The last several New Years, Ryan and I have found it fun to make it special and go somewhere to celebrate in style! This year, we decided to go to one of our favorite spots year-round, which is Nemacolin Woodlands Resort! Nemacolin is a beautiful resort and spa nestled in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania. It’s a short drive from Pittsburgh, being under 2 hours. The reason I say it’s a favorite spot year round is because there is SO much to do! From hiking, skiing, golf, children’s activities, a zoo, mini golf, hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, shooting clays, swimming, art classes, yoga, a holistic wellness center, the spa, fine dining, shopping, a casino, special events for holidays, and more! It’s definitely a destination spot for couples for romantic getaways and family fun, too! Your pets are also invited! Nemacolin really has it all and they do a wonderful job of seeing to all of your needs.
Ryan and I arrived the day before New Year’s Eve. We had booked shortly in advance and let them know about my dietary restrictions of being gluten and dairy free. They were extremely accommodating! Upon entering, the main chateau was decorated beautifully on the outside with a huge lit up tree, lights all over the outside of the building, flashing different colors, all while Christmas carols played adding to the excitement in the air! It was a sight to be seen!
There are several places you can stay at Nemacolin and varying price points for each. The main chateau is where most of the action is! The rooms are very grand and luxurious. The entire place is stunningly beautiful! There are several restaurants connected to the Chateau as well as shops, a cigar room, and beautiful artwork. You can walk from your room there without having to go outdoors. It’s a massive building and there’s always something to look at on your journey to each destination. There is a bar in the main lobby and a beautiful sitting areas surrounding it. There is also a stunning patio that looks out onto the grounds. Lots of weddings happen here for good reason! It couldn’t be prettier. Inside of the Chateau is the resort’s famous restaurant, Lautrec! If you love fine dining, you will love this place! It is a 5-star, award-winning restaurant with awards for it’s wine selections to boot. More on this later!
Ryan and I have stayed at the Chateau several times, so this time we decided to try out the resort’s newest accommodations at Falling Rock. Falling Rock is located just down the road from the Chateau. It is a smaller hotel with only 42 rooms. However, don’t think that means less luxury! The rooms at Falling Rock come with butler service! That’s right. You have your very own butler to assist you with any of your needs during your stay. You can press a button and someone will come and draw a bath for you. Or call and request it to be drawn when you arrive home from dinner. Pretty nice! We felt guilty utilizing all of the butler services at first. But, that’s what you pay for when you go there and that’s what they want you to indulge in to make your experience that much more relaxing and enjoyable. And that it was! They bring you freshly baked cookies (they even made mine gluten and dairy free, and they were the most delicious gf, df, cookies I’d ever had!! Oh my gosh! I’m drooling just thinking about them now!) every evening. There is always room service available and breakfast items delivered to your room that are included in your stay. When we first arrived, I had a button pop off of one of my dresses and the butler service came and fixed it in minutes! We also enjoyed a beautiful fruit tray and champagne upon our arrival. The service here was beyond excellent!
In our experience the rooms at Falling Rock are a bit larger yet equally beautiful to the ones at the Chateau. There is a difference in the decor style. But, it’s just as lovely. It is definitely a bit quieter at Falling Rock being that it is a smaller hotel and there are less activities in the building. There is a fabulous restaurant called Aqueous located there. They have excellent steaks and seafood. You enjoy a view of the golf course from the dining room as well. Attached to the restaurant is a bar and lounge where you can also order the same food available to you at the restaurant. For the golfers in the family, there is a pro shop on the main floor equipped with all of your golfing needs!
One thing you might want to note is that you should make reservations at the restaurants prior to your trip, especially on busy holidays. Be sure to make reservations for their amazing brunch as well! You do not want to miss that and there is a limit on seating for it.
On the first night of our stay, we got dressed up and headed over to the Chateau to check out the decorations and have dinner at Lautrec. The lobby of the Chateau was decorated so elaborately, I was in heaven! They do such an amazing job with their decorating for holidays! We have been to their Easter celebration as well and both New Year’s and Easter were so beautifully done! This time there was a big, white, ice sculpture-like building set up in the lobby with gorgeous floral arrangements and blue lighting surrounding it, made specifically for photo opportunities! (This place is very Instagrammable! :D) The kids can also play inside of the sculpture! They really do think of everything. There were Christmas trees lit up exquisitely inside in each room with lots of gold and garland. It was impeccably done!
After getting some pictures, we were seated at Lautrec in a cozy, quiet, dimly lit spot. Perfect for the quiet romantic getaway we had invisioned! This is where things got so fun! The menu for the night was called “Leap of Faith” which was the chef’s seven course dinner. They gave us an envelope with a sheet of paper enclosed with several different ingredients to choose from. We were to take the quill and ink pen from the table and circle ten ingredients that you like the most and then the chef would prepare the seven courses for you and your guests with those ingredients! It was such a fun, interactive, and unique concept! We loved it! Kudos to Chef Kristin Butterworth! She has been at Lautrec for 8 years. She has received the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards every year since 2011, and it’s easy to see why! She was also recently chosen as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40, how cool is that? Also deserving of mention is one of the main servers there, Terry. I don’t know exactly how long he has been there, but we have been going for 6 years now and he’s been present every time. He is the most amazing server you will ever have in your life! He’s so kind and so knowledgeable. There is no air of stuffiness about him, or any of the servers at Lautrec. But, he always makes the experience that much more special and we appreciate him so much! <3
At Lautrec, you always have the option of doing a wine pairing. We have done this once and it was amazing! However, I cannot drink very much alcohol, so we did forgo that option this time. But, the food was absolutely amazing! My favorite courses were the halibut (which I apologize I got really excited for and forgot to take a picture until I was halfway finished with it), and the beef! But, the best of all had to be the gluten and dairy free dark chocolate pine cone dessert to top the meal off! It so decadent! The chocolate was soft on the outside and thick and fudgy on the inside. It was surrounded by toasted marshmallows, little bites of sugary cocoa, and warm cherries. It was the best dessert I have had perhaps EVER! (Sidenote* I know that I talk a lot about eating Paleo which means NO SUGAR, but I do indulge in a little during the holidays – but that’s seriously IT! If you are new to Paleo or AIP and aren’t in remission, I wouldn’t suggest doing this!)
After dinner, we took the bus back to Falling Rock. They have nice buses with comfy seats and pleasant drivers that are constantly running around the property. There is rarely ever a wait. The entire resort was lit up for the holidays which made riding around on the bus a treat in itself! There was a stretch of lights that we drove through that feels like you’re in a tunnel of Christmas lights! So cool!
The next morning Ryan had a nice breakfast at Aqueous, while I slept in and ordered some food up to the room. They have great selections for those of us with food allergies! I had oatmeal, fruit, and tea. But there was plenty of other choices I could have had that fit my dietary restrictions, too!
Then, we headed over to the Woodlands Spa. It is such a gorgeous spa! When you enter you feel like you’re in a different world. There are waterfalls, natural light, and lots of natural finishes that make you feel connected to the Earth and so tranquil! The service here was top notch, too. We were greeted and given glasses of champagne and strawberries. They help you to the locker rooms and guide you down to where your designated waiting area is. There are men’s and women’s relaxation rooms to wait in before your treatment. If you are there as a couple, which we were, they take you down to the indoor pool, where you can sit together. From there, our massage therapists came to get us and walked us down into the couple’s massage room. Walking through the halls of the spa is an experience in itself! It’s such a beautiful place with so many peaceful waterfalls, decorations, and artwork to look at.
We both had the 80 minute Woodlands Massage, which you can tailor to your liking. We did deep tissue, swedish, and hot stone massages. They were heavenly! I’ve never had a massage at Nemacolin where I felt like I didn’t get what I needed out of it. The pressure was great, and it was also relaxing at the same time! Just how I like it 🙂 They use essential oils like lavendar to de-stress the body and relieve fatigue. They also used eucalyptus to open up our sinuses when you are turned on your stomach which I thought was so nice! I always get stuffed up when I turn over and my face is in the head rest. Something about being in that position always causes congestion. But, the eucalyptus really helped! The massage was wonderful. We both felt so relaxed and peaceful.
We went upstairs to another one of their relaxation rooms. There were several fire places with big comfy recliners and couches covered in fur blankets. So cozy! I could’ve stayed here all day! But, we had to get back and showered to get ready for our New Year’s Eve Ball.
There were several parties going on at Nemacolin for New Year’s. There was a family dinner party in one area, a band playing at the casino, a party just for kids, live music in the main lobby where there is also a bar, and of course, the Masquerade Ball at Lautrec which we attended 🙂
The Masquerade Ball was really nice! Everyone got dressed to the nines and were seated with their parties. We were all asked to choose masks and then we were served drinks and hors d’oeuvres. There was a live singer doing classic hits and taking requests. She was awesome! I loved her. She was rockin’ out to No Diggity, No Doubt! LOL! She pulled it off, too! So fun. Then, we were seated and the four course dinner started. They were very accommodating to my diet for this meal as well. I got to eat everything that was served at dinner, which is great!
The first course was a take on the Ferrero Rocher candies. They made a “Foie-Rero Rocher” of farm foie gras with apple butter, salted roasted hazlenuts, and maple, topped off with a 10k gold wrapper! I appreciated the creativity, and it was quite tasty, too. The second and third courses were Chilean Sea Bass and a Japanese strip loin and a four hour braised short rib. Very delicious! To top off the meal, there was an entire room dedicated to JUST desserts! Pretty decadent!
I can’t talk about dessert at Nemacolin without telling you about Lautrec’s dessert cart! After you are finished with your meal and dessert, they bring around a vintage dessert cart with assorted novelty candies like swedish fish, candy cigars, and gum drops, as well as macaroons, chocolate truffles of all sorts, and several other cookies and chocolate covered items! You will never leave there hungry even if you try.
After dinner, they opened up the dance floor and the bar was flowing all night. Everyone danced to the likes of John Legend, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, and Chris De Burgh (Lady in Red!). There were families there with their older children and lots of couples, too. It was a nice quiet party. Nothing too loud or boisterous. We rang in the New Year with champagne provided by Lautrec. It was a really lovely night!
We left Lautrec and headed down to the main lobby where there was more live music and lots of people hanging out by the bar and beautiful seating areas around it. We met some really nice people! It was a super fun way to spend New Year’s Eve and we would gladly do it again!
The next morning we attended one of Nemacolin’s famous brunches! The brunches here are out of this world! They are also hosted at Lautrec in the Chateau. The spread is unreal. They serve up mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, everything you can imagine! Salads, chilled seafood, pastries, breads, roast beef, fish, shellfish, chicken, steak, pastas, omletes, waffles, other breakfast items, and an entire table of incredible desserts! They specially made entrees for me and brought out gluten and dairy free breads and muffins. It was the perfect way to end our stay! Needless to say, we will be returning again soon. It is a perfect place to celebrate anything or just get away for some much needed rest and relaxation! Thank you to everyone at Nemacolin for a wonderful New Year’s celebration and for making our stay so memorable!
You can visit their site and check out all of the amazing accommodations and things to do here. I am also linking my dress and accessories below! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year and wish you much happiness and health in 2019! 🙂