Twenty Great Weekends
How much pleasure can you squeeze into one short weekend? At these escapes, the answer is: more than enough.
Just in time for summer, we've found 20 exceptional weekend retreats across the country. Some have just opened, others are old favorites; some are bargains, others are splurges; some evoke the 18th century, others are millennium-minded. But differences aside, all offer an all-important proximity to great food as well as an appreciable sense of hospitality and seclusion. Whether you'd prefer to overlook vineyards in California wine country or a lake in the Adirondacks, you'll find a getaway to match your mood.
$ up to $175
$$ from $175 to $250
$$$ more than $250
Prices are per night, double occupancy; discounted weekend rates may be available.
From the company that brought us such temples of indulgence as Amandari in Bali comes this first taste of Eastern luxe in the West. The rooms have a spare, quasioriental design, with drop-dead views of the Tetons and the Snake River Valley. But forsake the unsatisfying dining room and head to Jackson for coq au vin at the new Restaurant Terroir (45 S. Glenwood St.; 307-739-2500) or grilled venison chops at the local hot spot, Snake River Grill (84 E. Broadway; 307-733-0557). Then return for a soak in your room's deep tub and take in that glorious mountain view. Admittedly, there's a distinct lack of Hindu temples out the window. But Indonesia doesn't have elk, trout or The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar either (1535 N.E. Butte Rd.; 877-734-7333; from $550).
CARMEL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea, entrepreneur Ben Pon has just opened a counterpart to his acclaimed Bernardus Vineyards and Winery. The 57-room adobe-style inn is solid, simple and elegant. Limestone fireplaces, buffed wood and ceramic tiles give the rooms a rustic, clean feel, and the private decks promise calm and quiet. If you do need some activity, swimming, tennis and treatments in the 5,300-square-foot spa are suitable preludes to a dinner of stuffed Maui onion with local abalone and shrimp with a black-truffle emulsion from chef Cal Stamenov's menu. Afterward, try croquet on the lawn, surrounded by the pines, the vineyard and the Santa Lucia mountains (415 Carmel Valley Rd.; 888-648-9463; from $325).
CHATEAU DU SUREAU
The most delightful mixed metaphor in the West, Austrian chef-owner Erna Kubin-Clanin's stucco and stone-turreted hotel has seemingly been airlifted from Provence and placed next to Yosemite National Park. French antiques and ceramic-tile fireplaces give the rooms a Euro feel. Your wrought-iron balcony must have been imported from Paris. The chambermaids in black frocks and the valets who tend to your hiking boots further the Franco-fantasy. You'll be forgiven for not climbing El Capitan but not for missing Kubin-Clanin's cooking at Erna's Elderberry House, where veal loin stuffed with morels might be followed by warm walnut pudding. When you slip under a down comforter, chances are you won't mind not sleeping in a pup tent (48688 Victoria Lane; 209-683-6860; from $315).
OJAI VALLEY INN
Ojai, a gem of a mountain town near Santa Barbara, has long been a haven for artists, spiritualists and even filmmakers. Back in 1932, the original getting-away-from-it-all movie, Lost Horizon, was shot here. That's a proper pedigree for Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, which has a 31,000-square-foot spa that dispenses reflexology massages and algae facials. After your Western riding lessons, head back to your Spanish-Colonial room before dinner. Peruse chef Brent Wuest's menu for such highlights as Channel Islands lobster in pink-peppercorn sauce. And the next morning, when you're doing laps in the 60-foot pool or gazing at the peaks, you can reflect on how this place was once literally considered Shangri-La (905 Country Club Rd.; 800-422-6524; from $235).
RANCHO DE SAN JUAN
ESPANOLA, NEW MEXICO
Some 35 miles from Santa Fe but already deep in the heart of Georgia O'Keeffe country, chef John H. Johnson III and his partner, David Heath, designed Rancho de San Juan as an homage to pueblo and hacienda architecture. This means adobe-style walls and viga ceilings, of course, along with Native American artifacts and endless New Mexican views from the 225-acre property. Johnson's pork Yucatán, a tenderloin braised with chiles, cilantro and pineapple, is a worthy end to your day. Fall asleep to a piñon-scented fire in your own kiva fireplace and plan to get up early for hiking in the spectacular desert dawn (U.S. Hwy. 285, Mile 340; 800-726-7121; from $175, including breakfast).
Easy access to mountain biking on the second largest trail system in the United States is one reason to head to this former cattle ranch. Another is the peace and quiet of the 17 creekside cabins and the 21-room lodge, crafted from hand-hewn pine logs and finished with river-rock and log fireplaces. You can tuck a brown-bag lunch in a backpack before cycling away on your Cannondale, swimming in the five-acre man-made lake or casting a fly on the Methow or Chewuch rivers. Back at the ranch for dinner, sip an Oregon Pinot Noir before tasting chef Todd Brown's mesquite-grilled salmon with a horseradish crust (17798 Hwy. 20; 800-639-3809; rooms from $130).
The views of the San Juan Islands, the sea kayaking and the orca sightings on whale-watching dinghy voyages are just a few of many reasons to visit Rosario Resort, Spa & Marina. Here on Orcas Island, shipping magnate Robert Moran's late-Victorian mansion has been transformed into a hotel while retaining a delightful period ambiance with teak floors, big armchairs and a touch of Tiffany. The property has been wonderfully updated with a gleaming spa and gym, which were added to the existing tennis courts and pine-shaded nature trails. While the hotel's food isn't bad, the cognoscenti head to nearby Christina's (Main Street; 360-376-4904). A tiny place, rather incongruously set above a gas station, it has become a beacon of gastronomy in the Northwest thanks to Christina Orchid's way with such local ingredients as singing scallops. Back at Rosario, your most difficult task is to keep count of the bald eagles you spy from your balcony (1 Rosario Way; 800-562-8820; from $219).
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA
It took an infusion of hipness from hotelier Chris Blackwell to transform this 1936 Art Deco dowager into one of the grooviest way stations on South Beach. The rooms, decorated in visually calming combos of ecru, white and taupe, set the de-stress tone of the weekend. The views aren't bad either. Every room looks out onto the ocean, the single best reason for coming to Miami. But you can also hire a personal yoga teacher, lunch on chilled cucumber soup at The Terrace, dine at the hotel's 1220 Restaurant on Christophe Gerard's pan-fried scallops with yellowfoot chanterelles or linger meaningfully poolside (1220 Ocean Dr.; 800-OUTPOST; from $300).
Chef Chad Scothorn's sesame-crusted Alaskan halibut with purple sticky rice is reason enough to like the Hotel Columbia. But so are the 21 European-style guest rooms, the claw-foot tubs, the bona-fide friendliness of the staff and the discreet charms of Telluride. Not to mention the Bluegrass Festival, the Film Festival, the Hang Gliding Festival, the Balloon Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Mushroom Festival and even the Nothing Festival. Hiking and mountain biking are always an option, festival or no(300 W. San Juan Ave.; 800-201-9505; from $115, including breakfast).
MAISON DE VILLE
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
This 18th-century townhouse deep in the French Quarter still feels like the private home it once was, with balconies and antiques. Take a complimentary port in the parlor, then step out into the courtyard, filled with gardenias and banana trees, where Tennessee Williams labored on A Streetcar Named Desire. Other choice digs include the hotel's Audubon Cottages, with beamed-ceilinged rooms and a pool. The best martinis in a city that thrives on them are allegedly made by maître d' Patrick van Hoorebeck at The Bistro, the hotel restaurant, which also serves chef Greg Picolo's wonderful moules frites. Need stimuli? Step outside, you're in the Big Easy (727 Rue Toulouse; 800-634-1600; from $215).
Seven hundred coconut palms, almost 1,000 feet of beach and 18 tin-roofed cottages set among bougainvillea make The Moorings a Florida Keys classic. Add the Bahamas shutters, ceiling fans and French doors, and you see why this Thirties coconut plantation draws the fashion crowd looking for a retro backdrop. The Moorings is an ideal place for windsurfing, sea kayaking and stalking bonefish like Papa Hemingway did. Dining is as easy as walking across the road to the resort's Morada Bay restaurant for mussels steamed with key lime, white wine and garlic. In the evening, watch a tequila sunset from your veranda and wonder if you've floated all the way to the Caribbean (123 Beach Rd.; 305-664-4708; from $150).
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
The courtyard, the palm trees and the location in the heart of Charleston set the tone of the Planters Inn. The 19th-century former dry-goods store is now a 62-room inn with gas fireplaces, high ceilings and canopied four-poster beds. Not a bad base for your forays out to antebellum mansions, antiques shops and the waterfront. Wander back to dine at the clubby Peninsula Grill on chef Robert Carter's cuisine, such as wild-mushroom grits with Low Country oyster stew. Or go around the corner to his new place, Hank's Seafood Restaurant (10 Hayne St.; 843-723-3474), where a raw bar and the Low Country bouillabaisse were inspired by Charleston dining in the Fifties (112 N. Market St.; 800-845-7082; from $150).
This Twenties redwood lodge, built as the private retreat for the oil-rich Dorn family, smacks of American good fortune. It was not until 1995 that it became a hotel for 30 very lucky guests, who get to live for a while among the Dorns's leather-bound books and Spode china. Chef Casey Fichte's grilled trout is a reward for spending a day fly-fishing, mountain biking or canoeing on this 1,280-acre estate adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest. After lazing an hour away beside the sandstone fireplace in the great hall or engaging in a little friendly competition in the billiards room, anyone would be forgiven for imagining that Glendorn is his own family compound in the woods (1032 W. Croydon St.; 800-843-8568; from $345, including all meals).
LAKE PLACID LODGE
LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK
Looking for a classic 19th-century Adirondack camp transformed for the Nineties? At the Lake Placid Lodge, with its views of Whiteface Mountain, post-and-beam-style buildings and twig furniture, a rowboat spells adventure and the only night music is the cry of loons. Sample chef Robert Breyette's seared Atlantic salmon with truffle-marinated leeks, then retire to fresh-baked cookies, a featherbed and a blaze in the stone fireplace (Whiteface Inn Rd.; 518-523-2700; from $300, including breakfast and afternoon tea).
INN AT SAWMILL FARM
WEST DOVER, VERMONT
This converted barn, all beams, creaky floors and brick fireplaces, hasn't seen a horse in decades. A 30-year labor of love, the inn's canopied beds and reading nooks are a complement to the rather formal dining room, where chef-owner Brill Williams might serve you a perfectly grilled veal chop with rosemary sauce and wild mushroom risotto--plus something from the 36,000 bottle wine cellar, which includes California rarities from the late Sixties. At two trout-stocked ponds, an Orvis instructor (among the world's best) can help with your casting. Add the pool, the tennis courts and the nearby Marlboro Music Festival, and the Inn at Sawmill Farm becomes the ultimate Green Mountains retreat (Corner of Crosstown Rd. and Rte. 100 N.; 800-493-1133; from $330, including breakfast and dinner).
SHELTER ISLAND, NEW YORK
Shelter Island, off the North Fork of Long Island, has long been a preserve of quiet Victorian summer homes and placid beachside pleasures, removed from the aggressively hip Hamptons, which may be why Manhattan hotelier André Balazs, the power behind SoHo's Mercer Hotel, planted an offshoot of his growing empire here, fashioning Sunset Beach out of a forgotten resort hotel. This 20-room paean to Ultrasuede bedspreads and butterfly chairs feels beachy but chic; you can spend the day in a sun stupor on your private balcony and later enjoy the sunset and French-Vietnamese-inspired cuisine at the hotel's restaurant (35 Shore Rd.; 516-749-2001; from $145).
Drive just an hour from Portland to find mountains, moose, lakes, summer camps, cottages and Waterford, a blissfully forgotten village of white clapboard houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the town's center is the 1797 Lake House, where chef-owner Michael Myers serves such dishes as roasted duckling in peppered blackberries and red wine to weekenders fresh from swimming in Keoka Lake or hiking in the White Mountains. May your night be as memorable as that evening in the Forties when Mickey Rooney, Claudette Colbert and Judy Garland came for dinner (Junction of Rtes. 35 and 37; 800-223-4182; from $95, including breakfast).
SIGN OF THE SORREL HORSE
What draws the cognoscenti to The American Club? Maybe it's the three Pete Dye 18-hole golf courses on the rolling Wisconsin farmscape and the 89,000-square-foot health-and-racquet club and spa. Perhaps it's The Immigrant Restaurant & Winery and chef Charles Lebar's roasted Wisconsin pheasant breast with herbed-corn spaetzle. But since the striking 1918 red-brick, Tudor-style complex is owned by the Kohler Company, chances are that people really come for the opulent bathrooms. Each is different, featuring state-of-the-art seven-foot whirlpools and steam showers with electronic keypads (444 Highland Dr.; 800-344-2838; from $220).
THE AMERICAN CLUB
Whether this stone-walled, 18th-century gristmill furnished flour to George Washington's troops is debatable. Beyond dispute is the level of comfort and cuisine at the Sign of the Sorrel Horse, deep in the hills of artsy Bucks County. Chef-owner Jon Atkin is likely to have kangaroo or ostrich on a game-friendly menu that often lists caviar tastings. His wife, Monique Gaumont-Lanvin, has decorated the five guest rooms with a mixture of French and American antiques along with fireplaces and Jacuzzis, perfect after a hectic afternoon of antiquing around New Hope(4424 Old Easton Rd.; 215-230-9999; from $85).
Let's start with what Canoe Bay doesn't have: motorboats, kids, smoking or phones in the room. The Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design is all glass, oak and cedar. Just 19 couples cocoon here in rooms with double whirlpools, river-rock and wood fireplaces and views of Lake Wahdoon. If you're the energetic type, you can go bird watching on the 280-acre property or silently paddle a canoe, then recover from your exertions during a lakeside massage. You could stay outdoors all weekend, but why would you? Not when banana pancakes are delivered fresh to your door each morning and chef Mathew Voskuil's pecan-crusted trout with wild rice is likely to be served in the lakeside dining room (R.R. 1, No. 28; 800-568-1995; from $270, including breakfast).
Everett Potter is a freelance writer who lives in New York.