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Luxury to the max (first published in Forever Young)

By Paul Knowles

Nemacolin offers an over-the-top golf and spa getaway. (All photos by Nancy Knowles)


Think of your favourite, opulent, holiday resort. Imagine the level of luxury you can experience there. Now, double it. And double it again. At this point in your imaginary calculation, you are approaching the level of luxury on offer at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, just outside Farmington, Pennsylvania.

This amazing get-away, about a 6½ hour drive from Toronto, is what you get when uber-successful businesspeople decide to build their dream hideaway – and then to share it with everyone who wants to show up…. and who can afford to pay for the pleasure, of course.

The luxury is over-the-top wonderful – there are 320 truly luxurious guestrooms (one of the facilities provides a personal butler with every suite); the shuttle cars that take guests around the extensive grounds are Bentleys; and there are hundreds of valuable pieces of art on display everywhere – in the buildings, on the grounds, and installed throughout the two championship quality golf courses.

And then, of course, there are the zoos, plural. And the museums and display areas (automobile and aircraft). And the spa, with every wellness experience you could imagine, and a few you might not – like “hydrotherapy rituals” or the “mystical massage”. And the Holistic Healing Centre. And the Lady Luck Casino.

As you may have deduced, the resort is located in pretty spacious surroundings – it’s situated on nearly 2,000 acres, in the Allegheny Mountains.

And did I mention the golf? Nemacolin has two championship quality golf courses, the excellent Mystic Rock, and the new Shepherd’s Rock, a gorgeous course opened in the summer of 2017. These are challenging, beautiful golf courses – so pretty, in fact, that golfers can get distracted from their game by the amazing scenery. Adding to that, the courses are also open air art galleries, with many of the owners’ extensive collection of sculptures on display along the fairways.

These are terrific layouts, both designed by the legendary Pete Dye, and regularly played by some of the best golfers in the world. On the Shepherd’s Rock opening weekend, you could spot Sam Saunders, John Daly, and LPGA pro Rachel Rohanna on the course. And although the 18s will challenge the best golfers, playing from the tips, if you choose the right tees for your game, you’ll love the courses, too.

One opening weekend, you could spot celebrities everywhere – sports stars, TV stars, and music notables like Hughie Lewis – he and The News were on hand to play some golf and to celebrate Shepherd’s Rock with a kick-ass concert performed for fewer than 100 special guests.

That’s the kind of place it is.

Who would be responsible for this kind of delightful, over-the-top opulence at a golf-and-everything-else resort in southern Pennsylvania? It’s the realized dream of an unstoppable father and daughter combo who also happen to own and operate Lumber 84, a mammoth building materials company founded by Joseph Hardy in 1956.

Today, Joe’s daughter, the determined and visionary Maggie Hardy Magerko (shown above), runs both Lumber 84 and Nemacolin, although Joe is still on site, cigar in hand, enjoying his astonishing retreat. Both father and daughter have homes at Nemacolin; that’s just another indication of how pleasant this resort is.

Nemacolin is not inexpensive. But if you’re looking for a perfect getaway, reachable from Canada and yet a gateway to an entirely other, luxurious, opulent world, Nemacolin should be on your radar.

For more information – or simply to luxuriate in the possibilities – visit