More than a Typical Hotel in the Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains
By Charlene & Richard Mixa
With an atmosphere of gracious hospitality, the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center lures guests with their array of resort amenities, a championship golf course, and spacious suites to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the heart of South Carolina’s Upcountry. Just a short drive is Greenville’s thriving downtown and region that carefully blends restoration and growth with Southern traditions, American history and natural attractions. An all-suite hotel resort that provides more than a typical hotel with its convenient location, array of amenities, and scenic surroundings. Visitors will find the Resort a welcoming retreat for a getaway, a visit, a family reunion or conference.
For a short visit to Greenville, the newly renovated all-suite Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center fits our desires. The verdant grounds surrounded by the lush Preserve at Verdae Golf Course along with entrances and parking lots lined with crepe myrtles in full bloom are scenic with a sense of being away from a freeway hotel. Customer service is paramount at the Resort from the proficient check-in to the staff who continually greet us. Anytime we pass an employee or manager, each stops and graciously welcomes us, asking to assist in any way. Even with a huge conference in town the hotel stills feels welcoming to us as a couple on short visit. Our King Suite on the 9th floor is a Premium Suite package that includes complimentary snacks and beverages. The suite features a spacious bedroom, open living area, wet bar, microwave, refrigerator, two TV’s, and bathroom. The updated bathroom is a full shower rather than bathtub.
Sometimes called the “Detroit of the South,” the BMW Group Plant in Spartanburg has an average daily output of 1,400 vehicles. At the BMW Zentrum we learn the past, present and future of BMW in this one-of-a-kind building. The only BMW museum in North America it is free and gives a good overview of BMW cars over the years. We enjoy seeing the various cars from early ones of the IHLE DIXI in 1930 that was a milestone design for BMW to the sporty 1999 “Flash” that made history being featured in a James Bond movie to the latest innovation of the 2017 BMW i8 that is the ultimate in innovation. Factory tours are offered but require prior planning of several weeks due to their popularity. For us the video Zentrum provides of its manufacturing plant is an excellent view of the plant in action to give an idea of the efficiency in building each BMW car. Robotics are a huge factor in the quality and quantity at this car production facility.
Featuring a waterfall, downtown Greenville is truly a scenic and beautiful. Falls Park on the Reedy is a nature lover’s paradise located in Greenville’s Historic West End. Walking down the stairs on the West End of the Park this is an oasis for the city with its flowers, rock gardens, the Reedy River, waterfalls, trails, and the Liberty Bridge overhead. Easy to see why this amazing and scenic park is one of Greenville’s greatest treasures. Walking across the Liberty Bridge it has a curved deck and a single suspension cable that is a one of a kind in the U.S. Strolling thru downtown we find beautiful theatres, numerous restaurants and eateries as well as unique stores and shops. With wide streets lined with trees this is welcoming clean city. As rain arrives and on the recommendation of the locals we pop into Sassafras Southern Bistro. A locally owned restaurant it is has a cozy rustic setting of brick walls and wood. For us it is a light dinner of appetizers. Their She Crab Soup is a HUGE bowl and the pork bits appetizer with grits is a hearty tasty portion. The Ahi Tuna is just perfect for a light dish. With continuing rains we return to our comfy suite.
Breakfast is complimentary at the Embassy Suites from cold breakfast items including fruits, cereals, pastries, yogurts, grits, oatmeal and more. Seeking an omelet and eggs, we opt for the short order line for made-to-order breakfast from omelets to pancakes. Watching this short order chef is amazing, as she asks each of us our specific order and easily prepares it. Efficient and impressive!
After our hearty breakfast we go across the parking lot to The Preserve at Verdae for a morning of golf. Despite gray skies it is not raining currently as we warm up and prepare to tackle this championship golf course. Having had a heavy rain the night before it is cart path only. This 18 hole, par 72 championship golf course designed by Willard Byrd is terrific. Carved into a lush Carolina Forest with hills and brooks it is both scenic and challenging. Even in damp conditions, a cloudy day and a bit of rain, we thoroughly enjoy our morning of golf. Offering Bermuda tees and fairways, this is the only course in the upstate with Mini-Verde Bermuda greens. The fairways are in great shape and the greens even in wet conditions are excellent. With re-imagined landscape the course has areas around the tee boxes and along the fairways as naturalized areas of native grasses and plants that reduce the amount of water, pesticides and fertilizers.
Good course management and staying in fairways is a must or balls are easily lost in the lush natural landscape. Twelve holes have water of ponds or rivers that can come into play. The course has plenty of challenges with the many water hazards so be sure to pay attention to the course guide for distances to hazards, etc. Otherwise you can easily be in trouble. There are some elevation changes, holes that play through a valley and uphill holes. Especially No. 9 with a name of “Fowl Play” a par-5 that has the creek crossing it for your second shot to a straight uphill fairway. Each hole has its own nuances that make for an exciting golf course. We look forward to returning to play it again under sunny skies.
After golf on the recommendation of locals we dined at the local Iron Hill Brewery Restaurant. The unique Small Plate of Salmon Egg Rolls is excellent. The crab cake sandwich that was huge, tasty and filling. Plus this local micro-brewery has some great craft beers. With cloudy skies we opt to do a bit of shopping and return to the Resort. Here we are delighted to have choices of the indoor or outdoor hotel swimming pools. A great way to relax and wind down after our busy day. Happy Hour at the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center offers complimentary snacks and beverages at their Evening Reception. The lobby and lounge area are busy as guests take advantage of this time to relax and chill.
Our final evening in Greenville we seek a unique restaurant close to the Resort. Just a short drive is the Saskatoon that specializes in steaks, fish, and wild game. This rustic unique lodge-style building creates a welcoming mountain lodge atmosphere with its décor and fireplaces. On the menu we find a variety of game from elk to ostrich and more. My Trout comes sizzling on a cast iron skillet and is fantastic. The Pecan Salmon is excellent and is a huge salmon filet. Side dishes of garlic red skin mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and sauerkraut are all delicious. In this location they have two kitchens. One for the restaurant menu and the other to prepare the Paleo Diet foods. Here individuals order and pick up Paleo dishes. Truly a unique dining experience in Greenville.
This was a short visit giving us only a sampling of what both the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center and Greenville have to offer visitors. A resort and town we will definitely return to further explore more of its history, culture, dining, and activities in the future.
If you go:
Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort & Conference Center, 670 Verdae Blvd., Greenville, SC 29607