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Gourmet, Meet Our...
Meet our... Director of Fine Dining, Wine and Spirits


Meet Our... Director of Fine Dining, Wine and Spirits - Holly Smith


Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, in a very small town, which is more of an exit number off of I70 than a known destination (my Jer-z friends know what I mean).  In high school, I loved anything to do with sports from watching it, to writing about it in the school newspaper, to playing for my school, town or church.  It was either baseball in the field with my Dad and brother or soccer in our neighborhood, where I was the only girl who played!  Yes, I will admit since there are yearbooks floating around, I was the captain of the cheerleading team and cheered from 4th grade until I graduated from Greensburg Central Catholic High School.  After high school, I attended Villanova University where I thought I wanted to teach elementary children but fell madly in love with the culinary world from working in restaurants such as Passerelle and The Rador Hotel.  I surrounded myself with friends who were either restaurant managers, servers, chef-to-be and all major foodies-in-the-making.  We lived for days off to plan 8-course dinners complete with wine pairings or travel to NYC after we saved up for weeks to have lunch (we couldn’t afford dinner) at some chic brasserie! 

When did you decide to make a career out of wine? 
The wine world sort of found me.  I was struggling out of college to pay my student loans so I worked at various restaurants on the Main Line in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My love for the entire culinary world emerged when I worked for Chef Georges Perrier owner & chef of the famed Le Bec Fin.  I was given the opportunity to open Le Mas Perrier as a floor Captain where in the pre-opening stage we logged hundreds of hours reviewing French cuisine, cooking terminology, steps-of-service and of course, wine and spirits.  I couldn’t wait to get home after 8-10 hours of classroom to study and look up all of my questions in my “Food and Wine Lover’s Companion.” Let’s just say this was before the “Just Google It” days!  I knew I was on to something here but I didn’t know what it was?  I would wake up at night frantically scribbling down AOC’s, phonetic pronunciation of French words and listing mother sauces before they would leave my head! This is where I knew I had to go to the wine since it wasn’t coming to me. So, I packed up everything and moved to California! I had an unbelievable opportunity to work for one of the greatest hotel management companies in the word, The Ritz-Carlton. In my stay with the company, I worked at the Marina del Rey and Laguna Niguel locations in Southern California. Here in beautiful Dana Point, I opened ENO the Ritz’s first wine, cheese and chocolate tasting room complete with my own glass cellar in the middle of the room and a cheese cave! This was heaven for wine, chocolate and cheese loving guests.

How do you decide which wines to serve in each restaurant?
Each outlet has a wine list that matches either the caliber of the restaurant, the specific cuisine and/or the price-point of the outlet.  For example, Autumn’s wine list caters to pairing crisp white wines with the fresh oysters and seafood while the big jammy Cabernets and Aussie Shiraz’s make the steak at Aqueous even juicier!  And of course, Lautrec boasts the 1500 label wine list concentrating on French, Italian, North American, and South American wines as well as interesting labels from Morocco, Slovenia and Lebanon. 

Holly in front of huge Slovenian aging barrels at Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona in Montalcino, Italy.
How often is the wine list changed?

 Favorite bottle of wine?
The wine list changes on a weekly basis with the new additions, vintage changes and deletions from the last bottle of that label that sold in the cellar.  This week I am really having fun placing pre-orders for still and sparkling Rosés for the upcoming Spring releases.  We will have some fresh Rosés from the best regions: Provence, Tavel, Spain, Italy and Oregon. 

I don’t have a favorite bottle of wine but I do wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question.  My favorite varietal or grape really depends on what time of year it is, what I am eating and of course, if I am paying!  In the summer, there is nothing better than sipping on an Italian Falanghina while enjoying fresh clams and mussels at the shore or warming up with a Cote-Rotie in the winter with a venison stew.  But, if I had to choose only one wine to drink for the rest of my life, I would turn to a perfectly chilled bottle of Contratto “For England” Rosé.  This is a perfectly mastered Italian sparkling wine that is exquisitely balanced and pairs with my Camembert cheese and is complex enough to enjoy with my New York Strip, off of the grill.  Perfection in a glass, in my opinion. 

What do you drink when you are not drinking wine?
If I am not drinking wine, I am trying to find a dry apple cider to enjoy in the summertime that lacks that typical sweetness of a cider and is also gluten-free.   Few of my favorites are Samuel Smith’s Organic, Crispin’ Honey Crisp and Stella Artois Cidre.  I am really looking forward to enjoy these with some BBQ this summer!

For wine “newbies” what advice would you give?
Let's start with the scenario that you are just getting into wine and perhaps are just a beer drinker. I would compare your favorite beer choices with a complimenting wine. For example, if you enjoy fruitier flavors such as malt or sweeter beers I would suggest a Riesling or sparkling dry moscato.  If you like a hoppy beer, start somewhere in the middle with a Chardonnay or red blend and if you are all the way to dark beers that are heavily malted, go for the gold and open a big Shiraz from Australia or a Malbec from Argentina!

If you really want to find out what varietal or style of wine you enjoy and save some money... research. Spend an afternoon at a local winery with the option of tasting through their varietals before purchasing a bottle.  Most local wineries have an area to picnic so be sure to pack a basket of artisan cheeses, cured meats and a fresh crusty baguette!

Lastly, splurge on a tasting menu with wines at a restaurant where the knowledgeable Sommelier will not only describe the wine in detail but also why it pairs with certain components in the cuisine.  This is where one has to keep an open mind about wine and trust the Sommelier. Don’t tell the Sommelier to only pair white wines or wines from North America… venture out of your comfort zone and you will be amazed what new grapes you will discover!

Do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?

I have so many do I have to choose just one?  Well, if I have to it would be potato chips and Champagne.  Yes, simple kettle-cooked, lightly salted and peppered homemade potato chips and a glass of bubbly.  Champagne with the minerality, acidity and slight sweetness is perfect with that fatty, salty golden waffle!

Is there a cool wine gadget we should all own?
There is a really neat device out there called the Coravin Wine System that allows you to enjoy a glass of wine without ever pulling out the cork.  This was created by a gentleman named Greg Lambrecht who also designed surgical needles for spinal taps.  Coravin has a similar thin hollow needle that is inserted into the cork while Argon pressurizes the bottle and wine flows through the needle into your glass.  Oxygen never touches the wine inside of the bottle after the needle is removed, the cork reseals itself and you can enjoy that second, third and fourth glass of wine days, weeks or months later.  We will not only be featuring this device in Aqueous this Summer with rare vintage wines, but also selling it in the Heritage Shoppes for our enophiles that can’t go home without one!

What is your favorite candy bar?
Milka with Hazelnuts.  The ones available in the US don’t taste the same as the ones purchased in Europe so I tend to have to travel to a European country once a year to get my fix.

When you are not working at Nemacolin what are some of your favorite hobbies?

If I am not hiking with Ellie my 3-year old German Sheppard Lab mix, then I am swimming with her.  Snow or shine we are hiking it up in Ohiopyle on one of the many trails.  This past winter, Ellie and I maybe missed 7 or so days due to horrible weather conditions but we will make them up this summer!

What made you want to join the Nemacolin team?
I moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to my family in 2010 from California and I am happy to say that when people ask me, why would you ever leave California?   My answer always remains, it wasn’t home, and Pennsylvania is.  Nemacolin has become family to me and our guests recognize that everyday. One of the constant comments I hear and read from our guests, is that everyone is so genuine or we loving coming back to see this server, butler or bartender. We celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and marriages with guests that we have known for years. It is not why I joined the Nemacolin team, but that’s why I stay.

You have been at Nemacolin for a few weeks now.  Any “WOW” moment?
If you have been to Nemacolin and enjoy a cocktail or two or three, you have run into Dayna our mixologist.  Not only will you remember her but she will remember you and your drink preference.  Dayna has gone out of her way in the dead of winter to find a rare fruit from Asia for one of our guests. She noticed our guest’s arrival in the reservation system and was on mission to have this drink waiting in the Lobby Bar when he and his family checked-in. However, in the bitter, freezing temperatures of February in the Pennsylvania Laurel Highland Mountains where do you find this exotic fruit for this ultra-special tropical martini?  After several calls to specialty stores and a trip or two to local grocery stores, she found the fruit not fresh but imported with its own delicious syrups even more perfect for creating a simple syrup.  If that isn’t an employee trying to make memorable experiences for someone, I don’t know what is!

Field Club, Meet Our...
Meet Our... Fly Fishing Guide


Meet Our... Fly Fishing Guide - Mike Steiner


Tell us a little about yourself?
I am originally from Sharon, Pennsylvania, but I have been living in Uniontown, Pennsylvania for the last 6 ½ years with my awesome and beautiful wife, Melodi.  I, obviously, love everything about the sport of Fly Fishing.  I also enjoy anything sports related, especially Pitt Football and Basketball and the Cincinnati Bengals (I love them almost as much as Fly Fishing).  Outside of that I tend to stay pretty low key…  

When did you start fishing and who introduced you to the sport/hobby?

I started fishing at a very early age (maybe 5ish), and if you asked my grandfather (Big Wump) he would say he introduced me to fishing.  When actually it was my father who had me out with a Snoopy fishing rod catching fish as far back as I can remember.  Fly Fishing came along later, my teenage years.  I actually was self-taught in the beginning, and over time I have learned a ton from many different fly anglers.

What are the benefits to fishing? What would you tell a first-timer to the sport?

The benefits of Fly Fishing are almost too many to share.  I would say the biggest benefit is just getting outside and enjoying nature.  It is a great way to relax and unwind and forget about the office or anything else that may be bothering you.  My advice to a first-timer would be, don’t put too much emphasis on catching the fish.  Enjoy the whole experience. Take in the surroundings and enjoy the process leading up to catching the fish.  Fly Fishing is something you will never master, you learn something new every time you are on the water.

What do you enjoy about guiding?

Everything!!!  The biggest reward I get is working with a client who wants to catch a specific fish.  I love when it all comes together.  It is so rewarding to watch someone make a great cast, get an awesome drift and then connect with the fish.  That sequence of events is what makes Fly Fishing so unique.

Favorite Fly?
Whatever is working that particular day. If the fish are eating it, then it’s my favorite… (My least favorite is the Green Weenie, because our Activities Director Matt Grobe likes it).

What is your favorite Fly Fishing trip?

I love any type of Saltwater Fly Fishing. It’s a nice change of pace from trout fishing, but it’s still tough to beat a day on the Youghiogheny River.  Our river is such an awesome fishery, and can reward you with a fish of a lifetime on any given day.

To date, what is your proudest accomplishment?

Being a Fly Fishing Guide...  I am blessed to be able to make a living doing something I truly love.  I wake up in the morning excited for what each day will bring.  I literally get to stand in a river and experience the sport of Fly Fishing with someone different almost every day.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

What is your favorite candy bar?

Twix (you get two of them).
What made you want to join the Nemacolin team?
I actually was attending an Orvis Guide Rendezvous (in Millbrook, New York) and met a few guides from Nemacolin.  We got to talking one evening about our places of employment, they told me a little about Nemacolin, and eventually we exchanged contact information.   About a year later I was interviewing for a guide position.  That was my first real look at the Resort. I was sold the minute we pulled up to the Chateau Lafayette.  At that moment I realized the potential for the Fly Fishing program.  Not only was the fishing great in the area, Nemacolin has so much to offer to get people to the Resort.


You have been at Nemacolin for a few years now.  Any “WOW” moment?
There are always “WOW” moments at Nemacolin, especially on the water.  Anytime you get someone tight with a fish you see it in their eyes.  It’s the same for me also; I get more excited than the angler when he/she hooks the fish!  So, yeah I would say plenty of “WOW” moments (because we catch a lot of fish)…  

Interested in booking a guided trip with Mike at the Nemacolin Woodlands Field Club? For more information or to schedule a fly fishing trip, please contact the Nemacolin Woodlands Field Club at 724.329.6770.

Associates of the Month, General
Thank You, Associates!


It is that time... when we come together as a Resort and thank our Associates for their hard work and dedication.  At Nemacolin Woodlands Resort we pride ourselves in delivering the very best in customer service.  While not every position at Nemacolin is considered a front-of-the-line position, meaning that an associate interacts face-to-face with our guests, it is still our philosophy that every associate's #1 job is our guests.  No matter the weight of their interactions, an associate's work each and every day does have an impact on the guest's experience. Please join us in congratulating our Associates of the Month and take a moment to learn more on why they were recognized.


RISING STAR:
Amber Kassouf - Retail
"Amber has taken on more responsibilities regarding our resort inventory and our receiving areas. She has implemented new procedures on transferring product and processing of damages that have been really effective"












FRONT OF THE HOUSE:
Jamon Lehman - Woodlands Spa, Salon
"Jamon is a very hard worker and is always up for whatever challenge is thrown his way. He owns every moment and creates lasting memories for his guests."














BACK OF THE HOUSE:
Josh Gray - Food & Beverage, Autumn Culinary
"Josh has stepped up and knocked it out of the park the past three months.  We were down a team member and Josh has done a tremendous job from working extra days and hours."












LEADER OF THE MONTH:
Kanya Knox - Banquets
"Kanya goes above and beyond what she is expected to do.  She always is ready to jump in and assist whatever department needs help, while also managing one of the biggest departments on property."

General
The Holidays are Upon Us at Nemacolin


As you drive through the entryway and on to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort property, you can begin to see signs of the holiday season.  In fact, our Engineering team has been hard at work outlining the main drive with our Christmas lights display.


The holiday prep work is not limited to just outside.  Our crew is hard at work decorating for the holiday season, and you can see them scattered about the property, turning Nemacolin into a winter wonderland. Inside the Chateau Lafayette, a tall tree already stands in the lobby, beautifully decorated.



The Chateau Lobby will soon be full of decorations, including our famous annual gingerbread house display. Yum! This year’s theme, a large sized train, should be baked, iced and ready to view (no eating!) by Tuesday, November 26th - just in time for Thanksgiving.

Walk through the hotel and into the Lodge and you can see the beginnings of the grand décor that will soon encompass the hallways and lobbies.



You can even catch a few more trees popping up throughout the way. Some will have a theme within their ornaments and garland. This tree stands with a particular, hand painted character:



Located in the Library, a Santa Mr. Hardy wishes you Happy Holidays!

We have approximately 20 trees that will be located around the resort, including a Poinsettia Tree, the flowers of which we grow here in our greenhouse. We have other themed trees as well, including our Animal Tree, representing the wildlife that lives on Nemacolin's property.


The holiday cheer is beginning to show here at Nemacolin, and we officially kick-off the celebration with our Annual Light Up Night on Friday, November 30th, where you can view all the décor in grand fashion as we mark the season with hot chocolate, carols, and of course, the lighting of our tree in front of our Lodge.

We don’t stop there. Learn more about all of the events we have planned this holiday season:

Click Here to view the Thanksgiving Weekend events listing.
Click Here to view the Christmas Week events listing.
Click Here to view the New Year’s Eve parties and events.

We hope that you can visit Nemacolin Woodlands Resort with family and friends at this time of year to enjoy all we have to offer, from the lighting to the dining. We look forward to having you.

Associates of the Month, General
Scarecrow Contest Winners Have Been Decided!


It is that time of year, when spooky traditions are shared...

We test our nerves and assess our bravery by entering historical locations that have been declared "haunted."  We don our best or worst attire for the chance at the coveted title of "Most Creative" or "Scariest" costume. Once a tradition that dates back to Medieval times, where the poor would visit homes of the wealthier in order to receive pastries and gifts in exchange for promised prayers for the deceased, is now known as trick-or-treat and a competition for young to survey the quantity and quality of candies that fill their baskets. It is a time when the artist in us all, strategizes just how intricate we can go when pumpkin carving and then realizes before you can begin, someone must be willing to remove the stinky, gooey, guts and seeds that fill the inside. We huddle together under a blanket, with hands over our eyes, peeking through our fingers at the scary movie we wish we never turned on, and then sleep that night with the lights on.

And, at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort we get competitive and collect flannels and props, all for the chance to be declared the winner of our Annual Scarecrow Contest.  Scarecrow Contest?  Yes!  And it is a tradition that is hopefully an obvious sign of the spooky holiday we celebrate, as these creatures take over a space and greet our guests.  We even make the contest interactive, as we welcome our guests to join in on the fun, and leave the voting up to them!  Sometimes the "scariest" wins and other years the winner is the team that successfully was able to add some humor.

This year five departments competed:  Activities, Conference & Catering, Engineering, Laundry and Turfgrass.  They all brought their "A" game with well thought out creations, complete with a yellow brick road (see below).  Some made guests jump and others provided a nice chuckle, but when the voting ended we had new winners to announce.







1st Place - "Zombie" by Laundry


2nd Place - "Save The Pumpkins" by Engineering
3rd Place - "Dorothy" by Conference & Catering

Activities Department


Turfgrass Department

A special thank you to all of our recent guests that were able to join in on our Halloween tradition and fun.  We appreciate your votes!  Also, a big thank you to our departments for participating this year.

For our winners... bragging rights only last one year and like all traditions, they only get better with time, so we look forward to the surprises that are in store for next year.

Do you have a favorite Halloween tradition? If so, share below!

Associates of the Month, Genera
Congratulations to our Stars of the Month!


We may often boast the wonderful awards that our resort has earned throughout the years from AAA Five-Diamonds to Forbes Five-Stars.  However, the real stars that always make us beam with pride, from ear to ear, are our deserving associates.  Each month we ask our associates to nominate each other for the following awards:  Associate of the Month - Front of the House, Associate of the Month - Back of the House, Rising Star and Leader of the Month.  From peer reviews to superior praises, our associates join together and highlight some fantastic moments of customer service, teambuilding, dedication and much more.  All to show gratitude to our Nemacolin family members.


RISING STAR:
Colleen Clay - Banquets
"Colleen is our Banquets Captain which at times can be very difficult. She does a great job at keeping our guests happy and our standards in place."














ASSOCIATE OF THE MONTH - Front of the House
Andrew Null (Woodlands World) - Not pictured
"Andrew accomplishes more in a few days, than many do in a whole week!  His work ethic is rare to find these days and I hope others will begin to follow his example."


ASSOCIATE OF THE MONTH:  Back of the House
Tina Davison (Accounting)
"With recent personnel changes, Tina has taken on work that was once split between two people.  She has done this with a good attitude, efficiently and consistently, all while learning some new skills."

















LEADERS OF THE MONTH:
Loretta Jordan and Sonya Sellong (Not pictured) - Housekeeping
"I want to nominate Loretta and Sonya together for the outstanding job they did on redecorating our Associate Ladies Bathroom. They took it upon themselves to find all the decorations and paint the space. What an amazing transformation of that bathroom! It just shows what committed, caring managers they are and how lucky we are to have them."









TEAM OF THE QUARTER:
Front Desk
"From the busy summer, with the opening of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin on July 1 to the busiest Labor Day Weekend we have had, I am very proud of this group and everything they have overcome in the last few months."













If you have a Nemacolin Woodlands Resort vacation planned over the next few months and you happen to be so lucky to run into one of the following associates, please join us in congratulation them.


Fall Foliage, General
Conclusion of Peak Week at Nemacolin


I went out Monday to take some snapshots of the waning tree branches before the rain (and possible snow, but we won’t think about that) hit Farmington. It was a beautiful day and the leaves almost seemed to sparkle in the warmth of the sunlight.  It then that I realized... Peak Week is nearing an end. It was harder to find the types of shots I wanted, with full bright branches reaching overhead. The foliage is darkening into maroon, burnt sienna and dark gold instead of the bright reds and pinks and oranges that I was capturing before. It’s almost as if the leaves are settling into their places; first, young and excited that their time was here, now, seasoned professionals that have calmed into the true colors of fall. Many have already retired to their resting places, littering the ground.






As you tour the resort, you will still be able to spot a few green, full oak and hickory trees. The warmer temperatures over the past week or so have kept the late bloomers at bay, but after this week’s cold front, they may quickly burst into color in order to catch up with their counterparts. The fall changes and color, however, are far from over in Pennsylvania. A drive to or from Nemacolin Woodlands Resort will display many different levels of foliage depending on the destination. The higher elevation of the Laurel Highlands cause color change a week or so before the surrounding lower elevation counties in Southwest and Southeast Pennsylvania. Right now, the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions are just beginning to enter into their Peak Week. If your drive is to or from Northern Pennsylvania, the area is already far past full color and prepping for the winter months ahead.

The colors are beautiful here, right now, and there is no better time to come visit us.




Christina Petrilli
Assistant Marketing Manager
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Nemacolin