The Great Outdoors
By Nick Remsen
Travel still isn’t easy, but it’s become much more manageable over the last several months. So if you’re looking to plan a Spring escape, there are plenty of luxe wellness and adventure-based options across the continental United States to consider. “After months spent at home with canceled plans, the coming months pose a rare opportunity for those comfortable enough for a change of scenery,” says Brooke Lavery, a partner at the luxury travel consultancy Local Foreigner. “If work and school are happening remotely, then it’s time to maximize that freedom.” With an emphasis on distance, health and outdoor activities, these rural gems are ideal spots to seek some quietude, sync up with nature, reset your mind, and, ultimately, boost your spirits.
Set on more than 5,000 acres of Great Smoky Mountains wilderness, Blackberry Mountain is the sister outpost of the famed Blackberry Farm, both founded and lovingly tended to by the Beall Family. Opened last year in Walland, Tennessee (just shy of 10 miles away from Blackberry Farm), Blackberry Mountain makes for a slightly more adventurous option between the two.
Start your day at The Hub, the property’s base camp, where a packed roster of recreational programs are available, including sunrise yoga, endurance climbs, trail running, paddle boarding, rock climbing, bouldering, mountain biking and, in what sounds especially enticing to help clear your mind, creek-side meditation and forest bathing. Blackberry Mountain also houses a number of fine dining options, including a restaurant called the Firetower. Located at the top of the hotel’s namesake, this eatery has 360-degree views of the softly rolling Great Smoky range (worth noting: peak fall foliage season is from mid-October to early-November, and it can last through mid-December). And, for added personal reassurance? This destination features standalone cabins and cottages; you can remain as independent and remote as you wish.
San Ysidro Ranch
Tucked into the foothills of Montecito, California sits the San Ysidro Ranch, a 500-acre retreat with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands, along with a dazzling, centuries-old history. It has long been a retreat for the high profile, including honeymooners John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Lavery notes that the San Ysidro Ranch’s clientele is highly dedicated, for good reason. “This place has been quietly knocking it out of the park to a revolving door of loyal return guests, all of whom value service, the beauty of nature and amazing cuisine.” To her middle point, the property boasts a remarkably lush mix of flora: French lavender, Jacaranda, mature oak, pepper and lemon trees, jasmine, magnolias and 400-year-old olive trees are just a few examples. Adventure seekers will find plenty of hiking, with trails often leading to secret and secluded hot springs or waterfalls. If you’re someone who likes to keep up a workout regimen while on vacation, the San Ysidro Ranch also offers an outdoor fitness center.
The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection
“The Lodge at Blue Sky combines earthy-sleek contemporary design with fun, rugged outdoor adventure,” says Lavery, “and the team behind this property are true hospitality legends.” Opened last summer, the hotel—at only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport—spans over 3,500 acres, and is an outdoor-lover’s mountain paradise. For those with equestrian interests, the Lodge offers horseback riding, lessons in Vaquero horsemanship (a light and flexible riding style) and the Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation, which is an on-site non-profit horse rescue.
There’s plenty of other outdoor adventures to be had here, including fly fishing, shooting clays, biking and hiking. For those who visit during the winter, there’s an extra perk at the nearby ski town of Park City: there's a dedicated Blue Sky Ski Lodge located at the base of the slopes where you can get complimentary tune-ups, store your gear and enjoy a warm cider or Hot Toddy before getting a lift back to this striking, quiet escape.
The Inn at Perry Cabin
A quiet waterside retreat set on 26 acres in St. Michaels, Maryland, the Inn at Perry Cabin would make for a lovely endpoint for an East Coast road trip (whether arriving from the north or south). This cozy spot, which overlooks the Miles River, offers sailing, golf, tennis and a luxurious spa. This year, the Inn introduced a roster of private dining options, with each taking place in a converted greenhouse or gazebo. One is set back amongst nature, with views of a wildlife-filled cove, and another has a vista of the property’s dock and fleet of sailboats. Speaking of seafaring: catch a ride on the Inn’s 55-foot Hinckley, dubbed The Five Star, which has been outfitted in complete custom luxury. Borrow bikes to explore the historic town of St. Michaels, or, if wanting to remain on the grounds, some autumnal tennis and golf sound enticing.