Since 2011, the historic Hotel Jerome has been managed by Auberge Resorts. The recent rejuvenation of this 94-room property, built in 1889 at the height of Aspen’s silver boom, took only about five months, but the results are astonishing. Designer Todd-Avery Lenahan has swept away the Victorian décor in favor of Western-inspired elements. The lobby lounge is now uncompromisingly masculine, with a rug made from belt-like strips of cowhide, tan leather Chesterfields and black-and-white photos of horses and vintage race cars, all presided over by a grand oil painting of the hotel’s founder, Jerome Wheeler. Just beyond, The Living Room bar has the air of a wealthy frontiersman’s cabinet of curiosities.
We rode an elevator paneled with leather belts up to our spacious fourth-floor suite. This exhibited a similarly stylish Western décor, blending traditional and contemporary elements into a coherent whole. During the day, the corner bedroom was flooded with light and afforded dramatic views of the nearby mountains. The living room included a leather sofa, plaid-upholstered burl-wood chairs accompanying a black marble-topped dining table, and a leather-clad writing desk. A striking bath with a separate tub gleamed with black marble and chrome.
The Jerome’s fine Prospect restaurant also displays a masculine décor, and at lunch, its terrace provides peerless people-watching. As part of the renovation, Auberge Resorts has added a small spa. Treatments range from anti-aging therapies to a “High Altitude Sports Recovery Massage.” Through a partnership with the Aspen Club & Spa, the Jerome’s guests enjoy access to its advanced fitness programming and internationally recognized Sports Medicine Institute.
In effect, the redesign has created an entirely new hotel. The Jerome may be located on East Main Street, seven blocks from the base of the Silver Queen Gondola, but it is unquestionably back at the center of Aspen life.
The Hana area of eastern Maui is a “real” place that has not yet been overwhelmed by modernity. Our drive from Paia to Hana was quite an experience: The 42 miles entailed innumerable hairpin turns and bridges, and the journey took nearly three hours, as we stopped frequently to gaze at towering waterfalls and to admire the majestic rain forest scenery.
On our arrival at Travaasa Hana (formerly the Hotel Hana Maui), we were warmly greeted by several staff members who claimed to recall us from a previous visit. Among the 70 accommodations, my favorites are the Sea Ranch Cottages, arrayed on a gentle slope leading down to the sea. The Garden View Suites are large and airy, but the vistas are not as compelling. (For family groups, the extra-spacious Waikoloa Suites provide two bedrooms, three baths and full kitchens.) We found our one-bedroom suite to be much as we remembered, with a spacious living room and bedroom, both with vaulted ceilings; a large bath; and an expansive lanai with a hot tub overlooking the Pacific. The décor is dated — especially in the tiled baths — but the overall feel is one of genuine, unpretentious comfort.
At the end of the year, renovations were to have commenced on the Sea Ranch Cottages. In the main building, some minor but effective changes have been made, notably a new concierge area that provides a comfortable environment for consultations with the ever-helpful staff. The Ka’uiki restaurant was as good as before, with first-class sashimi and delicious main courses such as tender Maui beef tenderloin. The resort provides a full schedule of activities, including yoga, horseback riding and more, while a fine spa offers an array of treatments. I trust that the changes in the Sea Ranch Cottages will preserve the essence of this special place.
Cumberland Island was once a retreat for the Carnegie family. In the late ’70s, the Carnegies sold most of it to the government, and it is now a national seashore. A launch transfers guests to Greyfield three times a day. After a pleasant 45-minute trip, we arrived at the heavily wooded island. There, we caught our first sight of the stately white-pillared inn, surrounded by live oaks draped with tendrils of Spanish moss.
If you have ever wondered what life must have been like at a gracious Southern manor in bygone days, this is the place to find out.
Our room, the Porch Suite, proved to be somewhat narrow, but was delightfully decorated with beadboard wainscoting, period furniture and an imposing four-poster bed. An adjoining sitting room came with a built-in armoire and daybed, while the compact, charmingly old-fashioned bath was dominated by a large claw-foot tub with a shower. To preserve its period character, the suite did not contain a television; the telephone was only for emergencies; and there was no Internet. Each of the 16 rooms, including those in two outlying cottages, is individual in character and décor.
After a martini in the honor bar next to the library, we wandered into the living room, which struck a rare balance between formality and comfort. Dinner was presented downstairs at tables set with crystal, silver and china. Young staff members served us with professional aplomb, and the food was exceptional.
Cumberland Island does not offer resort activities such as golf and tennis. Rather, the emphasis is on its cultural heritage and natural riches. Morning and afternoon excursions are led by naturalist guides. During our stay, we saw more than two dozen bird species — including the pileated woodpecker — several of Cumberland’s resident feral horses, an alligator and some white-tailed deer. If you have ever wondered what life must have been like at a gracious Southern manor in bygone days, this is the place to find out.
In 2010, Chuck Royce brought back to life the Ocean House resort in the stylish enclave of Watch Hill. That same year, he saw the opportunity to save another Rhode Island icon, the Weekapaug Inn, just six miles to the east. After a $20 million restoration, the property reopened in October 2012.
With a slate roof, dark-green shingles and barn-red shutters, the inn sits on a small peninsula and is reached by its own bridge, with a snug cove on one side and a large saltwater pond on the other. Inside, it feels like a lovely beach house, with pastel hues, fine woodwork, views out to the water, and a mixed collection of art. A mural of the pond, alive with native birds, sweeps up the main staircase to the second-floor reception area. It is difficult to go very far in the Weekapaug Inn without coming upon a window-filled lounge, my favorite being the great room near the lobby, with its fireplace and screened porch.
Weekapaug reminded me of the resorts of my childhood.
The 31 accommodations come with individual designer fabrics. Our one-bedroom suite had braided rugs, contemporary and traditional furnishings, and a bed made up with Frette linens. The inn’s four two-bedroom Signature Suites are like private cottages. Three Fenway Suites are located in a separate building, each designed as a private retreat with its own deck and soaking tub.
The restaurant at the inn proved outstanding, with a farm-to-table menu that offers a modern interpretation of New England cuisine. Outdoor entertainments include kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing. Amenities include a seasonal lap pool. The stunning beach is a short walk away. Weekapaug reminded me of the resorts of my childhood. Constantly, I found myself thinking how much fun it would be to come back with my grandchildren, to take them sailing, bird-watching or fishing for striped bass.