heated for comfort, this amenity  features a large heated pool, kiddie pool, misting pool, fireplace and an outdoor whirlpool. There is also a putting green, a playground and a pristine lawn for kids or adults to wear themselves out on. Guests can also order a snack or a cool beverage at the pool’s cabana, the Pinehurst Oasis.

Fun for young and old!

Fun for young and old!

Other dining options at Pinehurst Resort include special outdoor dinners in one of the hotel’s courtyards as part of weekend events like their “Chef & Maker” series. The next edition of this event that links up notable Southern chefs with local artisans will be held September 15-17 featuring Chef Katie Button of Cúrate Tapas Bar and Nightbell in Asheville.

The dress code is resort casual at these informal events.

The dress code is resort casual at these informal events.

More traditional resort dining takes place in the opulent Carolina Dining Room where Executive Chef Thierry Debailleul and his staff serve up breakfast and dinner with menus based on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers. The breakfast buffet in the Carolina Room is legendary among guests and golfers as the perfect way to kick off the day with made-to-order omelets and Southern favorites on the docket while mellifluous piano music plays in the background.

Diners dress up a little more for dinner in the dining room.

Guests dress up a little more for dinner in the dining room.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing a little golf as well if you’re into that sort of thing. The beautifully landscaped fairways and manicured greens provide a welcome distraction from the difficulty of the course, and even if you’re just riding along in a cart, it’s worth it to soak up the Southern sunshine.

Pretty as a postcard.

Pretty as a postcard.

Rates at Pinehurst Resort range all over the board based on seasonality and desired accommodations, but there are also plenty of special packages that can save a little money by combining lodging with golf, spa services or meals. No matter when you go or what level of activity you desire, a trip to Pinehurst Resort is a special way to grab your own slice of fairway green and Carolina blue sky.

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