Virginia: Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland Sporting Resort
Primland: Living Like Landed Gentry in the Blue Ridge Mountains
By Cathie Arquilla
PBS has been serving up TV stories of landed gentry and class distinction drama since I was little girl. But never before have mainstream TV viewers gotten so excited about the genre since the production of Downton Abbey.
Now in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia you can have a shooting party experience evocative of Downton Abbey at Primland. With the pageantry of a European shoot, men and women in proper shooting attire, Primland hosts “guns” for a day (or several days) of shooting with all the trappings.
Get wrapped up in your “field” drama in the vast acreage of Primland, with dogs, birds or clays, but be prepared to enter a very modern world of sporting life when you get back to The Lodge.Founded by Mr. Didier Primat, a French visionary, naturalist and lover of sports, Primland has gone from lumber honing to luxury lodge, complete with spa, award winning highland golf course and every manor of sporting activity.
Hunting, Downton Style
I was particularly interested in the hunting and shooting. Why, because I want to be in a Julian Fellows production–my own Downton Abbey or Gosford Park. I wanted to get out there in my Wellies, hear dogs barking and see birds overhead. I'm not sure I wanted to shoot anything. I just wanted to wear the outfit and have an Edwardian field picnic with silver cutlery and linen napkins. I could picture myself making jovial conversation and witty observations. However, I would probably benefit from a script!
Gladly, you don’t need to be British aristocracy to take part in a Primland European Style Shoot, but you do need to plan ahead and make reservations. Primland provides both guides and dogs if you don’t have your own. Shooting options range from, Wingshooting to Spring Gobbler Hunting. I shot clays.
My Prey Was Clays
I wore a pair of black jeans, a black cowboy style shirt, Ariat paddock boots, sunblock, and my hair back. My accessory was the rifle. It felt heavy, steely and dangerous. Our Primland guide briefed us on do’s and don’ts.
As I lifted the gun a wave of butterflies swooped in my stomach, but I thought I should be alpha with the gun, much the same way I feel with my dog. So I embraced it even more, took charge, said “okay,” saw the clay, aimed, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. I missed, of course.
Our guide was non-plussed. With his Virginian drawl, he simply said, “You ken try as many times as you wawnt.”
My girlfriend Stephanie was a better shot. She had done it once before and seemed alarmingly comfortable with the gun. I appreciated that as beginners, we were together, no guys present with testosterone running amok.
For sporting clays, Primland has one of the top-rated courses in the nation. There are 14 stations with simulated pheasant, quail, grouse, duck and rabbit shooting. On this course, the great outdoors of the Blue Ridge Mountains is appreciable, the echo of gunshot, a kick, quite literally.
Native American Spa Chic
It’s only logical that after sporting, one needs to relax. What better way to do so than at the Spa?!
While sipping tea and watching the mist roller-coaster over the mountains in the Relaxation Room, Stephanie and I compared notes on our spa treatments. We gave them high marks, noting the creative influence of Native American healing practices that the spa is touting.
Grasping a seemingly sacred large feather wand, my masseuse began lightly beating and sweeping the air just above my prone body. This was to clear the air and inspire renewal. As she did this, I thought, bad spirits be gone, let the relaxation begin. It sounds corny, but it was cool!
A Great Great RoomWalk through The Lodge at Primland’s lobby and enter The Great Room. At 2,800 square feet, with two story windows that display ever-changing views, dual fireplaces and large-scale contemporary décor, you might wonder, “Was Paul Bunyan the design consultant for this fantastic space?”
It’s grand, meaty, solid, chic and inviting. I could hang out in The Great Room or the deck beyond, complete with circular fire pit, for days. And the cool thing about Primland, doing everything or nothing is perfectly acceptable.Though The Lodge has a contemporary feel, much of its building materials come from locally sourced “second hand” materials–reclaimed barns and cherry wood. The result is a happy marriage of “old world lodge” meets “modern day” resort.
Primland does beckon you to get outdoorsy. To answer the call, one must ask, especially if you are a fashion freak like me, what to wear??
My fantasy outfit if I were to attend a shooting party at Primland
Start with Wellingtons, of course! Named for the 1st Duke of Wellington, Wellies come in every pattern imaginable, but for field use, they should be tan or green. I like the combined leather and rubber versions.
Boots: Dubarry of Ireland Longford Leather Boot, $529.00
Pants: The House of Bruar, Velvet Jodphur Jeans, $79.00
Sweater: Eddie Bauer, Toppenish Windcutter Zip Field Sweater, $189.00
Vest: Can’t decide, either the Eddie Bauer, 1936 Skyliner Hunting Model Vest, $199
or The House of Bruar, Tweed Shooting Vest, $131.00
Hat: The House of Bruar, Barbour Stanhope Trapper Waxed Hat, $39.00
Gloves: L.L.Bean, Waterproof Pa’tridge Gloves, $69.00
Scarf (highly optional): Hermes Paris, look on line for vintage hunting scarves. It’s fascinating to see the options and you may be a lucky bidder.
Now that the outfit is in place, you simply need to pull the trigger and make a reservation, a memorable experience at an extraordinary sporting resort awaits.
2000 Busted Rock Road
Meadow of Dan, VA 241120
Main: (276) 222-3800
Toll Free: (866) 960.7746
Cathie Arquilla is proud to be a veteran GoNOMAD writer. Both travel writer and fashion stylist, not only can Cathie tell us why to go, but what to wear! Happiest while experiencing a local scene, its grit or glamour, Cathie’s writing brings readers to a place and encourages them to go there too. She lives just outside of New York City. To find out more about this renaissance gal with dual careers visit her website.