Nemacolin Woodlands Resort strikes an ideal balance of outdoor adventure, refined spa and wellness treatments, and good dining experiences.
Off-Road Driving: Bouncing in a Jeep that tilted 30 degrees as it crawled over a boulder, felt exhilarating and frightening. My husband and I took turns driving, as Ty, our instructor, calmly guided us through the Rock, a 3 mile, snow-covered course. We traversed iced-over ditches, maneuvered through sharp curves, crunched rocks in gullies and climbed over three, 10 to 20-foot hills in quick succession, all while managing not to hit trees that seemed to pop in front of us in the dense woods.
Driving was challenging but fun. Sitting in the backseat was more difficult because, positioned over the axle, we were shaken, bumped, pitched and rocked mercilessly. Not eating lunch before our drive proved to be critical. We didn’t succumb to motion sickness. Another tip: wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty since some of the mud that covered the Jeeps and the floor mats will end up on your clothing.
Spa and Wellness: Nemacolin has long been known for its spa, an oasis with 40 treatment rooms and a wide range of offerings from facials to wraps to bath rituals, massages and skin therapies. During my facial, one of the best I’ve ever had, the therapist asked me questions, listened to my answers and then chose appropriate products to cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate, soothe and plump my skin. I came away relaxed and my skin felt smooth.
Nemacolin’s Holistic Healing Center, distinct from the spa, focuses on providing guests with ways to “achieve life balance and wellness,” according to its brochure. Many guests come for assessments and ongoing treatments. Along with fitness classes and yoga sessions, the Center offers meditation, acupuncture, select massages and other services. I chose a Thai massage. I don’t know whether the combination of stretching, acupressure and pressing released blocked energy, but after the vigorous session, I felt good.
Dining: Although Lautrec, Nemacolin’s Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond restaurant was closed for dinner, we had good meals at Aqueous and at Autumn. At Aqueous, known for its steak, my 8-ounce filet mignon was delicious. So was my husband’s Chilean sea bass; however, the tiny portion, easily consumed in four bites or less, made the $39 price not go down so well for my husband.
Our server at Autumn announced that the cuisine was “Appalachian and French.” The menu featured venison, scallops, ribeye, duck and sea bass. The duck was a little bit dry but tasty, and the sea bass was good. Priced at $39, the portion looked about three times bigger than the one served at Aqueous. We appreciated that Nemacolin featured good restaurants, an important part of our couples’ getaway.
Accommodations: Located in the Allegheny Mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Nemacolin, less than 3.5 hours from the District of Columbia, sprawls on 2000-acres. The resort offers a total of 320 rooms in five types of lodging. Falling Rock, recipient of an AAA Five-Diamond award, offers 42 rooms. Chateau Lafayette, inspired by the Ritz Paris, has 124 rooms. The Lodge, the original resort property, and the Lodge Annex, are the most economical choices. Nemacolin also offers two-bedroom townhomes and several houses that sleep two to 20 guests.
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