Just a few miles outside South Boston sits a circa 1844 mansion that now serves as a state-of-the art 21st century resort offering the perfect venue for weddings, reunions, business meetings and conferences, romantic getaways, girls’ weekends, and any other imaginable get-together or event.
Driving onto the property, beneath a canopy of willow oak trees leading to the Greek Revival main structure, is like stepping back in time. Walking up the stone steps of the white stucco mansion surrounded by green lawns, magnolia trees, and boxwoods is magical.
Entering the elegant front hall and gazing at the double staircase is absolutely breathtaking. I was recently treated to a full tour of the Berry Hill Resort and left the property in awe. Although I’ve known about it for years and have heard many friends and acquaintances talk about it, I had never been myself. I will be going back – for lunch, for dinner, for a spa day, maybe for a family gathering. Maybe I can get my best friend, who lives in South Carolina, to make the four-hour drive and spend a girls’ weekend there with me.
A Little History
The Berry Hill mansion, completed in 1844, contained 17 rooms and the great entrance hall. According to the National Register of Historic Places, “James Cole Bruce inherited from his father a tract of land which was once owned by William Byrd of Westover. On this land stood a red brick house with two principal outbuildings. Bruce had the house transformed (circa 1839) into one of the greatest Greek Revival mansions in the country . . . The great octastyle portico of the house was based on that of the Parthenon.”
A member of the Bruce family lived at Berry Hill until 1950, when the property, which totals over 700 acres, was sold to Frederick Watkins, who farmed the land.
The Present-Day Resort
Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center provides space for productive meetings while allowing guests to relax in a quiet, historic atmosphere. The various conference rooms and social spaces can accommodate any size or style of event.
A French insurance agency purchased the property in the late 1980s for use as a training center and added the hotel and over 5,000 square feet of indoor meeting space. Since 1999, Berry Hill has served as a hotel and resort for the public. Today, the professionals who work on this family-owned property ensure successful meetings and retreats for those seeking a convenient and elegant venue.
The wireless campus is designed to accommodate all types of business conferences and offers five state-of-the-art meeting rooms to host large and small groups. But not everything at Berry Hill is about business. The resort also hosts many retreats, including those for quilting and scrapbooking groups. In fact, when I visited in July, there was a quilting event taking place in the ballroom.
Two on-site restaurants, Darby’s Tavern and the Mansion Restaurant, offer both a casual setting and formal dining options. The Library Bar, located in the historic mansion, is the perfect spot for specialty cocktails, a glass of wine, appetizers, or desserts.
Darby’s Tavern is open Monday through Saturday, from noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 8 p.m. Darby’s, located behind the historic mansion, was the original kitchen for the Bruce family and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. Tin tables and antique floors create a casual atmosphere, complete with beverage service that includes a full array of wine, spirits, unique beers on tap, and craft brews. Menu selections include appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and house specialties.
The Mansion Restaurant, located in the elegant Berry Hill Mansion, is open Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. The menu changes by the season and is complemented by an extensive wine and cocktail menu.
Guests at the Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center can enjoy the southern charm of 90 guest rooms, each beautifully furnished with Italian handcrafted beds and comfortable seating. Guest rooms in the hotel feature one queen canopy bed or two double sleigh beds, and the atmosphere is relaxing and charming. I love the old-style bathrooms, which include heated towel racks.
There are also two suites on the second level of the mansion. Antique-filled rooms provide stunning accommodations for a weekend getaway or a special occasion. The Carrington Suite features one bedroom, and the Bruce Suite offers two.
Built as miniature replicas of the Berry Hill Mansion, Jefferson and Lafayette Mansionettes, each with a front porch facing the Entry Circle, offer privacy and relaxation away from the other accommodations.
The Spa at Berry Hill offers European quality massages, body treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and brow and lash tinting. Of course, special event and wedding day hair and makeup services are available as well.
Other amenities include a gorgeous indoor pool; fitness center; basketball, tennis and pickleball courts; saunas; walking trails; and historical tours. In short, the property is simply amazing.
Weddings at Berry Hill
I know a couple of people from Person County, N.C. who have crossed the state line to hold their weddings at Berry Hill, and they were well pleased.
On average, the resort hosts 30 to 40 weddings each year. The services are all-inclusive. The two suites in the mansion are perfect spots for the bride to get dressed. The spa is available to pamper both bride and bridesmaids. There are also spots for the groomsmen to hang out, smoke cigars, and play cornhole. Darby’s Tavern, located in what was once the mansion’s kitchen, is perfect for members of the wedding party to gather, grab a bite and a drink, and look forward to the ceremony. The Mansion Restaurant offers fine dining, and the Library Bar is a great spot to relax. Many of the guest rooms in the hotel open onto a spacious veranda offering views of the massive property. The ballroom is a beautiful space for rehearsal dinners and receptions.
One bride said, “The Berry Hill Resort is truly a dream wedding location. My husband and I found the staff to be respectful, helpful, and very kind. We had around 100 guests at our wedding that weekend and no one had anything negative to say about their experience at the ceremony, hotel accommodations, or reception. It is a beautiful location and the food was impeccable, for both the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception.”
Another stated, “We chose Berry Hill because it was a cozy venue but had enough space for all our guests to stay in the hotel. We really had the place all to ourselves and it was perfect! The staff and wedding coordinators were so accommodating and flexible and they helped with any issue.”
Annual Events at Berry Hill
The resort offers several events each year, including a Mother’s Day Brunch, an Easter Buffet, a Thanksgiving Feast, and Breakfast with Santa.
The staff also hosts weekend events, including Murder Mysteries, themed DJ dance parties, and wellness weekends. Current events are listed on the website.
Popular Mixology classes are held the first Thursday of each month. At this Mixologist-led class, participants learn how to create three cocktails and receive a take-home recipe card. The current session for 2023 is a trip around the world, where each class is focused on a country or region and the cocktails are centered around that theme. Each participant receives a little “passport” so at the end, they have a nice little recipe book of cocktails from around the world. Tickets for Mixology are $30 per person and can be purchased on the Berry Hill Resort website.
A Timeless Gem
The Berry Hill Resort truly is a gem, tucked away in the quiet of the Halifax County countryside. The history of the property is evident. The gracious Southern hospitality is on full display. I met three members of the staff, and they are all professional, personable, and most helpful. Berry Hill is a definite must-see.
Berry Hill Resort
3105 River Road
South Boston, VA 24592
Learn about the author at https://ncvamedia.com/authors/phyliss-boatwright/