Kingsmill Resort: Way Ahead Of Its Times

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

Williamsburg, VA - Kingsmill Resort would’ve looked awful strange to them—meaning, the first group of English settlers who sailed up the James River to establish a foothold in the New World. Jamestown Settlement, North America’s first permanent European colony, is just a few miles up the River—but is literally centuries away from what the area looks like now.

21st Century sailors and tourists traveling the James River now could not help but take note of the magnificent golf courses, clubhouse, marina and guest accommodations that occupy this beautiful stretch of land adjacent to the storied waterway. In the centuries following the establishment of Jamestown, the River saw significant historical evolution, playing a key role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars—as well as serving as a major artery for commerce in the region. Kingsmill Plantation (now Kingsmill on the James Residential Community and Resort) was a part of it all.

Thankfully, much of the old style charm and history is preserved for our generation, as well as succeeding ones, to enjoy the unspoiled landscape and quaint historical lessons that Williamsburg and its surrounding communities offers. As I sat on the deck of our spacious villa at Kingsmill Resort, however, I couldn’t help but marvel at the James River and contemplate just how one stretch of water could be the start of something so vast. It also provided perspective on how the passing of time changes things.

If there ever was an example of how our modern society provides new comforts and luxuries over what must have been in the early 1600’s (and most of the time since), it’s Kingsmill Resort. The resort was incorporated in 1975, following in the footsteps of the Kingsmill On The James residential community established a few years prior—all part of a major land acquisition by the Anheuser Busch companies. Kingsmill Resort now boasts 400 one, two and three bedroom suites, a full service spa, a 15-court Tennis Center, a full service marina, three restaurants and a Sports Club.

Not to mention golf—it’s Virginia’s largest golf resort. The Pete Dye designed River Course opened in 1975, joined ten years later by the Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay Plantation Course and another decade later by the Tom Clark/Curtis Strange Woods Course. Look to the individual reviews of the golf courses for a more in depth treatment of the great golf experiences they represent.

Here, I’ll touch on a few of the many amenities Kingsmill offers resort guests that wouldn’t necessarily fit nicely into a golf course review.

• The Bray Links. Kingsmill offers a nine hole par three course, the Bray Links—provided free of charge to Kingsmill members and resort guests. The Bray nine occupies a great piece of land adjacent to the river, and boasts more river view than any of the full length courses, including the River Course. It’s a great place to take the family—for those too young or too intimidated by a championship golf course, the Bray Links provides a relaxed, unhurried setting. It’s also a great way to practice your game from 100 yards and in—the greens are regulation size and maintained to the same standards as the other courses.

• Kingsmill Golf Academy. If you’ve struggled with the game your entire golfing life, then it might be time to invest a little time and silver into improving yourself. There’s no better way than to sign up for the Kingsmill Golf Academy, headed by Steve Geisler. I took the opportunity to take a one-hour video lesson from Mr. Geisler, and I learned more about what I was doing wrong than in 20+ years of playing the game. I can only imagine what the three-day school could offer. Highly recommended.

• As mentioned above, Kingsmill offers a full service Spa, where you can take a break from your golf game, maybe work out a spell in the incredible workout room, then relax under the gentle hands of a masseuse. The Spa’s also a great place for the non-golfing members of your party to experience the luxuries that a world-class resort like Kingsmill provides. My wife Shari is such a person—she wants to learn the game, but for now, is content to just enjoy the creature comforts of the Spa and workout room.

Shari adds: “I asked myself, do I really want to try and play golf--and perhaps be over my head out on the golf course (like my husband!), or stay inside and be pampered by the trained professionals at Kingsmill’s Spa? The choice was easy. There’s nothing quite like having all the kinks in your body worked out while others are outside trying to take the kinks out of their golf swings. There’s no comparison.” Normally, I’d say ‘thanks a lot,’ but she’s got a point. In addition to several different types of massages, the Spa offers hair and nail services, facials and body treatments. For those partaking, you can receive individual treatments or try half day, full day, or a mini spa package.

• Kingsmill’s also got an incredible tennis facility, in case 63 holes of golf isn’t enough to quench your outdoor activity thirst. What’s more, the resort’s just completed a $1 million renovation to the Tennis Facility Building—a significant upgrade to the already outstanding facilities.

• For dining and relaxation, you certainly won’t need to venture off the property to find what you’ll want. I personally recommend making a trip down to the Marina in the late afternoon to relax on the newly constructed deck—and maybe sample some Anheuser Busch products and light food fare while enjoying live entertainment.

After warming up or cooling down, you’ll still have plenty of time to make your dinner reservations at the Bray dining room (at the main resort center), or in a more casual atmosphere at Eagles’ at the Golf Club. Finally, take a trip upstairs to Moody’s Tavern (taken from the name of a Colonial Tavern that used to be here) to add a nightcap to a long and full day.

One of the great things about Kingsmill is there’s so much to do that you can’t possibly do it all in one trip. All three golf courses deserve a return visit to try and master their clever architecture and challenge that each presents. Likewise, Kingsmill’s Resort amenities can’t possibly be covered in a short stay.

But that’s a good thing. It’ll certainly give you a good excuse to come back, play some golf, relax at the Spa and take in some historical sites. When you’ve taken it all in, you’ll no doubt conclude that Kingsmill Resort’s way ahead of its times.

Seasonal Packages available, including activities for kids.

Jeffrey A. RendallJeffrey A. Rendall, Contributor

Jeffrey Rendall is an avid golfer and freelance writer. After passing the California Bar in 1994, he moved to Virginia to pursue his interests in history and politics, where he's worked since 1995.

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