The land where Nemacolin Woodlands Resort now sits has a long history dating back to 1740, when a rugged trail was carved through the Laurel Highlands between what is now Cumberland, Maryland and Brownsville, Pennsylvania. The trailblazer was native Delaware Indian, Chief Nemacolin. Assisted by frontiersman, Thomas Cresap, the trail was the most direct route from east to west. Later expanded by Colonel George Washington and General Edward Braddock during the French and Indian War, the trail eventually became known as the National Highway by Congress in the mid-1800s. Today that road is called Route 40, the major mountain artery where Nemacolin Woodlands Resort now sits.
In the early 1900’s, the Laurel Highlands became a popular and fashionable retreat for wealthy Pittsburgh industrialists and merchants. In the 1930’s, vacation retreats such as the Kaufman family’s Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater were built, and lots were established and offered for sale as summer homes and hunting retreats. In the late 1940’s, Pittsburgh industrialist, Willard F. Rockwell (Rockwell International), purchased 60 acres in the Laurel Highlands. Over the next several years, he added more land, established a summer home and added a hunting and fishing area for his family.
By 1968, the estate had grown into Nemacolin Trail Hunting Game Reserves, a private game land where the Rockwell’s invited friends, acquaintances and business associates to hunt and fish the land populated by silver fox, quail, white-tailed deer and a number of other wild game. In the meantime, the development of a new hunting lodge was in the works, designed by W.K. Rockwell, Jr. and friend and former college roommate, C.W. Balling, of nearby Fairchance, Pennsylvania.
In September 1970, Nemacolin Inn officially opened to the public. The four-story Tudor-style inn had 12 large suites and could accommodate up to 30 guests, complete with a comfortable lobby and large dining room. Popularity grew quickly and expansion was necessary. In 1972, construction began on an 18-hole golf course and plans for a swimming pool and tennis courts developed. The property was then sold in the mid-1970s to Cordelia Scaife May, who turned it into a private conference center for a short time. In December 1981, the property returned to the Rockwell family when it sold to S. Kent Rockwell, Willard’s son, who returned it to a public resort and began developing the property further. By 1987, the land had transformed from a private summer home to a posh resort with the updated 26-room Nemacolin Inn, two restaurants named The Golden Trout and Partridges, an 18-hole course and pro shop, two tennis courts, two swimming pools and a private airstrip. The Inn, all of its amenities and surrounding property would be sold at auction that June.
Joseph A. Hardy, III, founder of 84 Lumber Company, purchased 550 acres of the Nemacolin property at that auction, which he attended in the hopes of purchasing a few acres of woodlands near a lake or stream for his daughter, Maggie, who loved to fish. As Hardy recounts, “I left the auction without that piece of property for fishing because I bought the main parcel and was out of money.” Hardy and his daughter promptly set about transforming the property into its present state, a 2,000 acre world-class resort and a recipient of the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide and American Automobile Association (AAA) awards. In 2002, Hardy transferred full ownership of the resort to his daughter, Maggie Hardy-Magerko, who serves as President and Owner, and continues to grow the resort. Today, Nemacolin is proud home to Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond dining at Lautrec restaurant and AAA Five-Diamond Lodging at Falling Rock hotel.
The Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Timeline
1987 (first year of Hardy ownership) – The Nemacolin Inn was expanded into the original Lodge and work on an elegant 68-room annex commenced. The Conference Center, which included the Lecture Hall and new lobbies, opened, along with the wine cellar.
1988 – The Woodlands Golf Academy was established, featuring 22,000 square feet of practice greens and a driving range. The Woodlands Spa opened as well. Soon afterward, Lake P.J. and the Panorama Pavilion were constructed.
1989 – The Lodge Annex development was followed by construction of the Links Townhomes. The Golden Trout was relocated and reopened where Autumn is today. Scenic hikes, jogging trails, guided horseback riding, boating and croquet were added.
1990 – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and the Hardy family celebrated the first Royal Reception charity fundraiser. The CaddyShack restaurant opened in June.
1991 – The Grand Ballroom was added to the Conference Center.
1992 – The Tavern and the Equestrian Center were added. The CaddyShack received a massive expansion and Fallingbrook Miniature Golf Course opened next door.
1995 – Mystic Rock golf course was added. Mystic Mountain ski area also opened. Paradise Pool was established and the Kidz Club area, P.J.’s Ice Cream and Pizza Parlor and Heritage Court Shoppes were added as an addition to the original Lodge.
1996 – Fatbird was adopted as the resort’s new logo and mascot.
1997 – Nemacolin Woodlands Resort celebrated its 10th Anniversary of Hardy ownership. The elegant Chateau Lafayette hotel, including 124-rooms, the Cigar Bar, Hardy & Hayes Jewelers, and fine dining restaurant, Lautrec, opened. The Marquis Ballroom was added.
1999 – The Nemacolin Field Club opened, featuring a Shooting Academy with 140-acres housing 30 clay stations, and a 7,000 square foot club lodge housing Orville’s restaurant. The newly renovated 32,000 square foot Woodlands Spa reopened.
2000 – The Auto Toy Store opened, featuring a number of rare and collectible automobiles, part of the million-dollar Hardy Family Art Collection.
2001 – The Pride and Joy Airplane Hangar opened, featuring vintage airworthy aircrafts, part of the million-dollar Hardy Family Art Collection.
2002 – Mr. Hardy’s daughter, Maggie Hardy-Magerko, became the President and Owner of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The Off-Road Driving Academy opened at the Adventure Center featuring “The Rock,” a manmade off-road course meant to test the limits of the vehicle’s driving capabilities.
2003 – In May, the Woodlands Golf Academy was renamed The Learning Center and reopened on The Links golf course. In September, the PGA Tour 84 Lumber Classic came to Mystic Rock golf course for the first time.
2004 – Falling Rock, the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired boutique hotel, opened, housing Aqueous restaurant, Amber Bar and the Mystic Rock pro shop. Mystic Rock golf course underwent extensive renovations. The Off-Road Driving Academy was expanded to include “The Crater” and off-road trails, taking off-road driving into the surrounding woodlands.
2005 – The Woodlands Spa was expanded again, adding 12 treatment rooms, a squash court and relocated Fitness Center. Horizon Point conference center opened, adding to Falling Rock’s amenities. Dog sledding was added as a winter adventure offering.
2006 – Wildlife habitats were built, bringing a variety of exotic wildlife to the resort. The Golden Trout restaurant was renovated and transformed into Autumn. Nemacolin’s Conference Center was improved with the addition of the Business Center. The Hardy Girls’ Gym, an 8,400 square foot Olympic caliber facility, was constructed.
2007 – Marked the 20th Anniversary of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Mr. Hardy’s 84th Birthday. The Equestrian Center became the new Wildlife Academy. A wine tasting classroom, Académie du Vin, and the Chateau Signature Boutique retail shop opened. ThemeWorks was developed to assist in creating memorable conferences and social events. Falling Rock hotel was awarded the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award.
2008 – Falling Rock retained AAA Five-Diamond status for the second year, and Lautrec was the only new restaurant in the entire eastern half of the United States to be awarded the Five-Diamond rating, making Nemacolin one of only 21 resorts worldwide to offer both AAA Five-Diamond lodging and dining. The WildSide, a unique entertainment emporium opened, featuring an eight lane bowling alley, 65 arcade games, sports bar and pool tables, indoor climbing wall, exotic bird habitat, miniature train display and private party areas.
2009 – Lautrec retained the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award and acquired the Mobil (now Forbes Travel Guide) Five-Star Award, becoming one of only 14 restaurants in the country to have both ratings. Falling Rock hotel retained AAA Five-Diamond status for the third year. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort partnered with Nemacolin Wooflands, the area’s premier pet resort, which opened to provide lodging and spa services for pets. The Animal Care Center, a primary animal care hospital complete with rehabilitative facilities, opened near Nemacolin Wooflands in the old indoor equestrian arena. In May, the Kidz Spa opened to accommodate children ages 5 to 15 with age appropriate spa services. Millioke Meadows was established in November, making Nemacolin home to two sacred buffalo named Lightning and Thunder. Nemacolin joined social networking and established a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
2010 – The Fatbird Flyer and Little Tykes Ropes Course opened at the Adventure Center. Nemacolin's Falling Rock hotel was honored with the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award. Lautrec also retained the Forbes Five-Star award, making Nemacolin one of only 6 resorts in the world to offer both Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond lodging and dining.
2011 – In April, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board honored Nemacolin as the selected location for the final Category 3 Gaming License. A fire-pit and outdoor recreation site was constructed over the summer in front of the Lodge. The Wildlife Academy added a new check-in station and arena for the Wild Animal Shows near the Adventure Center.
2012 - The Sundial Lodge was destroyed by fire on February 12. Mountain biking and scenic chairlift rides were added as amenities at the Adventure Center. The Panoramic Pavilion underwent renovations to offer space for weddings and private parties. In July, construction began on the new Sundial Lodge, featuring a restaurant and bar, outdoor terraces, retail shop, rental shop, bowling lanes, and arcade games. The WildSide closed on October 7 as construction began on Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, operated and managed by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. Much of The WildSide’s concept was relocated to the new Sundial Lodge, which opened to guests on December 24.
2013 – The Nemacolin Experience department was established in June affording Nemacolin the ability to offer each guest a one-of-a-kind vacation experience, as well as the opportunity to purchase a Nemacolin Experience Membership. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin opened its doors July 1. Nemacolin begins renovation phases; the Woodlands Spa received painting and furnishing upgrades, Lafayette Gardens received new hardscaping and patio furniture, and the Presidential Suite was completely remodeled from floor to ceiling. Spa Voyage was renovated into the new Kidz Spa, now called The Grove, and terrain park features were added to Mystic Mountain slopes.
2014 – Nemacolin embarked on a $30 million dollar resort-wide renovation, one of the largest projects in the history of the resort. The project included full renovations for accommodations in the Chateau Lafayette, Lodge Annex and original Lodge along with renovations for meeting spaces including the Lecture Hall and ballrooms. The Links Townhomes underwent exterior upgrades including deck restoration. In addition, on April 10, 2014, the Holistic Healing Center at Horizon Point opened. The Adventure Center upgraded the Fatbird Flyer Zip Line to the Fatbird SuperFlyer, a 3,000’ dueling zip line, which opened over the summer.
2015 – Nemacolin’s $30 million resort-wide renovation project is completed. Earthwork began on a new 9-hole, Pete Dye designed addition to golf. Nemacolin’s Wild Kingdom opened in April, featuring a renovated space and new animal programs. Construction on an additional pool, hot tub and bar area adjacent to Paradise Pool began.
2016 – The 9-hole addition to Mystic Rock golf course expanded construction to 18 new holes, and the resort closed The Links Golf Course to construct a second Pete Dye-designed course. The redesign of a grand front entrance to the Chateau Lafayette and front driveway is unveiled in March. Arden Estates, Nemacolin's largest luxury vacation home is renovated. The updated rustic vacation space can accommodate up to 22 guests. Paradise Pool reopened in May, featuring a new look, feel and addition. Warm and inviting earth tones were incorporated into the existing family pool area, and a new adult-only pool area available to guests ages 21 and over, is complete with a 32-person hot tub and dining space. The Woodlands Spa embarked on an extensive remodel of their common areas, adding in additional seating and an upgrade to wet areas including the steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools. The upgrades to the spa’s fitness center included removing Elements Café from the resort's restaurant collection, and adding in new flooring as well as additional fitness equipment.