Who knew that one of America’s finest luxury resorts was in rural Pennsylvania? In 1987, 84 Lumber Company founder Joseph A. Hardy, III purchased land southeast of Pittsburgh in an area that had been established by William F. Rockwell in 1960 as Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve and Lodge. The town was named after Chief Nemacolin, hereditary chief of the Delaware Nation, and Hardy’s Nemacolin is now a destination hotel and retreat run by daughter Maggie Hardy and son, PJ Magerko. The creative, whimsical, and welcoming property offers the widest range of diverse activities and experiences I’ve ever seen in one location, including a world-class art collection, huge spa, multiple destination restaurants and all kinds of outdoor activities for all ages and in all seasons.
It’s possible to design an itinerary around several themes – family-friendly luxury, romantic getaway, meditative retreat – but it’s also okay to arrive and follow your nose, mix and match, decide as you go. During my all-too-short recent visit there, I was able to cover a lot of territory, ranging from dining at the exquisite Forbes Five-Star Lautrec restaurant, run by Kristin Butterworth, to an in-depth tour of the art led by a docent. collection, which not only includes Botero and Stella, but also a piece of the Berlin Wall, to visit the Holistic Integrative Therapy Center, where Dr. Jerry Lin, DACM, Dipl.OM, L.Ac. practices holistic medicine through a range of therapies, including traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
The first important decision to make is which of the five types of hosting to settle into. In addition to townhouses and larger properties (which are for sale and for rent), there are three hotel choices, each distinct in nature. The Lodge is the most laid-back, 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 it’s designed after the Ritz Paris. The lobby is grand — ornate and floral, with a bar amidst the seating areas with an interior route through a sea of art to the neighboring Lodge. (For parts of the property further away, the shuttle remains ready to transport guests where they want to go.)
The Château’s rooms are large, with high ceilings and thick walls that seem practically soundproof. The top floor of the building houses a private club, as well as a private art collection for club guests. Marble bathrooms, which feel more spacious than some New York City studios, have deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers.
The property’s spa is a serious highlight. I spent the whole morning there with a deep tissue massage followed by matcha tea service by the fireplace in the living room. It becomes clear at this point in my visit that space and time are abundant here at Nemacolin, and both generously offered to guests at every turn.
I was also able to spend time at another healing location on the property, the Holistic Integrative Therapy Center, where Dr. Lin not only customizes wellness programs for all patients, but is also able to to provide free and discounted services and education to Personnel. (The Nemacolin employees I spoke with all said, to one person, that the company treats them like valued members of the team, much like family, and that mindset was most evident. during the pandemic, when management did everything in their power to keep staff employed.)
Dining at Nemacolin is an equally varied experience. A multi-course meal at Lautrec, served in the shade of several original Toulouse-Lautrec paintings, is not to be missed. Chef Butterworth’s style is both refined and inviting, and his prix fixe menus offer both vegetable-based dishes and more classic French dishes. The world-class wine list includes hard-to-find French wines from the mid-20th century.
Between all the dining and relaxing, there’s a ropes course, mini-golf, ax throwing, and an indoor and outdoor pool.
It is impossible to sum up in one story, let alone experience in one brief visit, all that Nemacolin offers. And now that pandemic restrictions are starting to lift, live events are back and Nemacolin will once again host Dive & Drag: Pride 2022. On July 11, Susanne Bartsch returns to Nemacolin for a celebration of transformation and inclusion. in the property outdoor sports. and entertainment venue, The Peak, with a drag show. You can find all the details here.
To reserve a room or a house or to reserve a dinner, visit the Nemacolin website.