The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The Boulders has always meant golf, golf, and more golf. Now, with the addition of the extraordinary Golden Door Spa, it is also a first-rate spa hotel. Walking to your casita in the chill of the night, past the boulders and the cacti, across wood bridges over dry arroyos, the air scented with piñon drifting from the fireplaces—it's as romantic a desert moment as you can hope for. The Boulders has always had the location, where the wilderness merges with the city, and the layout too, with 160 large casitas scattered across its two famous golf courses and the fringes of the desert. No two rooms have the same view, and it's impossible for the front desk to guess which one will please you, so just keep trying until you find the right fit. You'll emerge to play golf, to sun by the pool at the base of a boulder-strewn hill, and to dine at the one of six restaurants (like the Latilla, which is built into the boulders themselves). In the spa enjoy the site-appropriate treatments like the turquoise body wrap, which involves honey, blue cornmeal, and a rain stick.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.