By Melanie Lieberman
Whether you’re craving California’s sunset-soaked Pacific or a snow-dusted mountain retreat, the continental U.S. has no shortage of elite resorts. The best properties are expansive, design-driven, and contain everything you need to stay entertained during your holiday without stepping foot beyond the grounds: gourmet restaurants serving regional fare, rooms so comfortable you’ll feel homesick upon departure, and unique programming to help you connect with the locale.
To help you narrow down your dream destinations, we asked T+L readers to handpick their favorites, based on service, restaurants and food, location, rooms, facilities, and value.
With 40 rooms or more, all of these fan-favorite properties are capacious, often secluded estates, and are virtually self-sufficient. From coast to coast, these are the best resorts in the continental U.S.
No. 10 Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, Sea Island, Georgia
Courtesy: Sea Island
Exposed beams, antiques, and marble baths give this country resort the look and feel of a countryside manor plucked straight from Downton Abbey. Guests enjoy the perks of aristocracy, too, like private butlers and access to three legendary golf courses—complete with marsh and St. Simons Sound views. For guests in need of a little extra indulgence, there are six on-site restaurants, like the leather-ceilinged Oak Room, where you can enjoy the sweet sounds of a wandering bagpipe player while sipping a glass of fine Scotch.
No. 9 Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, California
Photo: Kodiak Greenwood
It’s hard to tell that this resort, situated on the spectacular promontories known as the Marin Headlands, was once an army base. Now, the lodge offers adventure-seeking guests strategic access to the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a uniquely Californian healing arts center. Energy experts can combine reiki, jin-shin, and therapeutic touch to give you mental clarity, or head to the healing gardens to help detox and de-stress. Bay views, leather armchairs, a gas fireplace, and vintage crown molding are the selling points of a Historic Deluxe room.
No. 8 The Cloister, Sea Island, Georgia
Courtesy of Sea Island
A tour of the marshes on the antique yacht Cloister Belle, stand-up paddleboarding, and surfing are just a few of the activities visitors can enjoy while staying at the 1928 Mediterranean-style mansion. Thanks to its location on a 1,000-acre-long private barrier island south of Savannah, the resort is as private as its waters are calm. Both families and solitude-seeking businessmen find equal pleasure here, thanks to a 100-seat movie theater, ice cream parlor, and three swimming pools. For in-room fireplaces, a kitchen, and a balcony, reserve a Beach Club Suite.
No. 7 Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, Teton Village, Wyoming
Courtesy: Hotel Terra
Low-impact, meet high-end. At Hotel Terra, steep prices buy guests unmatched mountain views and peace of mind, thanks to the LEED-certification and property-wide sustainable practices. Guests are asked to use the provided Sigg-style water bottles throughout their stay to minimize plastic waste, while decorative leather accents are made from reclaimed “scraps.” Nontoxic paint and 100 percent natural and organic bedding doesn’t hurt, either. Of course, eco-friendly and luxurious don’t have to be mutually exclusive. On the recycled-tired rooftop, guests can relax in an infinity pool that appears to stretch straight through Jackson Hole Mountain.
No. 6 The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
Photo: Holly Hunt
Aspen’s only ski in/ski out resort, at the base of staggering Ajax mountain, isn’t just for snow bunnies. A team of “adventures specialists” can arrange activities such as catch-and-cook trout fishing and whitewater rafting. They’ll take care of the little details (warm boots, VIP trails) and escort you back to your room. Book the namesake suite for wall-to-wall windows, curated art, heated marble floors and walls, and stone-clad fireplaces. Two of them.
No. 5 Primland, Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Book one of three fairway cottages on this secluded estate—the Cardinal, Woodpecker, and Sparrow lodges—for cathedral ceilings, Tennessee field-stone fireplaces, and private decks looking out across the resort’s 12,000 woodsy acres. The elevation (nearly 3,000 feet) and distance from civilization offers ideal stargazing conditions from the on-site observatory. While biking, horseback riding, or fly fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, keep an eye out for roaming animals, such as black bears, bobcats, wild turkeys, deer, and bald eagles.
No. 4 Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Oregon
Photo: Andrea Johnson Photography
A rustic experience awaits travelers at this beloved Willamette wine country retreat. From bay windows or personal terraces and balconies, there are views of the 35-acre property’s wineries, gardens, and surrounding countryside. If you can pry yourself away from in-room gas fireplaces and soaking tubs with tangerine bath salts, visit the spa and fitness center, where lodgers have exclusive access to the whirlpool, sauna, steam room, and swimming pool. On summer Sundays, overnight guests can enjoy free yoga in the Meadow Garden. Afterward, have your pick from the 32-page wine book list at the signature restaurant, JORY.
No. 3 Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
What does a $146 million facelift get you? When this 1868 Victorian oceanfront hotel was rebuilt, designers shrunk the number of rooms to 49 (not including suites and apartment-style villas), doubled the number of windows, and ultimately gave each guest more space and privacy. Resort privileges include daily activities, like martini-mixing classes or yoga, as well as daily access to one of the property’s Mercedes-Benz convertibles. Consider visiting in the off-season—think moody skies, long walks on the private beach, and leisurely laps in the 25-meter spa pool—for a far more intimate stay.
No. 2 Inn at Palmetto Bluff, A Montage Resort, Bluffton, South Carolina
It’s impossible to feel crowded at this plantation-style estate, cloistered on 20,000 acres of South Carolina’s costal marshland. Inn at Palmetto Bluff encourages guests to indulge in traditional Southern comforts, like a leisurely round of golf on the 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed signature course, or a spa treatment featuring Gullah healing traditions. Pick up the pace on a naturalist-led alligator “hunt,” or paddle a complimentary canoe through the lagoon beneath 17th-century oaks covered in Spanish moss. You might just catch a glimpse of the great blue herons and snowy egrets.
No. 1 Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Luxury Collection Resort, Key West, Florida
Courtesy: The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts
Head to this small, private island in Key West to indulge your inner Castaway fantasies. The series of whitewashed cottages, equipped with fully stocked kitchens and wrap-around verandas, are perfect for either a romantic getaway or a week with the family. If complete isolation sounds unnerving, head to the island’s restaurant, Latitudes, for a complimentary glass of champagne and fish so fresh it was caught off the resort’s own pier. Other services include twin tennis courts and the spa that was added in 2010.
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