How does somebody describe the Real Life Magic found at Nemacolin?
Located a short distance from Pittsburgh in the gorgeous Laurel Highlands—and an easy drive or quick plane trip from most major East Coast cities, including New York, Philadelphia or DC—Nemacolin truly is an anomaly in the resort world. Part corporate hospitality getaway, part luxury spa and services, part golfing oasis, part finest of fine dining, part world class art museum—not to mention the wildlife areas, the mind-blowing merry-go-round, the bowling alleys, zip lines and rock climbing wall.
It’s enough to make your head spin with possibilities.
The drive to this majestic setting is part of the fun, with the anticipation building with each whimsical billboard spotted along the way. During my drive from New York, I began to feel what Dorothy might have felt the first time she laid her eyes on OZ. The awe-inspiring, wide-eyed realization that this was something truly unique and spectacular was there for my taking. With so many offerings and so little time (curse you, watch!), I opted to focus on the resort’s brilliant architecture, art, fashion and the seemingly never-ending food options.
The art collection alone could take a week to appreciate. With almost 900 pieces in total, ranging from indoor galleries to an incredible vast array of outdoor sculptures, it's impossible to zero in on one particular style or narrative. The collection is at once curated but entirely personal. The majesty of Prince Monyo Mihailescu-Nasturel “Towards Freedom,” the open arms and welcoming spirit of Alex Watts “Awakening to Freedom,” and the whimsical shapes of Fernando Botero’s “Little Bird” coexist with an impressively large section of the fallen Berlin Wall, the sinuous forms of pro snowboarder turned sculptor Nic Noblique’s “Surge of Red,” and the colorful animal forms of Frederick Prescott’s “Giraffes.” I highly recommend taking the guided tour and ending at the modernist gallery that takes its cues from midcentury architecture and simultaneously reveals views of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, respectively.
I was thrilled to end my tour with a quick stop at the lobby bar, where I enjoyed my glass of champagne in the bright and airy Tea Room while I plotted my next meal.
With my mind on cultural overload it was no surprise that the amount of care and artistry would infiltrate the dining establishments at Nemacolin. With the ultimate in service and deep knowledge of the menus, the servers at both Aqueous and Lautrec were some of the best I have seen, and meals the best I have ever indulged in.
Don’t let the casual atmosphere of Aqueous mislead you. This is serious dining. The menu, which leans toward locally sourced ingredients, including Mid-Atlantic fish, was just what was needed to amplify the real life magic—course after course. The setting, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, makes perfect sense, as his iconic Falling Water architectural masterpiece is not far from the resort. The Arts and Crafts atmosphere perfectly blends with the menu. Standout dishes include the lobster bisque and steak tartar, ending with a dessert called milk and honey that I am still dreaming about.
The meal at Lautrec, on the other hand, is fine dining on another level. Far from stuffy, though, the leap-of-faith menu has guests opening a wax sealed envelope inviting them to discover what’s ahead—as the circling elements of a meal they desire with the help of a feather-tip calligraphy pen. It all sets the tone for the unknown (hint: discovery and anticipation). I felt right at home in my smoking robe among the six original Toulouse-Lautrec prints that the restaurant is aptly named after. Transported to another time, I felt safe in the care of our server and sommelier, who guided us through the meal with the perfect wine pairings. Did I mention the meal started with a divine caviar service and ended with a rolling cart filled with candy for the offering? In between was food on another level—from local purveyors to French-crafted butter. The miracle of this meal is that the timing and portions are so on-point that one doesn’t feel like they need to be rolled out of the restaurant.
After the final meal, a day in a private cabana at the pool was definitely in order. With an option for a lively kid-friendly atmosphere or a mellow, calm adult pool, I chose the latter. Fresh offerings from the tavern restaurant were definitely sun- and swim-friendly, and the lively libations kept my spirits up as I was dreading the inevitable return to reality.
I enjoyed the last night in the classically and elegantly appointed room in the Chateau, which, if you blink your eyes, could take you to any far flung destination in Europe. Lucky for me, Nemacolin is in my backyard or just a quick drive from the airport. If #RealLifeMagic could be bottled, I would have bought a case.
Magic awaits at Nemacolin. Plan your visit today at nemacolin.com.