The summer vacation conundrum

Greetings travelers! I omitted “virtual” before travelers because travel is beginning to open up with summer’s arrival. I spent time this weekend thinking about where we might travel by car later this summer when borders reopen, and 14-day quarantine rules are lifted. If you’ve thought about it too, you know it’s logistically challenging right now. Where we decide to stay is a matter of trust; trust that the accommodation is clean to recommended protocols and all procedures are followed meticulously to keep guests healthy.

One key question – is it wiser to book a vacation home rental like VRBO or a hotel/resort?  Independently owned vacation homes use cleaning services that typically can’t be verified in terms of quality.  However, shared hallways, elevators or common areas aren’t concerns with most of these properties.  What you choose is a personal choice and conundrum in this current environment.

Personally, I’ve been impressed by the updated policies put out by some high-end hotels, particularly those described in this newsletter which are located in Virginia, Vermont, Maine and Cape Cod. The four resorts below, two seaside and two in the mountains, are driving distance from the New York metro area, offer Virtuoso amenities (when you book through a Virtuoso travel advisor like me 😊), and will make your well-deserved summer vacation memorable and safe. If you’re looking for some inspiration for this summer, or for your Wanderlist, read on.

A hidden gem south of DC – Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia

Salamander Resort & Spa in Virginia (approximately 5-hour drive from New York City)

Pictured above and just 40 miles from Washington D.C., Middleburg, Virginia is rich in history.  Located in the heart of horse and wine country in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Middleburg was recognized in 2008 for its historic preservation efforts by being designated a Preserve America Community by then-First Lady Laura Bush.  The resort offers gourmet, locally sourced cuisine and a world-class spa.  Golf, tennis, hiking, biking, archery, ziplining, wine tours, art classes, antique shopping are just a few of the family-friendly and adult-focused activities available on and off property at Salamander. A hidden gem, Salamander Resort and Spa offers a robust equestrian center – horse lovers will be in heaven! 

Virtuoso amenities apply with a bonus $100 resort credit per stay. 

The resort will open for the season on June 18th and updated wellness policies are outlined here:

The Lodge at Spruce Peak in Stowe, Vermont (approximately 5.5-hour drive from NYC)

The Lodge at Spruce Peak is a luxury four-season mountain resort offering 36 holes of golf, full-service spa, fitness center, heated outdoor pool, and multiple dining and retail outlets. Located in Spruce Peak village, guests enjoy easy access to the adventure center with climbing facility, zipline, treetop adventure course, and gondola rides, and a performing arts center. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking are just some of the fun activities offered to guests. Accommodations feature balconies with mountain views, stone fireplaces and kitchens. Expansive slope-side private residences and townhomes are also available.

Virtuoso amenities apply with a bonus $100 food/beverage credit per stay.

The resort will reopen on June 15th and updated wellness policies are outlined here:

Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine  (approximately 5-hour drive from NYC)

Cliff House Maine is a landmark, 226-room hotel, right on the breathtaking Maine coast. Bask in the views from the infinity pool or the private terrace of your seaside-chic guestroom. You can hit dozens of trails, go sailing or even join a traditional lobster boat, and there are games galore on the grounds. Gather in the evenings over craft cocktails and fresh seafood caught just offshore. Their “Maine Bucket List” of activities will give your family an authentic Maine experience.  The nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Marginal Way seaside walk are just a few off-site experiences not to be missed.  I visited this resort last summer and can tell you – it’s a stunning property!  You may see me there again this summer 😊

Virtuoso amenities apply with a bonus signature “Sea Bag” tote made from recycled sails.

Cliff House is open now and updated wellness policies are outlined here:

Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Mass. on Cape Cod (approximately 5-hour drive from NYC)

The Chatham Bars Inn offers the quintessential Cape Cod experience! This private quarter-mile beach and 25-acre property offers loads of activities or a place to relax and rejuvenate.  Work on your golf swing or tennis swing, take a cooking class or take a walk on the beach, splash in the ocean or soak in the whirlpool, ride on a boat or ride a bike, enjoy a classic New England clambake or a arrange for a picnic basket – the choices are yours.  Cottage accommodations may be available. 

Virtuoso amenities apply with a bonus $100 spa service credit per stay.

The Inn opens June 8th and their wellbeing plan is outlined here:              

As a reminder, Virtuoso amenities include:

  • Breakfast for 2 guests per room
  • Room upgrade on arrival, when available
  • Early check-in and late check-out, when available
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi, where available
  • Preferred availability and rates
  • Exclusive bonus amenity (varies by property as outlined above)

If you’re up for a summer vacation this year, we are here and happy to help you sort through the options.  If you’d love to experience one of these properties next summer, we can help you add them to your Wanderlist (explained in last week’s newsletter).  As a bonus to your 2020 booking, we will give you a copy of the exclusive “Virtuoso’s Best of the Best Guide” while supplies last. The 4 resorts featured in this newsletter are included in this 700-page coffee table magazine which is not available in stores.

Hidden Gem Tip:  If you’re up for a summer vacation that’s a plane or RV ride away this year or later, we will be highlighting some incredible dude ranches in our next newsletter.  Stay tuned or reach out now for the details. 

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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