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Retirees, vacationers fall in love with the woods

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Photo courtesy of Judy Snyder Photo courtesy of Judy Snyder
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By MISSY SHEEHAN
For The State Journal

Judy Snyder and her husband, John Maynard, never thought West Virginia would be the place they’d spend their retirement.

“I’m originally from Pennsylvania, and even in Maryland, West Virginia just isn’t a place a lot of people think about going,” Snyder said. “But if you haven’t been here, you just don’t know.”

Back in 2000, desperate for a quick weekend getaway, the couple randomly picked a spot on the map and ended up visiting West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. They stayed at The Woods, a 2,000-acre resort community in Hedgesville known for its peaceful setting and spectacular mountain views as well as its 36 holes of golf and the full-service Sleepy Creek Spa.

“We immediately fell in love. It was like lightning hit us,” Snyder said. “We were driving around on a mountain on a dirt road that was wet from the rain. We got stuck on that ridge for like an hour before we got the car out, but it was so beautiful, so peaceful. We immediately started looking for cabins to buy.”

In 2001, the couple, who lived in nearby Baltimore at the time, bought their first vacation cabin at The Woods, a fixer upper they stayed in on weekends and vacations, according to Snyder.

A few years later, in 2006, Snyder and Maynard bought a lot at The Woods and built their own year-round home, which Snyder designed herself.

“I always wanted to be an architect,” she said.

After several years of traveling back and forth on the weekends, about a year and a half ago Snyder and Maynard retired from their jobs in academia and moved to their home at The Woods full time.

“Now we’re feeling our way into retirement,” Snyder said. “We both do volunteer work, and it helps that there’s a lot to do here at The Woods.”

Snyder, for instance, is active in both the garden and travel clubs organized by homeowners. Last year, she and Maynard went to Turkey with the travel club. Next year, they’re going on a cruise from Chile to Argentina.

At the monthly garden club meeting in June, Snyder said artist Judith Becker gave a talk on Spritzilism, the painting technique she’s developed that involves using plants as templates for sprayed watercolor paint. “We all got to create one and take it home,” she added.

Other homeowner activities include a book club, a bridge club, a motor club, a quilting club and the Women of The Woods, a dining club that travels once a month for a group luncheon.

“I also really like the spa. I try to go as much as I can,” Snyder said. “I get manicures, pedicures, massages and I get my hair cut there. Everything is really top notch.”

Maynard, on the other hand, prefers activities like golf.

“He’s in a Monday night group,” Snyder said. “Afterward all the spouses join them, and we eat dinner at the Clubhouse Grille. Even during the winter when the golf course was closed we still got together.”

Snyder and Maynard also are involved in planning potlucks and ice cream socials for homeowners.

“It’s little informal opportunities like that for people to get involved with each other that make it a really nice community,” Snyder added. “You feel like you have good friends here, people who will take care of you.”

Other benefits to living at The Woods include two outdoor pools, tennis and pickleball courts and the indoor sports center featuring a pool and exercise room. Those who purchase new homes at The Woods get a family club membership that includes access to all of that, plus the golf course, according to Joy Johnson, vice president of The Woods.

“Our members also get a discount on their purchases at the Grille, pro shop and spa,” Johnson added.

The Woods has both men’s and women’s golf associations, which organize tournaments throughout the season, including an annual tournament to benefit a local charity. This year’s tournament is slated for July 26 and will benefit the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Eastern Panhandle.

Bordering the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, The Woods also has direct access to more than 70 miles of hiking trails, Johnson said.

Homes at The Woods range from vacation chalets, villas and patio homes to luxurious one- and two-story single-family homes. “Home sites include heavily wooded lots with sensational golf-course or mountain views,” Johnson said.

“The community is a really good option for retirees,” Johnson said. “Though we have lots of vacation-home residents and there are full time residents who work in the local community, too.”

In fact, at the recent annual meeting of The Woods Homeowners Association (WHOA) Amy Tozzi, the president of the board, stated that about 70 percent of homeowners at The Woods are vacationers.

The Woods offers both short- and long-term rental options for vacationers, including cabins, cottages and villas, Johnson said.

“Between part-timer people and full-timers, it’s a whole mixture of people out here, people of all ages,” Snyder said. “And that’s what’s so wonderful, that variety.“

To learn more about living and vacationing at The Woods, visit thewoods.com.