Five Outstanding East Coast Resort Hotels You Should Visit Before You Die

Travel is frequently listed as one of the “must do” things on peoples’ lists, and resort hotels that not only pamper but also include natural beauty, history, great food, and lots of recreational opportunities are very attractive. Here’s the lowdown, in no particular order, on five of these resort destinations I’ve visited recently; they are located in the eastern part of the country, and some are offering enticing incentives during these tougher economic times (golf, tennis, pools, and spas are part of each location unless indicated):

1. The Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Of the five hotels, I’d say this one has the prettiest lobbies and other public areas – colors such as peach and pink combine in magical ways to produce drop-dead gorgeous palettes. The resort became popular in 1778 because it was thought that the mineral waters had healing properties, and people flocked to “take the waters.” Located in the Allegheny Mountains on 6,500 acres, there are more than 700 rooms and 50 different activities you can attempt, including falconry, kayaking, and geocaching. Eight restaurants, ranging from jacket and tie to casual attire will address your culinary needs. Don’t miss: The Bunker Tour ($30/person), a hidden government enclave under the Greenbrier built to shelter Congress in case of a nuclear war. Rates begin at $99/person. Pet friendly? Yes, for an extra fee. (The resort is undergoing some changes – West Virginia businessman Jim Justice of Justice Family Group LLP recently has acquired The Greenbrier from CSX Corp.)

2. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pennsylvania. The ambience here is woodsier – after all, you are in 2,000 acres of the Laurel Highlands of Southwest Pennsylvania. The resort offers 335 rooms within its six different options – from lodge guest rooms to luxury homes. The property began as a private game preserve, was later used as a conference center, and took on its present character with its purchase in 1987 by the founder of 84 Lumber Company, Joseph Hardy III. The name of the resort honors Chief Nemacolin, a Lanai Lanape Indian. A few less-common activities include a shooting academy, dog sledding, and a bowling alley; you can also land your plane at the resort’s 3,900-foot airstrip. Dining ranges from elegant (jackets suggested) to casual with more than a half-dozen choices. Don’t miss: The Great Escapes E-Newsletter notifies you of upcoming activities, special promotions, and reduced rates. Rates begin at $319/person. Pet friendly? Yes, for an extra fee.

3. The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia. This National Historic Landmark was founded in 1766 (pre-Revolution), but according to the site’s timeline, archaeologists found evidence that the “hot springs” were used in 7000 BC! With 483 rooms on 3,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains, miles of hiking trails, a 270-seat movie theater inside the resort, carriage rides, ice-skating and skiing, there is something for everyone year-round. Only 40 miles from the Greenbrier, you could try out both places over a long weekend. A number of restaurants, from formal to casual, will tickle your taste buds. Don’t miss: We’re beginner golfers, and played 9 holes on the Old Course, so named because it was completed in 1892 (we did schedule the last tee time so we wouldn’t delay anyone’s game). The Number 1 tee is the oldest tee in continuous use in the United States. Rates begin at $99. Pet friendly? Yes, for an extra fee.

4. Wentworth by the Sea, New Castle, New Hampshire. My parents are from the North Shore area of Massachusetts, and I love going to New England any chance I can. So, our July visit to this Marriott Hotel & Spa was eagerly anticipated, and I wasn’t disappointed. An hour north of Boston, this is the most easily accessible resort hotel among the five, with 161 rooms and views of the Atlantic. Wentworth by the Sea is close to Portsmouth, an historic, pedestrian-friendly city. The hotel itself was built in 1874, was closed in 1982, and, after many changes in ownership and its almost-demolition (two different times), it ultimately re-opened in 2003. Historically, the Wentworth is noteworthy as the venue for hammering out the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Japanese-Russo War. Although the grounds are small compared to the first three hotels, golf is available at the adjacent Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, and a 170 slip marina is available for boaters. Dining includes the seasonal Latitudes restaurant by the marina, and the Wentworth Dining Room with a local emphasis (i.e. lots of offerings from the sea). Don’t miss: Portsmouth Harbor Cruise departing at Ceres Street (I’d recommend making reservations in the summer – a few walk-ups were turned away). About an hour and a half long, the Harbor Cruise offers lovely scenery, historical sites, and is fully narrated ($16/person). Rates at Wentworth by the Sea begin at $229. Pet friendly? Yes, for an extra fee.

5. The Wauwinet, Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Greenbrier had the prettiest public places, but the Wauwinet had the most charming rooms (all 35 of them) – each one unique yet elegant – ours had blue and white flowered wallpaper, a high antique pine bed, and a small but modern bathroom. The little extras were nice – especially nice turn-down service with yummy chocolates, personalized stationery, full breakfast included with room, the services of an excellent concierge (she knew us by name), and 4 p.m. port, sherry and cheese. The location of the Wauwinet, on the secluded end of the island between the bay and the ocean, lets you escape from it all, but with jitney service provided to town nine miles away you enjoy the best of both worlds. No pool at the Wauwinet and no golf on the premises, but it’s nearby. Now a member of Relais & Chateaux, the inn was built by two sea captains in 1876, and is only open from May until October. TOPPERS restaurant provides fine dining, and has won many culinary awards. We ate there twice -once for the formal dining, and once on the deck enjoying a spectacular sunset. Don’t miss: Use the Wauwinet’s bikes and pedal (about five miles) to ‘Sconset, a quaint oceanside fishing village dotted with historic cottages covered in roses. Rates can vary – a lot. We were originally going to go over Labor Day Weekend, but found that the price of a room was hundred of dollars less per night on the Tuesday/Wed/Thursday preceding the holiday weekend, so ASK (we were able to book a room for $250/night. Pet friendly? No, and guests (human) need to be over the age of 12.

5 Best Resorts to Stay in Coorg

Coorg is an enchantingly beautiful hill station with lush green foliage, aromatic spice plantations and mist covered valleys. Located in the Western Ghats, Coorg’s stunning natural beauty has earned it the moniker ‘Scotland of India’. Coorg is a popular long weekend getaway option for people from Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai. The rapidly increasingly tourist inflow has led to the mushrooming of several resorts in Coorg. Here are the best resorts in Coorg that offers the perfect mix of comfort, views, hospitality and value.

The Windflower Resort and Spa

Set amidst a sprawling coffee plantation, the Windflower Resort is rated as one of the best places to stay in Coorg. The highlight of the resort is the top notch service and impeccable hospitality. The rooms are spacious with separate living and bedrooms along with private balcony. Being a fairly large property, try to book rooms close to the reception and restaurant to avoid a long walk. The pebbled pathways around the resort is ideal for an early morning or late evening walk. Other amenities include swimming pool, fitness center and a full service spa.

Orange County

With a rare 5/5 rating on Tripadvisor, the Orange County is by far the best resort in Coorg. Set bang in the middle of a sprawling coffee plantation, this eco-friendly resort offers the finest accommodation in Coorg. The poolside villas and the cottages offer beautiful views and is highly recommended. This resort in Coorg offers several activities like nature trail, birdwatching tours, coffee plantation tours, eco walk and cooking class. Guests can dine at any of the three in-house restaurants that serve India, Chinese and Continental fares any time of the day. The roads leading to the resort might not be in the best shape but the impeccable service and superb hospitality more than makes up for it. Highly recommended for couples and families who are looking for a luxury resort in Coorg.

Amanvana Spa Resort

The perfect resort to disconnect, relax and rejuvenate, Amanvana Spa Resort is one of the best spa resorts in Coorg. This is a mid range resort that offers excellent amenities and several fun activities as part of the stay. The highlight of the resort is the in-house restaurant that offers plethora of choices and personalized menus. Guests can partake in several activities like yoga, cooking class, nature walk, trekking and bird watching. The in-house spa offers a range of traditional and modern massages along with natural therapies.

Heritage Resort

Heritage Resort is a good choice for travellers looking for a budget to mid-range resort in Coorg. Located 10 minutes from Madikeri, this Coorg resort is set amidst lush greenery making it perfect for nature lovers. The hotel offers several amenities including a games room with carrom, table tennis and snooker, swimming pool and fitness center.

Ambatty Greens Resort

Located close to the Coorg Golf Course in Virajpet, Ambatty Greens Resort offers 24 colonial style villas set amidst lush gardens. The resort is renowned for its excellent hospitality, friendly staff and delicious local food. Guests are also offered sightseeing packages that cover elephant camp, plantation tours and nature trails.

Kona Cafe: One of the Best Kept Dining Secrets at Walt Disney World Resort

If you haven’t planned every nitty gritty detail of your Walt Disney World Resort vacation 6 months in advance, you may be in trouble. Whether it’s now, three weeks or three months away, you’ll find that suddenly the more famous Disney dining is booked solid. Whether you’re looking at character dining favorites like Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table, or the prestigious Le Cellier in the Epcot World Showcase, you have a popsicle’s chance in the desert of getting a reservation.

So what does this mean? Is your Disney vacation destined to be filled with mediocre and unsatisfying cuisine? Not at all! It means, rather, that you will explore some of the many underappreciated – and therefore, less crowded – restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort. One such restaurant, at which you should make a reservation or two immediately is the Kona Café, which has been called one of the best kept dining secrets at Disney World.

What is so special about the Kona Café?

The Kona Café not only offers a less crowded alternative to some of Disney’s other restaurants, it enjoys a prime location in the Lobby of Disney’s Polynesian Resort, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Magic Kingdom via monorail. The location allows you to show up early for your reservation or stay late after your meal to enjoy the beach outside the Resort.

As for the menu, well, what good is a restaurant without a brilliant menu? The dinner menu specifically offers sort of “island twists” to classic dishes, a tangy pineapple relish or a zesty spiced guava passion fruit glaze. For example, a sample of the Kona’s menu reveals a New York Strip Steak with a pineapple teriyaki glaze, stir fried broccoli, and buttery mashed potatoes, which is just one of many meat entrees that show that Kona Café’s meats could not be more perfectly prepared or finished.

The Kona Café also offers a rather spectacular breakfast menu, including the must-try treat: Tonga Toast. Tonga Toast is a sourdough bread French toast bread pudding concoction topped off with cinnamon, bananas, and a sweet, sticky glaze. Many people consider this a “must have” favorite food.

Check It Out – You Will Be Glad You Did

Kona Café is one of a few underrated Disney restaurants worthy of your attention, especially if you can’t get a reservation at one of the more famous Disney favorites. Be sure, however, not to make the mistake of treating this restaurant as a last resort. You wouldn’t regret making a reservation at the Kona Café even if there were tables available elsewhere.