Difficult times for 4A’s old haunt Greenbrier


Reading about the bankruptcy filing of the storied Greenbrier resort conjured the ghosts of advertising's past—stodgy white men in pink and green linens on velvety golf links, blissfully unreachable in the verdant Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. The historic 231-year-old Greenbrier was the longtime meeting spot for the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual boondoggle and recalls a simpler era of Mad Men mores where the business at hand was conducted over patio cocktails and on the Greenbrier's three championship golf courses and indoor and outdoor tennis courts. Wives—in demurely feminine Lilly Pulitzer—pretty much summed up the female contingent, tucked away in the resort's 40,000 square-foot spa. The 4A's gathered there as recently as 1991, when nighttime hallway signs still advised quiet because "it's sleepy time down South." By its own definition a "five-diamond, luxury resort," the Greenbrier was also the one-time host to presidents and royalty and even boasted an underground bunker in case of nuclear attack for its oh-so-important guests. Its very elitism was reinforced by the difficulty of getting there—after flying in to West Virginia, guests had to take a train into the mountains—and the Greenbrier's insular symbolism was a luxury the 4A's felt it could no longer afford by the mid-'90s.

—Posted by Noreen O'Leary