As we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway deeper and deeper into the heart of south-western Virginia, we passed regional landmarks like Round Meadow Creek and the Mayberry Trading Post before turning onto Squirrel Spur Road, which snaked through the mountains on a scenic and serpentine path.
Then, a sign:
It’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment, but for those who are in the know, this sign is the first step towards ending up at one of the mid-Atlantic’s premier luxury resorts, Primland.
Set amongst 12,000 acres of jaw-droppingly beautiful Blue Ridge peaks and valleys in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Primland made news this year by ranking as one of the top 50 resorts in the world (yes, the world!) by Travel and Leisure Magazine. That distinction is just one of many worldwide accolades, yet Primland is still — incredibly — very much of a hidden gem to a majority of the mid-Atlantic’s populace.
I had the opportunity to spend 2 days and 1 night at Primland after my recent Old School Virginia road trip and let me just say that this five-star retreat lived up to all of my highest expectations.
One of Primland’s best features is the land that makes up the property. 12,000 acres covers a lot of ground (nearly 19 square miles) and once you make that turn through the gates, you’ve still got quite a ways to go before reaching the main Lodge. Besides the land set aside for activities and roads, much of the property has been completely preserved and remains nearly untouched. The resort’s founder, Didier Primat, strived to create an authentically beautiful place for guests to relax and escape to a simpler time.
So much undisturbed land has made Primland a sanctuary for wildlife. Animals like deer, wild turkeys and black bears call Primland home and it’s common to run into some of them throughout your stay.
I’m just glad I brought extra batteries for my camera because the property was photo-ready at each and every turn! I visited in the late fall, when the leaves were fading splotches of reds, oranges and yellows, but I imagine that each season is equally picturesque.
Here are a few of my favorite snapshots of Primland’s scenery:
The main Lodge (with 2 restaurants, a spa, gym, game room, great room, observatory and library) serves as home base for day trippers, golfers and those staying either at the Lodge or the resort’s other lodging options.**
It’s perched atop a mountain in the middle of the property, with giant windows offering 360-degree views of the surrounding scenery. Consisting of 26 unique and luxuriously-appointed rooms, the lodge itself is a case study in effective regional and eco-friendly architecture.
It’s obvious that much care has been taken in the lodge’s design — both aesthetically and intrinsically — to show respect to the native cultures who have previously inhabited this land. The silo that’s part of the main building pays tribute to the region’s agricultural roots, while Native American and aboriginal art beautifully adorn the walls. The raw construction materials were carefully chosen as well, with dramatic wooden beams and paneling made of recycled and indigenous materials from neighboring Patrick and Floyd counties.
Primland definitely takes itself and its commitment to sustainable luxury seriously, but there’s also an underlying rustic vibe at the lodge that’s incredibly refreshing. It’s just a very comfortable and peaceful place.
**Those wanting a little extra seclusion could consider the Fairway cottages along the golf course, mountain homes and a trio of luxury tree houses which are so popular that more are in the works.
Walking into our room, I could immediately tell what sets Primland apart from other resorts. The lights were all on, perfectly set for our arrival. Gentle music fitting of a spa relaxation room was quietly playing from the TV. A welcome basket full of fruit, water and Primland’s signature apple cake (plus the recipe!) were on the kitchen table. All of our bags had been brought up from my car — it should be noted that I had a LOT of bags and randomly strewn stuff in the trunk for this road trip — and any loose clothing were neatly hung in the closet. All we had to do was walk in and marvel at how perfect things were and how beautiful the room was.
A photo tour:
I could have spent all day lounging on a chaise in one of our room’s nooks overlooking the mountains, or playing with the one-touch light and curtain switches — seriously, how can I get my condo wired with those kind of switches?? — but we were here for some fun! It was time to get up and begin experiencing some of Primland’s fantastic activities.
Here’s how I would sum up the activities offered at Primland: The most kick-ass summer camp for adults.
Over 45 activities with pretty much everything you could imagine: shooting clays, a high-speed ATV course, horseback riding, 18-holes of golf (Primland’s Highland Course was awarded #13 out of 100 public golf courses in the U.S by Golf Digest in 2012), geocaching, star watching, fly fishing, a frisbee golf course designed by the co-founder of the sport, George Sappenfield, and lots more.
Primland is also known for its pheasant hunting. As I walked to breakfast, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of ladies and gentleman dressed to the nines for European Wingtail Shooting. Like something out of Downton Abbey, they were prepared to head out “on the hunt.” While shooting clay pigeons and rabbits is much more my style, I have to admit that the get-up and ritual of it all looked very glamorous, indeed!
During my stay I really packed it in and I loved getting a little dirty (and raising my adrenaline) on the ATVs, dodging bears and enjoying a hike on the geocaching circuit and embracing my inner huntress as I shot a gun for the first time… and hitting a clay rabbit on my first try!
And I really liked ending it all with a relaxing signature massage at the spa. Heaven.
The Bottom Line
I absolutely loved Primland. The natural beauty is amazing in it’s own right, but it’s the little touches that separate Primland from the pack. Despite the large property, there are relatively few guests, which ensures that you receive individualized, dedicated service and that the front desk concierge knows your name and greets you accordingly throughout your stay.
Whether you’re looking for a couple’s getaway, corporate meeting place, family vacation, girl’s weekend or bachelor party, everyone is sure to find something that they’ll be happy with in this picture-perfect Blue Ridge Mountain wilderness retreat.
**DISCLAIMER: My meals, accommodations and activities for this trip were provided by the Primland Resort. I worked closely with them to customize an itinerary that best fit my travel perspective and all opinions are my own.**