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Nemacolin Resort: The Lap of Luxury in Southwest PA

By David R. Holland

FARMINGTON, PA. – During the 2004 84 Lumber Classic at Nemacolin Resort, PGA Tour Player Billy Andrade was somewhat perplexed by the woodlands retreat in Southwest Pennsylvania.

Andrade was staying at the plush Falling Rock, a golf-course boutique hotel lavishly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, furnished with art deco interiors, ripe with luxury amenities and personalized butler service. 

“I’ve never been spoiled like this in my life,” Andrade said.  “I have a butler. He asked me if I wanted him to unpack my clothes. I told him no. I don’t want anybody touching my clothes. Next time he came by I asked for an iron and an ironing board. He said, ‘What’s up with you golfers? You don’t like your clothes ironed?’ “

Andrade comtemplated then responded: “I said, ‘Sir, you have to understand this is not reality. We stay at Residence Inn’s and Courtyard Marriott’s, and we do our own laundry, and we iron our own clothes. It’s a little therapeutic we don’t have you at our disposal.’ I wish my wife was here.”

This little tale is so right-on about Nemacolin Resort. A family can enjoy the ultra-luxury of a butler or there are other lodging experiences like The Lodge and The Chateau where you can tone down the extreme spoil factor just a smidgen.

The Golf at Nemacolin Resort 

Nemacolin includes two Pete Dye golf tracks that can be a minefield of lofty scores for an average hack. 

Mystic Rock, the dream of Nemacolin’s founder, Joseph Hardy, was designed by Dye in 1995, and is a scenic trip perched high in the Allegheny Mountains spanning acres of the scenic Laurel Highlands. It offers players championship-level golf in a beautiful mountain golf setting but at 7,526 yards, with a whopping rating of 77.0 and a slope of 149, it can be brutal.

Golf-course architect Tim Liddy completed an extensive bunker renovation on Mystic Rock in July 2021. Liddy’s work transformed the bunkers, playing surfaces, and tee boxes. The course has countless accolades from all the major golf publications, including Golfweek’s No. 1 Best Courses You Can Play in Pennsylvania for 2022.

Shepherd’s Rock, Nemacolin’s second Pete Dye designed course, opened in 2017, and offers more fun and a stern test. The 7,290-yard course stretches across a beautiful landscape with wide fairways, 149 jagged bunkers, and wild contours on the greens. The 18th finishes with a waterfall backdrop. Golfweek gave it the No. 5 Best Courses You Can Play in Pennsylvania. 

Downtime or rainy time can be spent at The Nemacolin Golf Academy

This 4,000-square-foot space has a renovated building, all new furnishings, seven flat-screen TVs, and new décor. The learning, practice, and entertainment space has also been outfitted with the most sought-after simulator, launch monitor, and biomechanical feedback technology in the golf industry. This includes state of the art hardware like TrackMan launch monitors and simulators, Foresight Sports’ GCQuad launch monitor, and Swing Catalyst’s Balance and Dual Force Plates.

The Golf Academy’s four spacious, customized hitting bays can open up to the 25-station driving range that sits adjacent to two short-game practice areas and a large putting green. It also features a dedicated, 1,000-square-foot putting room, is optimized for expert golf training and club fitting under Golf Digest “Best Young Teacher” Michael LaBella and his team. 

Nemacolin: History, luxury, dining and countless activities

The name Nemacolin pays respect to a chief of the Delaware Nation, local history, and the first battle of the French and Indian War in 1754. The nearby Fort Necessity National Battlefield heralds those skrimishes and chronicles a 21-year-old British emissary named George Washington, who arrived midwinter of 1753-54.  

Today, Nemacolin Resort could be the best rural, luxury golf retreat in the USA that folks west of the Mississippi have never heard of.

The more than 2,000 acres on the western ridges of the Appalachians are 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and has vistas into three states. Sugar maples can be found in the rolling hills along with whitetail deer and mountain laurel, the state’s official flower. 

Hardy purchased Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in 1987 and turned it into a AAA Five Diamond resort hotel. The Chateau, was inspired by the Ritz in Paris. The Lodge is a classic English Tudor-style hotel that also include some townhomes and luxury vacation homes. 

The five lodging offerings have 320 rooms, a luxurious spa with 40 treatment rooms, five swimming pools, 15 dining options, a local casino, a multimillion dollar art collection, and plenty of outdoor activities including tennis, skeet shooting, paintball, archery, shuffleboard, mountain biking, rock climbing, and jeep rides into bumpy terrain.

Want more? How about a small wild animal park, an aviation and vintage car museum, ziplining, fly fishing, skiing, and a private airstrip.

The Peak at Nemacolin includes year-round fun for all. The pool complex is amazing and one can relax in poolside cabanas, enjoy live entertainment, order drinks and dining, and much more. The elevated poolside lounge areas feature a pool and hot tub. There’s also a lower pool. 

One can’t go wrong with the dry-aged steaks offered at Rockwell’s, but you can also try Michelin-caliber dining at Lautrec, Italian family-style dining at Barattolo, and upscale seafood at Aqueous. Also checkout The Pantry general store, the Cigar Bar, and the Tea Room, along with shopping boutiques, a tavern and a 1950s-style ice cream parlor. 

The sculpture garden houses an impressive art collection of more than 1,000 objects valued in the millions. The bronze resort logo, Fat Bird, was commissioned from Fernando Botero’s Little Bird and greets you at The Chateau entrance.

Sculptures are everywhere as you traverse the 36 holes including statues of Gene Sarazen and John Daly. 

As you walk the grounds and inside the hotels one can see an airplane once owned by Steve McQueen, and even memorabilia from Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. There’s no theme to the artwork, just for your enjoyment.

That’s what Nemacolin Resort is all about. Enjoy.