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The Greenbrier’s uncertain future

thegreenbrier.jpgOn my long commute home to Bethesda last night, I heard a radio advertisement that caught my attention: the Greenbrier resort is offering a new collection of vacation packages on their Web site.

Curiosity arose, and I visited the site this morning to scope out the “deals.”

A signature spa package runs $2,232 for a two nights’ stay, swedish massage, body masks and polish and a “signature” treatment (based on double occupancy).

If you’re a golf lover, a “play in the leaves” package (August through October) includes a two-night stay, unlimited tennis and two rounds of golf for $1,330 (weekend) or $1,230 (weekday).

As a relatively inexperienced traveler, these deals seem vastly overpriced. But, I’ve never stayed at the Greenbrier; maybe it’s a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience worth the splurge.

The world-famous resort, as you know, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, after years of losses and expensive renovations drove up debts to previous owner CSX Corporation. After an initial $130M deal with Bethesda-based hotel operator Marriott International, local businessman Jim Justice swooped in to purchase the property in early May.

The Greenbrier has lost $90 million in the past five years (including $38 million in 2008 alone), according to the March bankruptcy filing.

The resort received some good news last month when the PGA Tour announced that it would host a PGA tournament at one of its three courses.

Work has already gotten underway to bring casino gambling to the Greenbrier with the hope that it will reverse its financial woes.

Will it be enough to save the historic resort?