The Fall Olympic Games aren’t a real thing, but hotels around the globe have been unofficially competing in them for decades. With summer over and the winter holidays fast approaching, properties use every creative muscle they have to attract guests during this slower time. They race to announce seasonal activities and timely dinners. They fight for customers with elaborate packages.
The international hotels we found for your next autumnal escape don’t bend over backwards for the sake of attaining some kind of glory; seeing the smile on your face at the pool is reward enough. Still, that won’t stop our Forbes Travel Guide editors from handing out gold medals to these 11 hotels for demonstrating tremendous mettle during an often-challenging travel season.
The Chateaux Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
The thing you have to remember about a Park City trip is that timing is crucial. Go too early and any outdoor activities prove unpleasant in the heat. Wait too long and hiking trails are covered in snow. Organize your visit to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Chateaux Deer Valley in September, though, and you’ll see mountains dotted with brilliant yellows and reds, and bask in a hotel that’s active but not to its extreme June or January levels.
Though plenty around the property can keep you occupied — Le Spa Chateaux and Cena Ristorante are two clear distractions — the perfectly positioned hotel sits near bustling Main Street and Deer Valley Resort.
Inn Walden, Aurora, Ohio
If you want to alleviate stress in the most elegantly simplified fashion possible, make your way to Inn Walden. The Cleveland-area Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel could add that October temperatures usually hover around a comfortable 60 degrees, but that would just be being boastful.
The property’s subtly sublime suites, all decked out in neutral greens and light brown hardwoods, are ideal settings for a weekend of recharging. Consider the stately dining room (jackets, please, gentlemen) and Four-Star Spa Walden (try the bamboo massage, ladies) mere enhancements to your blissful stay.
Pratt Place Inn and Barn, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Pratt Place Inn and Barn may be the most sophisticated college town inn in the country. While it’s located in Fayetteville near the University of Arkansas, the historic Four-Star boutique property is tucked away on 140 private acres, making it the perfect respite for SEC fans who want to get away from fall’s football fanatics before or after a game.
Book one of seven rooms (each with a fireplace) for a charming, thoroughly Southern stay.
Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, Durham, North Carolina
The loudest indicator that fall has made its way to Durham is the noise coming from Duke University’s Wallace Wade Stadium. If it’s a football Saturday, you might feel the earth move from the lobby at Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, a Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property sitting less than a mile from the 50-yard line. (We’re pretty sure all of the Blue Devils T-shirts and caps will give it away, too.)
But even if you aren’t a big ACC football fan, you’ll appreciate the overnight deals (the Romance package includes champagne and candles), world-class cuisine (Four-Star Fairview Dining Room’s fall menu was unveiled on September 15) and top golf on offer right now.
The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa, Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine, may be known as a summer destination, but you can still get your fill of lobster and maritime fun come fall if you attend Harvest on the Harbor (October 20 to 23), an annual food-and-drink event powered by local fishermen and chefs.
Book The Portland Regency Hotel & Spa’s Old Port Getaway Package (from October 11) to score high-end lodging just three minutes from much of the event as well as breakfast and brunch at onsite American restaurant Twenty Milk Street.
Since this grand Four-Star hotel overlooks Boston’s iconic Public Gardens, you can book a room with views of the park’s changing colors and easily go for an enchanting (but sometimes chilly) stroll to see America’s first public park up close.
When you return to your opulent French-inspired room, call on the dedicated fireplace butler to light the hearth so you can be warmed by its glow.
Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort
Fall is prime time for a rustic escape. At this Adirondack-style lodge, you’ll be surrounded by the Appalachian and Kittatinny mountains, changing leaves and more than 4,000 acres of rolling land. You’d never guess that the northern New Jersey resort sits only about 50 miles outside of Manhattan.
Take in the seasonal splendor with Grand Cascades Lodge’s bounty of outdoor activities, including foliage hikes, horseback riding, fly fishing, skeet and trap shooting and golf (with six courses to choose from). And to give your trip a real taste of autumn, the hotel lets you decorate caramel apples and pumpkins, too.
The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba
When kids go back to school, it’s the ideal time for a romantic getaway, especially at a cuddling-approved resort like The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, sitting on the island’s Palm Beach. Get your quality time with adult activities such as horseback riding on the beach and long, lingering meals at one of four onsite restaurants.
The Romance Escape deal (available through October 31) includes a couple’s massage, daily breakfast and a sunset sail for two.
Jedediah Hawkins Inn
When the summer crowd flees the Hamptons, it frees up Long Island during one of its best times. Use this charming Forbes Travel Guide Recommended six-room hotel as your base to explore East End wineries for the fall harvest season — guests of Jedediah Hawkins get complimentary tastings at 15 nearby spots.
For some conversation with your imbibing, check out the inn’s Sessions in the Speakeasy, a workshop series with an expert who talks about wine, beer or spirits made on the East End. Of course, you’ll get to sample these locally made sips alongside a special tasting menu.
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
If you refuse to accept summer’s end, stretch out the season a bit longer with a trip to Palm Desert. You will forget all about autumn at this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel as you lounge at one of its five pools, play its two Ted Robinson-designed golf courses, take a boat tour of its swan-and-flamingo-filled waterways or let the hotel arrange an EagleRider motorcycle rental so that you can zip through the striking desert.
Whichever you choose to do, be sure to end the day with one final alfresco dinner of Baja fish tacos at Fisherman’s Landing.
Lake Placid Lodge
Upstate New York’s Adirondacks looks like a watercolor canvas come fall, with reds, yellows and oranges brushed across the mountain peaks and valleys. One of the best places to witness this masterpiece is at Four-Star Lake Placid Lodge.
Get up close to the fall foliage in the water on your own (use the hotel’s canoes, kayaks or electric boats) or with a tour (aboard a Hacker-Craft or pontoon). Though the thousands of scenic trail miles winding around the lodge also make it an inviting destination for leaf-peeping via a hike or mountain bike.
One of our favorite ways to see the fiery landscape colors is at sunset, followed by the hotel’s cozy nightly bonfire.