As snowflakes began to fall across the grounds of Nemacolin's spectacular resort of more than 2,200 acres, I joked to another guest that the staff at the Laurel Highlands luxury playground had probably placed an order with Mother Nature in order to give us an even more magical experience.
This was no Hallmark Christmas movie, but it certainly had that feeling, and it's easy to believe the incredibly attentive staff would have delivered the snow on demand if they could summon that power. After all, Nemacolin is known for its "Real Life Magic," and it delivered on that promise during my early December stay.
As first impressions go, it's hard to top the view that greets visitors as they drive up the hill past the entrance gate. The Chateau, exquisitely decorated for the holiday season, delivers the WOW factor. An enormous bow adorns the front of The Chateau, first opened in 1997 with a design inspired by the Ritz Paris. It's visually stunning, but to keep a promise to only offer the best for its guests, Nemacolin is again pushing the luxury envelope and undergoing a "reimagining" that will culminate in its reopening in spring 2024.
This is the second such transformation at Nemacolin. The recently reimagined Grand Lodge was unveiled in November, and it was well worth the wait. Nemacolin now offers 56 suites complete with butler service and every high-tech amenity imaginable. I didn't get a chance to use all of them, but I did appreciate the bluetooth speakers in the ceiling which delivered amazing sound quality throughout the suite. I popped a holiday playlist on my phone to the delight of my wife, who was enamored with the in-room Christmas tree that greeted us.
The suites feature marble countertops and flooring in the bathrooms that create a luxurious space. Our balcony provided a stunning view of the large Christmas tree and decorations outside The Grand Lodge.
The lights - all 2 million of them - make for incredible scenes, particularly outside The Grand Lodge and on the way to The Peak, where the lights above and on both sides of the roadway create a brilliantly shimmering tunnel effect. The Peak is home to many of the dozens of experiences available at Nemacolin - including downhill skiing/snowboarding and ice skating as well as indoor activities ranging from axe-throwing to cosmic bowling. My wife and I were happy to take advantage of the outdoor heated pool and hot tub at The Peak. Watching a nighttime football game on the enormous television screen - think of an in-stadium Jumbotron - from the warm water as snow fell all around us was an other-worldly experience. The heated towels and robes that awaited us upon our exit from the hot tub made the experience even more special.
Dining options abound at Nemacolin, from the Forbes Five-Star/AAA Five-Diamond-rated Lautrec to the vibrant seafood-inspired Aqueous. We opted for Fawn & Fable, the newly opened restaurant inside The Grand Lodge. It pays homage to the farm-to-table tradition of the Laurel Highlands with a menu of steakhouse classics grilled to perfection using the finest locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Sadly, we didn't save room for a scoop or two from PJ's Ice Cream Parlor, the whimsical 1950s-style parlor.
While PJ's might lay claim to the title of sweetest spot at Nemacolin for most of the year, it can't compete with Hardy's Holiday Village in November and December. Inspired by the great European holiday markets and the magic of Santa’s workshop, the village is a dining, shopping, and entertainment destination designed to spread holiday cheer to guests of all ages. From the entrance - down a long hallway adorned with 15-foot tall candy canes - to the colorful spectacle inside its doors, this is Nemacolin in all of its over-the-top grandeur. From the hot cocoa bar where you can make your own tasty treat to visits with Santa and Mrs. Clause to elves performing choreographed favorites, Hardy's Holiday Village is a must-see - and taste - attraction.
With so many incredible things to see and do at Nemacolin, it's easy to understand why most of the guests that I spoke with return again and again. One guest from Texas said that he brings his family there four or five times a year, and each season provides a different experience. It's hard to imagine anything topping Nemacolin at Christmastime, but I'd love to make a few return trips to test out that theory!