Oh, Pourtland!

Above: The party is never too far away. 

Anyone who has seen the Portlandia episode where the diners refuse to eat a chicken dish until they are assured that their meal had lived a carefree and bucolic life might assume the writers are exaggerating for comedic effect. But where food comes from is no joke in this part of the Pacific Northwest. A locally famous chef was once arrested after starting a brawl over the pedigree of the pig in another chef’s dish. For lovers of fine food, craft beer and low-key wineries, head west and leave the Gucci and luxury cars behind. Here, flannel shirts are couture and bicycles are the mode du jour.

Portland doesn’t follow trends, it creates them. (There’s almost nothing you won’t find on tap, even tea.) There are more breweries than any other city in the world, but it isn’t called “craft beer,” it’s just beer. The locals say it’s better, and nearly every listicle of Best Places to Eat and Drink agrees. You could say it’s teamwork that makes everything happen. Local winemakers and distillers share barrels with brewers, inspiring a vast range of barrel-aged beers. Brewers collaborate with chefs, salt makers, honey producers and farmers, who provide ingredients that end up in one-of-a-kind beers. They even boast “beer-fed beef,” cows that consume the spent grain from the breweries. The Ex Novo Brewing Company lives out its motto of “Better Beer for the Greater Good” by giving all of its profits to charities with a social justice angle. Word is, the beer is as good as their mission.


The most Portland thing you ever might do is to book a seat on the Brewcycle, a fifteen-seat mobile party machine that makes stops at some of the most famous breweries. Yes, you really have to pedal; no you can’t drink while riding; yes, it’s as fun as it sounds. There are three routes to choose from, including the Dive Bar Route. With more breweries than any other city on earth, you have to narrow your list somehow.

No need to head to the gym after this unique tour.

Whiskey makers rely on the same unity of community as the breweries when it comes to creating authentic Oregon whiskey. Five years in the making, Bull Run Distillery’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey combines pure water from Bull Run Watershed and 100 percent malted barley from the Klamath Basin, aged in American char oak barrels sourced from Western Oregon. Grab a Portland Distillery Passport (from any of the participating distilleries or go to proofpdx.com) for complimentary tastings at eleven distilleries.

We’d recommend not hitting all of the eleven distilleries in one day.

With more than fifteen urban wineries in the city, Portland is one of the only U.S. cities that warrants an all-out wine-bar hop. The grapes are all locally sourced from the nearby vineyards in Willamette Valley and beyond, but the winemaking and tasting is all urban Portland. Hop on The Short Bus (that’s really the name) and embark on a journey through industrial warehouses, trendy tasting rooms and residential garages where winemakers ply their trade. Wineries on the tour include Clay Pigeon, Hip Chicks do Wine, Seven Bridges and Urban Crush.

Clay Pigeon Winery

Oregon Wines may not have the swagger of those from the hills of Italy or Provence, but the Willamette Valley was named Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2016.

The valley is home to over 500 wineries and is famous for its Pinot Noirs. They trade on the unique maritime climate and an aesthetic that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Naked Winery has an official mission statement to cut America’s divorce rate in half by encouraging couples to connect with a nightly glass of wine. (Grab a bottle of Foreplay and, well, you get the point.) At the Plum Hill winery, ride horseback through the vineyards and then unwind with a bottle of Mama Cask or Grapeful Dead.

The list goes on, so be sure to spend a few days in the wine country.

Considering Portland’s thirst for good coffee and appreciation for fine spirits, it was inevitable that these two worlds would collide. Local distillers have approached local coffee roasters in search of booze-friendly blends.

Eastside Distilling & Portland Roasting Coffee
Below Deck Coffee Rum

New Deal Distillery & Water Avenue Coffee
Coffee Liqueur

House Spirits Distillery & Stumptown Coffee Roasters
House Spirits Coffee Liqueur


Go glamping back in time at The Vintages Trailer Resort. These 1950s trailers will give you a serious dose of nostalgia, and they’re so inexpensive you can use all that extra cash on cases of wine. The resort is centrally located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, halfway between Dundee and Historic Downtown McMinnville. The trailers are grouped together in their own neighborhood within the fourteen-acre Willamette Wine Country RV Park. You’ll get all the amenities you’d get in a hotel: housekeeping, high thread count linens, luscious terry-cloth robes, a pool and hot tub. But you’d be hard- pressed to find a hotel that provides you with a propane grill, hip cruiser bikes and the ultimate Instagram-worthy stay. Rates start at around $115 per night.


Sleeps Three
Private Bath
L’Occitane Bath Amenities
Two Super Comfy Robes
Outdoor Patio Area with
Chairs and Table
Outdoor Propane BBQ
Dishes & Silverware
Two Cruiser Bikes
iPhone Dock
Small Flat-Screen TV


You might think Oregon’s best hotel would be in Portland, but Travel and Leisure readers voted The Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg as best in the state. The hotel also ranks in the magazine’s Top Five for Best Wine Country Hotels in the world. The drive from Portland is just under an hour, and despite providing serious luxury, the hotel is also LEED certified. The hotel is home to seven acres of grapevines, fields and gardens, and in true Pacific Northwest style, the spa uses local berries, roses, wine and honey in the treatments. Rates start at $420 per night.



Rules to Fly By

The headlines about traveling overseas seem endless and contradictory. There’s a laptop ban. Wait, no there isn’t. Europe is mad at us so now we need visas. How do I get one? Was it just an attention-grabbing headline? Is it a rule? Here’s what you need to know and where to look online for the most current information.

Since March those flying from any one of ten Muslim-majority countries have been unable to keep their laptops in the cabin. Even a travel writer returning from covering a hotel in Dubai would need to relinquish her rose gold Mac for the fourteen- hour flight. However, the talk of expanding the ban appears to have been just that—talk. What did happen was that 280 airports that are the last points of departure for the U.S. complied with a Homeland Security directive to prove their ability to screen passengers for trace amounts of explosives. At the end of July, the TSA announced that travelers should expect to be asked to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in a separate bin. This includes iPads, e-readers, etc. Your best source for up-to-date rules (believe us, they change quickly) is tsa.gov.

In March the E.U. released a statement that unless the U.S. lifted visa requirements for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania they would force U.S. citizens to obtain visas to visit all E.U. countries. This made huge headlines. Two months later they announced that visas would not be required for U.S. citizens, and they would seek other avenues for making travel easier for the five affected countries. Not such big headlines. On a related note, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert in May for all of Europe, citing potential risk of terrorist attacks. The warning is set to expire this month.

Of course you know that a passport is required for travel outside of the U.S., but what you may not know is that some countries require that your passport does not expire within three or six months of your arrival. The best place to look for current information regarding passport requirements is at travel.state.gov. Each country makes its own rules, which can change quickly.

Other big headlines have surrounded the change in ID requirements and the new verified driver’s license or “Real ID.” Go to ct.gov for the list of documents you will need at the DMV to obtain a verified license. The law that will require this new license to fly goes into effect in January of 2018. However, Connecticut has an extension so the effect won’t be felt until October 1, 2020, when every traveler will need to present a compliant license or passport for domestic travel. A list of other acceptable forms of ID are listed on tsa.gov. Children under eighteen will still not be required to have identification as long as they are traveling with a companion. Do you have a Real ID? If your license has a star, you do.




Stowe Away

Above: fusochi.ru/denis merkushev/stock.adobe.com

Over the years many ski resorts have claimed to be the “Vail of the East,” but thanks to a recent acquisition, Stowe Mountain Resort really is just that. Vail Resorts has been on a bit of buying spree as of late, acquiring Park City Mountain Resort in Utah and Whistler/Blackcomb in Canada, to name a few. We can see why Vail would want Stowe; in addition to bragging rights as the tallest peak in Vermont, the Stowe you skied growing up has gone seriously upscale.

Skiers have been frequenting Stowe since the 1930s for the steep vertical and bounty of nature-made snow. Back then the single chairlift was a technological wonder that meant skiers didn’t have to schlep their gear up the steep climb to try out the new fad of skiing. What started out as a one-run wonder now boasts 116 trails accessed by twelve lifts—including more mile-long lifts than any other resort in the East. The terrain ranges from serious beginner (a magic carpet complete with tunnel so tykes don’t get snowed on) to the thrill-seeker’s dream “Front Four” trails—National, Goat, Starr and Liftline.

Stowe has been redeveloping its base to rival iconic ski resorts such as Whistler and Beaver Creek since 2000. Where the base was once a long pop-up tent with few slope-side facilities, there is now a swank alpine village centered around a stunning 10,000-square-foot ice rink. When the sun drops behind the mountain, skaters twirl under fairy lights to the sounds of piped in music. The skating is free, and there are occasional performances by Olympic skaters.

Skiers (and boarders) can pop into The First Chair retail shop and get kitted out in the latest winter fashions and then tuck into the Skinny Pancake for a crepe and enjoy the village ambience.

Left: Stowe Mountain Lodge
Right: The Stowe Adventure Center, The place where the kids should be climbing the walls

Slip out of your skis and into your PJs at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. A couple can tuck into a studio for around $799 per night. Or bring the entire family and book one of the Front Four residences where you’ll have exclusive access to a private concierge, private check-in and daily continental breakfast. Rates start at $2,069 per night.

If the kids want to bring friends, consider the free standing Five Bedroom Homesite that easily accommodates ten guests with never-ending mountain views.

The relatively new Field Guide hotel is just down the hill from the Stowe Mountain Lodge (the town shuttle bus stops out front). The hotel has been completely transformed with a fresh take on ski style. Out with the heavy old wood and dusty velvet drapes and in with white fuzzy rugs, tree stump tables and sleek mid-century inspired chairs. The thirty accommodations range from standard rooms to apartment-like suites and stand-alone cottages (some are even pet-friendly). You’ll find lush lounge areas with vintage board games and fireplaces for enjoying après ski cocktails. Rates start at $159 for a standard queen room to $319 for a cottage suite. But be warned, with so few rooms and so much buzz, they sell out quickly.

With 116 trails, there’s no chance of getting bored at Stowe.

The Stowe Adventure Center is home to the mountain’s ski school, with beginner lifts nearby. A bonus for parents is the ability to drop little ones off without gear—the ski school will fit them with skis, boots, helmets and poles (for a price). No more hauling gear to the car at the end of the day; all equipment can be stored overnight. (Children, however, cannot be stored.) After 3 p.m. little skiers can burn off excess energy at Stowe Rocks—a climbing gym that mimics some of the nearby natural rock formations and features a 40-foot climbing tower.

Who would think that becoming a Vail resort would make Stowe less expensive? While the single daily ticket prices will stay the same or possibly increase (last year, skiers paid $124 for a one-day pass; $97 online), the pass deals are quite attractive. In fact, other East Coast resorts say they are dropping pass prices in an effort to compete.

For ten days at any Vail Resort (some blackouts apply)

Unlimited skiing, no blackouts, any Vail Resort (compare to last year’s Stowe Mountain season pass price of $1,860). The Epic Pass also includes the Epic Mix app that tracks runs skied, vertical feet and plenty of other data for the stat-obsessed skier.


The Stowe Mountain Club at Spruce Peak takes the pain out of skiing. Members who don’t live slope-side can pull into an underground parking lot where both car and skis are whisked away by valets. And there’s no jostling for bench space or fishing for quarters in a crowded locker room. Members enjoy swank private digs with leather benches and generous lockers. Skis can be stored overnight or for the season.

The stunning clubhouse overlooks the ice rink and offers private dining options that mean no hunting for a table while clutching a plastic tray. Members have access to the spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge, which even has a separate Kid Spa offering services like a Chillax session or a Toasty Toes Pedicure. Membership levels range in price and do not all require a real estate purchase. Guests can try out a membership by purchasing the Member for a Weekend package that includes accommodations, two lift tickets and a $200 spa credit.



Drink Up Buttercup

Above: Durant & Booth

With the Dapper Reserve Tasting at Durant & Booth, you’ll taste five limited-production wines, including some rare selections. Each wine is paired with local cheeses and charcuterie from Oakville Grocery.

The tiny wine tasting room is fairly new, having opened just a year ago, but it occupies one of the oldest buildings in Napa, the home of Frederick Durant. Durant and his partner Joseph Booth owned the neighboring Oakville Grocery and offered travelers “refreshments” during Prohibition. Sheriff Jack “The Dapper Deputy” Steckter conveniently turned a blind eye to these questionable activities and so his legend lives on with the tasting named after him.

In addition, Durant & Booth offers art classes inspired by its marbled wine labels. Cost: $40 per person (for the tasting)

Pro Tip: very few wineries offer free tastings, and those that do are not worth your time.

Durant & Booth


Though this experience isn’t new, it’s not well-known and is a must-do for any self-respecting Cabernet lover. Book the Barrel Blending Experience and you get to play winemaker. In this one-of-a-kind seminar, you taste barrel samples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals before blending your own bottle to take home. Should you really fall in love with your wine-making skills, you can order a case of your blend. Cost: $125 per person


It’s no mistake that this chateau has a very French feel. The winery was founded by Claude Taittinger of the famed Champagne-making family. Though the building is not historic (you would never know), it was inspired by the classic eighteenth- century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France—home of Champagne Taittinger.

Tour the grounds, dine on the patio or take a peek at the most fabulous factory ever—the one that bottles the bubbly. Book the Ultimate Chips and Dip Experience and you will get a table with a view and, if you’re lucky, Olga will wait on you and teach you about brut and late disgorged Champagne (Champagne that has been aged longer than usual). The winery is famous for its Le Rêve Blanc de Blanc. You can taste this and if you ask nicely, they’ll even pour you a few extra glasses.

This experience is designed for two guests. It includes three tastes of Domaine Carneros sparkling wines paired by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, accompanied with gourmet potato chips (they tasted like regular potato chips to me, but when you put caviar on top, who cares?), toast points and crème fraîche. Pro tip: Don’t book any other tastings after this one, trust us. Cost: $350 for two people

Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Château @ Domaine Carneros Winery) [CC BY 2.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Visit ddnapasonoma.com and eclectictour.com for more information.



Wine Not?

Above: Napa in all its glory

Some places, like some things, are more than the sum of their parts. Napa Valley is a tiny thirty-mile dot on the map, yet it is to wine enthusiasts around the country what Wally World was to the Griswolds. Napa or bust. When most people refer to “Napa,” they don’t realize that the famed area is actually the sum of nine towns. Almost all of the wineries are family-owned, and every conversation with a winemaker proves that wine runs through their veins. We toured the area (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it) to bring you these not-to-be-missed experiences.

Two Birds/One Stone

Napa is home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants—the most famous among them The French Laundry and La Toque. But we highly recommend getting Two Birds/One Stone on your reservation list. The brainchild of acclaimed Chefs Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon, this yakitori-style eatery offers small plates that are as creative as they are accessible—from deviled jidori eggs and crispy Sonoma duck leg to wagyu short ribs and wok-roasted corn. As for the impressive wine list, you won’t find bottles listed by grape or region but rather by the winemakers who have created them specifically to be paired with the restaurant’s entrées. How’s that for local?

Las Alcobas

For the first time in seventeen years, there is a brand-new boutique hotel in Napa Valley. What was once a farmhouse at the top of a hill in charming St. Helena is now the entrance to Las Alcobas Napa Valley—the hottest hotel to open here in years. The interiors are by design superstar Yabu Pushelberg and the restaurant is helmed by celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, but at this hotel Mother Nature is the real superstar. Calling the rooms merely “Vineyard View Rooms” is to grossly undersell them. Many hotels offer rooms that are a “short walk” to a vineyard or have a dubious view where guests might spy a sliver of vineyard. Here, the deluxe rooms and suites overlook the estate and offer stunning vineyard views.

Las Alcobas

The Atrio Spa is as modern as the treatments are ancient. Choose from yin and yang balancing, naturopathic hydration, coffee body scrubs, and massages with origins from China, India and Thailand. A custom aromatherapy experience allows clients to co-create a therapeutic oil at the blending bar.

The hotel’s restaurant, the Acacia House offers a highly seasonal menu and is most certainly going to be on the list of hot eateries in Napa in the near future. In addition to the inventive dinner menu, the restaurant also offers picnic baskets filled with guilty pleasures like cold fried chicken.

Rooms start at $695.



Finding Atlantis

The typical advice to those contemplating a trip to the 141-acre Atlantis Bahamas Resort has been to book a stay at The Cove, the upscale hotel within a hotel at the sprawling water wonderland. But this month, the resort unveils the brand- new Coral at Atlantis, offering families an ultimate—and economical—option.

Here, a personal concierge is available to help you navigate the endless list of activities. Guest rooms offer a variety of games and tiny robes for the littlest visitors and in-room refrigerators can be prestocked—no more “hangry” meltdowns at check-in. Guests also have exclusive access to the cabana-lined pool featuring a swim-up bar serving kid-friendly cocktails.

A variety of immersive adventures give dolphin lovers the chance to spend time with the resort’s majestic creatures, many of whom were rescued during Hurricane Katrina. There is sunrise snorkeling, paddleboarding and glass bottom kayaking, all designed to let the dolphins do what they love—swim and play. (There are no tricks or posed photos.) Children too young to snorkel or kayak can “Rise and Shine with Dolphins” at 7 a.m. They’ll play beach games and splash in knee-deep water while the dolphins get ready for their day (experiences range from $25 for Rise and Shine to $85 for snorkeling).

The renovations are part of a larger overhaul of the entire Atlantis Bahamas Resort. The Beach Tower will soon offer all-inclusive stays and in July the Marina Village will be unveiled as a culinary destination, providing local chefs a platform to bring their cuisines to the resort. Rooms start at $329 per night. atlantisbahamas.com



A Shore Thing

It seems unlikely that a middle-aged Canadian man would be the visionary behind the sexiest new hotel in the Caribbean. But Stan Hartling just showed up to the Turks and Caicos party with the island’s new It girl—THE SHORE CLUB. The man behind The Palms on the famous Grace Bay Beach has turned a previously desolate stretch of beach into the new home of a world-class hotel.

Prior to the Shore Club’s grand opening in January, the only people you would find wandering the secluded Long Bay Beach were intrepid snorkelers and kite boarders. Now the area serves as a luxe hideaway for those in search of seclusion with every amenity.



Get Smart

Above: Ocean House, Watch Hill

Educational travel isn’t just for the backpack-carrying, school-bus-riding set. The Ocean House Management Collection of luxury hotels has an eclectic group of experts—a naturalist, art curator and food forager—who are ready to ensure you leave your vacation with a little esoteric knowledge. Do you fancy mastering the art of braising? Perhaps you’ve been keen to add to your art collection or try your hand at true nature-to-table cuisine. You’re in luck. The educators are available to guests staying at any four of the OHM Collection properties: Ocean House (Watch Hill), Spicer Mansion (Mystic), Weekapaug Inn and Watch Hill Inn.

Individually, they are educators, but together they make a powerful team and can pair up to create unique programs that play off of one another’s talents and expertise. For example, the food forager and naturalist can teach a culinary lesson based on local wildlife and produce. The art curator and food forager can create a class focusing on “the art of plating,” a hot new trend in the culinary realm. To customize a program during your stay, call 855-678-0364, or to check out preset programs visit oceanhouseevents.com.

Ocean House owners Chuck and Deborah Royce have taken their commitment to art to the next level with the appointment of a resident curator who heads up a variety of immersive art experiences. Ocean House claims the largest privately owned collection of Ludwig Bemelmans, most well-known for his Madeline picture books. The collection includes the original Goodbye to the Ritz, which was commissioned by Town & Country to commemorate the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York when it was demolished in 1951. Additionally, the hotel is home to a rotating collection from local galleries. Curator Jeanne Potter is on hand to help guests learn more about the hotel’s extensive assemblage of art, add to their own collection or join one of the series of classes.

Chuck and Deborah Royce

Mark Bullinger is the resident naturalist based at the Weekapaug Inn but can enrich a stay at any of the Ocean House Collection properties. Mark grew up in the Weekapaug community, digging clams and catching crabs in the local waters. He leads organized activities and is on hand to create customized experiences. The complimentary seasonal daily classes include guided beach walks, kayak paddles, fly-fishing workshops and more.

Mark Bullinger

Paul McComiskey is both food forager (that’s an actual title and skill) and director of culinary education. Paul has created relationships with local purveyors, seeking out the freshest local flavors, and teaches his food and cooking philosophies in the resort’s new Center for Wine & Culinary Arts. Guests can join classes such as Vine to Wine and Culinary Boot Camp, or Paul can be commissioned for a private experience.

Paul McComiskey



Sea & Be Seen

Above: M/Y Grace overview – Cabins: 9 • Decks: 4  • Crew: 9 + 2 Naturalist guides

All yachts are boats, but not all boats are yachts. To be considered a yacht, a boat must be at least thirty-three feet long and used for recreation. But just as a Mercedes C-Class and Mercedes S-Class are both luxury cars, there are yachts and then there are super-yachts. A super-yacht needs to be longer than eighty feet and, well, it’s a safe bet you’ll know one when you see it.

If you’re in the market for a yacht charter, we’re going to assume that fun is at the top of your list. And that means toys. Forget wave runners. Today it’s about giant waterslides, Segways, movie theaters, helicopters, submarines, nightclubs, fully staffed spas and Seabobs (water scooters that you “drive” underwater, giving you the mobility of a dolphin).

Here, we’ve rounded up some over-the-top yachts that will float even the pickiest jet-setter’s proverbial boat.

Grace Kelly c. 1954Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Grace Kelly c. 1954
Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To explore the Galapagos Islands in style, consider a private charter of M/Y Grace, a historic ship that has a rich history. It was used by Grace Kelly for her honeymoon, and is now owned by Quasar Expeditions. Guests not only enjoy the ultimate in luxury onboard, but have the ability to explore the pristine wildlife of the islands with expert guides. The ship sleeps eighteen guests. Rates start at $98,000 per week for private charter. quasarexpeditions.com


For those who want a “go anywhere” yacht, consider Legend. With thirteen cabins, nineteen crew and optional helicopter, submarine and snow scooters, there is literally nothing you can’t do. Legend can hold twenty-six guests, and since her hull is an icebreaker, she’s able to explore the more remote areas of the world, such as South America, Antarctica, Greenland, the Norwegian Fjords and the Arctic Circle. Weekly rates start at $484,000. Cost to add sub is $90,000 per week and $275,000 for a helicopter that seats up to five guests. denisonyachtsales.com

The Legend’s interior</em
The Legend’s interior

For the party of the century, charter Global. This 220- foot beauty accommodates twelve people and the toy list reads like an oligarch’s Christmas wish list. Available options include a helicopter, submarines, amphibious car, motorcycles, motorized bikes, jet surf, flyboard, Seabobs, kiteboards, windsurfers, dive gear and a decompression chamber. This is all in addition to the game room, deck pool and cinema. Global is based in the Bahamas and charters for a weekly base rate of $150,000. denisonyachtsales.com

Night view of the pool aboard The World
Night view of the pool aboard The World

Want to live on a yacht and circle the globe continuously? Consider buying a home aboard The World, the only residential community at sea. Apartments start at $1.7 million and go up to $16 million. Caveat: You must prove a net worth of $10 million to be considered for ownership. Guests spend as long as they want onboard, with the average owner staying three to six months. Since it launched in 2002, the floating city has visited more than 900 ports in more than 140 countries. aboardtheworld.com

An apartment aboard The World
An apartment aboard The World

Looking for a little intrigue? Charter the yacht featured in the 007 movie Casino Royale. At 108 feet, the yacht bearing the movie’s name qualifies as a super-yacht, but is fast enough for a quick getaway topping out at speeds of forty-five knots per hour. It sleeps eight guests in five cabins, is based in Croatia and can be yours for a base rate of $68,390 a week. getmyboat.com




The Year of You

We can’t be the only ones who start each New Year with a heartfelt promise to ourselves that this will be the year we will finally get in shape, eat better, manage our stress or transform our lives. According to statistics, 45 percent of us make resolutions but only 8 percent of us actually keep them. This month we highlight ten destinations that offer the chance at real transformation from the traditional (like weight loss and eating habits) to slightly less tangible (like enlightenment and self-esteem). We know that true transformation takes serious commitment but as they say, the journey of 1,000 miles starts with one step. Here’s your chance.

Mayflower Grace
It somehow seems fitting that the path to heaven is a short bucolic drive up North. You can drop the kids at school and be snuggled up in a spa robe ready for a massage in a little over an hour later. The Mayflower Grace is a luxury retreat with accommodations that are Downton Abbey-worthy (but with a 20,000-square-foot world-class spa.)

There are only thirty rooms and each will leave you feeling
like you’re visiting royalty. The spacious Grace Suite is filled with antiques and features a fireplace, a bed canopied in silk and your own patio.

The Setting
Mayflower Grace is set in the gorgeous rolling countryside of Washington in Litchfield County. (The fictional town of Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow was based on this picturesque town.) Take the Mayflower Trail for a walk through the forest or enjoy the outdoor pool in summer. The Shakespeare Garden is charming regardless of season or relax by the sun-drenched indoor pool before your spa treatment.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Sound Healing
For decades, people have relaxed and meditated to soothing sounds, including recordings of waves lapping, waterfalls and wind chimes.  Sound healing, also known as vibrational medicine, offers a spa experience without massage. The treatment is based on ancient Tibetan medicine that uses the sound and vibration of bowls to alter brain wave frequencies and induce a deep meditative and peaceful state. More than just relaxing, sound therapy is also used as a powerful pain reliever.

Classic rooms start at $525 and Grace Suites at $1,425. All spa services are priced separately.

The Lodge at Woodloch
There’s no need to fire up the jet for a world-class spa getaway. Both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure have consistently rated The Lodge at Woodloch as one of the Top Destination Spas in the World. Located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch is just a two-hour drive away.

Nature is woven into every inch of this spa, and the rooms are no exception. Each room has a private balcony with a view of either the lake or the rock garden waterfall. “The Lodge at Woodloch provides an escape from the real world while grounding each guest in the nature that surrounds us,” explains Robert Baldassari, general manager of The Lodge.

The Setting
The lavish 40,000-square-foot spa is a sanctuary for the senses. Choose from a nap by the fireplace in the Whisper Lounge or a therapeutic soak in the Aqua Garden. For a massage after your massage, swim under the cascading waters of the hydro-massage WaterWalls. Outside, Mother Nature serves up a spa experience with hundreds of acres of pristine woodland gardens, docks and waterscapes.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Forest Bathing
Statistics say that we spend 87 percent of our time indoors and 6 percent in an enclosed vehicle. Yet a growing body of research finds that spending time in the great outdoors has some very real medicinal effects. Despite the name, there is no nudity or soap involved. The goal is to simply spend time in nature with no particular goal. It’s not a hike, it’s about slowing down and being in nature. It might sound simple, and maybe even hokey, but science backs up forest bathers. Data from field experiments conducted in twenty-four forests across Japan (where the practice started and is known as shinrin-yoku) found that subjects who participated in forest bathing had lower blood pressure and heart rate and concentrations of cortisol—a stress hormone—when compared with those who walked through a city setting. Other studies have found a boost in immune function from forest bathing. It can’t hurt, right?

Rooms can be booked with a $125 per day credit toward spa services included or with services a la carte. Veranda rooms start at $329 for an a la carte package and $429 with spa credit included. All rooms include three meals per day.

Canyon Ranch, Lenox
Canyon Ranch started out in 1979 as a Tucson fat farm. It now has resorts with full spa services in Lenox, Massachusetts; Las Vegas; Turkey and aboard the Queen Mary 2. You could fly to Turkey or Las Vegas, but everything you are looking for is just a short and scenic drive up the Taconic Parkway.

Many of the rooms
at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, are just upside of spartan. At the high end they resemble a mid-priced hotel, but you’re not here for the room.

The Setting
At the heart of the Lenox campus is the century-old Bellefontaine Mansion surrounded by the lush Berkshire woodscape. The mansion was meticulously restored and now serves as the centerpiece to the wellness and spa programs. The grounds are an assemblage of rambling gardens with Adirondack chairs in quiet spaces.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Integrative Medicine
Visiting the doctor might not be high on your list of fantasy spa services. But for those suffering from chronic pain, diseases or other problems, a trip to the Canyon Ranch doctor can be life-changing. The integrative approach is personalized and blends Western medicine (they are all board-certified MDs), holistic medicine and Eastern therapies. Unlike a typical doctor’s visit that is rushed and usually results in a prescription, Canyon Ranch doctors will spend almost a full hour with each patient. They offer non-traditional laboratory testing and  recommendations and will follow up with your physician.

January through March starts at $1,650 per person for a two-night stay. There is no single-night option. All meals and a generous spa allowance are included in each package. If you are considering a medical visit, book the Optimal Living package, which includes additional medical appointments.

Omega Institute
Our very own editor describes her time at the Omega Institute as not only relaxing, but life-altering. Originally conceived as a “university of life,” the campus in nearby Rhinebeck has played host to world-renowned teachers, philosophers and change-makers including Deepak Chopra, Al Gore and Gloria Steinem.

If you are looking for a luxury spa experience, you will not find it here. Lodging options range from campsites to what are referred to as “deluxe cabins.” Some guests choose to stay off campus for more creature comforts, but those who bunk-in say the simple dwellings fit the entire experience.

The Setting
Wander through the many gardens, go for a hike or take a swing in a hammock on the shores of Long Pond Lake. The sprawling campus is only open from May through October. In the warmer months, guests swim and boat in the tranquil lake that is home to a few endangered species, including the adorable Blanding’s turtle.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Life-Changing Learning
Omega is loath to be called a “spa,” but it offers world-class spa services. Guests return year after year because of the inspiring workshops and access to big name thought leaders. Internationally known Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn will be leading several weeklong workshops in Rhinebeck in 2017. He is a well-known author and the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction. (MBSR). The practice is becoming a mainstream way to help manage pain, stress and illness. In addition to weeklong conferences, daily workshops, weekend retreats and even online classes are available.

A deluxe double-room cabin is $594 per person for a two-night stay, a single cabin is $692. Guests who choose to stay off campus pay a $100 daily commuter fee in addition to workshop fees. Room rates include three meals per day and a variety of activities.

Arizona is so chock-full of spas that it’s a wonder anything happens here that doesn’t involve essential oils and a good massage. Miraval has a few things that set it apart, with the most famous being its Equine Experience run by Wyatt Webb, the man many believed to be the real-life inspiration for The Horse Whisperer (a claim Wyatt denies).

Lodging options range from cozy rooms to decadent villas that spill out into the desert landscape. Rooms are grouped into six villages and feature sustainably sourced materials.

The Setting
Miraval is a desert oasis near Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains. Guests have unlimited access to the hiking, biking and challenge courses on the sprawling landscape. Those looking for more extreme experiences can go rock climbing at nearby Mt. Lemmon (they swear no experience is necessary) or stay close to home and indulge in one of the three swimming pools.

Don’t-Miss Experience
It’s Not About the Horse
This experience promises to help you rediscover the life you were meant to lead. As bold of a statement as this might be, devotees of Wyatt tearfully recall the lasting change this therapy has made in their lives. Guests are invited to choose a horse (though you’ll quickly learn the horse chooses you) to work with. Riders take note—you never actually get on the horse. This is about interacting with the animal in order to understand how our internal dialogue
and preconceived notions impact our successes and failures in life. Wyatt gently and wisely guides participants through the journey of understanding their patterns of learned behavior. Daily classes as well as four-day workshops are offered.

Rooms start at $525 and include $175 in spa credits and all meals; rates for a villa start at $2,500 per night.

Mii amo
Mii amo is a haven within the spectacular luxury resort Enchantment, with only sixteen guest rooms and suites bordered by the red rock canyons for which Sedona is so famous. This spa can truly call itself a retreat: It’s the kind of place where people are urged to write down their worries and discard them, literally and symbolically, in a wicker basket. (The staff promises they burn them.)

Lodging ranges from the fabulous to the sublime. Every casita has its own outdoor patio and the Mii amo Luxury Suite has its own massage suite.

The Setting
The location is splendid both physically and spiritually. Inspiration for the spa came from the stark beauty of the surrounding Boynton Canyon and the rich history of the local Native American tribes and their traditions.

Don’t-Miss Experiencee
Inner Quest
Reflective of Native American ceremony and ritual, this treatment utilizes elements sacred to Native Americans and was developed by tribal elders for the resort. Therapists are trained specifically for this treatment and blessed by the elders. The treatment is a combination of ritual and guided meditation. During the treatment you are wrapped in the Circle of Life blanket, which is used to create the warmth of a sweat lodge. The therapist will burn sweet grass to cleanse the room while leading you through deep guided meditation.

A three-night stay starts at about $1,200 per night for a standard room. Rooms can only be booked for three-, four- or seven-night stays. Meals, two spa treatments per day and even a robe (yes, to take home) are included.

Cal a Vie
Cal a Vie is one of the poshest spas in this roundup. Not surprisingly, it’s a celeb favorite. Here you’ll rub elbows with the likes of Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey during yoga class. The heady mix of the lush surroundings, programs that are entirely tailored to you and four-times-a-day maid service make Cal a Vie a hidden gem—a really fancy hidden gem.

There are only thirty-two villas on the property and each is a retreat in and of itself. After a day of hiking and exercise, collapse into a memory foam bed dressed in Frette linens. Enjoy the view of lavender coated hills from your private sundeck. A private villa is included in every spa package; shared accommodations can be requested if you want to share with your bestie.

The Setting
Think of an elegantly rustic Mediterranean resort full of antiques in a fairy tale setting just north of San Diego. Now add a 400-year-old candle-lit chapel, lavender drenched hills and a classic orangery, and Cal a Vie is as much a dream as it is a destination. Did we mention the 5-to-1 guest to staff ratio?

Don’t-Miss Experience
Personal Growth
For Old Greenwich’s Katrina Bischoff, the life-altering aspect of Cal a Vie wasn’t a massage or nature therapy, but simply the daily hike that every guest is encouraged to take. “The first day it’s only a mile, by the end of the week you are hiking five miles, sometimes so straight up that you can touch the ground in front of you.” She left the spa with a changed perspective about herself and her abilities. Another activity that has stayed with Katrina years later—the midnight yoga class she took in the candlelit chapel.

The smallest package is a three-night stay that includes meals, room and two spa treatments for $4,275 per person. And now we know why it’s a celeb favorite.

The Ranch at Malibu
Looking for a results-oriented, no-messing-around spa experience? The Ranch is for you. Whether you want to lose weight, shed inches or just get in shape, this is the place. The program is “no options,” meaning you don’t choose between classes, you are given a schedule for the week (you can’t come for less than a week). The Ranch’s mantra? “Health is the ultimate luxury.”

The program is limited to sixteen guests at any given time. Each guest enjoys one of the  private cottages, which are described as “rustically simple.” And it’s worth noting that you won’t find a Nespresso machine—caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol are all verboten here. 
A key component of the program is serious detox.

The Setting
Set on an historic working ranch three miles above the Pacific Ocean, The Ranch at Malibu spans 200 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. The sprawling grounds are designed to be rustic, yet refined and feature an open-air kitchen, certified organic garden, pool, jacuzzi and a massage “village.”  It’s designed to be a sequestered environment with no cell service and limited Wi-Fi.

Don’t-Miss Experience
A New You
Guests visit The Ranch for physical transformation and most achieve it. Women and men routinely lose 3 to 6 percent of their body weight during the seven-day program. Days are tightly scheduled, starting with gentle Tibetan chimes waking you up at  5:30 a.m. Stretching and breakfast are followed by a four and a half hour hike. The menu is vegan, yet delicious, and designed to help guests lose weight. The program is described as a luxury boot camp, emphasis on boot camp.

From January to June the weekly rate is $7,200 and July to December is $6,800. All meals are, of course, included.

Rancho La Puerta
Rancho La Puerta is the oldest destination spa in North America, changing lives since 1940. Though it’s technically in Mexico, it’s really just three miles across the border in sunny Tecate (visitors fly into San Diego airport). Return guests cite the ranch’s soul and its ninety-four-year-old founder, who is likely its most authentic advertisement, as the driving force behind their passion for this charming old-school resort.

There are eighty-six storybook casitas, and no two are the same. They are all decorated with handmade tile, Mexican folk art and colorful weavings. Some can accommodate three guests and all open onto gardens and large sun-filled patios.

The Setting
In addition to the Mediterranean-style gardens, olive groves, ponds and fountains, Rancho La Puerta boasts the most extensive on-site hiking program of any spa, anywhere, with over twenty-five miles of trails.

Don’t-Miss Experience
The Kitchen That Sings
La Cocina Que Canta is the heart of the organic farm and the place where lasting change happens. If you’ve always wanted to change the way you eat but didn’t know how, this is the place to learn. They’ve been growing organic food and serving up an almost vegetarian diet since long before it was trendy.

Reservations are restricted to one-week packages; prices start at $4,050 for a single and $3,550 for a double, per person. All meals are included; spa services and cooking classes are à la carte.

Tabacon is set in the lush rainforest on the west side of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano. The hotel and spa at Tabacon is not a traditional destination spa but with eighteen natural hot tubs, we think they deserve representation.

All of the over 100 modern rooms have views of the surrounding rainforest. Many feature tubs and showers fed by the volcanic hot springs. Rooms can be booked for just one night and children are welcome (children not allowed at the spa or Shangri-La gardens).

The Setting
A river fed by natural hot springs winds through the massive spa property, which is just a short distance from the hotel. In addition to the tranquil pools and cascading waterfalls, there is a thermal waterslide courtesy of Mother Nature. At the spa, treatments are rendered in open-air bungalows.

Don’t-Miss Experience
Hot Springs
The healing powers of hot springs have been used for thousands of years; they contain a variety of minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. The water at Tabacon is 97 percent rainwater and 3 percent magma (the fluid that forms lava). When you bathe in it, your skin soaks in the minerals, which promote better sleep and overall health. Not to mention it feels amazing.

Rooms start at $380 per night. Spa services are priced separately; day passes for Thermal Spas are available for nonguests.