As travel begins to resume following the novel coronavirus, many travelers are looking to domestic destinations with plenty of outdoor space and activities that are conducive to social distancing.
Mountain resorts make it easy to savor the great outdoors with plentiful year-round activities from summer hiking to fall leaf-peeping, or winter skiing.
We rounded up the best year-round mountain escapes for a breath of fresh alpine air, including rustic lodges, luxe hideaways, and modern boutique hotels surrounded by mystical red rock peaks.
Our top hotels range in price from $135 to $479 to start and are well-rated, meticulously researched, and boast coveted amenities and activities.
There’s nothing quite like waking up to fresh mountain air and a glimpse of rugged peaks outside your window. America’s finest mountain resorts offer a quiet retreat from bustling urban life with opportunities to explore the great outdoors any time of year.
That scene is now more attractive than ever, following the spread of the novel coronavirus, which shuttered many into lockdown and halted all nonessential travel for the past few months. As states and travel begin to reopen, many US travelers are looking to stick closer to home with domestic options that embrace the great outdoors and make it easy to avoid crowds and follow social distancing guidelines.
Indeed, travel agents are seeing an uptick in regional travel planning. If you’re wondering if it’s safe to travel and stay in hotels, it’s important to understand the risks. Without a vaccine, there is no firm guarantee on safety, and it’s crucial to follow guidelines from organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing. Additionally, check current state travel restrictions before booking, and stay up to date on new policies from major hotels.
If you’re comfortable with the situation and how to best protect yourself, you can find breathtaking sky-high locales all across the US.
On the East Coast, discover vast wilderness within New York’s Adirondacks, America’s largest park at 6 million acres. In Vermont, explore the stunning Green Mountains and Stowe, home to the Von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame. And the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina is home to the nearly 500-mile-long Blue Ridge Parkway and gorgeous towns like Asheville, where the Vanderbilts built their grand Biltmore Estate.
In the West, the rugged Colorado Rockies feature some of America’s best skiing and posh resort towns like Aspen and Vail. In star-studded Sun Valley, Idaho, known as America’s “First Destination Ski Resort,” celebrities from Clark Gable to Bruce Willis have hit the slopes.
Of course, the mountains aren’t just about skiing. The startling red rock formations of Sedona have lured New Agers and spiritual seekers who find healing powers in the mountains’ energy vortexes.
All the aforementioned destinations also draw off-season crowds who enjoy spring, summer, and fall activities, or the simple pleasure of lounging and soaking up the beautiful scenery.
We’ve chosen our favorite mountain resorts in the US based on factors such as proximity to nature, access to year-round outdoor activities, and desirable vacation amenities. Our choices range in price from $135 to $479 to start and were also selected based on personal travel experiences, as well as input from trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com. We’ve also highlighted new COVID-19 policies for each, so you may make informed decisions on what to expect before booking.
Rates for these hotels generally tend to be highest during the popular winter and summer seasons, so consider spring or fall for lower prices.
To learn about other safe vacation ideas during COVID that are close to home, click on a link below to jump directly to more coverage:
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These are the best US mountain resorts, sorted by price from low to high.
The Foundry Hotel Asheville
The Omni Homestead Resort
Amara Resort & Spa
The Lodge at Nakoma
Topnotch Resort & Spa
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
The Whiteface Lodge
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
Hotel Ketchum – Ketchum, ID
This Sun Valley boutique hotel is close to all the mountain attractions, while its downtown Ketchum location places guests in the heart of the town’s lively bar and restaurant scene. A free local bus stops out front and shuttles you (and your equipment) to the slopes of Baldy and Dollar Mountain for top-notch skiing in winter, and wildflower-filled hiking and biking in summer.
The lobby, dubbed The Hangout, is decorated with a modern mountain look, featuring a huge copper gas fireplace surrounded by fluffy flokati chairs and curving leather sofas, and faux animal heads dotting the walls. Cozy seating nooks have cowhide chairs and funky, nature-inspired wallpaper patterned with birch trees and local fauna. Outside, there’s a sprawling courtyard with spectacular mountain views, a year-round heated swimming pool, and hot tub. The newly opened Barrio 75 offers savory street tacos and more than 40 different tequilas among bright, Mexican-inspired decor.
Rooms start from 340 square feet and are done up in minimalist style with wood floors, tartan headboards, and modern furnishings. Consider upgrading from the entry-level King room to one with a fireplace and balcony with mountain views. The Baldy King rooms measure 450 square feet and include a larger seating area and fantastic mountain views through multiple windows.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 5 out of 10 hotels in Ketchum
Booking.com Rating: 9.2 out of 10
Pros: The hotel offers free continental breakfast, parking, and storage for your skis or bikes. If you didn’t bring your own, the hotel also operates a shop on-site that rents all the seasonal equipment you’ll need.
Cons: Balconies facing the street can be noisy. The breakfast choices are a bit limited.
COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently open and accepting reservations and announced new procedures that include:
Contactless check-in options, text communications, and remote key pick-up.
Outdoor entry to all guestrooms to aid in minimizing person-to-person contact.
Limited occupancy levels to allow for increased comfort and distance among guests.
Breakfast service is currently suspended but expected to resume with the start of the 2020/2021 winter ski season.
All hotel employees will engage in frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer dispensers shall be placed at key guest and employee entrances and contact areas.
All employees shall receive COVID-19 safety and facility sanitation protocol training recommendations from the CDC and practice social distancing and wear masks.
Contactless payment processes are encouraged.
Self-parking options are emphasized, shuttle service is limited.
Linens, towels, and laundry shall be washed in accordance with CDC guidelines and cleaning and disinfecting protocols will require attention to high-touch, hard nonporous items.
Daily housekeeping will not be offered, however fresh towels and trash/linen collection will be performed upon request and delivered to and picked up from in front of the guest room door.
In the event of a presumptive case of COVID-19 the affected guest room shall be removed from service and quarantined.
Pool operation will be monitored regularly for water conditions and proper sanitizing and chemical balance. Seating shall allow at least six feet of separation between groups of guests.
The Foundry Hotel Asheville – Asheville, NC
For a bit of urban flair with your mountain town experience, this industrial-chic four-star hotel is set in a converted steel mill in the heart of Asheville’s historic African-American business district, The Block. Yet the Blue Ridge Mountains and all its hiking and leaf-peeping opportunities are just a few miles away.
Mixing vintage and contemporary design, the three foundry buildings and two new builds feature many preserved artifacts including exposed industrial ceilings and original pulley elevators and signage. The award-winning Benne on Eagle serves rib-sticking modern soul food among exposed red-brick walls, and locals love the craft cocktails in the lobby’s Workshop Lounge, housed in a 1920s woodworking building.
Rooms blend modern tufted headboards and dark wood furnishings with vintage touches like industrial-style windows and historic black-and-white photos. Some rooms also feature exposed brick walls and wood floors. The entry-level King rooms are spacious and offer views of the surrounding downtown or the courtyard. But if you want Blue Ridge vistas, you’ll need to trade up to a Mountain View room.
The hotel is managed by the Hilton Curio Collection, so members can earn or redeem Hilton Honors Points.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 17 out of 76 hotels in Asheville
Booking.com Rating: 9.1 out of 10
Pros: While you are within walking distance of many Asheville attractions, the hotel’s free Tesla drop-off service will take you anywhere in the city you want to go.
Cons: Rooms on the first-floor lack views. Only valet parking is available and it’s pricey.
The Hilton ‘CleanStay’ room seal will add an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests that their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned.
10 High-Touch, Deep Clean Areas will include extra disinfection of the most frequently touched guest room areas including light switches, door handles, TV remotes, and thermostats.
Removal of pen, paper, and guest directory; supplement with digital or available upon request.
Improved guidelines for disinfecting fitness centers, possibly closing for cleaning multiple times daily, and limiting the number of guests allowed in at one time.
Increase the frequency of cleaning public areas and provide stations at primary entrances and key high traffic areas, for instance, a station to allow guests to wipe the elevator button before pressing.
Contactless check-in using digital key technology for guests who desire to have a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key, and check-out using their mobile devices through the Hilton Honors mobile app at participating hotels.
Hilton will continue to expand its Digital Key capabilities to common doors and access points throughout the hotels.
Hilton is exploring the addition of new technologies like electrostatic sprayers, which use an electrostatically charged disinfecting mist, and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.
The Omni Homestead Resort – Hot Springs, VA
From Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton, 23 US presidents have visited this grand Allegheny Mountains resort built in 1892 and listed as a National Historic Landmark.
The magnificent red-brick building is enormous with multiple wings fanning out from a central turreted lobby. The hotel sits on a 2,000-acre property that boasts a vast number of amenities, including a spa, water park, ice-skating rink, several indoor and outdoor pools, a myriad of restaurants, two golf courses, a zip-lining course, shooting range, and even its own ski hill.
Traditional decor spans the resort’s many public spaces, from the clubby Lobby Bar, lined with presidential portraits, to the elegant main dining room with its original columns, coffered ceiling, and wood dance floor. Top marks go to the indoor pool built in 1904 that is fed by local spring waters and flooded with light thanks to enormous arched windows.
Rooms are also traditional in design and supremely tasteful, with striped wallpaper, floral draperies, and classic dark wood furnishings. They vary in size, layout, and views, depending on the wing. Entry-level Traditional rooms are a snug 170 to 220 square feet; the next tier up is similar in size but with better views of the manicured grounds. If you want mountain views, upgrade to a pricier Premium room. Members of the Omni Loyalty Program can earn or redeem points for their stay.
Trip Advisor Ranking: 1 out of 2 hotels in Hot Springs
Booking.com Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Pros: The wealth of history makes staying here feel truly unique even though the hotel is operated by a large hotel chain. Family-friendly activities abound, no matter the season.
Cons: There is a $40 daily resort fee. There are few amenities in the tiny town of Hot Springs, which means nearly all meals and shopping are confined to the resort. Some restaurants require dressy attire or coat and tie.
COVID status and policies: This hotel is currently accepting reservations beginning at the end of June. Omni Hotels & Resorts has enacted the ‘Stay A Part of Clean’ initiative, which includes new cleaning guidelines and additional processes and procedures to ensure the health and safety of guests. That entails:
Daily health screening, including temperature checks for staff, as well as frequent sanitization of all common areas, thorough re-training on proper hygiene, and best practices including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Increased frequency of sanitization with EPA-certified cleansers that are CDC-compliant, additional guest sanitization stations in public areas, increased cleaning of HVAC systems, and replacement of air filters.
Signage and distance indicators will be used throughout the hotel in high-traffic areas to allow for and encourage proper social distancing.
Custom menus will focus on quality ingredients that limit contact in kitchen prep, with attendant-only served buffets, plated meals, receptions, and coffee stations. Hotels will use single-use, individually sealed food and cutlery items, where applicable.
Cleaned and disinfected guest rooms will have an “Omni Safe & Clean” seal of approval sticker upon completion with single-use amenities provided in each guest room, as well as enhanced disinfecting of high-touch items, and requested items delivered in a contactless manner.
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