His-and-hers golf resort review: Wintergreen, a Virginia getaway

A ski resort in winter, Wintergreen transforms with spring into a Virginia mountain golf getaway. Here’s GottaGoGolf’s “He Said, She Said” on Wintergreen as a golf resort.Image of Wintergreen Resort's Stoney Creek courseHE SAID: On the way to play the University of Maryland golf course with a few hardcore Baltimore-area golfers, we mentioned that we were visiting Wintergreen and its 45 holes of golf for a couple of days.

The first comments from the golfers were that Wintergreen is a nice golf resort but too expensive. “It’s $400 a night to stay there,” one said.

That kind of reputation baffles Wintergreen officials, who are having success with unlimited golf packages that start at less than $100 per person per night. They vary from one night, two days of unlimited golf with a cart at either mountaintop Devil’s Knob or the acclaimed Stoney Creek 27 holes, located roughly 10 miles away, 3,000 feet lower in altitude and up to 15 degrees higher in temperature near the bottom of Copper Mountain.

This Virginia getaway has all the trimmings of an excellent golf vacation. For families there are indoor and outdoor pools, a swim beach, extensive hiking, family golf opportunities and playgrounds. For serious golfers there are the variety of shot values found at the courses and the challenge of playing ego-inflating mountain golf one day and pride-busting, handicap-inflating golf the next day at Stoney Creek, designed by Rees Jones. Although there is the drawback of not knowing which condo you are going to stay in, the 250 properties offered by resort management are of high quality and excellent service standards.

The facilities are spread out over the mountain, which is accessed by narrow, shoulderless roads. It can be confusing at first to get around but soon you become accustomed to it and start to appreciate the different locations and their scenic beauty. And scenic this place is. We delightedly woke up every morning staring down the valley at the thick cloud bank, having visited in springtime when clouds are low. It was the perfect sight after enjoying a real wood fire in the condo’s fireplace the night before, curled up with a glass of red wine.

There’s so much to do at the resort but if you are looking for variety, check out the Brew Ridge Trail, home to six brewpubs along the highway to the base of the mountain. We were hosted for dinner by the Devil’s Backbone, where they make world-class beers that have scored dozens of medals internationally and domestically at the Great American Beer Festival. Don’t miss their Belgian “Wit,” or wheat style brew.

SHE SAID: I’ve never fallen asleep before during any kind of spa treatment, but the Signature Facial came with no lectures, no sales pitch and no uncomfortable techniques. It was the most relaxing facial I’ve ever had and it made me glow, with at least 10 potions massaged into my face, neck, shoulders, hands and feet. The aesthetician explained that most of her clients live hectic lives in the nation’s capital and come to Wintergreen to decompress.

So that explains the women-welcome course at Devil’s Knob, such a blast to play at only 4,443 yards from the forward tees, a tad easier for the short hitter than Stoney Creek. In shoulder seasons couples can zip around either course and leave plenty of time to stop at the General Store afterward for a bottle of wine and snacks to enjoy on the condo deck. Dinner might be the fine dining experience at Devil’s Grill, the excellent food in the less upscale Copper Mine Bistro or the more casual Edge or Stoney Creek Bar & Grill. Our biggest challenge was finding a cocktail because the Edge, the only establishment to venture beyond beer and wine, was not open during our stay. A nice touch at Wintergreen: Guests at check-in receive an easy-to-read chart of hours at the restaurants, which is essential because all of them are open at once only on Fridays and Saturdays.

Some golfers might want to play both courses each day, but I would rather take the time to drive an hour to explore Charlottesville, Va., home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and a fascinating little wine country. Although at nearly three hours from Washington D.C. and four from Baltimore, Wintergreen’s plentiful options probably suffice for most visitors. It’s got an award-winning tennis program, kid fun at the Treehouse, and the adventures of the Zip and the Plunge. No wonder the spa keeps it mellow.

Disclosure: GottaGoGolf’s visit was partially hosted by Wintergreen.

HE SAID, SHE SAID ON WINTERGREEN RESORT

HIS AHS: Wood fireplace, firewood neatly stacked in the car parks ready to go … Breathtaking death drops on first three holes and zoysia fairways on the Tuckahoe nine … Friendly, helpful staff at golf courses and restaurants … Unpretentious feel, no valets, access to your car … Entrancing views from your condo … Condo elevator.

HIS ARGS: No shoulders or sidewalks on the narrow roads … Small TVs … Cocktails elusive.

HER AHS: Fun forward tees and gorgeous views at Devil’s Knob … The General Store for impromptu snacks … Jetted tub in our room … Serene relaxation room at spa … Delicious food in comfortable setting at the Copper Mine Bistro … Wonderful value for golf and lodging.

HER ARGS: 19th holes were closed on the days we played … Furniture needed rearranging to enjoy the view … In and out of the car for every meal, every round … Coffee maker with packaged coffee and no cream.

TEES RATED FOR WOMEN: Devil’s Knob – White 6,123 yards/74.4 rating/142 slope; Gold 5,625 yards/72.1 rating/137 slope; Red 4,443 yards/65.4 rating/126 slope. Stoney Creek – Monocan/Shamokin Red 5,417 yards/72.0 rating/130 slope; Shamokin/Tuckahoe Red 5,480 yards/72.2 rating/128 slope; Tuckahoe/Monocan Red 5,351 yards/71.4 rating/129 slope.

BEST TIME TO VISIT: Fall, when the leaves have started changing.

2-2-2* COST: As low as $316, depending on the season and accommodations.

*Approximate cost of two nights for two people plus two rounds of golf each

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