Who would have thought that one of America’s most exciting luxury resorts would be in rural Pennsylvania? In 1987, 84 Lumber Company founder Joseph A. Hardy, III, purchased land southeast of Pittsburgh in an area established in 1960 by William F. Rockwell as the Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve and Lodge. The town was named for Chief Nemacolin, the hereditary chief of the Delaware Nation, and Hardy’s Nemacolin Resort is now a destination hotel and retreat run by his daughter Maggie Hardy and son PJ Magerko. Creative, quirky, and welcoming, the property offers the widest range of diverse activities and experiences I’ve ever seen in one place, including a world-class art collection, massive spa, multiple destination restaurants, and all manner of outdoor activities for all ages and to all seasons.
It’s possible to design an itinerary on one of several themes – family luxury, romantic getaway, meditative retreat – but it’s also okay to just arrive and follow your nose, mixing and matching as you go. My recent, too-short visit there allowed me to cover a lot of territory, from a dinner at exquisite Forbes five-star restaurant Lautrec, helmed by Kristin Butterworth, to a docent-led tour of the art collection that doesn’t includes only Botero and Stella, but also part of the Berlin Wall, to a visit to the Holistic Integrative Therapy Center, where Dr. Jerry Lin, DACM, Dipl. OM, L.Ac. practices holistic medicine using a range of therapies including traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
The first important decision you need to make is which of the five accommodation types you want to settle into. In addition to townhouses and larger estates (both available for sale and rent), there are three hotel options, each different. The Lodge is the most casual, while The Chateau is the most formal and Falling Rock is the most secluded and exclusive. I stayed at The Chateau, which is the first building you encounter upon entering the property and is modeled after the Ritz Paris. The lobby is grand – ornate and floral, with a bar set amongst the seating areas with an interior walkway through a sea of artwork to The Lodge next door. (For farther parts of the property, a shuttle is available to get guests wherever they want to go.)
The rooms at the Chateau are huge, high ceilings with thick walls that appear virtually soundproof. The top floor of the building houses a private club as well as a private art collection for club guests to enjoy. Marble bathrooms, which feel more spacious than some New York City studio apartments, have deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers.
The property’s spa is a real highlight. I spent the whole morning there having a deep tissue massage followed by matcha tea service by the fire in the lounge. At this point in my visit, it becomes clear that space and time abound here at Nemacolin, and both are generously offered to guests at every turn.
I was also able to spend some time at another healing site on the property, the Holistic Integrative Therapy Center, where Dr. Lin not only customizes wellness programs for all patients, but also can provide free and discounted services and training to employees. (The Nemacolin employees I spoke to all said to one person that the company treats them as valued team members, much like family, and that attitude was most evident during the pandemic when management was doing everything it could to keep employees busy.)
Eating at Nemacolin is an equally far-reaching experience. Don’t miss a multi-course meal at Lautrec, served in the shadow of several original Toulouse-Lautrec paintings. Chef Butterworth’s style is equal parts sophisticated and inviting, and her prix fixe menus offer both vegetable dishes and more classic French-style dishes. The world-class wine list includes hard-to-find mid-century French wines.
Between all the dining and relaxing there is a high ropes course, mini golf, ax throwing and both indoor and outdoor swimming.
It’s impossible to sum up everything Nemacolin has to offer in one story, let alone the experience in just a short visit. And now, as pandemic restrictions begin to lift, live events are back and Nemacolin will once again host Dive & Drag: Pride 2022. On July 11th, Susanne Bartsch returns to Nemacolin to celebrate the transformation and inclusion in the property’s outdoor sports and entertainment venue The Peak with a drag show performance. All details can be found here.
To book a room, house or make dinner reservations visit the Nemacolin website.