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SPA TRAVEL: Nemacolin Woodlands Spa and Golf Resort, Laurel Highland Mountains, Western PA USA

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Intrigued by the return of British Airway's direct flight London to Pittsburgh, USA, I used my annual 'Sister's Week' get together as an excuse to try out the flight. The plane for my flight was new and clean, the staff friendly the flight was easy. And not have to take a connecting flight is always a positive!

When I was a young woman, I worked in Latrobe, Pennsylvania; the land of Arnold Palmer and Rolling Rock beer. The locals I knew diverted the agonies of their daily employment with discussions about the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, the local golf resort. As a city girl, intolerant of yokel entertaining and with no desire to explore suburban forestry, I brain-banked the name, Nemacolin, and never went. Then this year, when my sisters and I decided to spend our annual sister trip holiday in our home town of Pittsburgh, I stirred up that old grey matter and suggested a planned escape to the Woodlands Spa at Nemacolin.

The story of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort begins in 1740 when Native American Lenape Chief Nemacolin blazed a trail from Delaware through to the Laurel Highland Mountains. 13 years later, General George Washington followed this route and established Fort Necessity. The ensuing battle was George Washington's first in command, and his first defeat. It also began the French-American War.

The road eventually became a major throughway from city to country. This allowed the newly rich steel magnates a quick getaway from the city smog. In 1968, Pittsburgh industrialist Willard Rockwell bought 400 acres in Farmington and established the private game reserve, Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve. The Rockwells built a hunting range, golf course and airstrip. They soon added Lakes Louise and Carol and developed Beaver Creek developed into a stocked trout fishing stream. By September 1970, the Lodge opened to the public under the name Nemacolin Inn.

Joseph A. Hardy III, founder of the 84 Lumber Company, bought Nemacolin at an auction in 1987 and reopened the complex as an upscale hotel and resort. In the following years, the Hardy's expanded the property to encompass over 2000 acres.

The Lodge, Chateau Lafayette and Falling Rock-photos borrowed from Nemacolin

The Château Lafayette takes it inspiration from the Paris Ritz. While the lobby is opulent, I enjoyed the tearoom, and it's adjacent bar. This conservatory room is pretty and light and home to a collection of Red Factor Canaries.

Nemacolin's boutique hotel, Falling Rock, has AAA Five Diamond status and inclusion in the 2018/2019 Forbes travel guide for Luxury Hotels. This hotel is set within the fairways of two USGA rated golf courses, and boasts sweeping mountain views.

The three hotels at Nemacolin house the Hardy family art collection of over 1000 pieces. Included are three original Toulouse Lautrec posters, showcased in the award-winning restaurant, Lautrec. The resort offers tours of the collection and hosts artists-in-residence from around the country.

-some photos borrowed from the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort website

In addition to Lautrec, there are seven further restaurants including Aqueous at Falling Rock. My personal fave is PJ's, where my sister, Marcia, convinced us that ice cream is good for breakfast. Outdoor activities include pools, a wildlife academy, field club, adventure center, and mini golf. There is a mini-automobile museum and an antique plane hangar featuring a plane once owned by actor Steve McQueen. There are two hiking trails in the grounds of the resort. I looked forward to bucolic walks in the mountain air, but these trails were the paved roads leading from one activity to another. This the most disappointed part of my stay.



The Woodlands Spa features 40 well-appointed treatment rooms and a full-service salon. The large treatment menu delivers everything from relaxation to rejuvenation in pure luxury. Signature massages are the Woodlands Remineralising Shirodara, Dreamcatcher Massage and Woodlands Ritual Facial.

With a booked massage, guests have full use of the spa facilities for the day. These include a lovely heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam. A large relaxation room boasts relaxing fireplaces, loungers and yummy nibbles. This also being a day spa meant our beautiful niece, Brynn, was able to join our 'Sister Week' spa antics with a day pass.

Near Falling Rock is the Holistic Healing Center. It has four treatment rooms, a meditation room and a juice bar. Here they offer treatments dedicated to finding life balance and wellness. They also host wellness retreats and events.

Nemacolin is a big resort with a lot going on. Some parts of the resort are oddly juxtaposed, and I found certain things a bit pricey for its Western Pennsylvania location.

But it is a good place for visitors looking to enjoy a wide range of activities, rated golf and a great spa. The resort and surroundings are beautiful, the service is very friendly and the cocktails delicious.

The best part 'Sister Week' for me is the spending time with my sisters part. We could do this anywhere, but it was nice this year to meet so close to home, at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The second-best part of the week were the cocktails!



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