Amazing Mountain Hotels

Uma Paro, Bhutan

“The first thought that comes to mind while gazing at the surrounding scenery from Uma Paro is ‘Oh my God, I’m in the Himalayas,’” says Bobby McGovern. “It’s something that only a handful of travelers ever get to experience. After spending hours on winding mountain roads or hiking the surrounding hillsides, coming back to the hotel is true heaven.” Perched on the side of a hill at 7,550 feet, five-star Uma Paro offers views up to the Himalayas and down to a valley below. The 29 rooms reflect the parent company’s philosophy of quiet comfort in inspiring, culture-rich locations. The hotel sits on 38 acres in the town of Paro, surrounded by pine valleys, terraced hills, towering peaks, cliff-clinging monasteries, and orchards lining pristine rivers.

The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, Cordillera, Colo.

Located on a private mountaintop, the Lodge boasts many of the features of the best mountain hotels, from great views to outdoor pursuits to luxurious appointments, from remote privacy to access to culture, cuisine and camaraderie. Guests can pursue world-class, golf, fishing, skiing, hiking and other activities and return to one of only 55 extraordinary rooms in a hotel built in the style of a Belgian chateau. Rooms feature fireplaces, patios, feather down comforters and Anichini sheets. The hotel has been ranked among the best anywhere by golf, spa, travel, and ski magazines. Guests craving a bit more action can drop down into the world-renowned resort town of Vail.

Hotel Ancora, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Located in a valley ringed by the Dolomite Alps, and originally constructed in 1826, the Hotel Ancora combines the best of outdoor activities, a great town, mountain views, and extreme luxury. From the hand-painted gothic arches in the dining room, to the guest rooms with Jacuzzis and wooden balconies, to the pedestrian mall just outside, Hotel Ancora epitomizes life at the top. Ski journalist Charlie Leocha says, “This hotel nestled in the Olympic resort town of Cortina is one of the most luxurious in the region. Cortina is the ski and snowboard resort of Italy’s beautiful people, and the passeggiata each evening outside the doors of this hotel offers a fashion show on parade. During the summer the town hosts Italy’s upper crust, who come to enjoy the mountain beauty, hiking, and top-notch regional cuisine”

Fairmont Banff Springs, Canada

Originally constructed to evoke a Scottish baronial castle in the Chateau style, and created to house upscale guests of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888, the hotel currently offers 768 rooms in a wood and stone palace. Its public spaces can provide an entire evening of wandering between fireplaces, secret nooks, hardwood-floored ballrooms with giant beams, and galleries full of artwork. The 38,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa provides a hideout within this luxurious hideout. Hal Phillips says, “The scale and look of the place are truly castle-like. The hotel sits on the Bow River where it cuts through the Canadian Rockies. But it’s also on the edge of a really kicking arts and ski town.”

Grand Dragon, Ladakh, India

Located in the very high desert between the Himalayas and Karakorum Mountains in India, at an altitude of over 11,000 feet, Grand Dragon is the only luxury hotel in an area rich in both culture and adventure sports. Wangchuk Kalon, Director of Snow Leopard Trails tour company, says, “I give full marks to the Grand Dragon since it is the first hotel at this height to have all rooms centrally heated and remains open throughout the year, keeping in mind the conditions we face in winter. What makes the hotel so great is that it’s so far above other hotels in the area.” Nearby sites and activities include Buddhist monasteries, rafting on the Indus and Zansker Rivers, and trekking to mountains and lakes. As an added bonus, the hotel pursues an environmental ethic which includes the incorporation of 95 solar panels.

Arlberg Hospiz Hotel, Arlberg, Austria

Originally constructed in 1386 by monks as an outpost to aid people crossing the mountains, the Hospiz and its chapel now rescue guests from more mundane hotel stays. The hotel’s largest suite holds up to 12 people. Ski journalist Charlie Leocha says, “The Arlberg Hospiz Hotel sets top international standards for quality, taste, and style. The setting, beneath the towering Valluga peak, is surrounded by flower-strewn pastures in summer and snowfields in the winter. It’s considered one of the most luxurious in Austria, houses one of the country’s top spas, three restaurants that rank among the top mountain restaurants, and one of the best Bordeaux wine cellars outside of France.”

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Peru

Whether your journey to the 15th-century ruins of Machu Picchu takes five days by foot along the Inca Trail or three hours on the train from Cuzco, the Lodge is the only hotel adjacent to the Lost City of the Incas. The 31 rooms and suites—many with startling mountain views—provide guests with an opportunity to visit the site early in the morning and late in the afternoons, before and after visitors who are staying elsewhere. Interior gardens feature orchids and other local flowers, and two restaurants serve Peruvian and continental cuisine. Bobby McGovern says, “There’s no better way to begin or end your day at Machu Picchu than by relaxing in the garden surrounded by mountains and local flowers. And a sunset here is one you’ll never forget.”

Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam

This posh hostelry and former French colonial hill station offers 43 rooms at nearly 5,000 feet of elevation in the Vietnamese hill country, surrounded by restored villas in the style of the French gilded age. It serves the same function that it did when the French built it the 1920s—to provide an escape from the heat and humidity of Saigon. Hal Phillips says, “You look at the hotel from the remade Art Deco exterior and think, 'Okay, South Beach, Miami.' Then you go inside, and it's the 18th Century, and you're in a Loire Valley château—chandeliers in the lobby, chandeliers in the chambers, and chandeliers in the bathrooms. Heavy drapery. Colonial-era phones. Oriental rugs on polished wooden floors. It’s the most comfortable place to be in Vietnam.”

Les Fermes de Marie, Megeve, France

“This old-world French resort is the favorite of the country’s super rich,” says Charlie Leocha, “and provides a luxurious French country experience whether during summer or the winter ski season.” The hotel’s 71 guest rooms, two restaurants, and award-winning spa all have a rustic mountain ambience, if anything so rich can still be called rustic. Facilities include a beautiful bar, library, and gorgeously appointed rooms and private chalets. Leocha adds, “What makes this very special other than the cuisine and service is that the lodging is in old farm houses from across France that were dismantled and then reassembled into a hamlet outside of Megeve.”

 Mt. Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, N.H.

Opened in 1902 as a summer retreat for wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians, the hulking edifice in the Spanish Renaissance style still boasts Tiffany stained glass and crystal chandeliers, and an orchestra accompanies the nightly four-course dinners. Presidents and celebrities have enjoyed the ambience at the base of the highest Eastern U.S. peak for more than a century. Media and travel consultant Hal Philips calls it “the prototypical New England summer hotel, an enormous, sprawling white monolith with a red roof in the shadow of the tallest peak on the east coast—an incredible setting. It’s a mecca for hikers, leaf peepers, skiers, and golfers—the Donald Ross design here was just restored. It’s the kind of place where, back in the day, you’d bring a trunk and stay for a month. Today it’s a four-season affair with a new spa, and the rooms are big and quite classy. The porch doesn’t quit; it wraps all the way around the hotel.”

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