Home ReviewsHotels and Resorts Inn-side Story: Luxury Resort in Virginia on the James River Close to Attractions

Inn-side Story: Luxury Resort in Virginia on the James River Close to Attractions

by Jan Schroder
kingsmill resort aerial photo

I don’t play golf. We didn’t visit the theme park with the world’s fastest multi-launch roller coaster or one of the top-rated attractions in Virginia, both just a few minutes away.

I did enjoy a beautiful spa, biked for miles on wooded paths, dined in a cute coffee shop and golf club restaurant and relaxed in a well-equipped condo with a view of the James River.

This luxury resort has a championship golf course, tennis courts, a large pool with a lazy river and an indoor pool and game room in the sports center. It’s perfect for families and couples. 

Where: Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia

Why You Should Visit: Proximity to attractions, location on James River, great sports club

aerial view of lazy river at Kingsmill Resort
The outdoor pool and lazy river at Kingsmill Resort. (All photos courtesy of Kingsmill Resort unless otherwise noted.)

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush on a roller coaster or a more relaxed walk through 18th-century history, this luxury resort in Virginia about 40 minutes from Richmond is the perfect place to stay.

Located on the James River, the 3500-acre resort has a sports center, golf course, condos and cottages, bicycle paths, tennis courts and a large pool with a lazy river. And who doesn’t love a lazy river?

golf cart in front of the estate at Kingsmill Resort
The Estate, built as a private home for the Busch family, comes with the use of two SUVS and two golf carts.

Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg is less than four miles from Busch Gardens and about six miles from Colonial Williamsburg.

Thrill-seekers will want to visit Busch Gardens as it recently opened Pantheon,  the world’s fastest multi-launch roller coaster, adding to the theme park’s portfolio of seven other world-class roller coasters.

There’s another connection between Kingsmill Resort and Busch Gardens. The first Busch Gardens was started in California by Adolphus Busch, who along with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, founded Anheuser-Busch.

He built a winter home and gardens in Pasadena, which were open to the public for around 20 years. They closed in 1937 and he then opened public gardens in Tampa, Florida, meant to be an animal conservatory.

roller coaster at Busch Gardens
Into thrills? Try one of the roller coasters at Busch Gardens. I’ll be hanging at the lazy river. (Photo courtesy of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.)

Others followed, with the Williamsburg location opening in 1975 with a European theme. Why Williamsburg?

August Busch II, who was then president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch Company, was looking for a second location for a brewery and in 1969 bought 3,900 acres on the James River with plans for a brewery and a resort. Kingsmill Resort opened in 1975.

Because people really, really like to drink beer, the Busch family is really, really rich even though the company was taken over by InBev in 2008 and the family no longer leads the company. The family is still worth $17.6 billion.

Accommodations at Kingsmill Resort

One of the condo buildings, which overlook the James River. (Photo by Jan Schroder)

We stayed in a one-bedroom condo with a view of the James River, which delighted me as I’m a water person. It came with a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, washer/dryer, large dining table and fully equipped kitchen. I particularly loved the shower with killer shower pressure.

The condos have one, two and three bedrooms. In total there are 347 rooms, all individually owned.

Other options include the five Cottages on the James located right on the water and with views of the 18th hole of the golf course.

two cottages at James Mill Resort
The Cottages at Kingsmill have either three or four bedrooms and incredible views of the 18th hole of the golf course and the James River.

For a real splurge, you can rent The Estate at Kingsmill. This 7,000-square-foot four-bedroom home was built as a private home for the Busch family and underwent a $3 million renovation.

The rental fee includes a private chef, use of two SUVS and two golf carts. An Estate Coordinator can make arrangements for any services guests may require.

Activities and Kingsmill

A hole on the River Course.

The day my husband had a tee time I had a massage booked. I’ve never been a golfer. After taking a few lessons, I’ve ruled out having any natural talent for the sport.

While I enjoy looking at golf courses and really had a blast attending The Masters in Augusta one year, I don’t see me swinging a club any time soon. Plus, I’ve yet to see any golf outfits cute enough for me to take up a new sport.

Unfortunately, Chris wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t able to play golf so we can’t share firsthand experience. But I can tell you the championship River Course at Kingsmill was designed by Pete Dye and has hosted 38 PGA and LPGA Tour events as well as the 2021 Pure Silk Championship.

Relaxation room at the spa at Kingsmill Resort.
Relaxation room at the spa at Kingsmill Resort.

I am a championship spa-goer, however, so was eager to get a treatment at Kingsmill Spa.

The massage was lovely and I really liked the décor and view of the river from the relaxation room. In addition to the usual facials and massages, the spa also has a hair and nail salon and wellness classes.

The spa is housed in The Kingsmill Sports Club, which also includes a large indoor pool, game room and fitness center.

The outdoor pool, open seasonally, is spacious and includes my favorite feature, a lazy river. There are also 15 tennis courts at Kingsmill Tennis Club.

bike path at Kingmill Resosrt
With plenty of bike paths and a relatively flat terrain, Kingsmill Resort is a fun place to bike.

With easy river access, water sports are popular. At the Marina you can rent kayaks, jet skis, paddle boards, fishing poles and even a pontoon boat with or without a captain.

After my spa treatment, I headed to the golf club where I rented a bicycle and cycled all around the resort, enjoying riding on the bike paths and up and down the neighborhood streets, with streets named after settlers of Jamestown.

aerial view of tennis courts at kingsmill
Tennis is popular at Kingsmill.

Located just 10 miles away, Jamestown was founded in 1607 and is the first settlement by the English in the United States. But according to the history of Kingsmill Resort, it was not the first landing.

After sailing for 144 days, the settlers first landed right where the 17th hole on the Kingsmill Resort’s River Course is. But the land was too rocky, prompting them to sail just a bit farther where they could anchor their three ships closer to shore.

After Busch purchased the property, he oversaw an archeological dig, which turned up the remains of three plantations on the property dating back to the 1650s when rice and corn were grown here.

Dining at Kingsmill Resort

The outdoor deck at James Landing Grille.

You can enjoy water views at the James Landing Grill, which specializes in regional seafood. Walking to breakfast or lunch at The Mill was like visiting a friendly neighborhood coffee shop. You can take a seat inside overlooking the tennis courts or outside on the deck.

We could also walk to Eagles, inside the Golf Clubhouse with a cozy lobby with a fireplace, bar and large dining area. Menu items include typical golf club fare with chicken fingers, burgers, salads and sandwiches.

If you opt to prepare your own meals, there’s a Harris Teeter grocery story right across from the entrance to the resort. I went a few times during our stay for lunch items and grab some chicken soup for my ailing husband.

Kingsmill Resort is a relaxing, easy getaway for families or couples. And you can always up the adrenaline with a hair-raising ride on a nearby roller coaster.

– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief

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