“No one thought we could do hospitality because all we knew were splinters and lumber.”
This rather delightful comment—spoken by former Nemacolin Woodlands Resort owner Joseph Hardy (yes, the Hardy of 84 Lumber Company fame) at a recent press conference celebrating the $30-million makeover of his hospitality baby, Nemacolin—sums up the charm of the extravagant 2,000-acre destination tucked away in Farmington, Pennsylvania. Here, an unpretentious vibe mingles with large-scale spectacles (a private airstrip, six lodging options [including the AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock Hotel], the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec restaurant, and so on), while sophisticated accents (Chateau Lafayette bears a strong resemblance to The Ritz Paris) balance sheer resolve to elevate the resort to international brand status.
Nowhere is that resonant down-to-earth-slash-determined attitude more apparent than with Joe Hardy and his daughter and current Nemacolin president/owner, Maggie Hardy Magerko, who made her own declaration at the conference, speaking not only about the recent property renovations but announcing major news of a partnership with Michael Graves Architecture & Design to embark on Nemacolin’s upcoming residential villas—they’ll break ground most likely within the next six months. “We think very grandeur,” Maggie remarked, while adding that the residential real estate initiative will allow “people to live here, experience it, and truly become part of our family.” Villas start at $1.5 million and total approximately 3,700 square feet with three bedrooms; there are also plans for three-bedroom-villa-with-loft accommodations. Sales will begin in 2016. (On a side note, Maggie also calls Nemacolin home; her on-site residence replicates her childhood dollhouse.)
The upcoming residential project comes on the heels of the $30-million facelift, which touched meeting spaces (from a 32,000-square-foot conference center to a 200-seat Lecture Hall) and public areas like a speakeasy-themed Cigar Bar to four of the six lodging types, including upgrades to a presidential suite in Chateau Lafayette, which totaled $1 million. Among the impressive transformational components was that the resort remained fully operational as renovations occurred over 15 months. For example, the Chateau Lafayette Lobby was flipped overnight (minus the marble floors and wood paneling) while guests slept; the following day, they were treated to a party to celebrate the launch.
The makeover mingles with what’s already part of the resort—the 70 adventure amenity options, from the Jeep Off-Road Driving Academy to the 3,000-foot-long Fatbird Superflyer dueling ziplines (among the longest in the state of Pennsylvania); 36 holes of championship golf (with plans for an added nine holes designed by Pete Dye); Lady Luck casino; wildlife academy and safari tour (100 animal species reside on property—guests have even expressed that their alarm clock on property is a 6 a.m. lion roar); kids and pets spas; field club; and Woodlands Spa, which is superb with pool, sauna, steam, whirlpool, and fitness facilities, juice bar, and 100-plus treatment options (I enjoyed a hot stone massage, and while I can’t vouch for the other therapists, Autumn was terrific). Sprinkled throughout the indoor and outdoor amenities is Nemacolin’s $45-million art collection, complete with an astonishing piece of the Berlin Wall.
The Holistic Wellness Center is an additional update, opening in April 2014. Outdoor gardens protect 50 varieties of fruit and herbs before on-property chefs can pluck them for dishes; the beginning of a vineyard looms just over the hills. The intimate center has four treatment rooms—meticulously detailed with heated floors, private bathrooms, and showers—where reiki, life coaching, acupuncture, and Thai massage are performed. An outdoor deck hosts yoga classes.
If these revisions are any indication of future resort plans, we’re in for a treat—because as Joe Hardy has also said, “With Nemacolin, it is never finished…it is never complete.”
Not bad for someone whose expertise revolved around splinters and lumber.
Around town: Pittsburgh is 70 miles south of the resort; two Frank Lloyd Wright homes—Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob—are 15 minutes away from the property.
Images courtesy of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
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