By The Editors By The Editors | April 12, 2023 | Lifestyle Culture
From hidden rural hideaways to truly get lost to sophisticated spas to recenter, the latest openings across the country have certainly sparked our wanderlust. Here, the most fabulous luxury destinations to add to your bucket list.
Ojai Valley Inn is offering new wellness programming, a kids camp and much more this summer. Fall will welcome the area’s first Ojai Food + Wine festival at the resort’s new epicurean destination, The Farmhouse.
STAY >> Surrounded by the glorious Topatopa Mountains, Ojai is the place to go for vacationers seeking a restorative, peaceful retreat. The area’s grand dame, Ojai Valley Inn, is the perfect base for exploring the area. The resort recently debuted new wellness programming and pickleball courts and offers Camp Oak, a half- or full-day camp for kids—plus tennis and golf clinics for the grown-ups. This fall, foodies can indulge in the inaugural Ojai Food + Wine, which features more than 50 top chefs (Nancy Silverton, Dominique Crenn, Evan Funke) and wineries from around the world.
EAT >> Head downtown to sample local farm-fresh delights from The Dutchess, an all-day destination serving everything from flaky croissants to salads, and dishes with a Burmese-Californian bent at night. Also notable is Rory’s Place, a farm-focused dinner spot inspired by the area’s fresh, seasonable produce; Ojai Rôtie, a casual French-Lebanese rotisserie chicken restaurant with a natural wine list; and Nocciola, which serves classical Italian cuisine with a California twist.
PLAY >> Beyond its natural beauty, Ojai is said to be a vortex or sacred spot that emits spiritual energy. Soak it all in at Meditation Mount, a nonprofit meditation organization located in one of the valley’s most spiritual locations. There’s also incredible hiking (try the Shelf Road or Last Chance trails) and walking/biking trails throughout town. Art lovers can visit the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts—located at the Dada artist’s former home and studio—to learn more about her life while taking in musical performances throughout the summer.
The Compound is a 57-acre event center that hosts myriad events such as live music, weddings, antique shows and more.
STAY >> Small-town charm and Southern hospitality await at one of the most treasured sanctuaries in Round Top, Texas, Hotel Lulu. Having opened its doors within the past few years, this jewel-box hotel came to life through the creative vision of Houston-based husband-and-wife duo Armando and Cinda Palacios of Palacios Murphy hospitality group. Relax and enjoy this little slice of paradise, made up of six 19th century bungalows. Another fun fact to note: Hotel Lulu houses the only pool in Round Top.
EAT >> Hotel guests and gourmands can enjoy the decadent Italian fare found at Lulu’s. Ensconced in a historic building from the early 1800s, the restaurant features stone walls and high beam ceilings festooned with chandeliers, evoking a unique intrigue in the space. Patrons can delight in Lulu’s signature dishes including the burrata, pappardelle Bolognese and grilled branzino. Following the multicourse meal, make your way to Il Cuculo—the hotel bar merely steps from this dining destination—which is known to have the coldest martini in town.
PLAY >> While there are several fun activities to fill your time, the Round Top Antiques Fair is a treasure that stands alone as the largest of its kind in the country. Designers, shoppers and antique enthusiasts descend upon the town in droves twice a year—with a spring and fall show that stretches over 11 miles long. If this is something that piques your interest, this is the time for you. If wide-open spaces and stargazing is more your bag, the town awaits your arrival…
A recent addition to Troutbeck, Benton House features 13 newly renovated guest rooms, each with private outdoor space.
STAY >> The farm-to-fork allure of the Hudson Valley shifts with the seasons, drawing nature lovers and gourmands alike—hence a bumper crop of luxury resorts that follow the lead of the land and honor the region’s ever-evolving beauty. Located just 90 minutes from Manhattan in Gardiner, N.Y., Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection feels worlds away, nestled on a pristine 140-acre property. The retreat headlines with source-origin cuisine and interactive experiences to reconnect with nature. Duchess County’s Troutbeck in Amenia offers the charm of an English manor house made even more charming and cozy thanks to a restoration led by Champalimaud Design (think Frette linens, cozy fireplaces, soaking tubs and riverside hammocks aplenty). A recent addition to the property, Benton House features 13 newly renovated guest rooms, each with private outdoor space.
EAT >> Troutbeck’s culinary program spotlights Michelin-starred chef Gabe McMackin’s mastery of celebrating the bounty of local farms while a rotating roster of guest chefs enriches the experience with cooking demonstrations and special meals served under the stars. Wildflower offers Clay—an homage to the Hudson Valley’s celebrated culinary bounty where heritage fruits, unique varietals and aromatic herbs sourced from local farms are reimagined and exalted as high art.
PLAY >> Whether hiking the many trails or enjoying an organic spa treatment, a back-to-the-land approach reverberates throughout the Hudson Valley at these resorts, all nestled in nature. Earn your spa time after trekking on the many trails or enjoying the full spectrum of outdoor activities, including cycling, skiing and fishing—even antiquing in nearby towns like Millbrook for those who consider it a full-contact sport. Wildflower Farms’ 9,000-square-foot spa, Thistle, takes cues from the cycles of nature for seasonal treatment menus, while Troutbeck’s robust wellness programming at The Barns offering yoga, acupuncture and infrared sauna will leave you yearning for a more permanent country life.
The Hermitage Hotel’s 111-year-old lobby
ON THE WAY >> Whether you are connecting in Atlanta or leaving the city, travel isn’t always easy—that is, until Vonlane expanded its luxury motor coach service to offer direct routes from Atlanta to Nashville. Before making your way, we suggest upping the layover experience with a stay at the brand-new Nobu Hotel Atlanta. With 152 stylish guest rooms and suites, Nobu Atlanta offers respite from travel days.
STAY >> If you aren’t already shacking up at Soho House Nashville, never fear: Music City has many more fabulous stays to offer. “Meet me at The Hermitage” is a popular adage that has been echoing the streets of Nashville for more than 110 years. The Hermitage Hotel has been lovingly restored and now offers newly customizable guest experiences. Think exclusive shopping events, private estate garden tours, 40-yard-line tickets for your favorite band or sports team, and the chance to play a rare vintage guitar.
PLAY >> Located a few blocks south of Downtown, Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston (or “WeHo”) neighborhood is a creative hub on the cultural rise. Here, we suggest checking out a game or the latest superstar to come through town at the brand-new GEODIS Park. For dining, we suggest chef Josh Habiger’s reservation-only tasting menu restaurant, Bastion; one of chef Sean Brock’s multiple establishments—Audrey, The Continental and June—or the brand-new Luogo. For the best dining experience set to jazz, blues, country and everything in between, check out the Justin Timberlake-backed Twelve Thirty Club. Even aside from the celebrity name, its design, menu and experience are top notch. Finally, if you are looking for an iconic place where history and art collide, look no further than the Parthenon, the world’s only full-size replica of the temple in Athens, Greece. Spend your afternoon exploring the intersection between cultures of today and yesterday.
The Madrona in Sonoma is a gorgeous renovation of an 1881 mansion. Opposite page, clockwise from top: Auro is new at the Four Seasons Napa Valley; interior designer Jay Jeffers at The Madrona; the new Vertical Wine Pavilion at The Donum Estate; don’t miss cocktail hour at The Madrona in Healdsburg.
STAY >> Bay Area designer Jay Jeffers can do no wrong, and he proved it again with the opening of The Madrona, a splashy renovation of an 1881 gabled mansion and estate. “When designing the hotel, it was important for me to respect its historic architecture and 19th century roots, while reimagining the property to be more modern and exciting for today’s traveler,” says Jeffers. Guests will find 24 well-appointed accommodations across six buildings. Many rooms have soaring ceilings and private balconies with exceptional views. Design genius is everywhere, mixing old (200 antiques and curiosities from world travels) and new (animal motifs captured in fabric and art). It’s the type of place Jeffers hopes guests will find pleasure in getting absolutely lost.
EAT >> Chef Rogelio Garcia wows gourmands at the new 88-seat Auro, located at the Four Seasons Napa Valley. The Napa-raised chef has a culinary pedigree that includes stints at Michelin-starred venues like The Commissary, The French Laundry and Spruce. The star attraction is the restaurant’s tasting menu (don’t overlook the excellent California wine pairings), which changes weekly and reflects Garcia’s longtime relationships with local producers. Find dishes like seven-day dry-aged Japanese kampachi cradled in California golden kiwi and avocado; sweet Maine lobster, amped beautifully with bok choy ravioli; and, for dessert, gianduja chocolate pave, with delicate hazelnut praline and golden dentelle for decadent ornamentation.
PLAY >> The Donum Estate, renowned for its estate-grown, single-vineyard, single-appellation pinot noir and chardonnay, now offers guests the opportunity to experience one of the largest private sculpture collections in the world with its art tour. Find work from artists like Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Hudson and Zhan Wang, among many others. Bonus: Donum recently launched the Vertical Panorama Pavilion, where guests enjoy library wines thoughtfully paired with elevated bites sourced and harvested from the culinary garden at the estate.
Lake Geneva’s Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is a haven for golf lovers.
STAY >> Long a beloved second-home destination for A-list Chicagoans, Lake Geneva, Wis., boasts a picturesque waterside setting an easy hour’s drive north of the city—and the area’s ramped-up luxury offerings are now an equal draw for weekenders and vacationers alike. Prime among Lake Geneva’s hospitality offerings are the AAA Four Diamond Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a green and pet-friendly property that opened in 1968 as the first Playboy Club Hotel in the U.S., and The Abbey Resort, which boasts 334 guest rooms and suites plus a variety of two-bedroom villas and whose amenities include everything from seasonal boat rentals and live music to family-friendly entertainment center Immersion.
EAT >> From the historic Baker House—don’t miss the prime rib—to the old-school supper club vibe of Mars Resort, tempting dining options abound in the area. Perhaps the buzziest of all right now is 240 West, The Abbey Resort’s rustic must-try, where new executive chef Luis Quezada focuses on ingredients from top local farms to craft tempting dishes like herb-crusted walleye with bourbon glaze and eggplant Napoleon with blistered tomatoes and seasoned spinach. Says Quezada, “We’re mixing and matching different high-quality products and changing preparation methods in order to bring vibrancy and color to the food we share with guests. This attention to quality and creative culinary spirit sets us apart.”
PLAY >> The waters of the 5,400-acre Geneva Lake are the area’s star attraction; walkers stroll the 26-acre Shore Path while WaveRunners, speedboats and fishing charters offer diversions from relaxed to heart-racing. On shore, treasure hunters flock to the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, where more than 500 dealers ply their wares. Back at Grand Geneva Resort, two first-class golf courses beckon: the Scottish-inspired Highlands and the aptly named Brute, considered among top courses in the Midwest. Also at Grand Geneva, the Well Spa’s new Innovations in Wellness retreat offers the latest in self-care, with programs focused on nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management.
Lush landscaping surrounds The Chanler.
STAY >> There’s an abundance of hotels to choose from in Newport, R.I., but for a design-centric experience, there’s nowhere better than The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection, which was recently renovated by Swoon, the Studio. Inside, vintage pieces, colors and patterns flow throughout the harbor-facing, historic abode. Another historic hotel sits across town and directly on the bay. At The Chanler at Cliff Walk, guests can look forward to imbibing Italian wines at the Ca’ del Bosco wine garden, where Adirondacks, tables and umbrellas are in abundance—not to mention the stunning Cliff Walk ocean views.
EAT >> A moody dining room and sunlit conservatory await inside The Vanderbilt, but it’s a brand-new bespoke Gilded Age dinner party with James Beard-awarded Maison Premiere that takes the cake (available through this month). Starting in the Parlour for cocktail hour, guests are transported back to the 1920s with fun cocktails before heading up to the resort’s mezzanine, where a sumptuous nine-course menu awaits. Nearby, tabletop games add to the social club aesthetic—making it an evening not to forget. If you’re craving Italian, Giusto has you covered with a combination of tried-and-true favorites plus a new spring menu launch. Think prime beef carpaccio and scotch meatballs, and a rainbow of housemade pastas.
PLAY >> From The Breakers and Marble House to The Elms and more, opulence is sure to glisten during the Newport Mansions tours this summer. Year-round, self-guided tours tell guests the stories behind the homes, as well as the families who lived within them.
Photography by: From top: PHOTO COURTESY OF OJAI VALLEY INN; Photo courtesy of The Compound; photo by Nicole Franzen/courtesy of Troutbeck; photo by Matthew millman; photo courtesy of grand geneva resort & spa; photo courtesy of the chandler