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September 26, 2013

Stunning Modernist Mountain Retreats

Courtesy of Amanresorts

These high-style resorts turn traditional lodge design on its head.

Traditionally, the high-altitude aesthetic of mountain resorts has centered on knotty-pine-wood paneling, oversized stone fireplaces, mounted antlers and chalet-style clichés. But a new crop of modernist retreats—in places like Australia’s Bogong High Plains and Norway’s fjord-lapped Sunnmøre Alps—has freshened up the lodge-oriented formula, bringing modern art, clean lines, sunlit common areas and uncluttered rooms that maximize the natural surroundings. (Which are very likely the reason you’re there in the first place.)

“The modernist movement in mountain resorts is influenced by sophisticated world travelers—they are design savvy and expect a modern vernacular interpreted in a mountain character,” says Tom Ito, an avid skier, designer and principal at Gensler, a global design firm with credits including North Face retails shops and an upcoming modernist hotel project in the Himalayas. “These travelers seek inspiration and fulfillment and want to engage with new and different experiences.”

Our favorites do just that. Some feature teakwood tubs heated by fired rocks (Amankora in Bhutan), enormous picture windows resulting in a distinct outside-brought-in feel (Ecuador’s Mashpi Lodge) and ancient monastery caves morphed into tranquil contemporary capsules (Argos in Cappadocia, Turkey). What’s more, members of the new guard remain fiercely authentic to their locales, which means visitors can expect genuine touches that go beyond fireplaces and antlers, though some classics are destined for reinterpretation.