ESBELLI EVI // Urgup, Turkey
CAVE DWELLING: This sixth-century Turkish cavern is now the Esbelli Evi.
Step through the tall pine doors into this sixth-century cave hotel carved into a hillside and you're instantly enveloped in Stone Age chic. Lawyer-turned-innkeeper Suha Ersoz has restored the underground rooms, adding wooden antique Turkish furniture that provides a glimpse into the simple yet elegant lives led by the region's original inhabitants, the Byzantine monks.
ROOM & BOARD: Arched passageways lead to ten guest rooms and three luxury suites, all with hardwood floors, kilim rugs, and antique brass beds. (Mountain bikes come complimentary with the suites.) Ersoz encourages guests to raid the fridgepacked with local wines, olives, and fetaand suggests you then catch the sun sinking behind Mount Erciyes from the terrace. When the snack wears off, head to Old Greek House, in Mustafapasa, for eggplant stuffed with spiced lamb.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Tour the surreal fairy chimneysformations of eroded volcanic ashin the Devrent Valley or rise with the mist in a hot-air balloon over the Cappadocia region and end with champagne.
DETAILS: Open AprilNovember; doubles from $110 (suites, $250), including breakfast; 011-90-384-341-3395, www.esbelli.com.tr
Whistler, British Columbia
ADARA HOTEL // Whistler, British Columbia
A few years back, when boutique hotelier John deC. Evans, owner of Vancouver's Opus Hotel, shifted his gaze 78 miles north to the town of Whistler, he saw an architectural muddle of generic "executive inns" and tired lodges. So he snapped up one of the latter properties, unleashed the sledgehammers, and forged a whole new mountain-town aesthetic. The Adara Hotel, which opened in January, is a high-end but cheeky 41-room jewel just a short walk from the gondola stations that funnel guests onto Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, which together comprise the continent's greatest year-round adventure playground.
ROOM & BOARD: The feel is modern, but the tone is playful, with in-room furnishings by contemporary Canadian and Pacific Northwest designers like Niels Bendtsen, Brent Comber, and Erich Ginder. Think "floating" wall-mounted fireplaces, faux-sable throws, plastic-resin "antler" coat hooks, wood-grain laminate paneling, and plush sleeping lofts equipped with iPod-compatible clock radios. There's no restaurant in the hotel, but Bearfoot Bistro, across the street, ranks among Whistler's top eateries, thanks to offerings as diverse as Vancouver Island black cod and wild arctic caribou loin, paired with mind-blowing, small-batch B.C. wines.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Once you've had your fill cycling the 125 miles of trails at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, strap into a harness and zip along a cable 100 feet above the temperate-rainforest floor with one of Whistler's two zip-line outfitters, ZipTrek EcoTours (www.ziptrek.com) or Cougar Mountain Skyline (www.cougarmountain.ca). Both send you careening over glacier-fed creeks and through thick stands of old-growth Douglas fir and hemlock at speeds topping 60 miles per hour.
DETAILS: Doubles, $174$612; 866-502-3272, www.adarahotel.com
Cave B Inn at Safecliffe
CAVE B INN AT SAGECLIFFE
// Quincy, Washington
Known for its acoustics and drop-dead views of the Columbia River, the Gorge Amphitheater, in Quincy, Washington, has lured music lovers since the eighties. Now Dr. Vince Bryan and his wife, Carol, who cofounded the concert venue, have discovered another way to entice affluent Dave Matthews groupies. In June 2005, they opened this rustic lodge, set on basalt cliffs 900 feet above the river and surrounded by their vineyard.
ROOM & BOARD: Fifteen private "Cliffehouses" with curved rooflines open onto panoramas of Pleistocene topography and come furnished with extra-deep soaking tubs. Another 12 Cavern Loft rooms and three guest suites have equally impressive vistas of canyon and sky. Chef Fernando Divina, a 2005 James Beard Award winner, serves braised lamb with a reduction sauce made from Sagecliffe's own merlot.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Hike the sage-covered bluffs to the river or rock-climb at Frenchman Coulee. In the fall, roll up your sleeves and pitch in with the grape harvest.
DETAILS: Doubles from $125; 888-785-2283, www.cavebinn.com
Tower 23 Hotel
San Diego, California
TOWER 23 HOTEL // San Diego, California
Overlooking miles of golden sand framed by bluffs in both directions, this 44-room, three-story mod surf palace is the hippest beachfront hotel on the Southern California coast. Opened in July 2005 and named for the nearest lifeguard station, Tower 23, with its clean lines, stands out on surf-slacker-dominated Pacific Beach. Its emphasis on glass warms the minimalist interiors with exposure to the elements (sun, sand, and surf), and the nocturnal glow of Jordan, the hotel's sleek restaurant and bar, attracts local revelers for sunset libations and midnight minglingproof that high style is a welcome addition in down-to-earth PB.
ROOM & BOARD: There are LCD flat-screens and XBoxes, Wi-Fi Internet access, Tempur-Pedic beds, frosted glass doors, and a deck complete with fire pit and dipping pool. But the beach is the thing. Get a corner oceanfront room, open the balcony doors, and baste yourself in salt air. Or pop a bottle of Cali's finest pinot on the lanai and watch bronze surfers jockey for position by Crystal Pier, bikini-clad blondes patrol the boardwalk, and barefoot beachcombers hunt for seashells. Afterwards, float downstairs to Jordan for California cuisine done your way. Design your own salad and top it off with any cut of certified organic meat, from New York to porterhouse, or sustainably harvested fish like wild salmon, ahi, or scallops. Then add a rub and a sauce and choose two sides. But save room for dessert: The coffee bean custard and the Hotel23 chocolate bar are outrageous.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Borrow a board and wetsuit ($20 per half-day) and paddle out to Crystal Pier break. Make like a local, rent a beach cruiser ($10 per day), and pedal the four-mile bike path to Mission Beach. Or lace up and run the hardpack at low tide.
DETAILS: Doubles from $199; 866-869-3723, www.tower23hotel.com
TRANQUILITY BAY // Marathon, Florida
Fed up with the federal government, some fired-up folks in the Florida Keys seceded in 1982, forming the Conch Republic. They rejoined the Union a minute later, but a trip to the island chain and the new Tranquility Bay Resort, in Marathonthe geographical heart of the former republicwill still make you feel like you've traveled to another country. Opened in January, this palm-studded 12-acre oasis on Vaca Key has private sandy beaches, a lagoon-style pool, Hobie Cats for rent, and a fish-filled lake, plus a constant flow of tropical drinks. All 87 casual yet charming two-story cottages face the ocean, with some just a pebble's throw from the beach. One weekend here and you might want to consider becoming an expat yourself.
ROOM & BOARD: Underneath Caribbean-style metal roofs, you'll find island-themed, limited-edition artwork and French doors to first- and second-floor wooden decks. Cook your meals in a fully equipped kitchen with lemon-yellow walls, stop in the property's Butterfly Café for horseradish-crusted grouper, or hit the Tiki Bar for a blackened-mahi-mahi sandwich with Key lime mayo.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Head to Tilden's Scuba Center and dive 75 feet down in the Atlantic to the 189-foot-long Thunderbolt wreck in search of goliath grouper. Alternately, have Captain Morris help you hook sailfish from his deep-sea charter boat, or simply relax in the shadow of the old train trestles at the beach at Bahia Honda State Park, 12 miles west of the resort. Gulfside, hire one of the resort's guides to take you kayaking through a tangle of mangrove trees around a deserted island.
DETAILS: Two-bedroom beach houses, $299$649; three-bedroom, $399$749; 305-289-0888, www.tranquilitybay.com
HACIENDA PETAC // Petac, Mexico
In early 2000, Texans Chuck and Dev Stern were scouring the scrubby back roads of Mexico's northwestern Yucatán interior when they stumbled upon what Dev says were the "decaying bones of a once beautiful colonial property." Today, the couple has fully restored Petac (from the Mayan word for "turtle trap")a 400-year-old textile factory that spans 80 groomed acres brimming with crimson bougainvillea, flaming poinciana, and morning glories, adjacent to the Cuxtal Ecological Reserve. After watching a cooking demonstration in the bustling kitchen, cool off in the secluded pool that once served as the central cistern, then stretch out in a hammock with a fresh-squeezed lime margarita.
ROOM & BOARD: Each of the hacienda's five distinct pastel-hued bedrooms has vaulted ceilings and verandas and is adorned with locally made textiles. Book the master suite and melt into its outdoor soaking tub or snooze and sway in one of Casa del Mayordomo's bedrooms, with its queen-size bed suspended from the ceiling by ropes. Foodies will relish dishes like pollo pibilchicken marinated in sour orange juice and seasoned with achiote, cloves, and cinnamon. For a bit of après-dinner entertainment, hit the house bar for peppery tequila and a live mariachi serenade.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Half a dozen spectacularly preserved Maya sitesincluding the famous Uxmalencircle Hacienda Petac. Arrange a tour with Miguel Mendez (011-52-999-945-2745), a veteran guide who weaves wondrous tales of Maya sagas.
DETAILS: One to five people, $8,400 per week for the hacienda (includes full staff and meals); six to ten, $10,500; 800-225-4255, www.haciendapetac.com
The Resort at Paws Up
THE RESORT AT PAWS UP // Greenough, Montana
Admit it. Minus the mystery meat, bug juice, and sagging cots, you miss summer camp. Now the kid in you can enjoy a luxurious sleepaway with all the grown-up accoutrements of a five-star resort: better toys (a game of pool, perhaps?), fluffier beds (no jumping, please), and brag-worthy outdoor adventure (take a horsepacking trip into the million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness or nab 18-inch rainbow and cutthroat trout from the Blackfoot River—believe us, the guys back at the watercooler will have their jaws dropping to the bottoms of their Dixie cups when you tell 'em about the fishing). Paws Up—inspired by owners Nadine and Dave Lipson's love for pooches—opened in June 2005, on 37,000 acres in southwestern Montana's Blackfoot Valley, 30 miles northeast of Missoula. It calls itself "the Last Best Place," but we'd like to change that to "the Last Best, Really Fun Place."
ROOM & BOARD: With commanding views of the surrounding picture-perfect, A River Runs Through It–like wilderness, Paws Up offers a ton of ways to have an epic vacation. Bunk down in the four-bedroom historic 1908 house, which will transport you back to homesteader days, or opt for one of the six posh tents or 17 new 1,440-to-2,430-square-foot lodge houses with gigantic flat-screen TVs. With a bellyful of smoked trout from the resort's Pomp restaurant, curl up in front of a blazing fire and drift off to sleep dreaming about tomorrow's skeet-shooting adventure.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: If traveling with tykes, drop them off at the resort's Kids Corps of Discovery day camp, grab a picnic lunch, and head out on a guided fly-fishing trip to the Blackfoot and Missouri rivers or mountain-bike miles of forested roads.
DETAILS: Tents and cabins, $595–$3,020, including meals (two-night minimum); 800-473-0601, www.pawsup.com
Chole Mjini Lodge
Chole Mjini, Tanzania
Chole Mjini Lodge
In the Trees: Chole Mjini Lodge
CHOLE MJINI LODGE // Chole Mjini, Tanzania
Though the neighboring fruit bats prefer to hang upside down, you'll be right side up in one of seven baobab tree houses at Chole Mjini Lodge, on Chole Mjini, a tiny mango-tree-rimmed islet off East Africa's Swahili Coast. Getting to this former trading post of the Shirazi dynasty is half the adventure: Touch down on Mafia Island's airstrip, Land Rover it on dirt roads, sail a dhow across the bay, and walk the last stretch to the hidden glade.
ROOM & BOARD: Lanterns light these treetop homes where mosquito nets hang over four-poster beds and a cup of steaming chai awaits you each morning. Join owners Anne and Jean de Villiers for cocktail hour on their roof deck and challenge another guest to a game of chess. Later, savor charcoal-fired octopus, lime-infused snapper ceviche, and sliced papaya for dessert.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: After hiking the cashew-tree-lined paths of the Popo bat reserve, scuba-dive with Jean to his secret stashes and see blue starfish and eel.
DETAILS: From $140 per person; 011-44-1306-880-770, www.africatravelresource.com
OMM HOTEL // Barcelona, Spain
There's no better way to experience the cosmopolitan city of Barcelonawhich deems architecture, design, and gastronomy among its main attractionsthan staying at the two-year-old Omm Hotel, named after Hinduism's favorite mantra and located on the fashionable Passeig de Gràcia Avenue. In this property that radiates warmth and tranquillity, architect Juli Capella has blended a Buddhist-inspired minimalist interior with a whimsical Gaudístyle exterior of undulating lines. Take in this wavy limestone masterpiece from your room's balcony as you sip a full-bodied glass of the Spanish Pedro Ximénez wine.
ROOM & BOARD: A soft palette and natural materials are the focus in the 59 rooms, which come equipped with flat-screen TVs and a headboard control panel that allows for vibrant to moody lighting options. Overlooking an enclosed bamboo forest on the ground floor, the Roca brothers' celebrated Moo Restaurant serves Catalan haute cuisine like foie gras with figs and Spanish raisins. From the rooftop pool, admire the neighboring Gaudí-designed apartment complex, La Pedrera, with its swirly soft-serve-ice-cream-looking spires. Then book a mud facial or deep-tissue massage at Omm's new spa, Spaciomm. With Jell-O muscles, you can sink into the plush sofas at the Ommsession lounge later in the evening to listen to local bands and DJs.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: The staff can hook you up with helicopter tours of the city as well as bike rides through the cobblestoned Gothic Quarter. Rent a Hobie Cat, kayak, or sailboard in Mar Bella, a pretty beach eight metro stops from downtown. A must-do: bouldering in the man-made grottoes in Park Güell or in the tunnel near the Olympic Stadium.
DETAILS: Doubles from $357; 011-34-934-454-000, www.hotelomm.es
Aldeia da Cuada
Flores Island Coastline
ALDEIA DA CUADA // Azores, Portugal
Starting in the early 1990s, native Azoreans Carlos Silva and his wife, Teotonia, slowly began restoring the black-basalt cottages known collectively as Aldeia da Cuada, which had fallen into disrepair in the 1950s. No cars are allowed on the island of Flores, farthest west of the nine islands of the Azores, 1,000 miles from Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. As you stroll up the cobblestone path toward this stone hamlet of red-tile roofs and whitewashed interiors nearly a thousand feet above the sea, you'll see new life in a place where time stood still for more than five decades.
ROOM & BOARD: Each of the 15 one- and two-bedroom guesthousesand the latest, a six-bedroom cottagebears the name of a villager who once owned it, such as "Casa da Antonio," inscribed on a wooden cartwheel out front. Inside you'll find wrought-iron beds, patchwork quilts, a fully equipped kitchen, and an outdoor barbecue.
OUT THE BACK DOOR: Walk about two miles to Faja Grande, a seaside village, and swim in natural ocean pools or surfcast for grouper. Continue on a centuries-old trail used by the locals and offering sweeping coastal views. It will take you up a sea cliff past waterfalls to Ponta Delgada, a small port town, where the place to stop is Pescador, for tasty grilled barnacles, octopus, crab, and roasted goat.
DETAILS: Cottages from $72 per person per night; 011-351-292-590-040, www.aldeiadacuada.com