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There is an iron gate in the woods at the foot of a steep rise with a small intercom system and an innocuous sign. The stately gate swings inward and you start the 7.5 mile drive up from the South Gate to the mountaintop retreat known as Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Va. From the valley floor cut by the Dan River over unfathomable time, your journey begins.
The roughly 1,500-foot rise from the gate is as much metaphysical as it is literal, but you can’t know that on your first passing. One visitor said, “Once you get there, you are not there yet.” He may not have realized just how right he was. Twenty minutes of switchbacks and curves later, you come around the final turn and ascend the final few dozen feet to the cedar and stone lodge, which stands before you with more a rustic appeal and all of the modern comforts savvy travelers have come to expect.
There are mountain retreats and then there is Primland. From the back patio of the lodge, you look down on the world-class golf course, the valley from which you just rose, and the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Primland is the vision of its founder Didier Primat, a European industrialist who acquired the land in 1977. He built Primland with an environmentalist’s eye and an adventurer’s soul, creating a haven of recreation that reaches for the heavens.
Primat hired legendary European golf course architect Donald Steel for the project. Perhaps Steel was a curious choice to design a golf course on a plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but once Steel walked the grounds, he exclaimed, “I knew this was the perfect spot for a truly exceptional golf course.” Less than a decade later, the results are astounding for a place that has done little to attract attention to its self. In 2007, when the course opened, it was declared “Best New Public Course over $75 in America” by Golf Digest.
The truth is that any golf course dropped onto this piece of property would have offered incredible views from the top of the mountain. The setting guaranteed that. However, what Steel wove through the hard woods and along the ridge line is a world-class golf course that challenges players of all levels. There is an art form to designing a golf course that can be enjoyed by recreational golfers and challenge the best players in the world. The beauty of Steel’s masterpiece extends beyond mere limitation of words – when gazed upon, even the seasoned golf traveler is awestruck and inspired.
If Primland stopped there with its golf course and its stately lodge it would have been enough. But there is something for everyone at Primland. In addition to the lodge, there are guest cottages and mountain houses for groups and families. For couples looking for a unique getaway, there is the tree house cottage that seems suspended off the lip of the valley. Two additional tree house cottages are under construction and will offer the same seclusion and intimacy as the original.
There is no question that while indoors at Primland guests enjoy the finest accommodations, but Primland is a resort to be enjoyed outdoors as well. The unique offering of outdoor activities extends beyond world-class hunting and fishing, although these are not to be overlooked. The European-style driven shoots for quail are a rare activity in the U.S., but several are offered at Primland. Horseback riding, sporting clays, kayaking, Frisbee golf, and mountain biking are but a few of the additional ways an outdoorsman can fill the days. The popular ATV tours of the property bring you close to nature and allow you to see the vast expanse of the Primland property, which is roughly 10 miles long and three miles wide. For those slightly less adventurous, a day at the award-winning, newly-opened spa is just what the doctor ordered.
At days end, return to the patio in the back of the lodge to enjoy an evening cocktail by the fire before dinner. Dinner in Elements is an experience as much as a meal. The menu is a selection of locally-farmed produce and meats, as well as fresh seafood. For parties of up to a dozen, the chef’s table right off the kitchen offers a nine-course tasting menu and a selection of wines that is the envy of even the most sophisticated pallet.
After dinner, Primland has one final realm for you to explore. Nothing at Primland is constructed purely for aesthetics. The silo structure adjacent to the clubhouse houses the golf pro shop on the bottom floor and a scientific observatory on the top floor. With a powerful telescope that allows visitors to view worlds far beyond our solar system, a night gazing at the far-beyond completes a day at Primland. However, for those of us who might like to extend the night with good friends and a night cap, the 19th Pub has fine wines and whiskies. Take your drink to the circular fireplace a few steps out the door on the patio and warm yourself by the fire.
When your visit draws to a close and you descend the winding road back to reality and probability, you take a little piece of Primland with you. A visit to Primland is, at its best, a soul-searching reminder of the best part of yourself. At the very least, it is a remarkable and awe-inspiring getaway to be shared and remembered. And when you descend and reach the gate back to where you came, you are already planning a return trip up the mountain and thinking about who you would like to take with you on the next trip. Because for all the other things that Primland is, mostly… Primland is to be shared.
(Photos courtesy of Primland.com)
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