Self-contained, giant resorts. Each operated for 60 years or more. Many of them historic. All of them vast, with every known facility for your vacation. Spas with mineral baths or expansive exercise rooms. Golf courses and multiple tennis courts, jogging tracks and hiking trails. Fishing and mountain biking. Falconry and skeet shooting. Superb views. Movies at night, a dozen different restaurants and bars. Nearby lakes. Those are the features usually found in about 30 U.S. locations that provide every essential for a “restful, refreshing, relaxing” vacation—the subject of this section of our Web site.
And we've chosen 16 such resorts—the ones we regard as particularly outstanding—to describe in full. Most will be familiar to you from articles and stories you’ve read all your life, but we’ve included up-to-date recitations of their facilities, their standout features, and their rates.
The Fairmount Banff Springs
The Fairmount Banff Springs, 405 Spray Ave., Banff, Alberta, Canada T1L IJ4 (80 miles from Calgary,) phone 403/762-2211 or 800/441-1414, Web: . 70 are suites, the rest guestrooms. Low Season (generally, mid-October to mid-December, and from January 2 to April 30,) rates cover room only and generally average Canadian $269 (U.S. $190,) but high season rates include breakfast and dinner daily, as well as free golf, tennis, horseback riding and daily spa, for Canadian $790 (U.S. $360) per person daily, double occupancy.
This is the massive, 770-unit resort to which most people are referring when they talk about making a visit to “Banff and Lake Louise.” A vast baronial structure that looks out onto some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery on earth, it first opened in 1888, but assumed its present form in 1928 in the style of a Scottish castle with the hint of a French chateau; it is the perfect replica of a social phenomenon—the large-scale resort hotel of the early twentieth century. Italian stonecutters and Scottish masons were imported to do the stonework. Guest rooms, all large in size, are furnished with exact replicas of original period pieces from European castles and manor houses. The resort is open year around. Its recreational facilities are remarkable in their size and variety. Spa facilities called “Solace” are 35,000 square feet in size, with cascading waterfalls, mineral whirlpools and both indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, cardio-vascular workout rooms, steam rooms and saunas. Its golf course is a championship-level, 27 holes in size, and has access to six other courses (on which elk sometimes leap for a moment or two); its tennis courts are of the highest quality and many. Fifteen food and beverage outlets supply every sort of fine cuisine and occasional wine-tasting festivals. Simply to wander through the massive and monumental public interiors, looking as if they belonged to Henry VIII, is a sightseeing activity in itself. And always there are the views. The resort’s creator, head of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800s, told visitors: “You shall see mighty rivers, vast forests, boundless plains, stupendous mountains and wonders innumerable; and you shall see all in comfort. Nay, in luxury.”
LE CHATEAU MONTEBELLO
Le Chateau Montebello, Montebello, Quebec, Canada, roughly half-way between Montreal and Ottawa (but closer to Ottawa, though in western Quebec,) phone 819/423-6341 or 800/441-1414. Rates average Canadian $269 (US$170) per room, single or double, in high season, only Canadian $189 (US$119) in “low season.”
The “largest log cabin in the world,” with 210 large rooms in six wings of a three-story building protruding out like a star from a large, central atrium whose centerpiece is a three-story high, six-sided, stone fireplace surrounded by wooden balconies and wooden staircases. It first opened in 1930, but was a private club to which royalty, prime ministers, and other luminaries belonged; it was then opened to the public in 1970 when Canadian Pacific Hotels acquired the property. The structure sits in the midst of a 100-square-mile property on the shores of the Ottawa River, and its theme is nature, in an area where the air is like perfume. Summers, the activities are horseback riding, hiking, fishing and boating, tennis, 18-hole golf, volleyball, badminton, swimming. Winters: cross-country skiing, free of charge, along a total of 30 miles of different trails, each one designated for differing levels of ability, from beginners to advanced. For all year-round operation, the resort has a heated indoor pool and saunas, a glass-covered tennis “bubble” with two courts. Being in Quebec, the food in the Chateau’s restaurants is superb—and inexpensive for what you get, like CAD$44 for a four-course meal. Rooms are extremely large, modern and comfortable, despite the log walls.
MARRIOT'S CAMELBACK INN
Marriott’s Camelback Inn, 5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona 85253, ten miles north of the Phoenix Airport, overlooking Camelback Mountain, phone 480/948-1700 or 800/24 CAMEL, fax 480/951-5452, or visit http://www.camelbackinn.com/. High Season rates (January 1 to June 11) average $429 a night per room whether single or double occupancy. Low season rates go as low as $149 per night.
An upscale resort of the most luxurious sort; the President of Marriott Hotels brings his own family here to vacation. It consists of 453 guestrooms, each in the form of a white, adobe-style casita with private patio or balcony, surrounded by desert plants in a southwestern setting (125 acres) of awesome beauty, and so authentic inside—Navajo-patterned bedspreads and drapes, even a giant cactus in a clay planter—as to put all other Phoenix-area resorts (except for the Biltmore) in the shade. There are horseback rides widely available, desert jeeps, mountain bikes, two outdoor swimming pools, six lighted tennis courts, exquisite shops, and a 31,000-square-foot health spa with state-of-the-art fitness facilities and facial treatments, in addition to numerous gourmet restaurants and smaller dining facilities. The Sunday-morning brunch at “The Navajo” is famous throughout the area. Full children’s program during holiday times (Christmas, Easter, Labor Day, etc.). But, of course, the two 18-hole championship golf courses, scenic and well-maintained, are the focus of all eyes. The Camelback completed a $35 million dollar restoration in December of 1997.
MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York 12561, phone 845/255-1000 or 800/772-6646, fax 845/256-2100, or visit the Web site http://www.mohonk.com/, 90 miles north of New York City in the Hudson Valley. Rates are based on the Full American Plan (i.e., they include all three meals daily) and range year-around from $200 to $570 per single room, and from $335 to $670 per double room. Again, those are with all meals included.
Handed down to us directly from the Victorian era, this is a vast, sprawling, castle-like structure of 261 rooms, the oldest, continuously-operated, large resort in America, dating back to 1869, and a joyous place. You feel exhilarated to be in the midst of such breathtaking nature, on thousands of acres of totally unspoiled scenery, atop a high ridge of the Shawangunk mountains, directly alongside the half-mile long Lake Mohonk, a mountain lake thousands of feet up. From a porch at the front of the building, you feed fish in that lake; from a boatside dock, you take out rowboats and canoes for traversing the vast, high-altitude lake; on mountain scrambles, you go exploring; on numerous trails you hike or go horseback riding; on red clay courts, you play tennis; or you golf on the century-old nine-hole course; on the mountain’s face you do rock-climbing. Evenings you listen to string quartets, or a recital by a member of the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera (a basso on my own most recent visit) or an old film. What’s equally interesting is that the entire vast complex has been in the hands of the same Quaker family, the Smiley’s, since its origins. They stubbornly and wisely refuse to use insecticides on the surrounding grounds, and up until a few years ago permitted no liquor on the property. When the policy changed, and I shyly ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, heads turned all over the dining room as the waiter carried the single bottle on a tray held aloft. Cuisine: classic American, extremely well done. Smoking can be done only within the confines of your room, which is thoroughly comfortable, of medium size, but with furniture looking straight from Victorian and Edwardian times, and no TVs whatsoever. Active and highly instructive children’s program. All in all, a thrilling resort in the best American tradition, a return to another time.
SUN RESORT VALLEY
Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353, phone 208/622-4111 or 800/786-8259, or visit http://www.sunvalley.com/. High season rates (December 15 to March 30) for standard to medium rooms, either single or double, are $180 to $430 in the Inn or lodge, $139 to $450 condos. Kids 15 and under stay free in their parents’ room except during Christmas, and from March 16 to April 20. Summer rates (June 1 to October 22) for standard-to-medium rooms, single or double, are $140 to $400 in the Inn, $180 to $400 in the Lodge, $149 to $440 for condos. “Shoulder season,” spring and fall rates (April 1 to May 31, and October 23 to December 17): $89 to $300 per room in the Inn, same in the Lodge, $99 and $300 for most condos.
In a glorious mountain valley developed commercially by the late Averill Harriman, attracting Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper to its opening season in 1936, this is not a single resort hotel but rather a “vacation village” of multiple structures, all belonging to and managed by the same family; everything is within walking distance of everything else. It is one of the great ski resorts of America, if not the single best, but recent efforts have accelerated to enliven and enhance its spring, summer and fall use as an all year resort, and nothing has been overlooked. In addition to one of the nation’s finest golf courses (designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.,) it has 18 tennis courts (and pro instructors for both golf and tennis,) ice-skating at two rinks throughout the year, a movie theatre, multiple indoor and outdoor pools, trap and skeet shooting, day camps and play schools for children, family-style river trips, bicycle riding, fishing, hunting and horseback riding, bowling alleys and high-altitude “soaring” (in gliders,) multiple food and beverage facilities. Lodgings consist of a central Alpine lodge with 148 rooms (and glass-enclosed pool, sauna, massage center, game room,) a 113-room Inn (including a full fitness center off a glass-enclosed pool,) and dozens of apartments and condos (from studios to three bedrooms,) with more glass-enclosed pools and, this time, private kitchen facilities as well. At the base of soaring mountains, this is today one of the nation’s finest “inland resorts.”
The Broadmoor, P.O. Box 1439, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80901-1439, phone 719/634-7711 or 800/634-7711, or visit its Web site at http://www.broadmoor.com/. High season (May 1 through October 31) rooms, either single or double, range from $295 to $455 but the bulk of them rent for $330. Low season (November through April) rooms range from $190 to $335, but the bulk of them cost $225 a night.
In a stunning mountain valley at the foot of the Colorado Rockies (the 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak is nearby,) but only six miles outside Colorado Springs, Colorado (site of the U.S. Air Force Academy,) this is a complex of massive, sand-colored, red-roofed Spanish buildings tumbled upon each other like a succession of cubes, to create an immense structure that holds 700 rooms, nine restaurants, extensive spa facilities (15 massage rooms, among other facilities,) and a large shopping complex (“Lake Avenue,” referring to the 10-acre Cheyenne Lake on the grounds, lined by this promenade of 20 stores and shops). Rooms are large and well-equipped; evening entertainment is sedate, and consists of live music in several areas, with dancing in one. The big activity—in addition to tennis on nine courts, assisted by teaching pros—is golf, on two world-famous 18-hole courses (and a nine-hole course to boot), one designed by Robert Trent Jones, another by Arnold Palmer. Other activities on the grounds include swimming, horseback riding, hiking and fitness training. The key sightseeing activity is a trip on a cog railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. With respect to the possibility of off-season stays at the Broadmoor, the weather here is not like that of the Rockies, and snow stays on the ground for no more than three days or so at a time. While chilly, and occasionally cold, the Broadmoor is not in a ski environment, and most guests return in winter for the enclosed spa.
THE GIDEON PUTNAM
The Gideon Putnam, 24 Gideon Putnam Rd., Saratoga Springs, New York 12866, phone 518/584-3000. As memorable as a stay here is, its rates become expensive only during the short, famous, horseracing season of Saratoga Springs from late July until Labor Day, when standard rooms are $330 a night. Apart from those five or six weeks, rooms cost only $149 in winter, $115 at all other times.
A massive, five-story, colonnaded building of reddish-brown brick, standing in the center of the largely-flat, green-lawns and forests of the 2,000-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, a mile from the quaint and historic Saratoga Springs, New York. It was built in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, to create jobs and economic activity during the Depression, and succeeded beyond anyone’s fondest hope; its 132 rooms—large, and decorated as in a fine country home—are immensely popular, and the hotel serves as the hub for expansive cultural and recreational facilities surrounding the hotel. A short walk away are the still-functioning, still-popular mineral spring baths, the original reason for Saratoga’s success in the late 1700s; a Performing Arts Center that is the summer home for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and New York City Ballet Company; a summer theatre, various other performing venues. Surrounding the hotel are two PGA golf courses, eight tennis courts, two outdoor swimming pools, jogging trails, picnic areas, ice-skating rinks, cross-country ski trails, and more. And, of course, the hotel has dining facilities that serve classically American dishes, and are renowned for their quality.
Saratoga Springs is near Albany, New York, reached by driving for about three and a half hours from New York City on the New York State Thruway. You turn north at Exit 24 onto I-87, then turn off onto Route 9 to reach both the hotel and the city of Saratoga Springs.
THE GRAND HOTEL ON MACKINAC ISLAND
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan 49757, phone 906/847-3331 or 800/33-GRAND, or visit http://www.grandhotel.com/, open May through October only, 20 minutes by ferry service from the northernmost tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula, in what is jointly (to me) Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Rates, which include breakfast and dinner daily, and to which an 18% service charge is added in lieu of tipping, depend on season. “Peak Season” (June 14 to September 1) singles range from $325 to $485, doubles from $195 to $275 per person. “Shoulder Season” (there is no low season) from May 10 to June 13 and September 2 to October 26 singles are $285 to $445, doubles $175 to $255 per person. (I am not including the ultra-luxurious “Named Rooms,” of which there is very limited availability.) Children sharing their parents’ room who are four and under are complimentary; children 5 to 11 are $25 a day, 12 to 17 $35 a day, 18 and older $99 a day, again sharing.
“World’s Largest Summer Hotel,” they call it. It opened in 1887 in the “Gilded Age” that followed the Civil War, a symbol of America’s optimism and prosperity. Its “front porch” with white rocking chairs and soaring white columns runs for 220 yards along the entire length of the six-story hotel, a massive structure furnished inside in the grand traditional manner of the time; and all guestrooms—of which there are 381—are similarly furnished in the most opulent, turn-of-the-century style, many with canopied beds, some with balconies, all of them extremely large. One retreats here to another age and time; no motorized vehicles are permitted on the island, and guests ride about in horse-drawn carriages driven by courtly gentlemen in top hats, long red jackets, and black boots. One scarcely hears a single noise. Guests enjoy antique and fudge shops in a nearby 19th century village, tour Fort Mackinac and other historic sites, and enjoy a broad range of recreational activities: 18-hole golf, tennis, croquet, bocci ball, swimming, bicycling, an exercise facility, “vita” hiking trails, saddle horses, duck pin bowling, and more. There are 11 restaurants and bars, free, live evening entertainment of bands and dancing, music recitals at high tea, a major children’s program.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia 24986, phone 304/536-1110 or 800/624-6070 or visit the web site http://www.greenbrier.com/. Rates are per person, based on the Modified American Plan (i.e., they include breakfast and dinner daily in the main dining room,) and are, from December 1 to February 29 (except for Christmas) $240 to $528 for most single rooms, $211 to $298 per person for most doubles; March and November they are $254 to $528 single, $219 to $298 per person for most doubles; and April 1 to October 31, they are a peak $502 to $730 single, $260 to $347 per person for most doubles. Add $25 per person per day service charge in lieu of gratuities.
The most famous resort hotel in America, it is two centuries old (and host at varying times to 26 U.S. presidents,) a grand, stately structure of 739 rooms, resembling an oversized edition of The White House, and looking onto flower beds and a vast, sweeping lawn. It began as a mineral waters spa, and still features those therapies in a 25,000-square-foot spa facility that features bathing in the famous White Sulphur Springs sulphur waters. The resort is so important that U.S. Airways operates direct flights there from New York, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Charlotte. Location: about 250 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., in the majestic Allegheny Mountains, on an estate of 6,500 acres of lush gardens and three 18-hole golf courses, of which one was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Golf vies with the mineral waters spa as the chief activity, but there are also 10 tennis courts (including five indoor ones,) indoor and outdoor swimming pools, mountain biking, a falconry academy, horseback riding and carriage rides, croquet, a shooting preserve, white water rafting trips, hiking, jogging, fishing, an historic mineral-baths spa, multiple massage and fitness facilities, bowling, and—in winter—cross-country skiing, ice skating and sleigh rides. Dining facilities: high-quality, elegant and rather formal; rooms: large and luxurious with overstuffed, floral-pattern furnishings chosen by the well-known Dorothy Draper organization.
THE SAGAMORE ON LAKE GEORGE
The Sagamore on Lake George, at Bolton Landing, New York, phone 518/644-9400 or 800/358-3585, or visit its Web site at http://www.thesagamore.com/; nearest large city, Albany, New York; nearest airport, Albany. Rates are per room, for either single or double occupancy, and are highest from Jun 25 to September 5: $259 to $559 (for a deluxe suite). All other times, least expensive rooms range from a refreshing $130 up to $279 for the top suite. There is an additional $6 per person charge for each additional person staying in the room.
In the quiet of the Adirondack Mountains, on a private island on Lake George, an historic (1883) Victorian masterpiece (“the Lady on the Lake”) several times refurbished, of several, four-story, white-painted wings that extend for hundreds of yards along a lawn that slopes to the water and various boat docks and swimming areas. There are dining decks and cocktail areas where you look out upon the breathtaking scene, a vast lake lined by the forested foothills of the famous mountain chain, the water dotted by smaller islands into the distance. Rooms (350 of them) in both the main building and the lakeside lodges are large and graciously decorated in traditional, country-home, Adirondack, style, and the many suites among them have private balconies and wood-burning fireplaces. Activities are of every known kind and most are available year-around: a big, professional-level golf course, a European-style spa and fitness center, tennis courts and racquetball both indoors and out, a big exercise/jogging trail, boating, sailing and fishing, marina and private beach, indoor swimming pool, cross-country skiing and ice skating, a supervised (but seasonal only) children’s program (the Teepee Club.) And there are six restaurants, two of them in operation only seasonally. The location, the setting, the visits to nearby Saratoga Springs, Lake Placid, Fort William Henry, Fort Ticonderoga, the Fall Foliage in particular, are all a great tonic. Naturally, the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
THE WESTIN MISSION HILLS RESORT
The Westin Mission Hills Resort, Dinah Shore & Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 22270 (an adjoining community to Palm Springs,) phone 760/328-5955 or 800/228-3000 (the latter Westin reservations,) or visit its Web site http://www.westin.com/. Location is a two-hour drive from San Diego. Low season (June 1 through September 11,) rooms range from $125 to $269; shoulder season (September 12 through December 31,) expect to pay $170 to $385; Peak season (January 4 to May 31) $329 to $500.
A glamorous oasis covering 360 acres of desert property, in the ultra-upscale suburb of Palm Springs known as Rancho Mirage (former President Gerald Ford lives there,) its housing consisting of 512 luxurious, modern, spacious rooms in two-story, pink-sand-colored buildings based on Moroccan architecture brought to the 1990s— double and triple vanities in each room, computer data lines, vaulted ceilings and alcoves, a stocked “refreshment center” for each unit, everything inside in earth tones and with the kind of furniture you couldn’t afford for your own home. The resort was built in 1987, totally rebuilt in 1991, and deliberately designed to be as upscale as they come. There are two major restaurants, shops, three swimming pools (one 6,000-square-feet in size, with water slide,) four whirlpool spas, six tennis courts, a children’s activities center, health club with personal services, and a 20-acre “Resort Park” with a one-mile, paved, jogging track, and another area for rollerbladers. And most important for most guests, there are two 18-hole golf courses on the property, one designed by Gary Player and Pete Dye. Finally, various tennis and golf schools are maintained on site.
The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia 24445 (75 miles from Roanoke,) phone 540/839-1766 or 800/838-1766; fax 540/839-7656, or visit the Web site http://www.thehomestead.com/. Rates are based on the Modified American Plan (i.e., they include breakfast and dinner, afternoon tea in The Great Hall, use of the fitness center and pools, nightly movies, and transportation on the grounds) and range from $125 to $530 per person double occupancy in winter (January 2 - March 28), $184 to $559 in spring (March 29 - April 25), $192 to $599 in high season (April 26 to November 2), and $164 - $575 the rest of the year. Single occupancy adds about $100 per person. Children 4 and under are complimentary; children 5 to 12 $47, children 13 to 18 $68.
The 506-room “Queen of the Alleghenies,” on velvety-green lawns surrounded by mountains, a full 15,000 acres in size, with 100 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. Its bathhouse, adjoining world-famous warm springs pools of medicinal mineral waters, is thought to have been built by Thomas Jefferson; it began life as a spa hotel with seven natural springs on the property (still there, still used); it later became a massive, 200-yard-long (at least) building with a 10-story tower, a Georgian-style, Kentucky-red-brick structure. Its highlights are two major ones, many smaller activities and attractions. First, the enclosed, hot springs spa of endless tubs and stalls, machines and devices; of the hotel’s three swimming pools, one is indoors and fed by the actual Hot Springs’ 104 degrees mineral waters. Second, three splendid golf courses, of which one is regarded as one of the finest mountain courses in the country. And then there are golf practice facilities, ice-skating and some skiing in winter, a shooting club, six all-weather tennis courts, equestrian center, trout fly-fishing, mountain biking, hiking, walking, shopping, bowling alley, year-round children’s center, nine different dining outlets. And guestrooms are large and traditional, with flowered bedspreads, flowered drapes, every convenience.
THE BISHOP'S LODGE
The Bishop’s Lodge, on Bishop’s Lodge Road, three miles from downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, P.O. Box 2367, Santa Fe 87504, phone 505/983-6377 or 800/732-2240, fax 505/989-8739, or visit its Web site at http://www.bishopslodge.com/. Standard rooms (there are also suites and deluxe rooms) rent for $359 in “high season” (July 1 through September 2) but then drop to $209 weekdays, $239 weekends for “shoulder season” (September 3 through October 3). At other times of the year, rates range from $165 to $271 weekdays, $195 to $301 weekends. Add about $30 at all times for a standard suite and $100 for a deluxe suite.
It was first the 19th century hillside retreat and chapel of Jean Baptiste Lamy, the first archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and hero of Willa Cather’s 1927 novel, “Death Comes For The Archbishop;” his original buildings are marvelously preserved and a popular site for weddings. The complex was later expanded onto over a thousand acres and by the addition of 88 rooms and suites in eleven guest buildings or “lodgings” faced with adobe, earth-colored, and stunningly decorated inside with Southwestern furnishings of the most authentic and colorful variety, and yet with every major convenience. Everywhere in the public areas are beamed ceilings and old Navajo rugs and wall murals of the colorful history of New Mexico. The chief activity is horseback riding conducted along multiple trails through the canyons and foothills of the Sangre de Cristos mountains (trained cowboys accompany you and prepare cookouts for meals); but there are also four tennis courts, skeet and trap shooting, a heated outdoor pool, indoor whirlpool and saunas, exercise room, children’s play area, and numerous hiking opportunities. The Lodge is widely acknowledged as the best possible location for a visit to the Santa Fe area, and for numerous important excursions from there, to Taos, the Anasazi ruins at Bandalier, the Santuario at Chimayo.
TANQUE VERDE RANCH
Tanque Verde Ranch, 14301 East Speedway, Tucson, Arizona 85748, phone 520/296-6275 or 1-800/234 DUDE, or visit its Web site at http://www.tanqueverderanch.com/. Rates are based on the Full American Plan, and therefore include all three meals daily, all horseback riding, all else; Low Season (May 1 to September 30) $225 to $300 a day single, $270 to $355 per day double. “Shoulder Season” (October 1 to December 15) are $240 to $310 per single, but only $285 to $370 double; High Season (December 16 to April 30) $290 to $370 single, $340 to $435 per day double.
Perhaps the nation’s most luxurious dude ranch, on 640 spectacular acres in the desert foothills (2,800 feet up) of the Rincon Mountains next to the Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest; you are 40 minutes by car from Tucson International Airport. The stable here has 120 well-trained horses (they provide walking rides for beginners, loping rides for the more experienced. You stay in one of 74 large and well-furnished, one-story-high, authentically decorated ranch rooms (most with adobe fireplaces), outside private patios, and air conditioning, receiving three meals a day, all riding, tennis, swimming, guided hikes, mountain biking, nature programs, spa facilities, indoor and outdoor pools (including a children’s wading pool), a Jacuzzi, men’s and ladies’ saunas, exercise room; fully-supervised and year-round children’s program. Evenings there are periodic barbecues with live western entertainment; mornings, there are rides to the “Old Homestead” for home-cooked cowboy breakfasts. Other evenings, staff naturalists deliver informative lectures. This is certainly not the “real” Old West, but a gussied-up, comfortable Old West, and for many it is one of the great vacation experiences. The top dividend is the teeming Sonoran Desert that surrounds this giant cattle and guest ranch, and the wildlife that you witness on every sunny day.
THE ARIZONA BILTMORE
The Arizona Biltmore, 2400 E. Missouri, Phoenix, Arizona 85016, phone 602/955-6600 or 800/950-0086, fax 602/954-2548, or visit its Web site at http://www.arizonabiltmore.com/. Rates vary according to season. January 1 to May 5 rooms start at $350; May 6 to May 24 rooms start at $310; May 25 to September 10 rooms start at $175; September 11 to December 31 rooms start at $310.
The great resort masterwork of Frank Lloyd Wright and one of Wright’s students, Albert McArthur, whose motifs are influenced by designs of American Indians. It is eight miles from downtown Phoenix, but in a rapidly growing and highly-elegant neighborhood of Phoenix, on 39 acres of grounds landscaped with palms and cacti, and annually planted with hundreds of thousands of flowers and lawns of grass. It is a work of art so masterful and enthralling that one feels privileged simply to visit it, and to drink in the unique designs and building-block forms of its construction. They are unique, and created solely for their desert setting. Inside, past a lobby whose ceiling is covered with gold leaf, one enters into the world of the 1920s, whose era the hotel celebrated with its opening in 1929. You sleep in spacious rooms having the same uniqueness and opulence of the exterior decoration. There are 652 large rooms and 78 casitas, mainly in low buildings; a high-quality spa; seven lighted tennis courts; one 18-hole golf course (and 30 more in the surrounding area); a putting course; free shuttle transportation to an elegant, nearby shopping complex (but well off the grounds.) The resort will arrange for jeep tours and hot air balloon rides if you want to survey the beautiful surrounding region. Along the winding drive leading to the hotel, prominent affluent retirees (the late Claire Booth Luce, the playwright and wife to Time Magazine’s Henry Luce, among them) built their own desert homes simply to bask in the atmosphere of Wright’s—and his student’s—grand achievement.
The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, Dixville Notch, New Hampshire 03576-9710, phone 603/255-3400 or 800/255-0600. Visit its Web site at http://www.thebalsams.com/. Rates are based on Full American Plan all year round (three meals daily, all sports activities, all entertainment). From May 21 to 30, rates start at $142/person based on double occupancy. From May 30 to June 14, from $154; June 15 to 30 from $175. All spring prices are based on two people sharing a room; add $50 if you are a single. Summer prices from July 1 to September 3, start at $216 a person with double occupancy, or $291 for singles. Fall prices, from September 4 to October 14, begin at $185 (add $50 for singles). Winter rates (excluding holidays) range from $165 to $175, but if you are staying more than one night, you can get discounted rates of between $115 and $140 a night. Note that there is a 15% service charge and an 8% state tax. Rate for children sharing their parents’ room: their age times $10 a night (minimum $40/night).
In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just south of the Canadian border, a jumble of hotel buildings and lodgings of differing heights, all festooned with gables and turrets, and containing 204 rooms; the complex is backed by mountains but looks onto lawns that slope down to a broad lake and boathouse. It occupies a 15,000 acre site of untouched wilderness larger in size than the island of Manhattan, and has been accepting visitors in a tiny earlier resort structure since 1866, but really got its start as a major facility in 1918. Summer activities are all the standard outdoor recreations, and include two golf courses (one famous course designed by Donald Ross of 18 holes, another nearer course of nine holes for warming up,) tennis, boating and fishing on the lake, horse-drawn hayrides, mountain biking, aerobic exercises, a heated outdoor swimming pool, natural history programs throughout the year, and hiking. Winters, all attention turns to cross-country skiing, for which it is famed, on nearly 40 miles of marked, cross-country trails. There is also downhill skiing and snowboarding on 14 trails, snowshoeing and ice-skating on a lighted rink (open ‘til 11p.m., with complimentary skates). There is fine dining throughout, including a particularly impressive luncheon buffet; a movie theatre; and nightclub entertainment and dance music in three rooms.