A Look Back at 14 Memorable Hotel Experiences

These are strange times, indeed. I have spent years working and planning “the next” project or assignment, when working with publishers, hotels, destinations and other travel and lifestyle brands. Whether it was my work on brand marketing projects; developing editorial destination features; or reviewing hotels; there has always been an urgency to begin focusing on the next job.

While I switched directions in an effort to stay home and stay safe during this pandemic, I took some time to look back at several of my favorite hotel experiences over the years. I chose to highlight 14 of these properties within the United States as part of a 14-Day Hotel Challenge to further support the hospitality industry, which has been turned upside down during the past few months. While I could easily expand this to include additional positive hospitality experiences I have had at properties around the world, these 14 hotels and resorts provided a memorable experience worthy of some recognition.

We will travel again, but until then, here is a look at 14 hotels and resorts from coast to coast that still stand out to me after all these years. When it is time to begin planning your travels again, I hope that you find an opportunity to visit a few of these options that I have listed alphabetically, based on each state. Stay safe everyone!

This is a true getaway into the desert, and one that will leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. Like so many Four Seasons properties, the level of service here is exceptional while you savor every minute taking-in the amazing views of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding landscape. This is also perfect for families with a complimentary kids program, a kids pool, larger casita options and more.

Favorite Features: The blissful pool, local golf options, and the Patio Firepit Casita option is ideal for the area.

Learn More: www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale

My love for this property goes back many years, but it remains one of my favorites in California when needing a great golf and spa getaway with friends and family. Not only is the resort in one of the most desirable regions in the country due to the weather and views, but it also takes it to another level with an unpretentious luxury experience from the moment you check-in to the time that you must check-out. I cannot wait to visit this one again to see the latest renovations…

Favorite Features: The spa, Aviara Golf Course, and though there are no “bad views” from anywhere on the property, I love the Coastal View rooms and suites.

Learn More: www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/california/park-hyatt-aviara-resort

This is about as close as you can get to a European getaway without leaving the United States. Vail Village is a favorite for the cozy feel with world-class shopping and dining; and the personalized services at Sonnenalp make you never want to leave this dreamy destination. Let them take care of all the details when enjoying hiking and golf in the summer months, or skiing and snowboarding during the winter season.

Favorite Features: The Two-Bedroom Suites, indoor/outdoor pool and spa area, and do not miss the amazing breakfast experience that is one of the best I’ve enjoyed in the United States.

Learn More: www.sonnenalp.com

This has been another favorite hotel for many years, even back to when I visited D.C. before moving to the area. A recent renovation has taken this property from great to simply amazing. It is certainly worth the upgrade to Fairmont Gold for the private check-in and concierge service, and to have access to the beautiful club lounge to use throughout the day.

Favorite Features: Fairmont Gold is hard to beat, as is the location being so close to all Georgetown has to offer – and relaxing in the gorgeous lobby in hopes to catch a glimpse of their canine ambassador, Georgie.

Learn More: www.fairmont.com/washington

I never shy away from telling others that visiting The Breakers is a must-do at least once in your lifetime. The services, amenities, spa, golf and dining make every stay priceless, but it’s the awe-inspiring architecture and attention to detail that makes this place such a treasure.

Favorite Features: The Ocean Course on property, the bungalow rentals and the renovated suites… and for the ultimate experience, the hotel within a hotel at the Flagler Club.

Learn More: www.thebreakers.com

This is truly a different kind of Ritz-Carlton experience, but that is what makes it so special. The lodge feel from the moment you enter the lobby puts you at ease, and the signature service you would expect makes for a relaxed luxury adventure. The lakeside vibes are perfection, and even better when you take advantage of The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge Suites for their elevated concierge experience.

Favorite Features: Access to the local golf, relaxing by the lake, and joining others by the fire for evening s’mores.

Learn More: www.ritzcarlton.com/reynolds

This location is simply the best in Chicago that is within walking distance of just about everything. Plus, it has immediate access to the great shops of Water Tower Place, which is ideal during the winter months. A recent renovation has only made this property that much better, and certainly my pick for anyone looking to visit Chicago.

Favorite Features: The Club Lounge, the concierge team, and the Lakeside Suite (or any of the lake view rooms and suites).

Learn More: www.ritzcarlton.com/chicago

I had to throw this into the mix of favorite hotel experiences because I was so pleasantly surprised when discovering several Home2Suites by Hilton while driving to another hotel project. Of course, the few times that I visited these properties, they were fairly new, but still really impressed with the inventive design within the rooms that just makes sense. Hilton invests a lot of time and money into creating unique experiences, and this is seen here.

Favorite Features: They were clean and modern, and I appreciated the in-suite kitchens, and the commitment to being Green.

Learn More: www.hilton.com/en/home2

This hotel treats me like family each time I visit, and this goes back nearly twenty years now. The intimate feel within one of the busiest cities in the world makes this a special place to call “home” while in Manhattan. The location is perfect to all you want in midtown, and the larger than average rooms and suites provide a unique, yet cozy experience.

Favorite Features: The staff is amazing and the views from their rooftop “Upstairs” are fantastic for locals and tourists during breakfast or happy hour.

Learn More: www.kimberlyhotel.com

I was finally able to experience this boutique hotel after hearing great things for several years… and it did not disappoint! Nestled in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, this hotel was charming on every level, and the attention to detail was amazing in the suites. For anyone looking for a boutique hotel experience that is full of character, then this is a must-visit for them.

Favorite Features: Attention to detail in the suites (bathrooms, furniture and décor), and enjoying coffee in the Library Lounge each morning.

Learn More: www.theiveyshotel.com

If you find yourself in Cleveland, this is where you need to stay. Period. I was so pleasantly surprised with every new discovery at this property. The rooms and suites are intelligently designed with all the technology we want in rooms today, the Club Lounge is friendly and inviting, and the localized food options and craft cocktails at Turn Bar & Kitchen are spectacular.

Favorite Features: The Junior Presidential Suite is one of the finest “standard” suites I’ve experienced in years, and the level of friendly and professional service is simply refreshing.

Learn More: www.ritzcarlton.com/cleveland

As many people know, I worked at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort while in high school and college, so getting back to this area is always a treat. The Andell Inn is a true treasure for this area, and just steps away from all the great coastal stores and local restaurants of Freshfields Village. The hotel has a boutique feel with a great dose of whimsy and beach coziness that I love.

Favorite Features: The large wrap-around patio is ideal to relax, and the one- and two-bedroom residences are perfect for extended stays and families/groups with plenty of room to spread out (and includes a kitchen).

Learn More: www.andellinn.com

Another beautiful destination, whether it be for skiing by day and enjoying snowy nights by the fireplace in the winter months, or hiking the beautiful mountains, followed by cocktails outside in the evening during the summer months. Montage Deer Valley has a lot to offer, and the concierge staff here is focused on creating the perfect Deer Valley getaway for every guest.

Favorite Features: The Peak View Suites are the perfect combination of masculine features with elegant accents and the spa is a must-visit while at the property. Monty is their canine ambassador, who is a Bernese Mountain Dog that everyone loves to visit!

Learn More: www.montagehotels.com/deervalley

This is one of those special hotel properties that has all the luxurious services and amenities you want from a large hotel, but it is also able to provide a very “boutique” feel because of the level of personalized and bespoke services you receive each step of the way. The Club Lounge is another great addition to the property, while also having easy access to the local malls and restaurants.

Favorite Features: No detail has been overlooked when it comes to the room and suites here, and the personal approach to each guest is hard to beat.

Learn More: www.ritzcarlton.com/tysons-corner

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