Calistoga Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection
Calistoga, Napa County
No wonder royalty, a list of celebrities and athletes, always return to luxury Calistoga Ranch: It’s in a class by itself. Guests rent exquisite private accommodations, set on a 157-acre park, private property complete with hiking trails, and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Attention to detail is carried over from bedroom design to landscape planning – all modules for stores have been transported by helicopter to minimize the impact on surrounding trees and maximize privacy. The property has an abundance of outdoor yoga activities, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, a great fitness center, and wine tasting seminars. If customers decide to venture out for any reason, they can easily access downtown Calistoga and other cities, not only with beds, borrowed bikes, but borrowed Mercedes-Benz! This property stands out as one of the most notable in Napa Valley but in the entire country.
The Jefferson, Washington DC
Downtown, Washington DC
After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened and has regained its place among DC’s elite hotels. It’s not as famous as Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology ( TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic cleaning buttons ) and colonial charms (personal library, working dumbwaiter ) are second to none. All that is missing is the TJ himself. (Oh, wait, no. Here he is. …)After a massive renovation in 2009, this boutique reopened and has regained its place among DC’s elite hotels. It’s not as famous as Hay-Adams, but its subtle blend of technology ( TVs embedded in bathroom mirrors; electronic cleaning buttons ) and colonial charms (personal library, working dumbwaiter ) are second to none. All that is missing is the TJ himself. (Oh, wait, no. Here he is. …)
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Del Mar, San Diego
This 249-room Spanish colonial-style resort on the hills near Del Mar is impressive, from the old-world decor to the luxurious spa’s huge rooms. It has four swimming pools, excellent restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, and a free parking service in a Mercedes or Cadillac Escalade.
The Lodge at Sea Island
Saint Simons Island, Golden Isles of Georgia
The total of 40 rooms, deluxe Lodge at Sea Island, is on an old cotton plantation site, accessed through an avenue of historic antebellum oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. Outside, the lodge resembles an English mansion; inside, it feels like a 1920s-style golf or hunting club, with personal butlers delivering milk and cookies to bedrooms. Golfers will be in heaven, but there are plenty of non-golf-centric activities, too. The rooms are enormous and full of amenities – some have balconies with beautiful views of St. Simons Sound. Listen to the night piper who performs at sunset. Guests should note that some features – such as the beach, spa, and swimming pool – are located on the sister property, the abbey, which is too far to walk to; however, there is a complimentary roundtrip shuttle service.
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, California
The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States – if not the whole world – and offers a romantic, intimate stay in stunning natural surroundings. The hotel was built on the rocks of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow from the floor next to the redwoods surrounding the hotel. The spacious and ecologically sensitive rooms have views of the sea or the mountain (which are sometimes obstructed by the diffuse mist that the area is known to by many) and floor-to-ceiling windows to better show them. Rooms also feature wood-burning fireplaces, underfloor heating, outdoor showers or hot tubs, private platforms, and organic bath products and bedding – but there are no televisions or alarm clocks as the hotel strives for a peaceful environment. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenation services and even has a shaman on-site; the restaurant, Sierra Mar, is one of the best in Big Sur; the hotel’s cliff-top pools are impressive, and complimentary amenities (like yoga and stargazing) abound.