7 Hotels That Will Restore You After a Long Year
It feels like you've been on lockdown forever. Perhaps it's been months since you've been to a restaurant, a museum, or a gallery. Overseas travel is still an elusive dream. As we head into winter and an uncertain new year, our minds are focused on practicing self-care—but how do you do that when everyone's nerves are unravelling? The solution: Check into a hotel that's within driving distance. It offers a condensed version of everything you've been missing most: outdoor spaces, diverting activities, food prepared by another person.
With its distractions and its various amenities, a stay at a well-run resort or hotel can be the ultimate act of self-care. These properties—some new, some not—reassuringly adhere to strict COVID guidelines and also provide the mental health break you need, whether in the form of intense nature, a next-level spa, creative arts, or awesome food offerings. Even if it's just for the weekend, your trip will feel much longer—because it will be the most stimulation you've had in months.
Family-friendly Montage Palmetto Bluff (rooms from $345, palmettobluff.com), deep in South Carolina Low Country, delivers Southern comfort via nature trails and 32 miles of waterfront teeming with wildlife like bottlenose dolphins and bald eagles. Palmetto Bluff offers a number of restorative pursuits on land and water, from fly-fishing and kayaking to biking under stately oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Chill out afterward in one of 48 cottages equipped with gas fireplaces and screened-in porches. For a little creative stimulation, Palmetto Bluff offers an innovative weeklong Artist in Residence program; recent artists have included Amanda Wilbanks of Southern Baked Pie Company, who led a gentle hand-pie tutorial.
If COVID has made you claustrophobic (and money is decidedly not an obstacle), you'll kiss the (sacred) ground at the all-inclusive Camp Sarika by Amangiri (rooms from $3,500, aman.com), which opened this spring in Canyon Point, a desert oasis in southern Utah. There are 10 capacious tented pavilions, each with its own private deck, firepit, and heated plunge pool, and chef Anthony Marazita's Southwest Native American cuisine is justly famous. But it's really about the spectacular setting here: Camp Sarika, a combination of the Sanskrit words for "open space" and "sky," is surrounded by numerous national monuments, the Navajo Nation reservation, and five vast national parks, including Zion and Bryce Canyon. You can ride a horse from their stable through the dramatic flat-topped mesa rock formations of Monument Valley or hike to see 6,000-year-old petroglyphs in Broken Arrow Cave—and not see another soul for miles.
Of course, the quickest way to banish stress is to go straight to the pros—and hit the wellness resort di tutti wellness resorts. The new Miraval Berkshires (rooms from $569, miravalberkshires.com) boasts the luxe group's most gargantuan spa yet at 29,000 square feet, with a whopping 28 treatment rooms (ideal for social distancing). Here, it's plush yet laid-back: Unlike many spas, alcohol is served, and no one will judge you if you have a bourbon with your brown rice bowl. Among their many inventive programs to calm shattered nerves are equine therapy (groom a horse, paint the side of a horse, meditate among horses!). Most thrilling of all is the 20-station Challenge Course, set amidst the leafy canopy of Meadowview Forest. There are several climbs, ranging from 25 to 50 feet, but the most magical is the monthly Full Moon Night Climb. Done entirely by moonlight, it ends with a smooth glide down to the ground on a zip line—an out-of-body experience that's the closest you'll ever feel to a nocturnal bird.
If you've been on lockdown with the kids—and have a safe place to stash them—proceed directly to adults-only Twin Farms in Barnard, Vermont (rooms from $2,000, twinfarms.com). Yes, the all-inclusive price is splurgy, but it includes multicourse meals, access to rarities from Twin Farms' storied 15,000-bottle wine cellar, and all activities. If you've been caring for others, this is the place to be cared for; the thoughtful touches the staff provides are too numerous to list. Seasonal menus are devised daily by chef Nathan Rich; between meals, snacks are discreetly and continually delivered to your cavernous room: housemade potato chips, local cheeses, Champagne. Opportunities for free-spirited fun are numerous, from ice-skating on a private pond to zipping around bucolic country roads on e-bikes to six private downhill ski trails. L.L. Bean boots and hand warmers will be laid out by your skis; after each run, a Sherpa snowmobile zips skiers back up the hill. It's that sort of place.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm in Albuquerque (rooms from $265, lospoblanos.com) is a fantasy farm stay nestled at the base of the Sandia Mountains among 25 fragrant and blissfully secluded acres of lavender. There's no shortage of healing activities: Sink into the room's enormous tubs with housemade artisanal lavender bath salts; splash in the saltwater lap pool. Then tuck into a soul-warming dinner at Campo, housed in a cozy restored 1930s dairy and helmed by James Beard–nominated Jonathan Perno. His open-hearth cooking, singing with regional flavors, inspires childlike greed: Think toasted blue-corn cavatelli with vegetable ragout, local beans, and red chile "push-arounds" (dried red chiles briefly deep-fried until puffed to perfection then salted and crumbled, a culinary tradition from New Mexico's Santo Domingo Pueblo). End the night with a Mexican hot chocolate trifle—or keep the party going with an agave flight.
It has a vaguely '70s-sounding moniker, but Wild Rice Retreat (rooms from $195, wildriceretreat.com), a sleek property that recently opened on the shores of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is named for its former owner, the philanthropist Mary Rice. The Midwest's first all-inclusive wellness retreat, it features cleanly modern pitched-roof dwellings fashioned by Minnesota architect David Salmela. Those who have spent the last few months staring at their walls will revel in the resort's slightly kooky creative programs, included in the price, led by practitioners from a wide variety of fields, including metalsmithing, photography, bookmaking, Shibori silk dyeing, and full-throated singing.
The gleaming new Rockaway Hotel (rooms from $250, therockawayhotel.com) is a mere hour-long socially distant ferry ride from Manhattan but feels worlds away. A block from the Atlantic Ocean, the surf-centric, family- and dog-friendly hot spot, open year-round, is an instant, immersive reset. It's all about the water here: The 53 rooms, decorated in sea colors and light wood by Curious Yellow Design, have dramatic views of the ocean, as does the greenery-festooned rooftop bar. Surf lessons are offered by Locals Surf School, or take in the salty air at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. It will be hopping even in winter, with a holistic spa, a sea-to-table restaurant, inventive pop-up events, and a scene-y covered pool lounge and bar.