Have Kids, Still Spa At The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort - My Family Travels

Offering a great Kids Club and entertaining nearby attractions, this Farmington, Pennsylvania resort pampers families with an amazing spa getaway.

Before I visited, I put Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the “maybe someday” category. My wife had long sung its praises as a great spa getaway in Farmington, Pennsylvania, a couple of hours’ drive from our home in the Washington area. Every year or so, she and some friends would escape for a couple of days of bonding with their bodies, free of spouses and kids. I always have preferred more active vacations than what I envisioned a spa would offer. Nor was Pennsylvania in the chilly mud season terribly appealing. The resort’s ski slopes had closed for the season, I don’t play golf, and the weather wasn’t right for tennis. In other words, I really didn’t want to go. Boy, was I wrong.

Nemacolin was great, even on a rainy weekend in late winter that kept my family of five inside for our entire visit.

Nemacolin for Active Or Restful Pursuits

I arrived a skeptic, less than thrilled with the prospect of what I feared would turn out to be a couple of days of enforced indoor idleness. Nemacolin’s great indoor pool soon had me convinced me otherwise. Swimming is one of those old fashioned sports where you can’t fake it. A fancy suit or goggles will not keep you afloat, and if you tire after a lap or two, it is very difficult to slow down to catch your breath. The indoor pool, bright and clean with relaxing music, often was empty. Once or twice each day, I’d swim my regimen of around 40 laps before retiring to the huge Jacuzzi.

The workouts put my mind and body in just the right mood for a spa treatment or two. The Hot Stone Massage was brilliant. I was less impressed by the Water Path Ritual, which consisted of walking around a rectangular wading pool for 20 minutes. I guess I just didn’t get it.

My wife loves the spa lifestyle — a full range of exercise classes, followed by an aromatherapy mineral bath or maybe a facial, some Spa Cuisine and a nap before you do it all again. Our two girls slipped easily into the mold. At 16 and 13, both are old enough to sample almost the full range of spa treatments. Even the options of horseback trail riding and skeet shooting (albeit in the rain) were not enough to distract them from their newly discovered pursuit of Spa Nirvana. If you are looking for something special, you can customize tour own spa package. 

Nemacolin’s Resort & Spa Facilities

None of this spa fun would have been possible if our 6-year-old son Joshua required our dedicated attention. Spas and kids are not usually a recommended combination. Spa types want to relax in a sophisticated, subdued environment — kids want to laugh, screech and splash. But with the new Spa Kidz Cabana, (open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00PM- 4:00PM only) kids too can enjoy some special treatments, such as French braiding and nail polishing. Each service and activity are priced individually.

Nemacolin has found the answer with a kids’ program that keeps the little ones engaged and happy in their own full-service facility. My 13-year-old Morgan, too old to join the Kidz Klub, chose not to join the program available for young teens, although she did offer to help the well-trained staff one morning. Josh, however, loved the attention from his caregivers in the Kidz Klub playroom and pool. He spent the better part of two days happy to leave his mother and me to ourselves, even during lunch. Reservations are required for Kidz Klub.

Since our visit, the resort has founded a Wildlife Academy to allow guests to learn more about the 100 species of animals kept in their 2,000-acre wildlife habitat. With interactive entertainment and a live animal program, guests can learn about lions, leopards, two-toed sloths, alligators, snapping turtles and Humphrey the Moose, to name a few.

Any getaway worth its calories has to have good food, and Nemacolin didn’t disappoint. Lautrec is a AAA and Mobil 5-star award winner for its American cuisine. The Aqueous, a fine dining place in nearby Falling Rock that focuses on steak, has won Pittsburgh magazine’s award for several years running. For more casual meals, there is pub-style fare at The Tavern and a fun new food court where burgers, pizza and ice cream can be enjoyed while everyone tries their hand at bowling, an indoor climbing wall, arcade games, and pool.

I preferred the healthier Spa Cuisine eatery, Elements, which most young kids seemed not to know about. Located in the 32,000-square-foot spa center, a striking building of glass, wood and stone, it serves an eclectic menu of vegetarian food and natural fruit drinks. My girls, both vegetarians, loved it, and I found it an unexpected pleasure to dine in such pacific surroundings.

Nemacolin Trip Planning Details

Nemacolin offers a range of outdoor activities, depending on the season. In winter, there’s skiing, snowboarding and tubing. In summer, there’s biking, miniature golf, a climbing tower, ropes course, paintball, bungee jumping and 36 holes of golf.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (800/422-2736, 724/329-8555) is located at 1001 Lafayette Drive, Farmington, PA 15437. Farmington is almost 200 miles from Washington, but less than an hour from Pittsburgh in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania. This engaging resort stands out amid the small towns of the region. Yet Nemacolin is not the area’s only antidote to the stress of everyday life. Be sure to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Kentuck Knob, two of the fabled architect’s masterpieces located nearby.

For booking information and seasonal family-focused specials, get in touch with the resort’s reservations staff. 

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