Get Away: A New Skiing Option, and two Notable Inns

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Courtesy of Aaron Watson Photography 

Inn Vogue

This past fall, The Inn at Willow Grove in Orange, Virginia (named the top resort hotel in the South based on Travel + Leisure magazine’s reader survey last year), added two luxury cottages, a spa and an azure-tiled saltwater pool to its plantation-meets-urban-chic compound of relaxation. The recently opened cottages each have five luxury rooms or suites. The 40-acre estate’s new Mill House Spa, located in a red barn, is home to tranquil treatment rooms and a fitness and yoga studio. 

Each of the inn’s original 14 guest rooms and suites offers unique features, from heated travertine tile floors to a stone-clad fireplace and expansive porches that overlook the Blue Ridge Mountains. All accommodations come with amenities you’ll wish you could take home: butler service, morning beignets and locally roasted French press coffee delivered to your door, and an evening turn-down service with sweet treats and tea. Willow Grove’s popular Vintage Restaurant serves farm-to-table fare with a Southern influence. Montpelier (President James Madison’s home) and the Monticello Wine Trail are short jaunts from the inn. Rates begin at $275.

The Inn at Willow Grove, 14079 Plantation Way, Orange, Virginia; 540-317-1206; innatwillowgrove.com  


Courtesy Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau

Hit the Slopes

Laurel Mountain Ski Resort reopened last winter in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain State Park after an extensive renovation that included a new chairlift, widened trails and a transformed lodge. Among Laurel’s 20 slopes and trails are a 761-foot drop (the highest vertical drop in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Ridge) and the double-diamond Lower Wildcat, the steepest slope in the state. The resort’s main base is at the mountain’s summit, where you’ll find parking and Laurel Lodge, the place for après-ski cocoa and cocktails by the fire. Outside the lodge, there’s a concrete terrace and a massive stone fireplace surrounded by Adirondack chairs. Inside, Wildcat Lounge serves up thick sandwiches, “Wildcat Chili” and bread pudding. The Laurel House Cafe, a casual eatery, has sweeping views of the valley below. A new fleet of Rossignol and Burton equipment is available at the rental center.

While there are no overnight accommodations at Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, two ski spots roughly 30 miles away—Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Resort—offer lodging. Seven Springs, which operates Laurel Mountain, offers guided snowmobile tours, snow tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and the East Coast’s only Olympic-size half-pipe. The Highlands Package offers skiing and snowboarding at all three resorts for a total of 79 slopes and trails.

All-day ski/snowboard passes for Laurel Mountain Ski Resort are $39-$60; $35-$50 for ages 6-11. The Highlands weekend ticket (valid 9 a.m. Friday until closing on Sunday) is $209; $158 for ages 6-11. 

Laurel Mountain Ski Resort, 374 Summit Ski Road, Boswell, Pennsylvania; 724-238-2801; laurelmountainski.com


Courtesy The Mission Inn

Mission Possible

The Mission Inn in Cape May, New Jersey, is a California Spanish mission-inspired bed-and-breakfast that earned third place on TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice list of the Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the United States. It was the property’s third time on the list, and first under its new owners. Laura Shaddock and Wendy Collins took the helm in November 2016 and have added their own twists to the beautiful eight-room inn’s offerings. There’s a new gas fire pit for relaxing on the back patio year-round. An assortment of craft beers from local breweries were added to the complimentary house libations. Intimate concerts take place monthly as part of the Music at The Mission series. Guest rooms are mini-havens, featuring a fireplace, jetted tub (or spa shower), comfortable king-size bed, and unique painted wall murals and headboards. The San Buenaventura room’s walls depict the grounds of California’s original San Buenaventura Mission. Three-course gourmet breakfasts alternate each morning between savory and sweet dishes. Inn favorites include lemon poached and honey glazed pears, peppered Amish bacon and homemade chocolate banana scones. Rates begin at $230 per night, breakfast included.

The Mission Inn, 1117 New Jersey Ave., Cape May, New Jersey; 609-884-8380; missioninn.net

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