Capon Springs provided one night’s accommodation for me and my family.
Have you thought about heading to an all-inclusive resort with your family? If so, you probably know that most of them will inevitably be located in the Caribbean and cost a fortune. If you can swing it, it’s a great family experience. But if you’re looking for something a little more wholesome and a little more low-key, you don’t have to look much further than Capon Springs, West Virginia.
Capon Springs and Farms is an all-inclusive family resort located in northern West Virginia, just a few short hours from Washington, DC. What makes is so unique is almost hard to put into words. But I’m going to try anyway.
Almost like Dirty Dancing
Remember Jennifer Grey heading off to the resorts in the Catskills with her parents? Everyone came back every summer and communed during outdoor activities during the day and music and dining in the evening.
Capon Springs very much has that throwback feeling only you won’t find Patrick Swayze or tawdry dance halls. You’ll find communal dining, evening bluegrass, bonfires, badminton, hiking, and more nestled in the mountains of West Virginia.
The campus, if it’s appropriate to call it that, is situated in a roughly circular shape with several buildings to house guests encircling a large green space with walking paths, benches, gardens, and a gazebo.
You’ll find simple rooms, a dining hall, a library, and even a spa. But to truly appreciate what Capon Springs has to offer, you have to prepare yourself for a simpler time and learn to bask in it.
Step Back in Time at Capon Springs
Much like the era depicted in Dirty Dancing, Capon Springs takes you back to a simpler time where we didn’t have to unplug because we already were unplugged. You won’t find telephones or televisions in your room. Your cell service is extremely limited, if not non-existent. And once you park your car, you won’t need to drive anywhere. In fact, you don’t even need a watch.
The idea is to spend time with your friends and family. Sit around the fire. Play games together.
It really is like summer camp, back in the 1950s. Or spending time at Grandma’s house, complete with home cooked meals. And if you never thought about a vacation with that kind of description, read on because you just might change your mind.
Checking In to Capon Springs
My family of three traveled from Central Maryland and arrived late afternoon on a Saturday after a two hour drive. We were warmly greeted at the front desk in the main house by none other than Jonathan Bellingham, a third generation resort co-owner, and given our room assignment. As we took the map and headed out to our car to unload our bags, I asked for our room key. Oh, there is none! I was told.
That’s right. This old-fashioned family resort relies heavily on the honor system. You can, of course, lock your room with the doorknob lock once you’re inside your room and sleeping for the night. But otherwise, everyone comes and goes from their room, like summer camp. Or Grandma’s house!
Our room was located in the Hampshire Cottage, which houses some of the larger rooms designed for families of four or five. The decor is very simple – two beds with bedspreads and an extra loft bed for younger kids. You’ll also find an open closet, a dresser, a small table and chair set, and a full bathroom.
A Typical Day at Capon Springs
Upon check-in, we were given a list of activities at Capon Springs for the day and told to listen for the music. The amplified music, played throughout the campus from speakers nestled in the trees, announces when it’s time to head to the main house for meal time. Full home-cooked buffet meals are served three times a day: breakfast from 8:30am to 9:30am, lunch from 1pm to 2pm, and dinner from 6pm to 7pm.
This is why you never need a watch. Just listen for the music and follow your stomach! It’s like playing outside all day and waiting for your mom to call you in for dinner!
When you’re not eating and figuring out how to survive in an unplugged world, you can check out all the activities or do none at all!
My 12 year old son had a bit of a struggle when we first got there. He moped. He was bored. He couldn’t be bothered with anything. And on a whim, I took him into one of the two ping pong houses. We played, very poorly I might add, and I saw him crack a few smiles. While I walked around talking pictures, he convinced my husband to play ping pong with him. After they played a game, they played another. And another. And another.
Who knew there’s life beyond video games?
When I rejoined them, we played a few games of ping pong together and then headed outside to test out the badminton court. We headed to the main house to check out the library on the second floor. We listened to live bluegrass music in a crowded living room. We sat by the fire eating late night sweet treats.
I even got a little alone time. In the morning, I hiked to the upper ridge for a beautiful view of the mountains and the golf course down below. I was even greeted at the top by a few deer grazing in the woods.
And in the evening, I headed to the relatively new spa to take advantage of a half hour soak in the hot springs.
We did all of this in the course of a day and a half. We were reluctant visitors when we arrived and felt like members of the family when we left, ready to book our next weekend away.
Who Visits Capon Springs
Capon Springs is perfect for large family groups – think multiple generations or family reunions. But it’s also perfect for a small family (like ours!) getaway. You’ll also find professional meetings and girlfriend getaways and everything in between.
A better question might be who keeps coming back to Capon Springs? While I was visiting, I had several guests approach me when they heard I was writing a story about Capon Springs. They wanted to make sure I got it right.
Visiting Capon Springs like a family secret that’s been passed down from generation to generation. One gentleman I spoke to was well into his 70s and grew visiting Capon Springs with his parents. In fact, his first visit was in 1949 when he was in kindergarten! For this particular stay, he brought his wife and grown children and their children. He wanted his family to continue to experience the joy that Capon Springs has brought him.
Even Jonathan Bellingham, whose family co-owns the resort, met his future wife when she stayed several summers as a resort guest!
And if you doubt the strong family connection to those who visit the resort year after year, just spend a little time in the library on the second floor of the main house. I found my way back to the archives where I read the weekly newsletter from 1964! (One of the top stories was the record-breaking tube piling – 10 girls piled themselves onto a single inner tube!)
You can also find notes left by previous guests – both adults and children – sharing their experiences, their joy, and their humor.
“Which one is more important, girls or golf. It seems that when you think you have them figured out, you have to leave Capon.”– from a 2001 guest book
The Secret of Capon Springs
What makes people keep returning to Capon Springs? Most people will say it’s the unfettered family time. Or the home cooking. Or communing with the outdoors. But I think I figured out the real secret to Capon Springs.
It’s the water.
Capon Springs is named for the natural spring located on the property. If you’re lucky, you’ll get Jonathan to give you a quick tour of the source of the spring which brings over 100 gallons per minute to the surface.
Through an elaborate system of pipes, the spring water is used for everything on the property – your toilets, your shower, your faucets, the swimming pool, your drinking water, and even the ice. It’s used in all of the cooking and in the freshly prepared lemonade and iced tea. In your room, they simply provide a few plastic cups so you can get your fill from the bathroom sink anytime you want spring water!
So what makes the spring water so special? For one thing, it’s about as pure as you can get. It comes from 1600 feet below the surface and passes through 300 feet of sandstone, a natural filter, before arriving to the surface. That makes it low in minerals and virtually pollutant-free. It’s also been shown to have a slightly alkaline pH, which makes it perfect for fighting inflammation.
Other guests speculate that there are higher than normal levels of lithium in the water, a drug that’s used to elevate and regulate moods in the mental health space.
As for my personal experience, I drank the water. I showered in the water. I even immersed myself in the hot springs for 30 minutes at the Hygeia Bath House & Spa. I went to sleep that night feeling better than I have in a long long time. Normally, a hot tub makes me feel drained and tired. But the hot springs simply made me feel good.
My husband was convinced that there was something in the water as well and we purchased five gallons of it to take home. We’re ready to take a trip back just to refill our water supply!
What You Need to Know Before You Go to Capon Springs
It’s really hard to prepare you for a trip to Capon Springs. It’s not just a resort stay. It’s a family experience. But it helps to set the right family expectations before you go.
- The price of your stay is all-inclusive. That means three meals a day, your room, and all activities.
- There is no alcohol available for purchase at the resort. It’s not served with meals either. However, you are free to bring your own alcohol to enjoy in your room.
- There is no cell service. Don’t worry. You will survive.
- There is wifi available in the meeting house. The goal is to unplug but wifi is there for those “just in case” moments.
- Some rooms have private bathrooms while others have public bathrooms.
- There is water available for purchase. Just pay at the front desk and pick up the gallons at the storage building before leaving the property.
Would You Go to Capon Springs?
This has admittedly been one been of the hardest destinations for me to write about. The rooms are very simple and rustic. The food is not gourmet (even though it’s deliciously homemade). There’s no big attraction. And it’s, frankly, not inexpensive.
But there’s something special about Capon Springs.
Maybe it’s the water. Maybe it’s simply escaping the technological overload of our daily lives. Maybe it’s just have a chance to reconnect with people. But it’s definitely worth a family stay. And who knows? Maybe one day it’ll be you bringing your grandchildren to stay there.