Ditch Winter for a Climate that Feels Convincingly Springy
The South is known for its many and varied charms, but perhaps most compelling among them right now is the local version of winter. Not that snow is entirely unheard of, but pick any weekend in the next few months to dip below the Mason Dixon line, and, odds are, a convincingly spring-like getaway awaits.
As for where you ensconce yourself during your stay, consider the consummately Southern Salamander Hotels and Resorts. Having already earned accolades from Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Forbes Travel Guide, this growing collection is poised to make a fan of you, too. In fact, whatever your idea of the ultimate escape, it’s probably on offer at one, if not several, of these properties. Seven cases in point:
For a tropical beach holiday:
Henderson Beach Resort: Destin, Florida
Having evolved from a sleepy fishing village into a dreamy Emerald Coast getaway, Destin recently welcomed the Henderson Beach Resort to one of the shoreline’s most enviable stretches. Along this 1.5-mile swath of chalk-white sand, you can paddleboard, boogie board, kayak or snorkel. Not that the resort’s own bodies of water don’t offer plenty of enticements: Between the lazy river and adults-only pool, everyone’s happy. Bonus for nature lovers: You can explore the adjacent 200-acre nature preserve on the resort’s bicycles.
For a lesson in American history:
NOPSI Hotel: New Orleans, Louisiana
Housed in the landmark 1920s building that once served as headquarters to the New Orleans Public Service Inc. (thus NOPSI), this hotel is an easy walk or streetcar ride from the French Quarter, Warehouse and Lower Garden districts, among other hot spots. Not that you need wander far for history: The city’s Jazz Age has been carefully preserved at NOPSI, with restored terrazzo floors, framed memorabilia and a preserved crane from the building’s previous incarnation. Don’t miss Above the Grid, the rooftop bar and pool where the nighttime people watching is (almost) as good as the cityscapes on view.
For a golf getaway:
Innisbrook Resort: Palm Harbor, Florida
Every March, golf professionals and passionate fans fill the 900-acre Innisbrook Resort for the annual PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. In fact, Rory McIlroy will make his 2018 debut at this very event. The rest of the year (now, for example), golfers can hit the links on the property’s four championship courses, lower handicaps at on-site clinics, stock up at three pro shops — or just play a round on the mini golf course. But nongolfers love the place, too: There are six swimming pools, waterslides, clay tennis courts, a spa and a free shuttle to Honeymoon Island State Park beach.
For an equestrian and wine country escape:
Salamander Resort & Spa: Middleburg, Virginia
Follow in the footsteps of no less than George Washington (or more accurately, the hoof prints of his horse) as you ride the gorgeous trails of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll want to make the Salamander Resort & Spa your home base: The on-site equestrian center has a 25-acre beginners’ area, a 14,000-square-foot stable, nine paddocks and a vista-stunning outdoor riding arena. But the resort is surrounded by more than equestrian trails: There are also 20 neighborhood vineyards, which go a long way toward explaining the Sunday tastings included in your stay — to say nothing of the wine-inspired treatment menu at the spa.
For family-friendly fun:
Reunion Resort: Kissimmee, Florida
Although kids are typically unimpressed with, say, the AAA 4-Diamond rating here, the resort’s in-house water park will fast-track you to parent-of-the-year (or grandparent-of-the-year) status in their minds like pretty much nothing else. Except, perhaps, for the small matter of Walt Disney World being about 10 minutes away. Other family-friendly touches include kitchens, living rooms and patios in the villas, and multi-bedroom vacation rentals with private pools, game rooms and putting greens. (For more grown-up golf, hit the Nicklaus-, Palmer- and Watson-designed courses, the only such trio in the U.S.). And everyone’s a sucker for the rooftop restaurant with Magic Kingdom fireworks views.
For a luxurious escape …
Hammock Beach Resort: Palm Coast, Florida
Between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach lies a AAA 4-Diamond hotel where everyone gets the VIP treatment (and nearly everyone gets an ocean view). And you don’t have to pay to play here: Amenities and activities included in the room rates range from unlimited rounds of mini golf, to biking and hiking, to the lazy river and waterslide. (Yes, there’s an adults-only pool, too.) Lounge chairs and towels await you at the private beach, which takes on a pink hue from coquina shells that wash ashore here. The beach looks equally stunning from the resort’s beloved and recently renovated Jack Nicklaus golf course.
For trendsetters …
Hotel Bennett: Charleston, South Carolina
Be among the first to spend a night at Charleston’s Hotel Bennett. As of summer 2018, Salamander Hotels & Resorts will have a King Street address, where you’ll find, among other things, a multilevel restaurant with terraces that look out over Marion Square; a rooftop pool with cabanas; and a patisserie. Originally the west wing of the city’s famed Citadel military college and former site of the Charleston County Library, the property still includes vestiges of both. The pink marble in the bar area, for example, was salvaged from the library.
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