Old School Cool in West Virginia - My Family Travels

Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is a rustic resort and spa: the perfect place for your family to unwind.

You may not need an SUV to get to Coolfont in the panhandle of West Virginia, but it may come in handy on a snowy day at this year-round rustic resort. The Coolfont Resort, Spa & Wellness Center, nestled in the wooded mountains near Berkeley Springs, is a cross between camping and spa life–with the added silly fun of sliding down a mountain on tire tubes. We took Maddy (and her younger brother Jamie) to celebrate her 10th birthday and to decompress for a couple of days after the Christmas holiday.

Coolfont offers typical lodge accommodations, but the real experience is found in the chalets and cabins, where we holed up as a family and slowed down. With no TV or electronic gizmos, we simply talked, played games and stoked the fire in the wood-burning stove. When hunger struck, we moved beyond the limited kitchen amenities (mini-fridge, sink and coffeemaker) in our two-bedroom, two-bath A-frame to Coolfont’s buffet-oriented dining room, other restaurants in Berkeley Springs or the local Italian delivery service.

The winter highlight of Coolfont is snow tubing. Both mornings, we eagerly hopped in the van/shuttle in the resort parking lot and arrived five minutes later at the ticket booth (44″ height requirement). Once we selected our tubes (the smaller tube with the plastic bottom provides the speediest ride), we were towed 800 feet up the mountain, giggling going up… then screaming coming down. Maddy and Jamie loved hooking their tubes together and spinning down the icy lanes. The course usually opens at 10am — and we learned the hard way to arrive early because lines got depressingly long by midday.

When you tire of the slopes, Berkeley Springs is known for its spring waters and historical Roman baths. It’s worth a side trip to poke around its few New Age shops and galleries and to try its handful of eclectic restaurants, from fast food to elegant dining. Closer to home, Coolfont’s Spa & Wellness Center is a no-frills, smallish facility that offers a wide range of therapeutic massage (25 therapists on staff) and acupuncture, as well as the usual skin and salon treatments and indoor swimming pool-sauna-whirlpool.

Tubing is available, weather permitting, Fridays 5pm-9pm, Saturdays 10am-9pm, and Sundays 10am-6pm, with some extended hours in January and February. Coolfont also makes its own snow, if necessary. For lodging rates (which vary by season and type) and additional information, go to www.coolfont.com or call 800/888-8768.

[Editor’s Note: The Coolfont Resort has been purchased by Carl M. Freeman Companies (304/258-6900) who, as of mid-2007, plan to develop the property into a “mountain resort community featuring world class amenities and a variety of homestyles.” Families interested in the resort should check for updates at the company’s website, or inquire about other accommodations from the local tourist office at the site: www.berkeleysprings.com]

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