Inn at Château Élan
With its gray pitched roof, wrought-iron detail, and 3,500 acres (with 75 acres of vineyards), the Inn at Château Élan looks like a 16th-century country estate in France; all 346 guest rooms have country-French furnishings and oversize garden tubs. The inn features a winery, spa, tennis courts, four golf courses, and a new Rock Climbing and Challenge Tower, and it has added new cooking classes in a 1,600-square-foot teaching kitchen with high-end Viking stoves.
Room to Book: The Camelot-style Excalibur spa suite channels the setting, with medieval furniture and art—even a suit of armor.
What to Do: Attend a Saturday cooking demonstration by the Château’s own chefs, and watch Marc Suennemann (who won the International Association of Conference Centers’ Copper Skillet Award) make deceptively simple dishes like tomato consommé. Or put on your own toque and take a class; in “Tour of the Southern Mediterranean,” for example, students learn to make Moroccan-spiced chicken with apricot couscous and green olive sauce. With all those cooking-class calories to burn, try the Rock Climbing and Challenge Tower, with seven routes to a 50-foot-high platform. (Climbing reservations recommended.)
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.