You can do lots—or do nothing—at this laid-back Williamsburg Resort.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
Williamsburg’s major draw may be its historical and theme park attractions, but you can also find a welcome respite nearby from the crowds and long lines. I traveled to the city recently to seek out more of a chill vibe, which was the one thing I liked most about my stay at Kingsmill Resort.
Situated on 2,900 protected acres along the James River in Williamsburg, Kingsmill boasts 425 villa-style guest rooms and suites (many of which overlook the river), tennis courts, three golf courses, six restaurants, three pools, a spa, boating and a multitude of other activities and attractions. You can stay busy—or stress-free—all throughout your visit.
Each unit is individually owned, yet uniformly decorated. My family and I stayed in a two-bedroom villa right next to the water, with two bathrooms, a great room, full kitchen and two patios, which goes for $399/night during the summer season; the rate for a regular guest room is $199. We were told ahead of time that the kitchen was pretty equipped, and there were dishes, glassware, silverware and basic cookware and utensils, as well as a dishwasher, dish detergent and paper towels. It didn’t have items like a frying pan, though. So you may want to plan on using it only for basic meals and snacks—the kitchen definitely came in handy for us to prepare breakfast and lunch. One of my favorite things about the suite was its two patios—one next to the second bedroom, and the other next to the living room—where we spent happy hours in the late afternoon with a drink, watching the river and the sunset; very pretty and über relaxing.
Kingsmill’s biggest draw in the summertime has got to be the outdoor River Pool complex that opened last September, with a winding lazy river, waterslide, sandy beach, zero-entry pool with fountains, Jacuzzi, bar and dining area (Currents). Though we stayed during a busy weekend in July, the pool never felt super crowded. Sure, once or twice it was a little tricky finding some pool chairs, but it never had that mad-dash feeling of people using towels to reserve chairs (ones they never end up sitting on anyway), that you often see at other resorts. My husband, kids and I simply loved the lazy river, which had just enough tubes that you didn’t have to wait long to find one floating by, but wasn’t so crowded that you couldn’t move. The waterslide was pretty tame, but still fun. And the sandy area is a great spot for little ones to dig and play during a break from the water. Next to the pool is a grassy area set up with ladderball, horseshoes and cornhole.
It’s no surprise that the river pool attracts many families with children, so if you are looking for a quieter, more civilized atmosphere, skip it in favor of Kingsmill’s original pool next to the Sports Club. Though it lacks the extra amenities of the River Pool complex, it makes up for it in relaxation. Plus, an indoor pool and Jacuzzi right next to it means you can swim and soak no matter what the weather.
For those seeking the ultimate pampering, Kingsmill’s spa offers a menu of massage, body, face and hair services. I booked a 50-minute Swedish massage ($110), and arrived at the spa a little early to check out the facilities. The locker rooms are well-appointed, but the relaxation room where I waited for my therapist was right by a busy hallway and the entrance to the locker rooms. It’s a bit difficult to bliss out in your robe and slippers when you constantly hear staff giving guests the details of the facility. And the guest next to me rudely ignored the “No cell phones” sign, loudly chatting away on her phone and arranging her pick up time. Oy. The massage itself was lovely, and afterwards I stayed for a bit to check out the steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and showers.
The resort offers several dining options, including brunch at The Bray Dining Room, or sampling Eagles’ beechwood-smoked cooking overlooking the golf courses. Regattas‘ is Kingsmill’s casual restaurant, with wood-fired pizzas, pastas and paninis. If there is room, ask for a table on their outdoor patio, which overlooks the original pool and the river. But if you do sit inside and have small children in your group, see if they can sit at the high seats next to the pizza oven for a bit, as staff lets them make their own creations out of pizza dough. We ordered two of the specialty 14-inch wood-fired pizzas ($16), and loved them both. The Mona Lisa has mozzarella, roasted red peppers and a Balsamic reduction drizzle, and is topped with raw arugula; the Tuscany Supreme has fennel sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers and mushrooms on a tomato sauce-topped crust. You can grab a beer or glass of wine with your meal, and Regattas’ also has bottles of wine and six-packs to go.
James Landing Grille is Kingsmill’s more upscale dining option, located on the water next to the marina. We made a reservation right around sunset, and the setting and view were lovely. Unfortunately, several of our dishes were quite disappointing. Our server suggested starting with the Deck Sampler ($16), an appetizer platter of fried calamari, a crab cake and big bang shrimp–the latter, served with Sriracha mayo, was the clear winner of the trio. Seared tuna with saffron rice and citrus ponzu sauce ($24) was overcooked, even though we asked for it seared rare. And the petit filet mignon on the surf and turf entrée ($36) suffered from the same fate. We did like the brew clams ($12) though, with chorizo, celery, onions and peppers. Judging from the happy groups busily chatting away over their food and drink, and listening to the Jimmy Buffett-style live music, I got the feeling that most were there more for the experience than the cuisine, anyway.
If you can tear yourself away from the lazy river or your patio (and believe me, it is difficult),check out some of the resort’s other amenities. We rented kayaks one morning ($20/hour, seats 1-2 people), and paddled along the James River. The staff working at the marina were friendly, helpful, and very laid back. There were no whistles or anything to tell you your time on the water was up. We were just given a time, and told to come back “around then.”
The resort is surrounded by a four-mile bike path, and you can rent bicycles for $8 an hour at the Tennis Center. Children’s bikes are also available, and helmets are provided for everyone free of charge. However, the single speed bikes tend to make pedaling very difficult, especially up the many hills. If you can, bring your own bikes to explore. After your ride, head to The Mill right next next door for a latté or ice cream cone.
Since it is so spread out, staff offers complementary shuttle service around the resort. We called one night from our room to order a shuttle down to dinner, and it arrived within three minutes. There is also regular complementary shuttle service from the Tennis Center to and from Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, Water Country USA and the Williamsburg Winery for those willing to eschew their zen and brave the aforementioned crowds and long lines.
Kingsmill Resort is currently featuring some promotional packages:
The Unlimited Golf Package ($179 per person per night) offers accommodations, unlimited rounds of golf on their three courses, use of a golf cart, breakfast, complementary transportation to local attractions, and full resort access. The Foursome Golf Package (starting at $599 per person) includes accommodations in a three-bedroom suite for two nights, limitless rounds of golf, use of a golf cart, use of driving range, a beverage-stocked fridge and full resort access.
The Ultimate Family Fun Package (starting at $105 per person per night) includes accommodations in a standard guest room (an upgrade to a suite is available for an additional charge), daily breakfast and length of stay tickets for nearby attractions (Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg Bounce Tickets and Water Country USA.) The package also includes complementary shuttle service, access to the Tennis Club, golf clinics, indoor/outdoor pools and lazy river, fitness center and non-motorized water sports and fishing pole rentals. Golf enthusiasts will receive discounted rates on the Plantation Course ($30 per person after 1 p.m. with cart.)