West Virginia: Oak Hill, ACE Adventure Center and Resort – Family Reunions and Togethering in the Mountains.

Family vs. River: The Challenge!

ACE Adventure Center and Resort, in Oak Hill, West Virginia is one of the best places on the East Coast for families to get away (and play) together. But what about when you want to organize more than an one family trip… what about the biggest family travel challenge, the family reunion?

Finding a family reunion spot which works for everyone is not easy – one size never fits all. But for active families ACE Adventure Center has all of the components to create a terrific family reunion loaded with action. No one will be bored.  The atmosphere is friendly and comfortable, like staying with old friends. For active families the ACE Adventure Center and Resort location is heaven – show up, sign in and let the fun begin.

Sounds ideal for a family vacation but a family reunion?

The formula for an ideal family reunion spot is simple – varied sleeping options, togethering space, flexible food service, activities for all ages and help to pull it all together. So does ACE have what it takes? I’ll go with yes.

From rustic to deluxe ACE delivers sleeping choices for every branch of the family.

Choices include camp sites and cabins as well as chalets and log homes in the woods which means Uncle John can sleep in a tent on the mountaintop if he want, Aunt Kathryn can have a comfy bed and private hot tub, Nana can have her own porch, and the cousins can bunk together all at ACE. Staying separately yet together really works. The mountaintop camping area is top notch and comes complete with a nightly star studded sky. The cabins carefully tucked into the woods are cozy and comfortable. The log homes (one with seven bedrooms) have plenty of room for family gatherings and are equipped with porches, decks and hot tubs. Bonus points: For history buffs consider a stay in Harry S. Truman’s old hunting lodge on the grounds and relax by the fireplace or soak in the private hot tub (not Harry’s).

Sleeping options aside, the key factor in making the spot work is the variety of activities and adventures available and the ease with which to do any or all of them. Within the grounds kids can roam in relative safety and parents do not need to feel compelled to make things happen. For teens, the giant inflatable toys in the lake facilitate meeting other teens and of course having fun on their own. An obvious concern for parents of teens is the safety factor. No need to appear over protective, the staff at ACE makes safety a priority without making teens feel like children.

Family recipes make up only part of a family reunion and for the other par ACE has plenty of suggestions spanning box lunch picnics to a mountain style banquet. I can say from experience the meals served in the lodge restaurant are exceptional by both adult and child standards – divine ribs, great burgers and scrumptious desserts. Meals are served cafeteria style with picnic table seating and the atmosphere is always friendly and easy going. Bonus points: For reunions special meals can be coordinated ahead of time.

Biking at ACE

Organizing family reunion activities can be done in advance at the website. There are discounts for groups and scheduling is always flexible. Because almost all activities are within the 14,000-acre complex it is easy to organize group activities and create memories. Ideas include hiking, kayaking, caving, mountain biking and rock climbing, rappelling, canoeing, horseback riding and obviously rafting on both the New River and the Gauley. For a unique family bonding experience there’s a down and dirty Mud Obstacle Race and they offer paintball on a private wooded field. Not for your family? More restful evening activities include sunset on horseback and a sunset cliff top walk. Rides by horse-drawn wagon may be arranged any season of the year. Need to know: ATV adventures offers a chance to walk through the tree tops on a Cliff-Top Canopy Tour which includes zip-lining.

Family reunions need support and ACE has a team of more 200 dedicated people, each determined to meet the highest standard of customer satisfaction which matters when the task of creating a family reunion is at hand. They will take care of everything from start to finish including lodging and food service, activity reservations, guides, and transportation. Bonus points: They also know every minute does not need to be planned and for those unplanned times the lake at the center of the complex functions as a natural meeting place. Chairs for relaxing face the beach, pier and an array of giant water toys as a well as colorful canoes and kayaks.  No lines, no numbers, it’s all for fun.

While we were at ACE I interviewed parents and spoke with guides, grandparents and a few teens. For guides it is a place to share their own adventure passion with others and get paid to do so. For many of the adults it was a return trip and all agreed it is an ideal location for a family reunion. Grandparents appreciated the lakeside seating where something is always happening. Teens were unanimous – vacation freedom with a cool, “with-it” staff and nothing boring in site.

Remarkable in many ways, it is the positive energy provided by the staff that makes ACE exceptional. It was truly a joy to see smiling faces and hear laughter from guests as well as staff. The complex emits good vibes making it a truly pleasant place to get together.

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