Nemacolin Off Road Academy, Healthy Living + TravelAs incomprehensible as it may be to the many who like to indulge in the pampering activities of a luxurious spa, some of us are more attracted by the adventures in the open. And we all know these different views may create undesired stress in a relationship, or worse, when it comes to select a destination for a long awaited vacation.

The good news is that there are magical places where even vastly different inclinations can happily coexist. I just saw this miracle happen, during a recent visit at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania, a resort offering activities spanning from supreme relaxation to pulse-raising adventures. As my partner gently slid in her rarefied experiences at the Woodlands Spa and the Holistic Healing Center, I darted to Nemacolin’s Off-Road Driving Academy for hours of four-wheel driving excitement.

Admittedly, before my visit here, I had some reservations. My previous off-road driving experiences had been on mountain tracks up in the Italian Alps, so I questioned the technical challenges one could find in Pennsylvania’s gently hilly terrain. Well, was I wrong!

The adventure started at the training area, where Matt Luke, our capable and very patient instructor, showed us the basic features of the magnetically attractive, powerful Jeep Rubicons of the Academy’s fleet (technical details in this video), and the driving techniques to handle the rough spots along the way. This is where you learn how to get to safety even if three wheels are hopelessly spinning on inclined terrain, how you tackle deep water and treacherous mud, and a whole menu of otherwise nightmarish driving situations.Paolo A. Carosso, Vistas International, Nemacolin Off Road Academy, Healthy Living + Travel

To practice with this quickly acquired knowledge (how fast you learn when you want to save your skin!), you go off to the open terrain. And the next few hours are spent in this continuously changing landscape of thick woods, climbing steep tracks punctuated by rocks so big you never thought you could pass without rolling over, and confidently crossing pools of high water. Somewhere along the way something clicks inside you, and you find yourself thinking you are conquering new spaces in some remote land at the other end of the world.

Both beginners and experienced off-road enthusiasts find excitement here. Beginners can put aside any fears and rely on capable instructors’ guidance, while the experts can go off on their own, and access a variety of itineraries within the vast compound. Large four-wheel drive gatherings are also held yearly at the resort.

After hours of adventures in the wilderness, and now back to the luxuries of the hotel, the “problem” is to choose between having a drink with your new four-wheeling buddies or heading to the pool, or even to the spa (!) for some well earned relaxation. But what you can count on is a pleasant evening with your equally happy spouse, exchanging fun memories that, although coming from different experiences, quickly blend in the pleasures of a good time together.

For a complete list of activities, for additional information about the resort, or to make reservations, please visit or call 1.866-399- 6957.

by Paolo A. Carosso, Vistas International