Bed check: West Virginia

Come in from the cold to Black Bear Resort


Washington Post Service

Come on, Black Bear Resort, light my fire.

In the nippy night air of West Virginia’s Canaan Valley, my nose and ears, naked to the elements, were turning Rudolph red. I was freezing, but I knew that heat was on its way. Once I opened the door to Room 133 on Grizzly Way, I was going to melt faster than a snowman in a tanning booth.

The property, near the ski resorts of Canaan Valley and Timberline, captures the yin and yang of winter: It encourages guests to go numb from playing outdoors, then draws them into the warm embrace of the indoors. Forget the extra socks; just toast those little piggies by the fireplace.

The resort is arranged like a small Arctic village, with the main lodge as the central meeting place. Here, guests can gather round a mammoth stone fireplace flanked by shelves of books ideal for self-imposed rest days. Stand-alone cottages called pedestals come in a variety of sizes, some of them forming a circle, tribal-style, around a sprawling lawn with a playground and a fitness course. Other structures play hide-and-seek in the dense woods. The units are privately owned; like snowflakes, no two are the same. An inn with three floors of suites crowns a steep hill with Olympic sledding potential.

My suite — a single room with lightly demarcated areas for sleeping, lounging and dining — bore a whiff of ski chalet, especially when I lit the fire (one idiot-proof log is included in the price). The fiery flames added another blanket to the already snug space, which beat off the chill with plush off-white carpeting, a spare quilt in the closet and a generous heating unit. Near the fireplace, in the cabinet housing the TV, the mystery owners had curated a collection of books, magazines and movies.

Pets are allowed, but if you didn’t BYOPooch, cozy up to any of the bears populating the place. Don’t worry, they don’t bite. But they do knit, fish, read and cuddle with squirrels. They also hug trees, as demonstrated in the many photos hanging on the walls; dispense toilet paper; and hold toothbrushes and towels. Who knew that black bears could be such good domestic help?

Though I was charmed by my room, especially when the fire was roaring, all was not hunky-dory. For example, only cold water flowed from the bathroom sink. I also could not find an ice machine, nor did I recall seeing a tray in the fridge.

In the morning, I crawled out of my cave of plaid linens like a preppy bear awakening from a long hibernation. I stretched my paws and went hunting for food, tracking down a packet of cinnamon, walnut and raisin oatmeal above the microwave and toaster, then carried my breakfast picnic to the porch.

Sitting outside in the warm sun, I considered the day’s mountain of possibilities, but slowly succumbed to the resort’s lull. I closed my eyes and felt the wintry mix of sun and cold on turn my cheeks.

•  Black Bear Resort, 247 Lodge Dr., Davis, W.Va.; 800-553-2327; Suites from $140 per night, $120 per night for two nights or more; pedestals from $375 with a two-night minimum.

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