Ultimate mountain retreats
Taking a vacation in the mountains has a cathartic effect – you can breathe clean air, enjoy fabulous views, benefit from exercise outdoors, and maybe spot some local wildlife if you’re lucky. There are wonderful locations all over the world, and the US has no shortage of options. Here are a few very special, ultimate mountain retreats.
Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee has 9,200 acres of pastoral land in the Great Smoky Mountains and is an intimate, luxury hotel. Steeped in Native American history, the early settlers were Cherokee and then Appalachian, who cultivated the land and foraged for food to sustain their families. Those same principles are followed today, and the farmstead serves up food grown on site and is also home to a culinary program for interested guests.
The local woods teem with wild mushrooms and ramp, a sort of wild leek. Later in the season, there is an abundance of persimmons, pawpaws, crabapples, and huckleberries. You can have a real outdoors adventure and try hiking, cycling, and paddle sports. You can also fish in the river or go canoeing or kayaking. With an atmosphere of calm and peacefulness, the wellness center and spa also beckons.
The Club at Big Bear Village is in the mountains of Southern California at Big Bear Lake. This is one of the acclaimed Bluegreen resorts and so the location is idyllic and remote, and the amenities are superb. There are spacious villas with a whirlpool bath in guest bathrooms to ensure you are totally relaxed. The fireplace will keep you cozy in the evenings, plus there is an outdoor heated pool.
You can stay active, depending on the time of year, with zip lining, skiing, wakeboarding, and horse riding options. You can rent a pontoon boat or take a guided helicopter tour to see the terrain from a bird’s-eye point of view. The San Bernardino National Forest surrounds Big Bear Lake and has five wilderness areas, where there are trails for hiking enthusiasts.
The Salish Lodge & Spa is not only enclosed by forests and mountains, but it also overlooks the Snoqualmie Falls, so the views are breathtaking. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, you can see the granite crags climbing high above you while the canyon is dotted with pine and fir trees. Wildlife in the area includes black-tailed deer and eagles, and rainbow trout are abundant.
In spring, summer, and fall, you can try your hand at mountain biking, kayaking, fly fishing, and river rafting, as well as hiking. There’s a local golfing range, and in the winter, you can snowshoe or ski at Snoqualmie Pass. Guestrooms and amenities here are superb, and you can enjoy fine dining and a great spa experience.
The Inn on the Biltmore Estate is one of those very special places, as once you arrive at the estate, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve been magically relocated to a French château circa 1895. Poised under the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Inn is surrounded by carefully tended lawns and includes a superb winery and a specialist shop. Visitors have remarked that Biltmore could easily be an aristocratic property straight from British TV series Downton Abbey.
You can arrange to go horse riding across the rolling countryside from the Equestrian Center, and there are plenty of tours, including a self-guided visit to Biltmore House. There are Land Rover lessons and trails to follow, plus trips to visit local wineries.
Make your choice
With such a variety of destinations, types of property, and local amenities from which to choose, the hardest part about organizing your ultimate mountain retreat may well be choosing it.