by Jessie Ammons
Author Henry Miller once wrote that, in matters of travel, “one’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.” To change your perspective, you need not go far: Primland, for one example, is a mere three-hour drive away.
The luxury mountain resort made a name for itself with its Highland golf course, designed by architect Donald Steel to showcase views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A main lodge hotel soon followed, mainly to host golf crowds seeking an upscale retreat. In the decade since then, Primland has evolved to become a destination for fishers, riders, hunters, tennis players, and hikers, as well. And it has attacted national attention: Last year’s Conde Nast Traveler readers’ choice awards listed Primland as the 11th best resort in the U.S. and the 31st best hotel in the world.
Plush and sophisticated, the estate comprises 12,000 acres just over the Virginia line. Guests can stay in the chalet-inspired main lodge, luxe-rustic one-to-seven-bedroom mountain homes, cozy cottages, or one of three clifftop tree-houses. There’s a swimming pool, fitness center, library, and movie theater.
This month, Primland is bustling – particularly over Memorial Day weekend. A family-themed lineup celebrates the tradition of the Native Americans who once inhabited the resort’s land with cultural presentations and dance performances. Surrey rides, bluegrass music, and guided nature walks weave in current mountain culture as well. Other resort activities include off-road ATV tours, horseback riding, fishing and fly-fishing, hunting and clay-shooting, archery, GPS-guided outdoor treasure hunting known as geocaching, tennis, kayaking, disc golf, and good old-fashioned hiking. Like any luxury resort worth its salt, Primland has a swoon-worthy spa. With design inspired by Native American culture, the space is minimal and natural.
Perhaps the coolest part of Primland, though, is the skywatching. A silo-esque observatory dome houses a high-powered telescope where you can see stars, planets, and beyond into other galaxies. Nightly starwalks last 45 minutes and give you an overview of the telescope and major celestial objects. Ask one of the astronomy staff members for more detailed insight – it’s not uncommon to see a quasar two billion light years away.
It’s fitting that Primland is eco-friendly: There are energy-and-water-efficient fixtures, certified green buildings, and wildlife management practices vetted by the nearby
College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. Ready to go? You can plan your trip in advance, and organize or schedule activities while there, via the Primland app for any type of smartphone. How’s that for a stately, savvy roadtrip?