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I think it’s ok to admit that I didn’t know what to expect when we booked a last minute family getaway to Nemacolin.


There’s this disconnect – first of all, it’s near Pittsburgh? But it’s an expansive property encompassing a wildlife preserve and multiple golf courses? And also it’s art focused and kind of based on Paris and a bit like a British hunting lodge but also there is a Frank Lloyd Wright building and they filmed the last season of The Bachelor there?


I couldn’t envision it, but having been this week and experienced pretty much everything this amazing jewel has to offer let me be the first to tell you – this spot is complete luxury and you should get there ASAP.


The Breakdown:

Last minute summer getaway for our multi-generational family with a teen, two adults and two grandparents. However this resort is equally suitable for a romantic weekend, a wellness break, a golf trip or for multiple families traveling together.  Let me elaborate.


The Accommodations:


You arrive into Nemacolin after driving through the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania countryside, and pull into the sweeping circular driveway of the very aptly named Chateau Lafayette – modeled after the Ritz Paris and featuring sweeping views of the mountains in the distance.  It’s hard to put into words exactly how on point the Chateau is – is it the glittering chandeliers, or the gilt edges all around you, or the soaring high ceilings or maybe it’s the delicate scent of fresh pear and fig in the air? I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s completely transformative.  


This grandeur is not the only option for your stay – another option is their more midrange Lodge – which is styled as a kind of English fox hunt manor, complete with little corner seating areas featuring overstuffed chairs, chess tables and curated bookshelves surrounding you.  The Chateau and Lodge give best access to the resort pool complex, restaurants and spa.


The resort also offers multiple townhouses that have two bedrooms upstairs, a well appointed kitchen, cozy living room and back patio.  What’s special about the townhomes is that they are located across from the lion and tiger habitats – you can actually see them from the bedrooms and hear them roaring overnight which is absolutely fantastical.  There are larger estate homes with multiple bedrooms, outfitted with high end appliances and bathrooms and located throughout the 5000 acre property.

And then, what is in my opinion the crown jewel for accommodations, Falling Rock – designed in a modern style by an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright (the building is a nod to his best-known home, Falling Water, which is also about 15 minutes away from Nemacolin).  Falling Rock features oversize, butler service suites with a private infinity pool exclusive to guests staying there, and views of the Mystic golf course.


The Grounds:


There aren’t words to describe the captivating artwork that peeks out around every corner.  Each choice is whimsical and winky – and they all set the tone for your stay being one of wonder.  Even within the main buildings, walking between the Chateau and the Lodge are innumerable opportunities to view captivating artwork, the “pantry” for light grocery shopping and caffeinated beverages, fabulous retail outlets, an arcade, ice cream shoppe, and several of their signature restaurants. The views are stunning in every direction – to the left might be a collection of private cars, and to the right a pastoral scene of donkeys and sheep. Or off in the distance, golfers tee off on pristine greens while a group of 9 year old boys giggle as they fish in the pond you are walking by on your way to visit the black bear. Again, it’s almost indescribable but together it all captivates the senses in the best possible way.


The Activities:


It felt like we did EVERYTHING available but upon reviewing the website, we actually might not have scratched the surface.  We enjoyed: two rounds of golf (one on each course), a full spa day, zip lining, ropes course, visiting the Wildlife Habitats, checking out the classic cars and the airplane hangar, skeet shooting, hatchet throwing, enjoying the artwork installations in the Lodge, ice cream at PJ’s, drinks at the Chateau lobby bar by the fireplace, mini golf, hanging at the pool, and the carousel.


What I’d do next time: escorted art tour of the grounds, visiting the Holistic Wellness center, the wildlife safari, paintball, swing analysis at the Golf Academy, cosmic bowling and a paint and sip class.


The Food (!):


Breakfast (included with our Virtuoso amenities) served at Aqueous at Falling Rock, over looking the golf course.  Father in law proclaims – the best French toast he has ever had.  I was so in love with the stuffed avocado with poached egg that I ate it four mornings in a row.  Rockwells – their signature steakhouse, total 21 Club vibe complete with extensive whiskey menu, wine cellar and cigar shop located only a few steps away.  Baratollo’s – brick oven pizzeria overlooking the scenic mountains.  Aqueous by night serves seafood specialties.  And the crowning glory is their Lautrec fine dining option – their “leap of faith” seven course tasting menu with wine pairing defied all expectations.  The service and food were completely over the top and exquisite.


Wellness:


Can’t conclude without a nod to the spa – housed in a cozy modern lodge across from the Lodge, we thoroughly enjoyed our services as one would expect at a five star resort – therapists were friendly and skilled and the facilities were cloistered and soothing.  What really shined above and beyond were the facilities – eucalyptus hot steam, salt rock sauna and gorgeous whirlpool (segregated by gender for max privacy) and the relaxation room was just insane.  Make a reservation for lunch and be escorted from your massage to this tranquil space that feels like an enchanted stone cottage with a large fireplace in the middle. Once you’re well settled in a cushy chaise, the staff brings over a tray table and serves you lunch (and if you’re very smart, a glass of bubbly) so that you can eat while reclining.  The absolute height of decadence.  We didn’t have time to check out their holistic healing center, focusing on acupuncture, bodywork, cryotherapy and infrared experiences.  That will be a must do upon our next visit.


THE FINAL WORD:

To call our last minute escape to Nemacolin a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. We were all completely charmed and impressed by the experience, the resort and the staff. I must add that the story of the Hardy family (owners and curators of the resort) is interwoven throughout your stay – their pride and attention to detail is top notch and almost every employee we came into contact with shared little snippets on the history and development of their little corner of paradise. I’ll end on this note – we’ve taken my teenager all over the world, and there almost always come a point in the vacation where he uses the dreaded B word – in a startling turn of events that surprised all of us (even him) the world bored never crossed his lips or mind – not even once. We were all sorry to leave, and that’s the mark of a great vacation!

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