There are a handful of properties in this breathtaking world of ours that are so immersed in nature, they call for a category of their own.
As we crafted our SmartFlyer Stateside Hitlist, we identified select hotels that fit this mold, necessitating an extension of our previously listed thirty favorites. Internally, we deemed these hotels – that are destinations in and of themselves – a part of the “special list.” What makes them so? Well, for starters, they were designed for social distancing before it was travel’s hottest trend. And if privacy is of the highest priority for you, it’s worth noting that each of these spots are buyout-friendly; in fact, some are only available to those who’d like to do takeover altogether.
You’ll notice a common thread of connection to the great outdoors as we travel from Utah to Montana to Wyoming and Colorado, rounded out by one East Coast pick in the Adirondacks. And with notable amenities like yoga yurts and even “camping butlers,” each spot is sure to satisfy the most rugged nature-lover in your crew along with the city-dweller who’s wary of what glamping may have in store. We swear we’ve got all the bases covered. So, jump on in and join us as we travel to some of the United States’ most out-of-this-world luxury hotels.
Canyon Point, Utah
Amangiri: Suite bedroom
Amangiri feels like you are literally on the moon – talk about a getaway. It’s a ridiculously sexy setting but also offer crazy adventures like climbing the Via Ferratas rock formation and walking across the iron bridge.
Translating into “peaceful mountain,” Amangiri is set in Utah’s stunning canyon country and incorporates the beauty of the Four Corners desert in its design. Beyond its reputation as one of the world’s most exclusive hotels with many clients opting to fly private to reach its highly remote location, the story of its conception goes far deeper than aesthetics. In fact, it took five years and an act of Congress to approve the use of the land from the national parks and wildlife departments. Reflecting on a recent stay, Boston-based travel advisor Julie Palo Hayes shares, “Amangiri feels like you are literally on the moon – talk about a getaway. It’s a ridiculously sexy setting but also offers crazy adventures like climbing the Via Ferratas rock formation and walking across the iron bridge.” Knoxville-based travel advisor Alexandra Stockton adds, “Between the impressive design of Amangiri and the dramatic landscape, you’ll leave feeling inspired. The property offers the perfect combination of exciting activities and relaxation. Be sure to try the Watsu massage at the spa, a guided Ferrata excursion, and a day-trip to Zion National Park.”
This summer, Amangiri’s thirty-four suites were joined by the unveiling of Camp Sarika. This cluster of just ten canvas-topped pavilions elevate the desert experience to feel even more remote and exclusive. Palo Alto-based travel advisor Katie Lee shares, “Camp Sarika at Amangiri is my obsession. Every pavilion utilizes indoor and outdoor spaces beautifully with their own private pool, fire pit and lounge chairs nestled at the foot of the breathtaking Mesas.” Newport Beach-based travel advisor Michelle Manas adds, “With the new addition of Camp Sarika, Amangiri has created the ultimate glamping experience! Escape to their new tented oasis and enjoy so much space and tranquility. There’s no better place to be ‘desert-ed’ than Amangiri!” Tampa-based travel advisor Lesley Cohen concludes, “Amangiri is a showstopper – our clients that stay feel that it’s a place that stays with them long after they check-out.”
Insider Tip: Snag a complimentary BMW and head to Horseshoe Bend, a 30-minute drive into Arizona.
The Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection
As guests enter the front gates, they are introduced to 30,000 unspoiled acres of rolling wilderness in south-central Wyoming all under the label of The Brush Creek Luxury Ranch Collection. This iconic ranch typifies the American West, offering a sense of independence while riding trails, driving cattle, fly-fishing or hiking 12,000-foot Medicine Bow Peak. The adventures at this all-inclusive, authentic working cattle ranch are near-endless. Accommodations include forty-two timbered rooms, with open-hearth fireplaces and plush amenities. Families can spread out in 19th-century, restored log cabins with decks, full kitchens and expansive views.
For those seeking a buyout opportunity, look no further than Magee Homestead. This Relais & Chateaux and Forbes Five Star all-inclusive ranch can host up to twenty-seven guests. This portion of the property offers bespoke, richly appointed accommodations in its twelve bedrooms spread across nine units. Newport Beach-based travel advisor Katie Frederick Jacobson recently booked clients here sharing, “Magee Homestead is an amazing one-of-a-kind adventure for families this summer! This secluded frontier retreat on the sprawling Brush Creek Ranch is normally adults-only, but it is being rented out exclusively for buyouts during summer 2020 and they are welcoming children. You’ll instantly feel at home among the nine beautifully restored cabins that open onto the vast mountain prairie. There are tons of activities, like blue-ribbon fly-fishing in the North Platte River Valley, horseback riding, clay shooting, archery, sunrise yoga, and more. And the food is not to be missed! They have a ‘pasture-to-plate’ philosophy and focus on locally-sourced ingredients, most of which come from their greenhouse. Guests can enjoy BBQ nights, wine pairings, gourmet picnics, and of course, roasting s’mores by the fire before coming back to their cozy cabin.”
Advisor Tip: The cattle drive is a once-in-a-lifetime horseback experience where you move cattle to different pastures on the ranch.
Adirondack Mountains, New York
A legendary oasis with its own private 500-acre lake tucked into the Adirondacks, Lake Kora provides the ultimate getaway. The history behind this spot is as fun to dive into as the lake’s refreshing waters, with ownership only changing hands four times since the turn of the last century. Back then, families whose last names were at the forefront of our collective consciousness, signifying power, taste and vast fortunes – Rockefellers, Astors, Morgans and Vanderbilts among them — built mountaintop, lakeside “camps” in Upstate New York to escape summertime heat and urban life. By most accounts, Lake Kora was the “grandest” of Great Camps. This sprawling, timbered compound was purchased by Teddy Roosevelt’s Lieutenant Governor, Timothy Woodruff and tales of Woodruff’s ownership are of legendary hedonism in the woods with stories of the most unexpected amusements such as gondolas imported from Venice plying the lake, semi-tamed bears resided near the cabins, telephone service as early as 1903. Subsequent owners (neighboring Vanderbilts among them) indulged similar eccentricities – at one time, tame deer visited daily for freshly made blueberry pancakes.
Its present owner made a conscientious decision to open this captivating, private, and historical estate to a limited number of exclusive bookings during the peak summer and early fall months
Today, Lake Kora is but a few of the Great Camps which remain in private hands and open to the public since just 2015. Its present owner made a conscientious decision to open this captivating, private, and historical estate to a limited number of exclusive bookings during the peak summer and early fall months. Manhattan-based travel advisor Mauricio Buenaventura shares, “Lake Kora should be top on the wish list for big families as it is the definition of ultimate luxury and seclusion.” Miami-based travel advisor Kyle Seltzer adds, “Whether you’re a party of five or thirty, it’s the ultimate buyout situation. It’s simply gorgeous and there are so many activities to keep guests busy from the bowling alley, jet-skis, hikes, fly fishing and more.” An added bonus is that a stay here is inclusive of food and beverage, so there is truly nothing to worry about or plan once you arrive.
Insider Tip: Steps from the Main Lodge is the former Ice House, now cleverly re-purposed into a two-story spa building. As the ultimate respite for weary muscles, the sauna and whirlpool help you relax and indulge.
The Resort at Paws Up
The property is literally a modern-day ranch with cowboys and cowgirls! Paws Up has a super laid-back vibe but without overlooking the creature comforts we know and love.
Known as “The Last Best Place,” The Resort at Paws Up may be just that. New York-based travel advisor Melissa Rodriguez confirms it lives up the hype, recalling, “From the minute I stepped off the plane, I knew I’d love Montana. The property is literally a modern-day ranch with cowboys and cowgirls! Paws Up has a super laid-back vibe but without overlooking the creature comforts we know and love; think: snow tubing complete with champagne or attending one of their special their Master chef series accompanied by craft beers.” This pristine escape in the Rocky Mountains takes full advantage of the Big Sky countryside and this wilderness outpost offers something for all energy levels. As for accommodations, guests can choose from twenty-eight luxurious vacation homes, or they can experience upscale camping in one of thirty-six luxury tents complete with decadent furnishings, their own private bathroom and even the services of a Camping Butler. It’s nature served on a silver platter! Los Angeles-based travel advisor Lauren Tulp reflects on a recent stay sharing, “The accommodations are ranch-chic, whether you choose to glamp or shack up in a cabin; and the activities are so fun — don’t miss the cattle drive!”
St. Louis based travel advisor Amy Zebala elaborates, “The Montana skies are beautiful. We loved the rafting and the cattle drive – I even purchased my very own Stetson in their curated boutique! And for foodies, the family-style farm-to-table dinner with the winemaker is extraordinary.” Atlanta-based travel advisor Sue Girardier adds, “The resort is so spread out that you can have all the privacy you want, but the cars they provide for guests make it easy to get around the property. Not only does it work wonderfully for bachelor or bachelorette parties, multi-generational trips and couples but I also love it for a mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter or father-son getaway.” Activities are catered to any age group and perfected by some of the best guides around. Guests are invited to explore the land on horseback, cast a fly for trout or simply indulge in spa treatments at Spa Town.
Advisor Tip: Release your inner cowboy or cowgirl on an authentic cattle drive, where you can try your hand at herding cattle from horseback.
Colorado (exact location undisclosed)
Would you believe us if we told you this place isn’t even Google-able? Comprised of about 50 buildings, including a saloon, a church, a jail, a firehouse, a livery and a train station, The Town is a secret amongst those in-the-know, available exclusively for buyouts. The owner’s fascination with the Old West was the inspiration for this unpopulated, Western town. If it sounds up your alley, contact your SmartFlyer travel advisor for more details.