The delightful enclave of Hidden Pond is located 10 minutes northeast of Kennebunkport. With 36 cottages and bungalows set in 60 acres of seaside forest, it is a captivating world unto itself. When it opened in 2008, the lack of dining facilities dimmed its appeal. Last year, however, the resort added a restaurant, Earth, which is under the direction of highly regarded Boston chef Ken Oringer.
The cottages are arrayed around the Adirondack- style main lodge. Their attributes include screened porches, outdoor showers, stone gas fireplaces, full baths for each bedroom and full kitchens. We opted for one of the new bungalows, cozy and well-designed structures that come with screened sitting areas.
An inviting pool is surrounded by chaises longues, while nearby is the delightful Tree Spa, with three tree house-style treatment rooms. One of the most beautiful beaches in Maine, Goose Rocks Beach, is a short drive away. We relished every moment we spent at Hidden Pond, and the friendly staff impressed us greatly.
Bungalow, $675 per night (high season for a three-night minimum stay); Two-Bedroom Cottage, $1,050. 354 Goose Rocks Road, Kennebunkport. Tel. (207) 967-9050.
A 60-room boutique hotel-within-a-hotel, The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician is an oasis of tranquility, despite being attached to a huge resort with 647 rooms, eight swimming pools, three nine-hole golf courses and a 22,000-square-foot spa.
After check-in, a Canyon Suites “ambassador” walked us to our room, taking pains to explain the multitude of amenities and, most important, entry to the private Canyon Suites swimming pool. Our 600-square-foot Canyon Room offered comfortable contemporary furnishings and a well- lit bath with a generous travertine shower stall and vanities surrounded by speckled granite. From our second-floor balcony, we had a mesmerizing view of saguaro-studded Camelback Mountain.
It became my routine each afternoon to bring a book to the private pool and to read a chapter or two in the shade of an umbrella. Those wishing to make a day of it should reserve one of the 10 cabanas, which have their own refrigerators and full baths. When not basking poolside, we enjoyed strolls through the grounds, especially the Cactus Garden, a delightful strip of desert greenery set between one of the two main buildings and Camelback.
The J&G Steakhouse is a stylish Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant with views across Scottsdale. Here, we sampled the delicious tasting menu, which included creamy tuna tartare with avocado and ginger, a smoky asparagus risotto, a delicate steamed halibut with black beans and artichoke hearts, and a perfectly cooked filet mignon with tangy J&G steak sauce. I left Canyon Suites with considerable regret.
Canyon Room, $520; Canyon Suite, $1,200. 6000 East Camelback Road, scottsdale. Tel. (480) 941-8200.
Despite its setting in the heart of the Napa Valley, the spare construction of Bardessono is more reminiscent of Southern California. The 62-room resort opened in February 2009, and its rooftop pool provides wonderful views of the Stags Leap Palisades and the Mayacamas Mountains. Yountville is an engaging town of 4,000, famous for its Thomas Keller restaurants (preeminently The French Laundry), all of which are within walking distance.
Accommodations are divided into three categories: King Spa-Suite, Steam Spa-Suite and Tufa Suite. The first two are similar, with 550 square feet of indoor space, living areas with gas fireplaces, bottom-jetted tubs, separate showers and private outdoor areas. The 780-square-foot Tufa Suites have living spaces separated from the bedrooms by see- through gas fireplaces. All baths are designed for in-room spa treatments, with stowed massage tables.
Yountville probably has more Michelin stars per capita than any other municipality on the planet. The food at Bardessono is quite good, but would I opt for a dinner there over one of Keller’s establishments, or the creative fare at Redd on Washington Street? Probably not.
There was talk a few years ago of Keller opening an inn across the street from The French Laundry, but at the moment, Yountville doesn’t need it. Bardessono is the best new hotel to open in Napa since Poetry Inn.
King Spa-Suite, $450; Tufa Suite, $600. 6526 Yount Street, Yountville. Tel. (707) 204-6000.