A resort the size of Bermuda. With only 150 total guests. Sounds like a dream for those who crave to claim a little piece of quiet in the world, huh? Pampered elegance and outdoor adventures seamlessly blend at the Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, where you can be as social—or as shy—as you’d like and never have to forgo the comforts of modern living.
The 12,000-acre resort featuring mountain top views, lakes, and a private wilderness they can call their own is located just a short drive from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Enjoying the outdoors, whether hiking strenuous trails or hopping on a golf cart to enjoy the Donald Steel-designed golf course, is a major draw for most guests. You definitely don’t have to be a wilderness warrior to enjoy a stay at Primland Resort, though. There are so many amenities and activities to enjoy that you might never leave the Lodge during a weekend getaway.
Primland defies explanation, more so than any other place I’ve visited around the world. It’s an eclectic combination of living off the land and high-end pampering. It’s a place where you’ll need a chauffeured SUV to get from one location to another on property. It’s where local moonshine cocktails and an authentic tobacco barn set aside solely for smoking are just as popular as afternoon tea and sparkling wine tastings. Your morning could start off with either pheasant hunting or yoga. Your evening could end by watching one galaxy devour another through a fancy telescope, or you and your loved ones could munch down some s’mores. Don’t dare try to put Primland in a box. It’s way too big to fit in one, anyway.
When I first arrived at the main gate of Primland Resort, I was directed to drive six miles to reach the Lodge. I thought it was a joke, but it clearly wasn’t. After driving through twisting roads cocooned by forests, suddenly a luxury lodge on a cleared hilltop popped out of nowhere to command our attention. It’s a theme that I found to be repeated throughout my stay: rustic wilderness with unexpected, yet highly welcome, pockets of luxury just where you least expect it.
The staff welcomed us with impeccable charm and southern graciousness and whisked us away to our room in the Lodge. There are four different lodging options at the Primland Resort. The Lodge has 26 elegant rooms and suites. This is where the spa, pool, fitness center, restaurants, theater, observatory, and golf shop are located. Eleven mountain homes can accommodate larger parties throughout the property, and can be a more affordable way to stay at the resort if you’ve got a big group. The Fairway Cottages are located next to the golf course. Three tree houses are uber-romantic and specifically designed for just two people, with an open floor plan and stunning views.
For my two-night stay, there were way more activities to enjoy than could possibly fit in our itinerary. A longer stay, or repeat visits, is highly recommended. Some offerings—like tree climbing and star-gazing classes—you just can’t find at most resorts, so I planned my itinerary around those options.
If you really want to get away from it all, even in the middle of a 12,000-acre resort, climb a tree. The view from 60-feet up a Tulip Poplar rivals anything you can dream of down on the ground. Bob Wray, of Blue Ridge Tree Climbing, expertly guided me up a tree for the first time in my life for an experience that is hard to forget. With patience and a gentle calm, Bob talked me through the gear and equipment I’d need to make my first climb. Like in rock climbing, there are a few ropes and harnesses, but no prior experience is necessary. It’s surprisingly easy to do, once you get the hang of stepping down on a rope system and pulling yourself up to slowly climb along the tree trunk. A welcome treat was being able to lay down in a hammock 30-feet up in the tree branches, where I sipped water, smiled a lot and, of course, posed for quite a few iPhone snapshots of me among the tree branches.
After climbing a tree, I was more than ready for a much-needed massage, so The Spa at Primland was a welcome sight. The Spa pays tribute to the Native American history of the area (Primland Resort is located on land that has been home to eight Native American tribes) through their treatments, as well as in the décor and atmosphere. Artwork throughout The Spa includes an authentic Native American dreamcatcher and turquoise stones, which the American Indians believe harmonize the body, the skin and the spirit.
Few resorts can claim an astronomy staff on site, but Primland can. In a silo attached to the main lodge, the domed roof rolls back on select nights to reveal another hidden world of stars and galaxies. Journey 27-million-light-years away with a fun and easy-to-understand introduction to our universe with Primland’s Star Walk. The 45-minute program broadcasts images from a Celestron CGE Pro 1400 telescope on monitors inside the dome to reveal unique images of our universe that you’ll never see with a naked eye. For a more hands-on approach, sign up for the Tour of the Universe, a two-hour program that takes you on to the golf course with a telescope to view Mars and other night-sky objects, with expert commentary that’s surprisingly never boring. Starmaster Scott Martin somehow makes our solar system, constellations and the stellar chaos happening above us seem interesting, relevant and fun.
My adventures were definitely a little more tame than other activities that can be enjoyed at Primland. ATV rides through the woods, shooting sporting clays, fly-fishing, mountain biking, and hunting get you outdoors to explore the wilds. Chuck wagon lunches, whiskey-tasting, disc golf, and nature hikes are all among the long list of ways to spend a day at Primland Resort.
Local, fresh food is never far away while staying at Primland. The on-site restaurants serve up delectable cuisine so that you never feel you have to leave to indulge in a great meal. Elements is an intimate dining room with upscale cuisine, mountain views and tables clustered around a 360-degree glass-enclosed fireplace. The chef utilizes local foods, many of which are grown on site, to showcase the flavors of the mountainous region. Think hearty stone ground grits, artisanal cheeses and Virginia ham that have been elevated to the next level. At The 19th Pub, overlooking the 18th green of the Highland Course, the food is more laid-back and casual for all-day dining and drinking.
When it’s time to leave Primland, there is a certain heaviness on your soul. After a blissful, serene stay in your own little corner of the world, it’s a bit daunting to know that you’ll soon return to reality, with all of the crowds, noise and frenetic pace of most modern life. Perhaps that’s why Primland is growing and thriving, adding new lodging options and guest experiences soon in order to respond to travelers’ increased desires to escape to this mountain retreat. Clearly, the need for a place like Primland is great. What’s even greater, though, is if you’re one of the few who can count themselves lucky enough to have had the chance to stay there.
It is perfect here, isn’t? (We photographed a wedding there a few weeks ago and it was perfection.)