In the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, amidst the towering Douglas Firs, sits Willows Lodge. This luxury retreat is only 30 minutes away from Seattle, but the drive transports you and makes you feel miles away from a major city. The lodge is centered around sustainability, re-using natural materials for the foundation and decor of the property. While wine is a huge draw to the region, guests can also explore distilleries, breweries and take part in outdoor activities like hiking along the Sammamish River Trail and a bike tour from Woodinville along Lake Washington into Seattle.
At the main entrance when driving in, the landmark you’ll notice is the shell of a large tree, the 1500-year-old “Cedar Snag.” This particular trunk was brought to Willows Lodge as a reminder of what the land was used for before development: logging. As you walk around and explore the rest of the property, you’ll find secret gardens perfect for reflection, including a large herb and edible plant garden and fruit trees used by the two restaurants on-site. If you are in need of more relaxation, the full service spa is sure to do the trick.
Guest rooms at Willows Lodge have the perfect balance of true Northwestern outdoors atmosphere mixed with modern touches. The layout of the guest rooms were intentionally designed to be facing gardens. Enjoy the oversized soaking tub to continue your rejuvenating stay. The beds are outfitted with luxury linens, allowing a peaceful night’s sleep.
Willows Lodge is home to two restaurants: The Barking Frog and The Herbfarm. The Barking Frog, fearlessly led by Executive Chef Bobby Moore for the past 14 years, melds staples of the Pacific Northwest with a French flair. The Grand Marnier Prawns, the legendary dish that Moore once took off the menu but had to bring back because of protests, are crispy, saucy, tangy and most importantly, delicious. The Herbfarm, an internationally distinguished as one of America’s outstanding dining destinations, focuses on 9-course meals paired with five to six wine selections. Be sure to make reservations and arrive 30 minutes early for a pre-meal garden tour.
Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa sits on 500 acres of the Santa Ana Pueblo, an Indian Reservation home to 800 tribal members. To pay homage to the land, the resort is not only designed with that in mind, but it incorporates the culture and traditions in the resort lifestyle. The hotel offers a true Southwestern experience, all without leaving the property. While it feels like you’re days away from city life, Santa Fe and Albuquerque are less than an hour away.
Get lost wandering the miles of trails, including a hike to the Rio Grande River. Opt for a guided tour to get the full experience. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the wildlife and landscape. Did we mention the Sandia Mountains are the anchor for this property?
Relax at the Tamaya Mist Spa and Salon during your stay – it’s worth it! The Ancient Drumming body treatment was inspired by the Santa Ana Pueblo. First you are layered with mud from the Jemez Mountains infused with New Mexico’s red chile. Then the massage therapist gently “drums” away stress by using flaxseed-filled muslin bags dipped in pinon-infused oil. The experience is so relaxing and makes you appreciate the region and its culture.
The hotel staff will deliver a daily activity guide with a schedule of events. They offer a wide range of activities, from guided hikes like I mentioned above to classes like Watercolors and Wine. This experience was one of the most memorable things I’ve done as it allowed creativity, and I was able to take away my interpretation of the mountains. And there was wine of course! Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa | 1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004
The history and architecture alone makes this property stand out. Inspiration for the resort is pulled from 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, transporting you overseas to the Mediterranean region. Southern California is known for its mild climate, but beware of the June Gloom – the sky is typically overcast so the views are not as stellar. The resort offers numerous amenities, ranging from family-friendly pool activities to shopping experiences for a girlfriend getaway.
Keeping with the European theme, all four restaurants offer al fresco dining. Andrea, the Northern Italian-inspired restaurant, offers fresh pastas made daily in-house. Splurge on the signature risotto, prepared tableside in a Parmesan wheel. Led by Chef Marco Criscuolo, this is one culinary experience you won’t want to skip.
The Coliseum Pool is the jaw-dropping scene at this resort. The 136-foot diameter pool was designed with more than one million hand-laid glass mosaic tiles, forming a perfect circle. Reserve a private cabana, decked out with flat-screen TVs, Bose audio systems, chaise lounges, dining tables with chairs, ceiling fans and mini bars.
With a limestone fireplace, private terrace (many with views of the Pacific), hand-hewn wood beam ceilings and a marble bath, the spacious Bungalow guest rooms and suites range from 847 to 1,634 sq. ft. Enjoy room service breakfast on the terrace after your morning run around the property and end your day with a nice glass of wine by the fireplace.
As the middle-range resort of this property, IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya is a five-star all-inclusive beachfront resort. While checking in you are greeted by a welcome cocktail and warm, smiling faces. During the day, there’s several pools and a lazy river, or you can migrate to the beach to listen to the waves and catch some rays. Save some energy for the nightlife – dining, shows and a dance club (discoteca).
The resort has over 400 suites, so you have plenty of space to spread out and stay awhile. Each room has a spacious balcony overlooking either the pool or a community garden area. Traveling with your family? Opt for the Family Superior Junior Suite, which has 1 king bed and a guaranteed connecting suite with two double beds, each with a pullout sofa, and private balcony with garden view.
As with many all-inclusive resorts, food is a make-or-break part of the stay. With five a la carte restaurants (including an interactive Japanese hibachi-style restaurant) and a massive buffet with just about every type of food you can imagine, the quality does not disappoint. With all-inclusive resorts, you also have the upside of libations at every corner. Did we mention there’s a circular bar in a large open room as soon as you walk into the lobby?
With the advantage of two other resorts on the same property, it has a community-like feel. With a shopping square (accessible by walking or tram) complete with clothing and jewelry boutiques, a liquor store and Star Wars-themed discoteca, you don’t even need to leave the property to enjoy a well-rounded vacation in Mexico. You’ll also find a variety of wildlife from peacocks to flamingos, and don’t forget about the towel animals!