by Terry Ward
Many a Washington D.C. power player, including President Obama, has spent time at this sprawling resort on the James River located about 7 miles from Colonial Williamsburg and even closer to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. And for families looking to incorporate some time in Virginia’s beautiful nature with their itineraries to this history-rich part of the state, the Kingsmill Resort feels like a luxury summer camp for adults and kids.
The genteel property spreads across hundreds of riverfront acres on land that played a key role in local plantation life from the 17th to 19th centuries. Anheuser-Busch purchased a large parcel of land here in 1969 to build a brewery, and part of that land agreement included the development of the resort in the 1970’s. In 2010, the resort was purchased by Xanterra, the largest state park concessioner in the U.S.
Greater Kingsmill encompasses some of the Williamsburg area’s nicest neighborhoods, but Kingsmill Resort is an entity apart. The gracious southern property has 425 villa-style guestrooms and suites, most of which are one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums that will tempt you to settle in and stay a while thanks to amenities like full kitchens and laundry facilities. There are five onsite restaurants, some of which are only open during the busy summer months. And a reliable free shuttle service runs all day from the resort to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Part of a planned community that spread across thousands of acres, Kingsmill is one of those comprehensive resorts that really offers some form of entertainment for everyone in your family. For the golfers, there are two championship 18-hole courses to play. And family bonding activities include fishing or kayaking along the banks of the James River, splashing in the indoor and outdoor pools, playing a game of tennis or just strolling along the resort’s marina beach looking for shells and spotting wading birds.
For an active vacation in a beautiful place with easy access to all the tourist sites of Williamsburg, Kingsmill puts you closer to nature than any other place in the area.
Our Editor Loves
- Free shuttle service to Colonial Williamsburg
- Pool with lazy river
- Accommodations for large families
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
The 425 guestrooms and suites at the property are spread out between several three-story buildings and riverfront cottages. And while the dÃ©cor in the cottages is far more modern than in the other suites and guestrooms, all accommodations here are well equipped with everything you need to feel at home while on vacation.
If you want a Pack 'N Play, be sure to reserve it when you book your room. Also, there are a few connecting standard guestrooms available, but they cannot be guaranteed in advance.
Standard guestrooms are 375 square feet and have one king bed or two double beds, a private balcony or patio and in-room amenities that are standard throughout the resort that include Keurig coffeemakers, plush bathrobes, hairdryers, umbrellas, in-room safes and desks for working. These standard rooms, like all suites, are scattered throughout the resort so you can specify where you prefer to be -- close to the river, Sports Club, Wareham Pond, golf courts or tennis courts. Just be sure to specify when you book. Standard guestrooms can accommodate two adults and a baby in a pack and play (provided for free -- there are no cribs available). Rollaway beds are not available in any of the rooms or suites.
One-bedroom suites are the next jump up by way of roominess, at 820 square feet, and have a master bedroom with one king bed and a queen sofa bed in the living room. The fully equipped kitchen has dishes and utensils and a refrigerator, oven and stove and dishwasher, plus there are washers and dryers for doing laundry in these suites, too. All suites also have fireplaces in the living rooms, a nice touch during the colder months. As with standard guestrooms, you can specify your preferred location on the property for the one-bedroom suites, which accommodate a maximum of four people.
The two-bedroom suites have the same amenities as the one-bedroom suites, but more space (1,200 square feet) with the addition of a second bedroom with either one king bed or two double beds and a total of two full bathrooms. There's also a larger dining space here that makes it easy to host group dinners. The living room has a fireplace and queen sofa bed in the living room, too, so you can accommodate between six and eight people, depending on sleeping configurations.
The three-bedroom suites are a spacious 1,500 square feet and have three full bedrooms (two with king beds and a third with your choice of one king or two doubles), as well as a living room with a sofa bed and a full kitchen with washer and dryer facilities. Eight people can fit here, too.
Standard in all of the suites are balconies or patios, fireplaces, queen sofa beds in the living rooms and your choice of locations around the resort.
If being waterfront is your main priority, you may want to splurge on the resort's new three- or four-bedroom cottages -- beautiful two-story houses with balconies that sit within a few feet of the James River and have magnificent views. Bedrooms, all with one king bed or two double beds, all have their own full bathrooms, as well as queen sofa beds in the living rooms. If you're here with a large group, this might be the best option as you can sleep more than 10 people in the four-bedroom cottages, especially if kids can double up in the double beds.
Decor is fairly standard throughout all the rooms and suites, with wood furniture and a color scheme of earth tones livened with pockets of color. The cottages have the most modern dÃ©cor since they are the newest accommodations on the property.
This was such a fun place. We stayed with one of our daughters and her family in a condo. It was outfitted with everything you could possibly need including a washer and dryer. There were a total of six of us including two boys, age 12 and 7. We had plenty of room to spread out to get away from one another. Our little development had its own pool which was so much fun to come home to after being at the parks all day and jumping right into the pool. The weather was hot but not horribly hot in August. The water park was great for the real hot days. We got Groupons for a 3 day park pass for Bush Gardens and the Water Park. It was a fantastic deal. I couldn't find a better one. There are other pools there too but since we were at the parks most of the day we didn't use them much. There are a lot of places to eat right outside the resort and the resort it basically right outside of Bush Gardens.
Now comes the shuttles. These were great, they took you back and forth to the parks. They were air conditioned and comfortable and the staff were friendly but sometimes the people were not. There needs to be a better setup, or a line of some sort. When the shuttle pulls up it is a free for all to get on and people were a bit rude and pushy. I am not sure why because if they knew there were more passengers than seats they sent another shuttle right behind it. Maybe if people knew this initially there wouldn't be such a fiasco. All in all we had a great time.
We spent one night here after a day at Williamsburg before Yorktown the next day. It worked out very well. The room was pretty clean and the staff was very helpful. We stopped at the cafe near their tennis court in the morning and the staff was friendly, patient, and attentive. The pool was great for the kids and the hot tub was wonderful for us. There was a bug that climbed up yeh drain in our tub so we made sure to keep the stopper down but otherwise a great stay!
There is so much to do right on Kingsmill's property that you'll find it hard just to sit back and do nothing here, even after a busy day in Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens or Water Country USA.
During the hot summer months, the property's outdoor swimming pool, the River Pool, with its James River views and lazy river bobbing with yellow inner tubes, is the place to be. There's a zero-entry area with fountains that's perfect for splashing around with toddlers, while your older kids will do repeat loops on the waterslide all day long. Firepits are lit up at night to add to the after-dark ambiance. The pool is open from sunrise to sunset during the warmer months. There's an additional, nearby pool that's a bit quieter, thanks to no tubing.
There's an indoor pool here, too, inside the resort's Sports Club. It has a sectioned-off area for swimming laps, as well as an area for free swimming, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. A Jacuzzi sits right next to the indoor pool, and younger kids should be accompanied by their parents.
There is a small beach near the resort's marina that's nice for waterfront pictures and shelling at low tide, but nobody really does more than wade here.
For the golfers in your gang, there are two golf courses open to the public -- the 18-hole championship River (designed by Pete Dye) and Plantation (designed by Arnold Palmer) courses, and a third golf course on property is open to members only. The courses cross beautiful forests with views of the James River and are immaculately maintained. Golf lessons for both adults and children are available.
If tennis is your family's thing, you'll love Kingsmill, with 15 courts, including two lighted courts, 13 clay courts and 2 hard courts, available for play. Racquets, ball machines and hoppers can all be rented. One-hour junior clinics for kids between the ages of 5 and 13 are available during the summer months for $30 per hour. And there are clinics for high school kids, too (prices vary depending on the number of participants).
Hiking, Biking and More
Adult and child-size bicycles are available for rent, and are a fun way to explore miles of winding trails through the resort's wooded areas (helmets and baby carriers are also for rent). Bikes rent for $8 hour. There are many nice walking and jogging trails on the property, too, and a family favorite is the loop around Wareham Pond. If you prefer to roll around the property, sign up for a 90-minute Segway tour.
Games and Sports
The Sports Club has an indoor basketball court where you can shoot hoops with the gang. And your pre-teens and teens (okay, younger ones, too) will love the game room here with racecar games, pinball, air hockey and the like.
Based out of the resort's marina, water sports are extremely popular during the hot months of summer, and you can rent paddleboards ($25 per hour), kayaks ($25 per hour), jet skis ($130 per hour), pontoon boats ($250 for two hours) and sea cycles ($25 per hour) here to get out and about on the James River. Fishing poles can also be rented for $15 per hour at the marina, and bait is available in the onsite shop.
Complimentary Shuttle Service
Free shuttles run nearly hourly all day long (from roughly 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and later during special events) from the resort to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Seasonal Kids' Camps and Activities
Kingsmill Resort gets decked to the nines during the holiday season and hosts themed activities throughout the year that might include barbecues in the summer or S'mores around the fire pit in the winter. During the summer months, free ghost tours of the property are often offered.
Seasonally (summer) and during the holidays, there are Kids' Nights Out for children ages 5 to 12 that include dinner, a movie and snack for $40 on Friday and Saturday nights -- call 24 hours in advance to reserve a spot.
And Kids' Camps are also offered during the same periods, with full- ($50) and half-day ($30) options that will have your youngster playing water games, making crafts and scavenging for shells along the marina beach.
Williamsburg has quite a local foodie scene, with atmospheric taverns and restaurants aplenty. Kingsmill makes it easy to do most of your eating on property though, thanks to five onsite restaurants.
A high-ceilinged space right off the main lobby with views of the river, Elements 1010 is where you'll most likely start your day, with breakfast served daily from 7 to 10 a.m. (and until noon on Sunday) and an ample menu that has all the classics such as omelets, French toast, granola and yogurt, cold cereals and fresh fruits. Dinner, served daily between 5 and 9 p.m., is casual and comfortable, with a focus on seasonal ingredients in dishes like pizzas and pastas, meat dishes and simple burgers and salads on the menu. Don't miss the corn and crab chowder. The kids' menu throughout the resort has the standards: junior burgers, mac and cheese, chicken fingers, pasta -- you know the drill.
Located inside the River golf course clubhouse, Eagles isn't just for golfers. There's a nice outdoor terrace for dining alfresco when it's warm out, and the cozy indoor space has high-top and low-top tables and a bar. The lounge area is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is a casual space for low-key lunches and bar snacks with things everyone loves -- think wings, burgers, nachos, chili and potato skins. Lunch specials change daily and might include comfort foods like ribs, chicken and dumplings, or meatloaf. Dinner is served in the dining room from 5 to 9 p.m. and offers a three-course fixed menu, or you can choose hearty a la carte offerings like filet, stuffed flounder or pork tenderloin.
James Landing Grille
During the summer months, there are few nicer spots for a meal than the outdoor patio at the James Landing Grille. With its watery sunset views across the James River, it's the only true riverfront restaurant in Williamsburg. The focus is on sustainable seafood including Chesapeake Bay rockfish and locally farmed oysters, and lobster tails, sweet tea-brined pork and excellent burgers are also on the menu. Hours vary seasonally (noon to 9 p.m. when open) and the restaurant is closed during the winter months.
For a casual breakfast or snack, there's The Mill, a cute little coffee shop open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. that does great espresso drinks made from Virginia-roasted coffee beans. It also serves freshly baked breads and seasonal ice creams.
For casual, poolside dining during the summer months (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily), hit Currents, where you can dine on a selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks at tables right near the River Pool's edge. It's a fun casual lunch spot where you don't even have to get out of your bathing suit to dine.
Room service is available from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wireless Internet is free in all public areas and guestrooms.
Laundry machines and dryers are located in all the one-, two- and three-bedroom condos and cottages. For guests staying in regular guestrooms, next-day dry cleaning is available.
You'll want to bring your stroller along if you have small children, as the resort's property is quite large. There are many walkways to enjoy.
There's an excellent fitness center, free for all guests, on the upper floor of the Sports Club, overlooking the indoor pool. There are lockers and changing areas for men and women. Machines include treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes, dumbbells and circuit training. Spin classes and water aerobics are sometimes offered.
The hotel has a business center just downstairs from the lobby, where you can print airline tickets for free and get online.
The hotel's gift shop in the lobby sells souvenirs, snacks, sunscreen and other basic resort gear. There's a small store in the marina, too, with snacks and drinks. Sports wear can be purchased in the golf pro shop and the tennis shop.
The hotel's concierge doesn't arrange babysitting for you, but can suggest a Newport News service to call.
The resort's million-dollar spa debuted in early 2015 and has separate quiet rooms for men and women with river and pool views, as well as a salon and areas for manicures and pedicures. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the usual massages, facials, wraps and peels are on the menu.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
The summer months, especially from mid-June to mid-August, are peak season in Williamsburg and that's when you'll also find Kingsmill Resort at its most packed. Warm weather makes the water activities all the more appealing, so count on crowds at the pool, on the golf course and paddling around the marina. Outside of summer, holidays are also busy, including Thanksgiving, Christmas time and spring break. For fewer crowds and still-seasonable temperatures, May and especially September into October can be a particularly pleasant time here.
It's about a 30-minute drive from the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport to Kingsmill Resort, and all of the major rental car companies are represented at the airport.
The resort does not arrange shuttle service, but can give you taxi and chauffeur services to call. Richmond International Airport offers more domestic connections and is just under an hour from the resort. You can also consider flying into Norfolk International Airport, about 50 minutes away. Alternatively, you can fly into the two major airports in Washington, D.C., which are about 2.5 hours away.
Parking is complimentary at the resort, and in most cases, you'll have a parking spot right outside your suite or room. When it's time to get out and explore, free shuttles to nearby attractions run nearly hourly, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For Mom and Dad
If your kids are old enough to take care of themselves for a few hours, take the occasion to have a sunset drink at James River Landing, on its incredible riverfront patio, then move inside for a delicious seafood dinner. Alternatively, you can head into Williamsburg for a romantic walk around the downtown area.