Get ready for the great outdoors: dude ranches, golf retreats, and ski havens were among our readers’ top choices.
Jim Morrison said it: “The West is the best.” These extraordinary properties, all of which highlight the diverse natural landscape of the inland and coastal West (excluding California, which has its own category), prove the point.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Hotels were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities.
Like many of the resorts on this list, this year’s top Western resort hotel, the Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming, derives much of its character from the rugged terrain and open spaces of the mountains that surround it. It’s an old-fashioned dude ranch that sits between the pristine Sierra Madre range and Medicine Bow National Forest in the southern part of the state, but the accommodations are far from rustic. “Cabins are appointed in a luxurious, Ralph-Lauren style,” said one reader. “Bravo!”
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch is one of several here that celebrate the frontier traditions of the West. The spirit of old Montana infuses both Triple Creek Ranch and the Ranch at Rock Creek. If your idea of a getaway involves horseback riding and fly-fishing, these are truly places for you. “Best family vacation I have ever been on,” said one fan of the Ranch at Rock Creek. “They had amazing summer activities such as shooting, a ropes course, a weekly rodeo, and a barn dance. Can’t ask for more.”
Last year’s winner, Gateway Canyons Resort, in the dramatic red-rock country of southwestern Colorado, remains one of the country’s top destinations for outdoor-adventure enthusiasts, offering hiking, riding, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more. Reveling still further in its Colorado identity, this year the property hosted its inaugural Gateway to Craft Beer festival during Memorial Day weekend.
Two other properties in Colorado, the Hotel Jerome in Aspen and the Sebastian in Vail, cater more directly to winter-sports lovers. Summer travelers who prefer a slower pace can head to Oregon to relax at a pair of golf resorts, the Brasada Ranch in Bend and the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, just off the Pacific on the central Oregon coast. To see the sun set over the water, try the Stephanie Inn, a bit farther north, or the Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa on the shores of Lake Washington, just outside of Seattle.