The Best New Luxury Resorts for Getting Back to Nature

Chris Churchill

The urge to head outdoors has never been stronger. These five new back-to-nature resorts will satisfy the need to escape—no roughing it required.

Lake House on Canandaigua


A king room at the Lake House on Canandaigua. Chris Churchill

Growing up, Lyndsay Caleo Karol and her brother Bill Caleo didn’t just live by a lake—they lived in one. “Our dad used to call us lake rats because, instead of bathing, we’d swim in the Canandaigua all day,” says Lyndsay. The siblings have been swimming, kayaking, and wake surfing at their family’s compound on Canandaigua Lake, in New York’s Finger Lakes region, for as long as they can remember. So three years ago, when they were bestowed the keys to a nearby nine-acre property that had been operating as a low-budget motor lodge for decades, they were determined to turn it into something that captured the essence of that blissful childhood.

Related: 8 Charming American Towns Known for Their Natural Splendor

Opened in August, the Lake House on Canandaigua checks all the boxes for a luxurious getaway—farm-to-table cuisine, an apothecary spa, a contemporary design with handmade touches—but it’s the sense of local “lake culture,” as the Caleos call it, that truly defines the property. “As soon as you get here, it throws you into neutral,” says Lyndsay, adding, “This project is really about our love for our hometown.” Beyond the Canandaigua, which can be explored via the hotel’s slick Nautique wake boat, guests can hike to waterfalls, visit dozens of local farms and wineries, and embark on classic upstate activities like apple picking and horseback riding. There’s also something to be said for doing nothing at all, says Bill. “There’s this simplicity in sitting in an Adirondack chair and just breathing. There is something magical about this place.”

Montage Healdsburg

Three months before California’s Montage Healdsburg was scheduled to open, it had already hosted 400,000 guests—including several queens. The resort’s apiary was at full capacity with four beehives churning out so much honey that a cocktail program, spa menu, and culinary concept were already in the works. The bees had plenty of company too: The property’s 258 acres are home to 20,000 trees—including 90 heritage oaks—as well as 13 acres of vineyards and one Lagotto Romagnolo, whose job is to sniff out black truffles in the abutting woodland.


The Russian River and Alexander Valley, as seen from Montage Healdsburg. Christian Horan

The agrarian vibe is well suited to this part of Sonoma Valley, where the scene is a more free-range version of nearby Napa. Surrounded by the town of Healdsburg’s generations-old farms and wineries, the Montage endeavors to be downright neighborly, earmarking more than two-thirds of its grounds for no development at all. The bungalows, with 130 rooms and suites, are hidden among the trees, luring guests out onto their patios with firepits and daybeds shaded by manzanitas and Pacific madrones. But there’s no good argument for sitting around all day what with the resort’s miles of hiking and biking trails, bocce courts and archery, swimming pool, amphitheater, 11,500-square-foot spa, and trio of alfresco restaurants. This being California wine country, nearly every activity pairs well with a glass of red or white (even bocce, if you’ve got a steady hand). Of Montage’s own blends, which are bottled by nearby Aperture Cellars, the Bordeaux-style red goes especially well with truffles and honey.

Miraval Berkshires


From left: A modern farmhouse with guest rooms at Miraval Berkshires; Classic log-cabin style gets upgraded at High Hampton. From left: James Baigrie; Courtesy High Hampton

At any wellness resort, the options for self-care can be surprisingly bipolar: Hatchet throwing or meditation? Yoga or ziplining? Elimination diet or chocolate-appreciation course? You can do all that at the new Miraval resort in the Berkshires, but perhaps more crucial is the option to throw the whole program out the window and, instead, lie by the pool with a spicy bourbon cocktail. General manager Victor Cappadona calls it a “non-forced wellness experience,” a place where you can opt out of the Tibetan singing bowls sound bath and cardio drumming class in favor of a simpler, less scheduled form of therapy. “We’re not going to tell you how to eat, exercise, or meditate. You can come here and dabble in it without us pushing you in any direction.”

Related: The Perfect Weekend Getaway in the Berkshires

One direction that Miraval’s Berkshires location can’t help taking you, however, is outside. Cappadona often suggests guests go for a self-led hike on the resort’s forest-backed grounds to commune with horses and cows and mountains and trees. A stroll past the chicken coops, apiary, and vegetable garden is a mellow, almost contemplative, way to see where the restaurant’s healthful cuisine comes from (even if they are within whooping-and-hollering earshot of something called the Flying Squirrel aerial course). And if you do end up in that hatchet-throwing lesson, the Miraval team will make sure that it’s more than the fresh air that does you some good. Halfway through it, you’ll be given a notepad to write down something that’s holding you back—fear, anger, disappointment in no longer having a 23-inch waist—and place on your target. Turns out hurling blades Viking-style at your inner demons isn’t just a fun way to spend some time outdoors. It’s self-care too.

The Green O


A forest massage for two at the Green O. Stuart Thurlkill/Courtesy The Resort at Paws Up

For some travelers, the classic dude ranch formula—one part rugged outdoor adventure, one part luxury log cabin, and one part family-fun overload—doesn’t add up to a relaxing getaway. But the new Green O camp at Montana’s Resort at Paws Up is making some adjustments to the equation, adding modern design—and subtracting the kids. With its 12 glass-and-timber tree houses tucked away in a dense pine forest, the adults-only resort-within-a-resort is hardly a camp at all. Still, you can sleep under the stars (thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights) and make s’mores (book a room with a fireplace and hot tub on the deck), all while surrounded by one of America’s last great expanses of wilderness.

Related: Embrace the Great Outdoors at These Luxury Hotels

Paws Up’s 37,000 acres of plains and wetlands are wide open for guests to play as rough or refined as they desire: Corral horses and rappel down mountains, fly fish for trout and kayak in the Blackfoot River, or get wrapped in mineral mud and meditate outside among the trees. After a day out, Green O guests return to their woodland oasis for dinner at the Social Haus, a restaurant, bar, and lounge that elevates the Paws Up dining scene. Chef Brandon Cunningham, formerly of the celebrated Renata, in Portland, Oregon, focuses on live-fire cooking and gives old-fashioned cowboy fare (plenty of meat and potatoes) a contemporary upgrade with fresh produce, craft cocktails, and a wine list with more than 400 labels.

High Hampton

You can’t help having Dirty Dancing flashbacks at High Hampton. The 1,400-acre escape, set on Hampton Lake in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, has been a seasonal pilgrimage for families since it first opened in the 1920s. Located about 70 miles from where much of the film was shot, the resort has no doubt seen many of its own star-crossed summer flings, magic shows, and dance lessons. Next spring, the historic property will launch its next 100 years with a redesign led by the family behind Tennessee’s acclaimed Blackberry Farm resort.


From left: Boating on Canandaigua Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region; Hampton Lake in North Carolina. From left: Chris Churchill; Courtesy High Hampton

Sandy Beall, chairman of Blackberry Farm, discovered High Hampton like anyone else: as a guest on vacation with his family. The character that originally drew Beall and countless others to the property—the wraparound porch where every night guests gather for sunset; the cozy cottages and rustic log cabins with roaring fireplaces—will remain well preserved but upgraded by the Tennessee company’s creative team (along with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office), by adding antiques and vintage pieces, as well as commissioned artwork and handcrafted furniture. Blackberry’s stellar culinary crew will bring elements of its renowned farm cuisine to two reimagined restaurants. But some things will rightly stay just as they’ve always been: the dahlia gardens and the 100-year-old champion trees, the crystal-clear waters of Hampton Lake, and the stories of summers past—both real and imagined.