Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 16, 2014

Region’s newest all-terrain vehicle resort set to open

BLUEWELL — A large, metal Buffalo sign flanked by well-landscaped flowers greets visitors at the intersection of Lorton Lick Road and a steep drive to the right. It’s the entrance to the region’s newest all-terrain vehicle resort — one four years in the making.

Topping the hill, brand-new wood and stone cabins greet the eye. To the right is an elegant restaurant accented by a waterfall, koi pond and large outdoor dining area. To the left are cabins that have rustic appeal with the most modern of amenities.

Welcome to Buffalo Trail — an ATV resort that incorporates the atmosphere of camping with the luxury of a nice restaurant, bar, craft beers and, of course, site-wide Wifi.

•••

Buffalo Trail is a family affair that connects to a five-generation farm that has prospered in the greater Bluewell area for decades. The site of the resort — where the old Bluewell Manor apartments used to sit — ties in with the Peters family Briarfield Farm where buffalo are raised.

Owner and General Manager Seth Peters initially moved away from southern West Virginia but came back to the area eight years ago. His dream for the Buffalo Trail lodging is to cater to ATV tourists. However, he hopes the restaurant will be a draw for both locals and tourists.

“We’re marketing to ATV riders, but certainly not limited to ATVs,” Peters said, noting they have already been approached about weddings, family reunions and other events.

Peters comes to the resort/restaurant business with an impressive pedigree. He is the owner of a mechanical contracting business in North Carolina that specializes in remodels for national restaurant chains.

“This (Buffalo Trail) is my hobby job,” he said.

•••

The Buffalo Trail restaurant seats 65 guests inside and another 65 at the outdoor dining area. Full bars greet guests in both locations. The restaurant will be open year round on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and for Sunday brunch

Executive Chef Chad Morton and Sous Chef Bo Williams are both West Virginia natives with a vast array of culinary experience.

Asked about his favorite dish on the menu, Morton, an Elkins native, struggled to pick a favorite but noted that he “loves to smoke and grill.”

“I think we’re very diverse,” he said. “From shrimp to wings, salmon and ribeye, we cater to everyone.”

Whether one likes pasta, pizza or gilled foods, “it doesn’t matter what the taste preference is, you can find something on my menu,” Morton said.

Items range from Peel & Eat Shrimp and White Chicken Pizza to top sirloin and a variety of pastas. Burgers, including bison, are also on the menu. And for dessert, there is Peanut Butter Pie, New York Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Quizzed about his favorite dish, Sous Chef Williams, of Pineville, quipped, “What he said,” referring to Williams’ passionate response.

On a more serious note, he added, “It’s very special to be a part of this. It’s unlike anything around here.”

“It’s part of a bigger picture,” Peters said. “We’re trying to make this (area) a destination.”

The restaurant motto, Morton said, is “Country club service in a fun and festive atmosphere.”

Dress for the restaurant is casual, and diners should expect a playful environment. “We’re going to laugh and interact ... and get guests involved,” Morton said.

Giving a tour of the state-of-the-art bar and kitchen, Morton is notably proud of the facilities. As an experienced chef, he said that many restaurants are 20 to 30 years old, and aging equipment can pose challenges. Proudly he points out the modern amenities at Buffalo Trail.

A cooling system specially designed by Peters will provide “the coldest beer around,” Morton said. And servers will not be carrying pen and paper. Instead, they will be equipped with electronic hand-held devices. Once the order is keyed in, it will transmit to the kitchen so food preparation can begin, thus decreasing the wait time for diners.

On the floor below the kitchen, a retail store will provide visitors with all their needs for a weekend on the ATV trails, Morton said. Items for sale will include such things as T-shirts, drinks, coolers and Hatfield-McCoy Trail permits.

•••

Exiting the restaurant for a tour of the grounds with Peters, his wife, Jenny, and mother, Vivian, the serenity of Buffalo Trail is appreciable. Bright Gerber daisies in pots along railings provide a pleasing touch of color to the peaceful atmosphere, while the trickling waterfall adds soothing background noise.

With a laugh, mom Vivian notes that her son planned to build the waterfall “to the top of the mountain,” but the crane would not reach that high. Now completed, it hugs the bottom of the hill, and gently trickles into the tranquil pool that is home to a variety of koi. The stone lacing the waterfall and pond came from the property site.

Looking toward the elegant wood and stone cabins, Seth Peters notes the resort is “not going to be like a traditional motel.” All reservations will be made online, with guests provided an access code via email.

“There’s no front desk. No keys,” he said, explaining that the codes will allow guests access to the cabins during their check-in and check-out times. For those without advance reservations, a self-service kiosk on the grounds will allow them to book a cabin.

“It’s almost rustic, but high-tech,” Peters said.

The nine cabins, which range from one bedroom and bath to four bedrooms and baths, all include high-end furnishings including granite countertops, satellite television and on-demand, “tankless” hot-water heaters, as well as beds and tables handcrafted by Wanda and Boyd Bradford of Bluewell. The cabins also include unique buffalo paintings by Montcalm artist Brian Perkins.

“Every bedroom has a bath and every bed has a TV,” Peters said.

The cabins, many of which sport handcrafted stairs leading to cozy yet elegant lofts, bear names true to Appalachian culture such as “Devilanse Hideout” and “Hillbilly Hotel.” Guests also have use of combination outdoor grills and fire pits, which are available on the grounds behind the cabins.

•••

In addition to the cabins and restaurants, Buffalo Trail has seven recreational vehicle sites. But with 30 acres now bordering the original farm, there is more to come.

Seth Peters said “Plan B” of the resort is a buffalo viewing area where guests can watch the animals feeding on the family farm.

He also plans to build camping facilities that include “treehouse tent sites” — an enhanced primitive tent site with a dry place for sleeping during inclement weather.

“There’s nothing worse than going camping in the rain,” Peters said, explaining that the sites will include a minimalist treehouse above each campsite.

Future plans also include a brewery where specialty beers will be made. Pointing to a bank in front of a line of cabins, he notes that a plethora of blueberry bushes have recently been planted.

“Three years from now, I hope to be making blueberry wheat beer,” he said.

•••

A ribbon-cutting for Buffalo Trail will be held this evening, with the grand opening on Thursday, May 22.

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