The best resorts feel like a world of their own. Whether you’re looking for limitless opportunities for fun and adventure or simply spots to relax and unwind, these properties deliver. From fine dining options and amazing views to opportunities to try something new — falconry anyone? — prestige resorts offer vacations unlike any other.
For groups of extended families or friends, resorts can offer an especially great getaway, since they can accommodate a range of interests and desired activity levels all in one convenient location. No searching for dining options or hunting for entertainment. It’s all there, on-site. Plus, at high-end resorts, you’ll often find unique perks, like nightly s’mores around the fire pit or carriage rides to your accommodations.
Ready to book your trip? Here are five resorts to consider for your next group getaway.
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Guests have been flocking to the waters of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for their restorative properties since 1778. The Greenbrier, a stately 710-room resort constructed in 1913 and sitting on 11,000 acres, has hosted 28 U.S. presidents. But you don’t have to be a dignitary to enjoy a world-class vacation here.
The National Historic Landmark is revered for its three resort golf courses, which rank among the world’s best. It boasts opportunities for fly-fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, tennis, swimming and more. It’s also home to something few if any other resorts can claim: a historic, Cold War-era bunker. The unique site, which is open for tours, served as a formerly top-secret U.S. government relocation facility for Congress, to be used in case of emergency.
“Our history is what makes this place absolutely special,” said Cam Huffman, The Greenbrier’s director of public relations.
Outdoor aficionados will find it hard to choose between the array of options here. In addition to standard resort options like shuffleboard or swimming in the year-round, indoor pool, guests at The Greenbrier can also try their hands at falconry, skeet and trap shooting, an aerial adventure course, an alpine climbing tower, mountain biking, paintball, whitewater rafting, off-road vehicle driving and more.
“Our outdoor activities are extremely popular,” Huffman said. “People enjoy coming here and trying something new.”
Even if the weather isn’t perfect, fun at The Greenbrier can’t be dimmed; its ample indoor activities, among them an arcade, bowling and two escape rooms, are ready to keep guests occupied.
The resort has a host of on-site dining options that range from formal to casual. Food lovers will especially enjoy the resort’s new Farm to Table Dinner series, served in the resort gardens, that uses locally sourced ingredients.
Those looking for rest and relaxation of various varieties are in luck, as The Greenbrier has a full-service, on-site spa; a casino with 37 tables and more than 300 slot machines; and a variety of specialty retail shops.
The holiday season is an especially magical time to visit. The entire resort is decorated, and kids can enjoy cookies and milk or breakfast with Santa, plus a Saturday-night tree lighting each week leading up to Christmas.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Billing itself as the World’s Largest Summer Hotel, the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s historic Mackinac Island celebrated its 135th season in 2021. The resort is open to visitors from May through the end of October, annually.
Since motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island, guests arrive at the Grand Hotel via horse-drawn carriages.
“It’s a very magical arrival experience that you don’t get too many places,” said publicist Ashley Cox.
Guests to the Grand Hotel are immediately drawn in by its famed 660-foot-wide front porch that offers sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac and plenty of rocking chairs for relaxing.
Inside, the resort offers 397 uniquely decorated rooms — many frequent guests have a favorite they book year after year — plus an on-site salon and spa, unique retail shops and no shortage of things to do.
Revered for its golf course, the Jewel, the Grand Hotel is also beloved for its iconic Esther Williams Swimming Pool, named after the iconic film star of the 1947 movie “This Time for Keeps” that was filmed at the resort. Recently, the resort renovated the pool deck to include private cabanas, a private event space and a new family-friendly, zero-entry area. A new, adults-only pool features an infinity edge with majestic views of the surrounding island.
The opportunities for fun here are myriad. Groups can enjoy lawn games like croquet and bocce ball, as well as tennis and pickleball, and horse-drawn carriage tours of the property. Kids ages 6 and up can take part in special organized children’s programming on-site. Live music is available throughout the day, including at afternoon tea, which is held daily between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. and has stood for more than a century as one of the resort’s most popular traditions.
When hunger strikes, there’s no need to travel off-property. The Grand Hotel is home to 13 restaurants and bars, including its Main Dining Room, where dressing up for dinner is part of the fun.
Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
For a truly memorable way to visit the Great Smoky Mountains area, look no further than a stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, just minutes from the national park.
If roller coasters are your thing, guests at the resort enjoy direct access to Dollywood theme park via the resort’s trolley system and, perhaps even more importantly, get complimentary TimeSaver Passes to head straight to the front of ride lines. Even if your group includes members who aren’t ride fans, Dollywood doesn’t disappoint: The park’s itinerary includes daily craft demonstrations by on-site artisans, live music performances, theater shows and frequent festivals and special events.
Fans of Dolly Parton will relish all the tributes to her throughout the resort, perhaps most notably, the lower lobby’s Album Wall, which includes illuminated photos of many of the legendary singer’s most famous album covers.
“It’s a great photo op,” said Wes Ramey, public relations director for Dollywood Parks and Resorts. “It starts with this larger-than-life photo of Dolly, and it’s just a really neat spot.”
The DreamMore Resort includes an on-site spa, an outdoor pool with zero-entry area and a year-round indoor pool for guests. Room options include standard rooms, family suites and poolside rooms with bunks, allowing families to make the most of their time together on-property.
Most evenings, guests can gather around the resort’s fire pit for complimentary s’mores and story time. During the holidays, the entire resort and theme park is decorated with millions of lights for Dollywood’s annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, an event that has won numerous years for best event of its kind in the theme park industry.
DreamMore offers special Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s dinners, which are a popular option for families who make it a tradition to celebrate the holidays at the resort together.
In the coming years, amenity options will expand, as Dollywood has announced plans for a 10-year, $500 million expansion that includes a new resort — Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort — to open in fall 2023.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
In operation since 1918, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs offers guests an opportunity to choose an experience that is chic — or rustic. The main resort building includes 784 guest rooms noted for elegant decor and plush amenities. The property also includes The Broadmoor Wilderness Experiences, with stays in authentic, logwood-style cabins not far from the main resort.
Guests can enjoy a range of outdoor adventures here, from exploring the beautiful waterfalls of Seven Falls, less than one mile from the property, to zip lining in Colorado’s famed South Cheyenne Canyon. Visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Rocky Mountains with a trip on the nearby Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
The resort features two world-class golf courses, a fitness center, an on-site spa and salon, an outdoor infinity pool, an indoor spa pool, tennis courts and 19 specialty shops. The property boasts 17 restaurants and lounges that serve everything from locally sourced haute cuisine to convenient poolside snacks.
Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
In picturesque northern Idaho on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort is home to a one-of-a-kind golf experience. Here golfers can test their skills against the world’s only floating green. Golf Digest has called the resort’s course “not just an escape but an experience.”
In addition to world-class golf, groups can also enjoy a range of water sports on the lake, including boat and jet ski rentals, paddleboarding and kayaking. The property is also within easy walking distance to an array of fun, eclectic shops and unique local dining experiences in downtown Coeur d’Alene.
“We’re a mountain destination that’s right on the shore of the lake, with lots of options for water activities,” said Jamie Cornell, director of sales and marketing for the resort. “And downtown is on the other side of the resort, with all sorts of shops and restaurants and lounges. So you have the best of both worlds, which is kind of unusual with other resorts in our same category.”
For those looking for a chance to unwind, the resort offers an expansive spa facility overlooking the lake. Spa guests can choose from an assortment of unusual therapies, among them the Lavender Mountain Spirit exfoliation and massage, which bathes participants in a soothing lavender mineral bath and essential oils.