A Classic Revisited: Park Hyatt Aviara (Carlsbad, Calif.)
The Aviara isn’t new, but it was recently reborn as a Park Hyatt. Built in 1997 as a Four Seasons, the iconic property is reminiscent of the Breakers in Palm Beach or the Hotel del Coronado: A grand entrance, lined by towering palms trees and indigo-flowered jacarandas, leads to a sprawling Spanish colonial resort on 205 acres, with an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, a 15,000-square-foot spa and six tennis courts. Driving in from Las Vegas, it feels as if the temperature drops with each passing minute, and by the time I reach Carlsbad, my car thermometer reads 75, a full 30 degrees cooler than the scorching desert I left behind. The valet attendant, noticing my bike, suggests a ride along the old Highway 101—and remembers my name for the remainder of my stay. My room, on the fifth floor, features a private balcony that overlooks the pool. The huge soaking tub beckons, but not before a quick bike ride to scope out the beach. For less athletically inclined guests, there’s a “beach butler” who will get you there and supply you with towels, chairs and umbrella. Dinner at the Argyle steak house, overlooking the 18th hole, is a must. And every morning should start with a ginseng herbal facial, followed by breakfast of La Columbe coffee and warm beignets. parkaviara.hyatt.com; from $280.
Urban Escape: W Hollywood Residences
The W Hollywood
There’s been much buzz about the “new W,” and the latest opening is definitely part of the new-and-improved brand portfolio. Yes, you’ll still find Bliss bath products and sexy valet attendants, but the look—red-carpet entrance, glitzy crystal chandeliers, grand spiral staircase—is pure Hollywood. And despite the hotel’s location in a slightly seedy part of town, everyone from bellboy to receptionist manages to make you feel like an A-lister. The “Wonderful” room is basic but comfy enough, and the Cool Corner Suites have wraparound windows with views of the iconic Hollywood sign. We suggest you leave all your gadgets at home, but if you must travel with your iPhone, iPod and iPad, rooms are kitted out with the Sanctuary, an all-in-one charger with cords for whatever you’re packing. And if you’re feeling nostalgic for Vegas, there’s an outpost of Drai’s on the top floor. whotels.com/lahollywood, from $219.
Desert Oasis: Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain (Marana, Ariz.)
Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain
Tap into your inner John Wayne at this Sonoran Desert retreat tucked into the Tortolita mountains. The 253-room property feels like a family ranch of epic proportions, and while the heat isn’t any less oppressive here, it’s certainly a change of pace from the Strip—it’s 30 miles to Tucson, if you need nightlife. But that’s sort of the point: Out here, it’s all about communing with nature, albeit in posh digs. If you tire of admiring the ancient petroglyphs and majestic Saguaro, book an early tee time at the Jack Nicklaus golf course (where the Accenture Match Play Championship is held each February) or opt for a sunrise hike on the property’s 20-odd miles of trails. Cool off in one of three pools—the 235-foot waterslide is a must—and spend afternoons getting pampered at the spa. Dinner at Core, helmed by Dean Fearing protégé Joel Harrington, is a must for hearty Southwestern fare, such as prickly pear barbecued quail. ritzcarlton.com/dovemountain, from $169.
Family Fun: Trump Waikiki (Hawaii)
Let’s be honest: Trump Las Vegas missed the mark (its saving grace is the plush purple spa), but the Donald got it right in Waikiki, where his 462-suite resort is the first luxury property to open in 25 years. The building isn’t much to look at from the exterior, but you’ll be won over by the two-story open-air lobby and spacious suites that have full kitchens—perfect for traveling with tots in tow. Get there on Hawaiian Airlines (nonstop flights from $214 each way) and have your personal attaché stock your refrigerator with groceries. For daytime fun, the beach is just 200 yards away—have the attache arrange for water sports and box lunches. At night, sip cocktails and relax by the sixth-floor infinity pool. trumpwaikikihotel.com, from $299.