Come this time of year, the world gets divided between those who love the cool, green mountains and those who can’t imagine life without a beach and an ocean. Yet for both, there’s usually one other possibility: some sort of watering hole, be it lake, pond or what The Beverly Hillbillies’ Jed Clampett used to call the “cement pond.” I’m with Jed. But when I suggested a pool for the cover of this month’s All-American Issue, everyone around here rolled their eyes and flat-out vetoed the idea as too clichéd. Which is why we decided to feature a singular lobster shack on the coast of Maine that novelist Beth Gutcheon and photographer Amy Archer capture so poetically in “A Letter from Blue Hill, Maine.”
As a jump-start to summer, I spent a few days last month in L.A., poolside no less, at that classic, summer-all-year-round destination, The Beverly Hills Hotel. With its pink stucco and signature banana-leaf wallpaper (okay, the fireplace blazing in 90-degree weather can be a bit much, but it’s supposed to be more of a wink than a necessity), this may be the ultimate feel-good hotel. It also, in my opinion, has the best “cement pond” around. Next year, the hotel will undergo a “refreshment” as part of its 100-year anniversary. As it’s been said, “The Titanic went down, The Beverly Hills Hotel went up.”
With so many places, people and things to love about summer, I wanted to be sure not to overlook three of my own favorites. The pool is just the beginning of the wonders at the Montage in Laguna Beach, California, which is one of the truly great, albeit only eight years old, resorts by the sea, with possibly the best spa in America. For the grand American hotel with old-world Euro style, none beats Wheatleigh, which I discovered shortly after it reopened in 2000. It invariably makes my list as one of my all-time favorite places in the world, given its Italian palazzo country-house style and its location in Massachusetts’s Berkshire mountains (ideal for checking out the summer cultural goings-on at nearby Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow). FYI: tiny pool out back. Last year, I discovered the coastal cool of Maine at the Camden Harbour Inn, a white-clapboard, very proper 19th-century affair from the outside whose interiors are every bit as original and modern as the fare at Natalie’s, its bistro-style restaurant. You know… I even forgot until just now…and there was nary a pool in sight.
Recommendation: Montana’s Resort at Paws Up
I had looked at pictures of the tented “camps” at Paws Up—35 miles from Missoula, Montana, and another hour or so from The Ranch at Rock Creek—for years and last summer decided to do something about it. I split ten days between both ranches and found them to be quite different experiences. To begin with, the emphasis at Paws Up is on staying in your own house or in one of the tents, pictured above. There are no lodge-like accommodations.
Paws Up is also a real working ranch and offers the fairly singular experience of being able to spend a morning herding cattle with one of the resident cowboys. It was my favorite activity of the trip. Though there are lovely tents in the woods, I would suggest staying in one of the romantic ones on the river that, believe me, have every possible creature comfort you could ask for. New this year are adult-only tents at Moonlight Camp, which is what it means—leave the kids behind. Rooms start at $720; 800-473-0601; pawsup.com.
The time has come, my friends: on Twitter, follow me @MrDepartures.