Finding the Keys
Michael Carroll examines the literary history and enduring allure of Key West.
If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that there’s value in a good escape. Sometimes you just need to reset and recharge, and what better place to do that than a luxurious lodge in the heart of wine country or a top-tier resort in a coastal oasis? From the Commodore Perry Estate in Austin to the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Dana Point, these six establishments are the most impressive lodges and resorts to open last year, earning them recognition as a 2021 Legend Award honoree.
The Hudson Valley finally has a hotel befitting the hip New Yorkers who have for years been visiting the upstate region—an artistic, and relatively low-key, alternative to the Hamptons. The Maker opened in August as a haven for those well-heeled weekenders, providing a much-needed cool kids hangout with 11 rooms (each named after and devoted to a different creative profession, like the Architect and the Writer), plus an all-day café, a fine-dining restaurant, a glamorous lounge, and a handful of guest-only spots, including a second-floor nook perfect for cocktails for two. The level of detail throughout is hard to fathom: There’s the mural in the conservatory, created by artist Michael Allen, and the many 19th-century fireplaces, which have been repaired and replicated by master restorer Gary Keegan. That dresser? It’s a Rococo antique. The sofa? A one-of-a-kind by midcentury-modern designer Edward Wormley. The guest book is even a design piece, a half-filled ledger from an antique ship that has since been filled with rave reviews by the Maker’s many, many adoring fans.
Montage Healdsburg opened its doors to the public in January 2021, bringing the five-star Montage name to Sonoma County. With 130 standalone bungalows—including their highly coveted, three-bedroom Guest House suite—set on 258 acres, this is the secluded wine country retreat dreams are made of. Start your morning off here with coffee from the Healdsburg Country Store, and spend your day on the pickleball courts, renting e-bikes on property to take into town, or heading to Aperture Cellars, where guests of Montage are invited to enjoy an exclusive tasting with winemaker Jesse Katz. Unwind at Spa Montage, lounge by the zero-edge pool elevated 20 feet above the wines, grab sunset drinks at Scout Bar, and dine at Hazel Hill restaurant for a memorable visit to Montage Healdsburg.
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection
Opened in July, the Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection is exactly what Austin needed. Just like the city itself, the 54-room hotel is stylish and youthful, with eclectic Ken Fulk-designed interiors, a retro-chic pool, and a garden restaurant that’s open to the public. A private members club and lively roster of events and activities (including glamping brunch Sundays on the manicured lawn) are already making the property a hot spot for Austin locals and tourists alike.
Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas
Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas opened on March 17, 2021, and the 130-room resort was a completely new build from the ground up. This is the third Alila property in the U.S., and the 16th around the world. The hotel, named marea for the Spanish and Italian word for “tide” is deliberately integrated into a San Diego coastal bluff, and every part of this property exudes the serenity of the coast. Each of the 130 rooms at Alila features tasteful, Southern California-inspired design. And speaking of, nowhere is the Southern California innovation more apparent than at VAGA, Alila’s fine dining restaurant where chef Claudette Zepeda is offering a refreshing and sumptuous take on SoCal cuisine.
Spread out over 380 acres, the newly opened Miraval Berkshires, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is the pinnacle of luxury wellness for travelers looking to disconnect and focus on their wellbeing. The sprawling property features 100 unique guest rooms and suites, access to the world-class golf course at the historical Wyndhurst Manor & Club, and revolutionary dining options. But it’s the 29,000-square-foot spa featuring 28 treatment rooms—the largest in the Miraval portfolio—that makes the property a true wellness mecca. From farming and beekeeping to meditation and yoga, wellness counseling to fitness, travelers will surely be able to indulge themselves in endless activities.
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club
Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club debuted in January 2021, a reimagining of what was once Monarch Beach Resort. The new Dana Point retreat, with 400 guest rooms, also features the luxurious and private Monarch Bay Beach Club. You’ll find coastal luxury at every turn on this property, from the 18-hole golf course along the ocean, to the 4,000-square-foot Outdoor Athletic Pavilion, to the two pools lined with private cabanas and infinity-edge hot tubs with views of the coastline.
Preserve Sporting Club & Residences
An outdoorsy yet luxurious New England retreat is what travelers will find at Preserve Sporting Club & Residences, which opened in June 2020. At the five-star Rhode Island enclave, horse lovers can explore 100 miles of riding trails, fishers can venture to any one of 10 fly fishing ponds, golfers can tee up on the 18-hole course, and those seeking adventure can try the 1,765-foot zipline. Beyond these offerings, guests of The Preserve will find a shooting range and miles of hiking and biking trails. The accommodations at The Preserve set the property apart just as much as their never-ending list of outdoor activities. Guests will relax after the day’s adventures in luxury single-family homes, romantic cottages, or even elevated tent or treehouse accommodations.