Escape from the city to these peaceful retreats that are all within a two-hour drive of major cities like Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Plus, they are all giving back and incorporating sustainability into the fabric of guest experiences.
Deer Path Inn
Closest to home for us here in Chicago is Deer Path Inn. This quaint Tudor-style manor house is an hour north of the city in Lake Forest. Gracious, attentive staff make you feel like the master of the house upon check-in. After major renovations last year, the furnishings and amenities in each of the 57 rooms and suites rival the top five-star hotels in Chicago. Rent bikes for a ride along the lakeshore with customizable picnic baskets. Traditional English afternoon tea in the garden courtyard is a must too, including a new afternoon tea just for kids. The inn recently received a community leadership award from the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff chamber of commerce for its exceptional level of commitment to community service.
Horses are everywhere at Salamander Resort — from the gentle mares at the equestrian center to the sculptures and contemporary paintings throughout the public spaces and guestrooms. This romantic LEED-certified retreat in Middleburg, Virginia, is an hour west of Washington, D.C. Nearly 200 of the property’s 340 acres are part of a conservation easement and the resort planted 2,000 trees in the town of Middleburg.
The surrounding wineries and bucolic landscape are reminiscent of Napa Valley 20 years ago. Parents can take advantage of the horsemanship club program to drop kids off for a half-day while they taste wine at Boxwood Winery and Greenhill Winery with a picnic lunch from Market Salamander. Alternatively, relax in the spa infinity pool or on a heated stone tepidarium chair after a Natura Bissé facial or massage. Other family-friendly activities include biking, bocce ball and ziplining. Salamander just opened in 2013, but many of the stone walls meandering along Middleburg’s roads date to before the Revolutionary War. Several of the spacious rooms have fireplaces and bathrooms that feature Mistral’s verbena-scented toiletries made with rich organic shea butter and olive oil.
In peaceful Cambridge, 75 minutes southwest of Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, you’ll find Langdon Hall, an elegant 19th-century English country home turned Relais & Chateaux resort. The Victorian gardens are as beautiful as ever (red and white tulips celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary this year), and teeming with vibrant fruits and vegetables. “We are always looking to decrease our footprint on this earth,” says communications manager Anna Hewat. Last summer, they started serving well water from the property in reusable glass bottles instead of pre-bottled plastic. Eight beehives supply a wild, earthy honey for breakfast, tea and desserts. Take a meandering stroll through the woods or play a game of croquet on the lawn if you’re feeling active. Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to do nothing at all, and simply relax at the spa with a Valmont facial or massage. The impressive spa facilities, including a new whirlpool and sauna, were completed just last year. Come evening, a sumptuous meal awaits, dictated by whatever produce is in season — summer squash, tomatoes, courgettes, basil, raspberries and gooseberries.
Just five miles from San Francisco across the bay in Sausalito, Cavallo Point is at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge in Golden Gate National Park. Views of the bridge from your room are stunning and the contemporary decor and well-appointed bathrooms are so comfortable and serene, it’s hard to check out. The resort has a LEED Gold certification and extensive wellness offerings at the Healing Arts Center include shamanic journeys, herbal consultations and acupuncture. Take a dip in the heated outdoor meditation pool after a massage or cupping treatment, then enjoy a cup of tea at the tea bar. Massage therapists here are extremely knowledgeable and the sprawling relaxation area is bright and airy, with ample natural light.
The restaurant, Murray Circle, is a business lunch favorite for San Franciscans looking to clear their heads. Executive Chef Justin Everett was instrumental in launching The Conscious Kitchen — the first local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food program in Sausalito Marin City School District. Last year they served 560 students from kindergarten through 8th grade and the school district is the first organic, non-GMO school district in the country.
Inn By The Sea
Two hours from Boston, this seaside escape is just outside Portland, Maine. Inn by the Sea has its own boardwalk leading to Crescent Beach and the proximity to the ocean is matched by luxurious accommodations, including a dozen new two-bedroom cove suites just unveiled for summer.
The LEED silver spa is the best in the state, utilizing local sea salt, seaweed and mud in various treatments. The signature sea waves massage is a real indulgence, with an undulating bed, soothing ocean sounds and personalized aromatherapy oil.
Original artwork in Sea Glass restaurant, spotlighting regional artists, is almost as beautiful as the sunset outside from the deck. Dine al fresco after a cocktail by the fire pit and enjoy Chef Andrew Chadwick‘s healthful and flavorful local cuisine, including seasonal vegan options. Using sustainable local seafood is important to Chadwick, who partners with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to serve underutilized and tasty species like pollock, mackerel and silver hake. The resort is as pet-friendly as it is environmentally friendly, providing massages, gourmet menus, blankets and treats for your furry friends.
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Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.