Fly-fishing on a river teeming with trout. A safari adventure in the Serengeti. Meditating at a lakeside retreat. Enjoying the “great outdoors” means different things to different people. Here are 11 of our favorite hideaways, where nature takes center stage and guests can choose to actively explore it or soak it all in and let the beauty unfold around them.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Bisate Lodge is set at the edge of Volcanoes National Park in an eroded extinct volcanic cone, 60 miles northwest of Kigali. The stated aim of the Wilderness Safaris project was to create a model for socially responsible tourism, a perfect marriage of hospitality and conservation. (Accommodations: 6 villas)
What our editors say: “Having seen more wildlife lodges than I can remember, I am not easily impressed. But my first glimpse of Bisate left me breathless — both literally and figuratively. If you have a bucket list, put this place at the top of it.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Daily gorilla treks are available from park headquarters. Visits to Dian Fossey’s original research camp and more-gentle hikes to see the endangered golden monkeys can be arranged. Escorted village walks, birding excursions and visits to the reforestation nursery are also offered.
Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania
Singita Sasakwa is an unrivaled luxury safari lodge in a 350,000-acre private concession, set on a hilltop overlooking the Serengeti plains and offering one of the grandest views in Africa. (Accommodations: Nine cottages; one private villa)
What our editors say: “The entrance hall of Singita Sasakwa Lodge opens onto an expanse of sunlit lawn, at the end of which the ground falls away precipitously to the Serengeti plains below. From this natural balcony, the immense view of bleached grassland, dotted with acacia trees and patterned with shifting cloud shadows, is one of the grandest in Africa. It is epic, timeless and untouched. Quite simply, it is what everyone instinctively feels East Africa ought to look like.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Activities include game drives, community visits, guided safari walks, archery and tennis. For those who want to witness the wildebeest migration without the crowds, this is the place.
Member benefits: 45-minute massage and community tour
Twin Farms is an all-inclusive, adult-only country retreat set amid 300 acres of meadows and woodlands in an unspoiled valley. (Accommodations: 20 distinctive lodgings)
What our editors say: “Truly a place unto itself. By any measure, Twin Farms is one of the finest places to stay in the entire United States.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Guests can use mountain bikes, cruisers, canoes and tennis equipment. They also have private access to cross-country and downhill ski trails.
Member benefits: One private guided activity; welcome bottle of premium wine
Selinda Reserve, Botswana
A classically styled safari camp in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve, Zarafa Camp overlooks picturesque Zibadianja Lagoon. (Accommodations: 4 spacious, luxurious tents)
What our editors say: “Zarafa is virtually equidistant from the Okavango Delta, Linyanti Swamp and Savuti Marsh — three of the greatest game areas in Africa — and when staying there I always feel myself to be at the epicenter of the continent’s wildlife.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Early morning and late-afternoon game viewing in open 4×4 vehicles, guided walks and cruising on the Zibadianja Lagoon; also an open-air gym.
Member benefits: One 30-minute massage per person; a bottle of South African wine per room
Get inspired: Explore the possibilities with this South Africa and Botswana itinerary.
Opened in 1940, the Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina is a sophisticated family-run lodge in the tiny mountain village of San Cassiano. (Accommodations: 51 rooms)
What our editors say: “By the time of my initial visit, in 1987, the hotel had become a sophisticated alpine lodge. Nowadays, the gourmet restaurant, St. Hubertus, boasts two Michelin stars and is regarded as one of the finest in Italy. Continuity and patient, incremental improvement have paid off, making Rosa Alpina one of the most delightful small hotels in Europe.” (Note: The hotel now has three Michelin stars.)
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Situated as it is in the Dolomites, there are many walking excursions, from easy to strenuous. Mountain bikes are free to rent, and guests can also climb, play golf and ski.
Get inspired: Here are “Seven Recommended Hikes in the Dolomites” we recommend.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada
Fogo Island Inn is a spectacularly sited modernist inn supported by steel stilts above the shoreline rocks, near a remote fishing village off Fogo Island’s northeast coast. (Accommodations: 29 rooms)
What our editors say: “Many of us have a recurring dream about getting away from it all and exploring the far corners of the earth. Fogo Island is its realization. It is utterly unspoiled and a place of spectacular and elemental beauty.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: When the weather allows, numerous water activities are available, such as whale-watching (in summer), punt tours of the harbor close to the inn, iceberg-viewing (April through June), walks with the hotel’s Newfoundland dogs, seal watching, snowshoeing, pond fishing, ice skating and more.
Member benefits: Welcome cocktail for two; seasonal, land-based guided outing for two
Get inspired: View our Fogo Island slideshow.
Owned by the Beall family since 1976, Blackberry Farm is a country house hotel set on a 4,200-acre estate bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Accommodations: 68 rooms, plus cottages and multi-bedroom homes)
What our editors say: “The primary purpose of my first visit to Blackberry Farm was to assess the resort and sample its celebrated regional cuisine. But on subsequent occasions, I have made a point of prolonging my stay, so as to enjoy the outstanding trout fishing on the property’s Hesse Creek, as well as the glorious hiking in the nearby park.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: As the first Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing lodge in the eastern United States, Blackberry Farm is an excellent place to learn the sport. Other activities include archery, clay shooting, carriage rides, cycling, paint ball, hiking and more. (Expect an even wider array of experiences when Blackberry Mountain opens in late 2018. The new property will also offer mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding.)
Member benefits: $100 spa credit per room; farmstead tour
Taupo, New Zealand
Huka Lodge is a European-style country house hotel set along the willow-draped banks of the Waikato River near the dramatic Huka Falls and Lake Taupo, an hour south of Rotorua. (Accommodations: 21 peaked-roof dwellings)
What our editors say: “There are so many things to like: the riverfront setting; the lavish duplex accommodations; and the superb cuisine. It is one of the finest hideaways of its type in the world.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Besides world-class trout fishing and heli-fishing, guests can enjoy horseback riding, sailing, jet boating, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, sky-diving, biking and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Kinloch Golf Club just a 20-minute drive away.
Member benefits: One two-course lunch for two; welcome bottle of French Champagne
Dunton Hot Springs is a meticulously restored mining town resort situated in a pristine valley not far from Telluride. (Accommodations: 13 wood cabins)
What our editors say: “As the entire property was once a 19th-century mining town, the site offers endless opportunities for discovery.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Activities include fly-fishing, hiking, biking and horseback riding in summer, and ice climbing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Guests may also soak in the 105-degree natural springs.
Get inspired: Read about glamping at Dunton Hot Springs’ addition, Dunton River Camp, along with six other luxury tented accommodations around the world.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Southern Ocean Lodge is a refined, environmentally sensitive lodge located in what is described as “Australia’s Galápagos.” (Accommodations: 21 ocean-view suites)
What our editors say: “Southern Ocean Lodge would be worth a visit for its dramatic setting alone. But we also made memorable excursions to nearby Flinders Chase National Park, home to Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seal colonies, as well as abundant kangaroos, wallabies and koalas.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Kangaroo Island is a year-round destination, and guests can partake in myriad activities, including bike safaris, guided tours to spot wildlife, hikes over clifftops and through national parks, kayak adventures, beach fishing and more. Mountain bikes, yoga mats and walking trails are all complimentary.
Member benefits: Spa treatment credit per suite; Bespoke Experience credit per suite; “Taste of KI” five-course dinner with matched South Australian wines, on one evening of stay
Get inspired: See our 17-day itinerary through Australia
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
An idyllic wilderness retreat, Clayoquot is located half an hour by boat from Tofino, in the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, 45 minutes by seaplane from Vancouver. (Accommodations: 25 luxury tents)
What our editors say: “At its Cloud Camp, you’ll be whisked by helicopter 4,500 feet above sea level where you’ll get to hike around your own private lake.”
Putting the “great” in the “great outdoors”: Hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, whale watching, bear viewing and fishing for steelhead, salmon and cutthroat trout. Spectacular full- or half-day helicopter excursions.
Member benefits: Private tasting of British Columbia wines with cheese and charcuterie; for guests 13 and older, a choice of a microfleece bathrobe or $100 USD spa credit
Get inspired: Read a former staff member’s trip report about her family vacation at Clayoquot.
BEFORE YOU GO: Prepare for your next getaway with a few of our favorite outdoor products in “Gear for the Great Outdoors.”