The sky faded toward cobalt over the rolling horizon and its bare hardwood forest, the faux street lamps in the foreground lighting the outdoor walkway and swimming pool. One man lingered in the adjoining Jacuzzi despite the 30-degree chill that blew mist off the heated water.
The moon gradually cast a narrow shimmering line across the lake. I sat at a high bar table sipping peach moonshine watching through picture windows as winter dusk fell in the Appalachian Mountains.
The state of West Virginia owns this resort, called Stonewall, along with other upscale resorts with golf courses, indoor pools, Adirondack-style lodges and miles of scenic hiking trails for laid-back getaways in the offseason. Thanks to offseason bargains, a stay can be had for as little as $50 a night.
The wood fire in the large stone hearth threw heat into Stonewall’s high-ceiling lodge.
Stonewall’s golf course with Arnold Palmer’s name on it was empty except for a few swans, the golf shop and its restaurant closed until spring. The lodge’s health spa was open, taking appointments for facials and massages, discounted to $50 on Thursdays in March. The resort is a about two-hour drive south from Pittsburgh.
That was also the cost of a winter room at West Virginia’s Twin Falls Resort State Park, where we stayed in February, after the desk clerk knocked $25 off our reserved low winter rate and upgraded our room. It’s located up a winding road in southern West Virginia’s coal country, on a mountaintop surrounded by its own golf course and hiking trails through forests that are a nature preserve. There were few other guests midweek in February. We saw three at breakfast. The lodge has 47 rooms and an indoor pool.
West Virginia has eight other resorts in the state system, all with lodges, most with cabins or cottages and campsites to rent as well.