Classic American Resorts

Courtesy Sea Island

From The Greenbrier to The Cloister, six hotels with history.

The Greenbrier

Local businessman Jim Justice II invested some $250 million to bring the centuries-old 6,750-acre resort back to life (and out of bankruptcy) in 2010. Carleton Varney updated Dorothy Draper’s original interior design for the 710-room neoclassical hotel, and this fall the resort will launch private train service, in Varney-designed railcars, from Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. Rooms start at $220; 300 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs, WV; 855-453-4858;

The Inn at Little Washington

When Patrick O’Connell opened The Inn in 1978, he transformed this tiny town, about an hour and a half outside D.C., into a gastronomic destination. The hotel has expanded over the years to include many other buildings; one of the most recent additions is the 3,200-square-foot Claiborne House, named for the late food critic Craig Claiborne. Rooms start at $425; 309 Middle St., Washington, VA; 540-675-3800;

Inn by the Sea

With just 61 rooms, this 27-year-old hotel is a family- and pet-friendly resort on Crescent Beach. The LEED-certified property, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2008, is opening ten Beach Suites in June, set in a separate building with unobstructed oceanfront views. It’s also a stone’s throw from the historic lighthouse seen in Edward Hopper’s famous painting Lighthouse Hill. Rooms start at $210; 40 Bowery Beach Rd. Cape Elizabeth, ME; 800-888-4287;

La Playa Hotel

Built in 1905 as a private home for a Ghirardelli heiress, La Playa has served as the grand hotel of chic Carmel-by-the-Sea since 1916. The group that restored Arizona’s Biltmore Hotel acquired the property last fall, spending $3.8 million on upgrades, including entirely redone rooms and suites (there are 75) and social hubs (lobby, library, bar and lounge). It reopens in August. Rooms start at $250; Camino Real at Eighth Ave., Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA; 800-582-8900;

The Cloister

New ownership at the end of 2010 followed an epic (and costly) rebuild of the exclusive vacation community’s signature hotel The Cloister. Since then, the focus has been on enlivening the timeless Southern charm at this resort, which specializes in expert sports instruction; Sea Island now hosts one of the PGA’s most popular new events, the McGladrey Classic, held in October. Rooms start at $325; 100 Cloister Dr., Sea Island, GA; 855-572-4975;

In Time for Summer: The Nantucket Hotel & Resort

Built in 1891 and almost destroyed by a fire in 1925, the Point Breeze Hotel is back this July as the family-friendly Nantucket, aiming to restore the original’s grandeur while featuring modern conveniences and a rooftop lounge. Rooms start at $435; 77 Easton St., Nantucket, MA; 508-310-1734;