7 Stunning Hideaways

090608_stunninghideawaysEmerald Lake Lodge
Courtesy Emerald Lake Lodge

Psst...! These secluded North American properties, surrounded by spectacular landscapes, are the perfect antidote for the busy workweek. Check in, drop out, and catch a late flight back.

Monumental Views
Opened to visitors in December 2008, The View Hotel is the only hotel in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and one of the newest spots in the world for a soulful desert sojourn. The hotel is decorated with traditional Navajo rugs, kachina dolls, paintings, and ceramics, and all of its 90 rooms have private balconies with sweeping panoramas of the Mitten Buttes. For a closer look at the surrounding mesas' spare, red-rock terrain, hike the nearby Wildcat Trail—a four-mile walk that descends more than 900 feet to the valley floor. The View's restaurant serves dishes like mutton stew and Navajo tacos with beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and onions piled high on savory fry bread. 435/727-5556, monumentvalleyview.com, from $95. Photos1 of 3

Swim with the Fishes
When owner Stanley Selengut opened Maho Bay Camps on St. John in 1976, he never intended to be a pioneer in the ecotourism movement. After leasing a 14-acre plot above idyllic Maho Bay, the entrepreneurial environmentalist built 114 tent-like cottages with screened windows and open-air terraces set above a serene stretch of white-sand beach. A few years later he added nearby Harmony Studios, 12 airy apartments with kitchenettes, lofted ceilings, and large decks with water views (for better views, ask for an upper-level unit, which costs about $10 extra). Whichever you choose, you'll have access to miles of hiking trails in Virgin Islands National Park and some of the best snorkeling on the island's north shore: Swim with hawksbill turtles, stingrays, and blue-striped bar jacks in Little Maho Bay, or rent a kayak ($35 half-day) and paddle to nearby Whistling Cay for a glimpse of colorful angelfish and parrot fish. 800/392-9004, maho.org, from $80. Photos1 of 3

Northern Exposure
Alaskans have long flocked to Chena Hot Springs Resort—about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks—to soak in its 105-degree naturally occurring hot springs. Travelers from the Lower 48 may be drawn to the 440-acre resort for another local attraction: the aurora borealis. Better known as the northern lights, the natural phenomenon is best seen after midnight from September through May, when Alaska's darkness settles in for winter. The hotel will make "aurora wake-up calls" for guests who turn in early, and it has a heated cabin with huge Plexiglas windows for watching the light show. On off days (the aurora is visible about every three days) visit the resort's year-round Aurora Ice Museum, constructed entirely from ice and snow. At the bar inside, take a seat on an ice stool covered with caribou hide, sip vodka cocktails from hand-carved ice glasses, and contemplate the funky assortment of ice sculptures, including a 12-foot polar bear and a chess set with giant playing pieces. 907/451-8104, chenahotsprings.com, from $189. Photos1 of 2

Going Coastal
Popular with do-it-yourselfers who'd rather commune with nature than battle city crowds, Big Sur's Treebones Resort is a sprawling collection of 16 Mongolian-style yurts, most with views of the California coast. It's country living with style: The canvas-walled yurts are outfitted with French doors, cozy quilts, and plush rugs. Plus they're all a short walk to miles of hiking trails within Los Padres National Forest. When your day is done, watch the Pacific Ocean hammer the rocky coastline from the comfort of the heated pool, then head to the restaurant for a largely organic meal accented by fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden (try the tagine, a Moroccan dish made with mint and cilantro). 877/424-4787, treebonesresort.com, from $155 including breakfast. Photos1 of 3

A Gem of a Place
Emerald Lake Lodge was built in 1902 in Canada's Yoho National Park, about 60 miles west of Banff, as a way station along the Canadian Pacific Railway. More than 100 years later, it's expanded a little but kept its original charm—a suitably humble response for a hotel overshadowed by the peaks of the President Range, and set on the shores of a spectacular, aquamarine glacial lake. Choose from one of 24 timber cabins, all with spacious balconies and fieldstone fireplaces stocked daily with locally sourced wood. In summer set out to hike Takakkaw Falls—at over 1,200 feet, it's one of the highest waterfalls in western Canada. In winter, drive a half hour east to the Banff resorts in the Canadian Rockies for some of the best skiing in North America. You can always return to the lodge to relax in the outdoor hot tub or snack at one of the two on-site restaurants—the most picturesque is Cilantro on the Lake, with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Canadian Rockies (open summer only). 800/663-6336, crmr.com, from $153. Photos1 of 3

Point Break
Far from touristy Ixtapa, the Inn at Manzanillo Bay draws both mellow sunseekers and surfers eager to test the challenging waves of Mexico's Pacific coast. The eight thatched-roof bungalows and two deluxe suites with marble floors and private patios are part of a complex run by American Michael Bensal, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy who cooks up Baja-style fish tacos and chiles rellenos in the hotel's casual restaurant. There's a decidedly laid-back vibe: Guests laze on the beach with frozen margaritas made with the inn's boutique house tequila, or relax in the pool surrounded by coconut palms and bougainvilleas. Surfers will catch the biggest swell from May through October, although the inn's private point break throws consistent waves throughout much of the year. Want to learn how to surf? Bensal will set you up with a local instructor for private lessons on a nearby sandy beach break, ideal for beginners. 011-52/755-533-2884, manzanillobay.com, from $128. Photos1 of 4

Country Living
The Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville, Vt., is surrounded by 21 wooded acres that turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and gold in late September and early October. But don't rule out a summer visit, when chef Jason Tostrup's garden is in full bloom. The farm-to-table advocate grows much of the food served at the inn's critically acclaimed restaurant (Tostrup was named Vermont Chef of the Year in 2008), and local ranches usually supply the rest. Expect Slow Food dishes like Shuttleworth Farm lamb confit and curried seared Maine lobster, all served alongside the inn's freshly baked bread. If that's too fussy, stop in the inn's casual tavern for hearty soups and pub favorites such as the grilled Blackwatch Farms burger with cheddar cheese from Grafton Village. When you're done, rent a bike in Woodstock, 12 miles away, and cruise traffic-free roads on the lookout for covered bridges or cool antique shops. A bonus: If you decide to stay in, the 12 rooms are hardly run-of-the-mill. Some have whirlpool tubs, skylights, and working fireplaces. 802/263-9217, weathersfieldinn.com, from $139. Photos1 of 1

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