Adventure Awaits at Primland

“You want me to go where?” my mind shouted as I barreled down a 90-degree angle that led into a wall of mud- and gravel-encased woods. I was driving—or more accurately surviving—an ATV excursion at Primland in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

On the hour’s ride, when I was willing to unclutch the steering wheel long enough to wave at an occasional wild turkey, pheasant, or deer (alas, none of the black bears that occasionally turn up) or look out over the magnificent countryside, I was reminded once again to take it easy on the turns. The adventure is not for the faint of heart or heavy of foot as we bounced over rocks, dipped into ruts, careened around hairpin turns, and stormed through muddy ravines, but the adrenaline surge was thrilling.

Fall colors surround Primland, a resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. The lodge is on the left, the observatory to the right. (Courtesy of Primland)

I had to keep reminding myself to relax my body, and I was sure none of my internal organs was where it started out before the ride. OK, so yes, it was a tad nerve-wracking—but oh so much fun!

Even once I was in a real car on a real road, the driving still felt treacherous. Primland is just shy of the size of Bermuda. Here, windy, hilly, curvy roads that survey mammoth, stunning overlooks cover the 12,000-acre campus, and the shuttle drivers carry Dramamine with them to assuage those prone to motion sickness. Not your usual hotel amenity.

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Childhood nostalgia meets luxe amenities at Primland’s three treehouses. (Courtesy of Primland)

And a lot of driving is involved. Even when you arrive at Primland, you haven’t actually arrived. It’s six miles from the North Gate to the lodge and another seven miles to the South Gate. Shuttles to the different activities felt like activities in themselves.

So it was not surprising to be happily on our own two feet again when hiking with naturalist Tim, who enhanced our walk over varied terrain with knowledgeable explanations of flora and fauna and an even more interesting worldview.

Relaxing treatments await at the spa. (Courtesy of Primland)
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Relaxing treatments await at the spa. (Courtesy of Primland)

And then it was time for archery, of course. And air-rifle shooting. And tomahawk throwing. Doesn’t every hotel have that? I raised my bow and arrow and shot at the target. Turns out I was a natural, hitting the target every time. Not so much with the air rifle. To assuage my diminishing self-esteem, I reverted back to my trusty bow and arrow.

Guests can opt to take a recreational terrain vehicle out for a guided spin; some trails are created especially for off-roading. (Courtesy of Primland)

The list of things we didn’t do is longer than those we did: Fly-fishing, clay shooting, disc golf, horseback riding, hunting, water sports, outdoor fitness track, and, of course, golf and tennis.

But still, I felt I had earned my Signature Massage at the spa, which emphasized the Native American experience. Here it is more than just a theme—it’s a philosophy. Artifacts from the local Saura tribe abound and are considered sacred. During the massage, tribal elements of fire, water, air, and earth were incorporated through hot stones, oils, scents, and touch. Afterward, I sipped tea from the Native American Tea Co.

The Schlumberger Wine Cellar in the Lodge is an intimate space that seats up to 10. (Courtesy of Primland)

Prior to the massage, I was taken to a “relaxation space,” past hallways all designed with shades of turquoise and brown. The color represents a “drop of heaven” and the stones, anti-aging. I was already well-relaxed before I even got to the relaxation room, where a wide span of windows looking out over the countryside reinforced the sense of tranquility. At this point, I thought I didn’t even need the massage.

The 18-hole Highland Course at Primland, is Audubon-certified and was designed by golf course architect Donald Steel. (Courtesy of Primland)

But that was before I met my spirit animal. Heather, my masseuse, led me into the massage room where, of course, there were animal feathers to clear the energetic pathways around me. I was told to ask myself a question I was seeking an answer to and to pick a card that spoke to me from the eight lying face down in front of me. Cynic that I am, I had no question and heard no card.

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The author and her husband take a rough ride in an all-terrain vehicle at Primland. (Courtesy of Primland)

The one I picked was the rabbit, which apparently represented an internalized fear I needed to let go of. I didn’t relate at all and didn’t like being a rabbit. I told Heather my rejection was nothing personal and asked about the other cards—eagle, deer, wolf, skunk, turkey, squirrel, and raccoon, each representing some personal exploration. Skunk? Turkey? Squirrel? The rabbit was beginning not to look so bad. We both thoroughly enjoyed our massage.

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Beautiful vistas abound at Primland. (Courtesy of Primland)

That night, we went to the observatory for some star-gazing. It had been foggy as we drove in, but now the sky overhead was crystal-clear, and a very sophisticated telescope projected the stars onto a screen in front of us. The full moon provided even more clarity. All of Primland emphasizes a return to nature, and you can’t get much closer than this.

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Forest trails at Primland invite visitors to take a hike. (Courtesy of Victor Block)

We could see stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies, among which were the Orion Nebula, a star-forming nebula approximately 1,300 light-years from Earth; the Pleiades open star cluster (also known as the Seven Sisters); and the show-stopping Andromeda Galaxy (the closest and slightly larger galaxy to the Milky Way, roughly 2.5 million light-years away). We saw more than 1,000 stars on the screen, including the mere 150 visible to the naked eye. So much was impossible to fathom. In 4 to 6 billion years, for example, the Milky Way may collide with Andromeda Galaxy.

To mention once again that this isn’t your usual hotel amenity seems ridiculously redundant.

When You Go

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Fyllis Hockman is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Copyright 2021

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Fyllis Hockman
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