Gorgeous grand hotels for socially distant getaways


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A century ago, a getaway was something only the rich were able to enjoy. It wasn’t a “vacation.” Instead, it was a seasonal transition made for comfort. Before the advent of air conditioning, wealthy families would pack up their things and enjoy summer in cooler destinations, oftentimes mountains, where cool breezes were common or along shorelines, where ocean or lake air brought a refreshing chill.

Most of those hotels are now gone — as old-fashioned as the idea of only the wealthy being able to enjoy a getaway. Today, we relish in the idea of a summer vacation, saving our pennies to get a change of scenery and relax. And after more than a year of living in a global pandemic, those grand dame properties designed for guests to enjoy fresh air, while being entirely catered to, are just the escape we need as we receive our vaccines and our stimulus checks and head back into the travel world.

You want a getaway? You won’t go wrong with these historic grand dames.

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Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Wood, New Hampshire

One of the last of the 24 grand hotels scattered across the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the 19th century, you’ll feel as if you have stepped back in time when you pull up to this red-roofed beauty with the Presidential peaks looming as a backdrop. Completely updated and modernized without losing a sense of its past, you can enjoy the property’s seemingly endless recreational pursuits in Bretton Woods. Or, you could also do nothing but wile away the days on the expansive back porch lined with rocking chairs.

  • Year opened: 1902
  • Number of rooms: 269
  • Number of restaurants: 5
  • Average nightly rate in July*: $259

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The Colony Hotel, Kennebunkport, Maine

It’s hard to beat a New England seaside summer and Kennebunkport provides that quintessential setting. Welcoming guests for over 100 years, the Colony Hotel features a private beach and ocean views. If you’re not enjoying the water, you’re within walking and biking distance from the quaint shop-lined town. This hotel is old-school with its grand dining room serving guests nightly – you’ll come to know the staff and other guests during your stay.

  • Year opened: 1914
  • Number of rooms: 125
  • Number of restaurants: 2
  • Average nightly rate in July: $289

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Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina

The stunning Grove Park Inn blends into its Blue Ridge Mountains surroundings with its granite stone and timber façade made from the very hills in which the property resides. Even the spa and indoor pool have meshed with stone. This grand property has been visited by presidents since it debuted at the turn of the 20th century, with its impressive golf course surely privy to interesting conversation. Great for families, it also has an adult-only section to ensure a romantic getaway can remain peaceful.

  • Year opened: 1913
  • Number of rooms: 513
  • Number of restaurants: 10
  • Average nightly rate in July: $330

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The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia

Speaking of presidents, it was the healing thermal waters of this mountain town in Virginia that became a regular retreat for Thomas Jefferson. Today, the Homestead is a destination hotel in Hot Springs that has welcomed 23 presidents to its 2,000-acre landscape. The Omni property features a spa, golf, hiking trails, horseback riding, and, of course, hot springs.

  • Year opened: 1892
  • Number of rooms: 483
  • Number of restaurants: 7
  • Average nightly rate in July: $224

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The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Across the border in West Virginia is a grand resort that has been in operation nearly as long as the United States has been a country. A National Historic Landmark, the resort is nestled into the Allegheny Mountains and was established for the same reasons as the Homestead. Here, taking to the waters of the hot springs was a healing getaway. The property has a long and storied history in American politics but these days a visit harkens back to its early days of high society enjoying nothing but leisure at the 11,000-ace resort.

  • Year opened: 1778
  • Number of rooms: 710
  • Number of restaurants: 19
  • Average nightly rate in July: $329

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Crescent Hotel & Spa, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The healing waters of Arkansas’ thermal springs led to its addition to the grand hotel collection. Although not filled with as many rooms as other properties on this list, the gorgeous Victorian-styled hotel overlooks the Victorian-styled village of Eureka Springs in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, creating quite a picturesque setting. And while many of the historic properties on this list have their share of ghost stories, the Crescent Hotel is said to be the most haunted in the country, if you don’t mind an extra guest in your room.

  • Year opened: 1886
  • Number of rooms: 72
  • Number of restaurants: 3
  • Average nightly rate in July: $133

Related: 12 Ways to Travel with Kids Safely This Summer and Not Break the Bank

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Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California

Made famous when it was used as the backdrop to the Marilyn Monroe classic, “Some Like It Hot,” The Del is one of the most iconic hotels on the West Coast. Facing the Pacific Ocean near San Diego with its red roof and wide expanse of beach, The Del is so popular it is a tourist attraction to those not staying on the luxurious property. With large porches facing the ocean, this is a place to stay and soak up the Southern California sunshine, just as Miss Marilyn did decades ago.

  • Year opened: 1888
  • Number of rooms: 757
  • Number of restaurants: 8
  • Average nightly rate in July: $374

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The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach, Florida

Another beachfront resort created to provide a place to soak up the sun and escape long winters is the equally iconic pink Don CeSar. First opening during the Roaring 20s, this Pink Palace on the Gulf Coast has the best spot for sundowners. The legendary luxury resort fell into disrepair and was nearly demolished in the 1970s until it was saved and given a $3.55-million renovation.

  • Year opened: 1928
  • Number of rooms: 277
  • Number of restaurants: 6
  • Average nightly rate in July: $319

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Jekyll Island Club Resort, Jekyll Island, Georgia

It’s an entirely different beach getaway when you cross into neighboring Georgia to visit its small and sleepy Atlantic Coast. Here in what is called the Golden Isles is the 5,700-acre resort where moss hangs on trees, wood floors creak when you walk across them, and the sand is a hue that makes you understand how the isles got its name. It’s quiet here, and has been since it opened during the Victorian Era.

  • Year opened: 1888
  • Number of rooms: 157
  • Number of restaurants: 7
  • Average nightly rate in July: $229

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The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

You can also find a grand resort experience in what was once the Wild West. While many mountain towns began as mining towns before they transformed into the lovely ski destinations of today, the Broadmoor opened in 1918 on land at the foot of the Rockies that is so stunning its nickname is the Garden of the Gods. Pikes Peak is nearby and yet, the Broadmoor can compete with its stunning surroundings but ensuring guests are equally impressed with the property, amenities and service.

  • Year opened: 1918
  • Number of rooms: 784
  • Number of restaurants: 14
  • Average nightly rate in July: $525

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The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

If not for the construction of the Grand Hotel on Lake Michigan’s Mackinac Island, there would be scores of people across the country who would never have heard of the island. But the hotel did open, with its wrap-around porch and its horse and carriage service and soon people were flocking to the Midwest for a chance to stay in the timeless property that has appeared in movies. When you visit this National Landmark, you’ll still find horse and carriage service and an evening dress code for dining.

  • Year opened: 1887
  • Number of rooms: 784
  • Number of restaurants: 7
  • Average nightly rate in July: $549

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Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

In Upstate New York, just 90 minutes from Manhattan, is another amazing property built of the stone and timber found around Lake Mohonk. Looking more like a castle than a hotel, the Victorian National Historic Landmark is surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest and is truly a wilderness retreat, albeit with as much luxury as can be found in the city itself, which is why the property is the most expensive on this list. Still, much is included in the price with a more inclusive pricing structure.

  • Year opened: 1879
  • Number of rooms: 2559
  • Number of restaurants: 6
  • Average nightly rate in July: $935

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Tips for saving for a grand hotel getaway

To step back into the past you will need to set aside for the future. While it is easy to put a vacation on a credit card, it’s much better to budget for your vacation, setting aside a little from each paycheck before the summer comes.

If you are new to budgeting, try one of the new – and free – budgeting apps that help you set goals and stay on track. There are different budgeting styles, so pick the one easiest for you to stick to.

Even if you receive a stimulus check but have your finances in order enough to consider it found money, don’t splurge the entire check on a trip. Sure, use some on an upcoming trip – it’s meant to be spent – but be wise and put a portion of it into a retirement fund, such as an IRA.

And if you do decide to use credit cards to handle the costs of your vacation, be sure to use one that gives you rewards for traveling that can be used toward future travels.

*Double-occupancy room rates

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