Legendary springs across West Virginia are attracting new audiences among health-conscious people who long for a return to simpler times.
Once supposed curative, "healing" springs have attracted travelers in search of better health since the 1700s, says Jonathan Bellingham, whose family has managed Capon Springs for four generations.
Now, these bubbling springs — which notably include Capon and Berkeley Springs and The Greenbrier at White Sulphur Springs — are attracting guests who want to avoid the rat-race and are in search of healthy living options.
"They're looking for a return to an old-fashioned, back-to-basics lifestyle," says Bellingham, who recently returned from judging a drinking-water competition, during which concerns about the availability of good water came into focus.
"It's interesting that the water many corporations are now working to produce is essentially the water that we enjoy naturally here at Capon Springs," he said.
For more than 250 years visitors have been visiting Capon Springs in hopes that its waters would cure ailments and restore health.
While consumers today are not so apt to believe the springs themselves are curative, they are convinced that good water is essential to good health.
"As much as we emphasize all there is to do here at Capon Springs & Farms, the water is still at the heart of everything," Bellingham said.
Bubbling into a spring house at the base of a jagged sandstone outcrop, the Capon Springs water feeds fountains across the resort as well as its spa and swimming pool. It's served on tables at meals, and the resort staff encourages guests to freely take home water.
While Capon Springs has long attracted an established audience of Washingtonians, many of whom have visited the springs for generations, Bellingham says he's tracking a notable increase in new guests who are looking to escape metropolitan life.
"West Virginia does have an aura of wild and wonderful, and I think more guests are escaping here," he says.
A drive of less than an hour and 30 minutes from the Washington beltway, Capon Springs is an easily accessible retreat, and Bellingham says he expects West Virginia to continue to grow as an escape as city life becomes more complex.