The Arctic Club was a gentleman's social club for the newly minted wealthy who'd made their fortunes in the Klondike. In 1916, the members commissioned Seattle architect A. Warren Gould, to design the Beaux Arts building that would become the group's new 'clubhouse'. (Lady friends--aka, not the wives--gained access through a discreet back entrance.) Today the Arctic Club is part of HIlton Hotels, so now anyone can have a cocktail in the beautiful, old-world Polar Bar lounge. Sit back with a newspaper (non-digital, of course) and sip a Moscow Mule out of a vibe-appropriate copper mug.
I've recently become enamored of the whole rail-upscale hotel mode of travel. (Think: Orient Express luxury combined with Fairmont Hotel prime Canadian locations.) The route that is currently on my radar is Seattle To Banff via the Rocky Mountaineer. (For itinerary, click here.) By all counts, this is a fantastic trip that allows for some of the most spectacular scenery that Canada has to offer, viewed from the cocktail-sipping comfort of your cozy train car, or on the semi-exposed upper deck. Either way, your every culinary and beverage wish will be catered to. Gold service hotels include The Fairmont Olympic in Seattle, The Rimrock Resort in Banff, and the Fairmont Vancouver. For classic luxury, opt for the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs versus The Rimrock. In Kamploops, (a young, hip town) friends stayed at the Hotel 540--their admonition to me was not to be put off by the motor lodge feel of the place. (Getting home does require a flight from the Calgary airport, which is a little over an hour's drive from Banff.)
Additional Seattle-based routes include the trip to Jasper--also appealing as a the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park is on the list of must-dos. (Photo at bottom of this post.)
Wallowa Lake is a 6.5 hour drive from Seattle, an hour less from Portland. Situated in the Northeast part of the state and one mile south of the rural town of Joseph Oregon, the lake was formed by Pleistocene glaciers. This pristine gem is situated in full view of the Wallowa Mountains which are referred to as the "Alps of Oregon." While in the area, if you don't stay in Joseph, check out the Wallowa Lake Lodge. For more options, click here.
What intrigues me about the Woodmark Hotel, is that it is the ONLY hotel on Lake Washington. The downside? I'm sure that makes the Woodmark an annoyingly popular wedding destination. But I'm guessing as a mid-week getaway, or in the colder, greyer months, it could be a lovely place to cozy up after a invigorating paddle board/kayak outing on the lake.
In the summer, Canadian Mountain Holidays offers a number of Heli-Hiking excursions--as well as photography and painting workshops! Bugaboo Spires is part of the 6-day tour, which starts at the Bobbie Burns lodge (roughly 3 hours from Banff) and then migrates up to the Bugaboo Lodge. If helicopters are not your thing, this is not the excursion for you since all hikes, as well as access to the lodges, include in-air travel. To learn more about Canadian Mountain Summer Holidays, click here. (The website photos alone are inducement enough!) To get specifics on the 6-day Bobbie Burns/Bugaboo Lodge itinerary, click here.
The more I read about Oregon, the more I fall in love with the state. I'm particularly intrigued by Eastern Oregon--the remote, sparsely populated, high-desert region. A couple of things recently on the radar are The Painted Hills (almost too much to be believed) and the Diamond Loop Tour Route. This morning's research led me to an excellent resource--I've already signed up for the Travel Oregon newsletter.
To read more about the Diamond Loop Tour, which includes the Pete French Round Barn, the Diamond Craters, Steens Mountain, Kiger Mustangs Viewing area and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, click here.
There is only one hotel on the loop, which pretty much is 'it' in terms of hotels, restaurants in Diamond--well actually, the hotel pretty much IS the town of Diamond. Click here for the Historic Hotel Diamond's website.
Situated on the wild and rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, the award winning Black Rock Oceanfront Resort takes a bit of getting to from the Seattle area. A roughly 8 hour drive from Seattle, or a not-inexpensive flight into Victoria, coupled with a 4 hour drive, exploring Ucluelet requires a commitment. (You can fly from Seattle to Victoria and then take a puddle jumper to Tofino, but it does get pricey.) From Bainbridge Island, a more appealing alternative is the 90 minute car ferry from Port Angeles on Black Ball ferry. From there, the drive is still 4 hours as you have to go north and across the island to access the West Coast. With a car, it is easy to combine a trip to Uclulet along with a stop in Tofino at one of my favorites: The Wickaninnish Inn. (As long as you're there....why not ?)
A four hour drive from Seattle, an hour and a half from Portland, and a quick jaunt from Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, Cannon Beach is a must. The site of the iconic Haystack Rock, as well as the opening sequence of the semi-cult classic, Goonies, Cannon Beach has much to recommend it: A charming downtown, a host of lovely inns and hotels, and ample hiking and recreation. And as the photos here show, Cannon Beach is also a photographer's paradise. To learn more about Cannon Beach, go to the excellent Chamber of Commerce Visitors' website. To learn more about the entire Tillamook Coast, click here.
Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,
Continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me. From in here the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open. When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library. But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candle flame in Tibet leans when I move.
The Greenbriar, or as it bills itself, "America's Resort," has been home to guests since 1778--which is the primary reason it makes it to the Daily Flirtations' Grande Dames list.
Its long spanning history includes a role in WWII military affairs, when the hotel became the temporary home for Japanese, Italian and German diplomats who were relocated from DC after the US entered the war. In 1942, part of the hotel was converted into a hospital, and over 24k soldiers were treated and rehabilitated within its walls.
The Greenbriar's and US Government's relationship continued into the 1950s, when an underground bomb shelter was built, which intended to house Congress in the event of war. The bomb shelter, named "Project Greek Island," was kept in a state of operational readiness for over 30 years.
Iconic designer Dorothy Draper was hired in the mid-forties to renovate the hotel, and not much has changed since. At the time, Draper epitomized elegance, and the hotel is reminiscent of the Palm Springs/Palm Beach/Architectural Digest luxury standards of the time--which frankly, are more than a little dated.
Bergdorf Goodman did an interesting fashion spread a few years ago using the hotel as backdrop to a vintage-inspired designer clothing photo shoot. Pictured above, is a model standing outside the underground bunker door.
The property grounds are exquisite, and perhaps, if your mind can wander to more elegant times, and you can imagine yourself sipping mint juleps on a leisurely summer afternoon (or if you fancy yourself a character from a Tennessee Williams' play), the interior might just suit you.
Regardless, the Greenbriar's long storied history--its gorgeous location--make it worth a trip. Even if just for a look....
Admittedly, the Mackinaw Island setting for the 1980s romantic blockbuster "Somewhere in Time" seems a bit stuck in time. But nevertheless, the old gal has her charms: Nobody does porches and wooden rockers better. At one time--and possibly still--the Grand Hotel's porch was the longest in the world. And no other property on Daily Flirtations Grande Dame list gives such attentive nods to other great ladies. Seven of the Grand Hotel's three dozen tribute rooms are named in honor of America's first ladies. Included here are the Barbara Bush Suite, The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite (directly above) and to the left, the Lady Bird Johnson Suite.
Click on any photo to learn more.
Located in Ashville, North Carolina, the 8000 acre Biltmore Estate is home to the largest privately owned house (179K square feet!) in the United States. Opened to the public in 1930 by the Vanderbilt's, this remnant of the Gilded Age remains a prominent tourist attraction. While the house itself is not open to overnight guests, a 210 room inn and historic cottage are. Plenty to fill up your weekend--touring the Vanderbilt estate, meandering through 75 acres of exquisite gardens, or a tasting at the Biltmore's own winery. And if you've something more low-key in mind, the hotel has a luxurious spa that has been fashioned after the main house where you can easily indulge any remaining 'other half' fantasies.
Postcards from the past--And in this case, a nearly 150-year past. Although with a recent 20 million dollar renovation under her belt, this grande dame is under no risk of showing her age. A world-class golf course, onsite spa, and beautiful views of the White Mountains make this New Hampshire Historic Hotel a fall sightseeing must. Click on any photo to learn more.
For over 125 years, political figures and starlets alike have sipped beachside cocktails at "The Del"--including the inimitable Marilyn Monroe, pictured here in 1958 during the filming of Billy Wilder's comedic masterpiece, "Some Like it Hot." With over 28 oceanfront acres, The Del has long been a summer favorite. However, don't underestimate this Victorian Grande Dame's ability to shine during the holidays. What better way to celebrate New Year's morning than to slip on your board shorts and greet the day with a bit of seaside ice skating? And, if needs must, rumors are the old gal knows how to make a pretty mean Bloody Mary!
Located on one of Bruges' most picturesque canals, the Hotel Die Swaene has recently earned several top awards, including the Mayfaire Times' moniker as the '3rd most romantic hotel in the world.' Parts of the main building date back to the 15th century; while the lounge (with its original furnishings) has been comforting travelers since the 1800s. Click on any photo to learn more.
Silk brocades. Intricate murals. Venetian glass: The Hotel Cipriani, has it all. Opened in 1958 by Guiseppe Cipriani--founder of the famed Harry's Bar in Venice--the elegant hotel was purchased in 1976 by the Orient Express, representing its maiden voyage into the world of hotel ownership. Considered one of Venice's finest, the hotel is located on the tip of Guidecca island, and is even rumored to have housed romantic trysts by none other than Giacomo Casanova. What better place to stage a romantic interlude of your own? Click on any photo to learn more...