Saturday, February 23, 2008

Christmas at the Greenbrier

Christmas 2007 was fabulous. We were able to go to the Greenbrier for a few days of quality, relaxing family time.

We arrived on Saturday and were welcomed by the wonderful staff. They say the Greenbrier has 3 staff memebers per guest, and you can definitely feel the difference. It's pretty pricey but we were told that all of the gratuities were included in the resort fee -- except for the bellmen. A nice man helped us unload the van. He packed up all of our luggage, bags and packages and followed us to the front desk. Once we were checked in, he gave us a mini tour of the resort and showed us to our room. He proceeded to unload our luggage, store it in the closets, hang up our clothes, and give us more information about our stay. What a nice man. As he left, Bob gave him a firm handshake, thanked him for his help and courtesy, and left him with his tip. We had not talked about this beforehand, so I was curious how much Bob tipped him. "Two dollars," he replied. I almost fainted! "TWO dollars?" I gasped. Could there be a worse tip? I mean, if you didn't give him anything, he would believe you simply assumed it was included in the resort fees. But, two dollars!!!?? I was mortified,and so was Bob! [We were definitely showing the world that the Greenbrier was a little too high class for us!] Bob jumped on the internet and googled the subject. Yes, two dollars was a little low. The conventional wisdom is that you should tip (at a 5-star resort) FIVE DOLLARS PER BAG! Well, the next day, Bob hunted down our bellman and explained that he had "made a big mistake," and handed him an appropriate tip. The bellman was very gracious and said, "No worries!"

After we were settled in our room, we began to explore. They had a wonderful Christmas weekend planned. In the afternoons in the main lobby they would serve delicious hot chocolate and apple cider. There was a buffet of cinnamon sticks, mocha whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate shavings and more. This became our favorite time of the day.

On Monday, the culinary experts carved Santa's sleigh, reindeer, and a couple penguins out of ice. It was neat to watch, and we got to sit in the sleigh for pictures (see below). That night, Christmas Eve, was the Gingerbread Ball. I cannot adequately describe the setting. It was just gorgeous and a little girl's dream. There were ballerinas, balloon artists, magicians, and Santa. Inside the ballroom was a life-size gingerbread house, numerous ice sculptures, a band and dance floor, jesters, and the most unbelievable buffet ever. They even had a kid's buffet that was low to the floor and included corn dogs, pizza, chicken fingers and all the favorites. The adult buffet was very gourmet and delicious. We had a wonderful evening together, and, with the help of a canister of puffs, were able to stay for the show.

Christmas morning, we were awakened by Eveley (of course). We read the Christmas story together in Luke 2 and let her open her presents. She loved the book given to her by "cousins" Parker and Graham and especially enjoyed the crinkly paper.

This was a memorable Christmas in many ways. And, I think like never before, we were able to celebrate the birth of Christ with a new understanding and realization of its power and promise. "Praise be to God for His indescribable Gift!"

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