Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
Hotel buyouts for groups of vacationers has become a growing, pandemic-fueled trend, and it’s obvious why: you get all the amenities of a hotel but don’t have to interact with other guests. While renting out an entire lodge for you and your traveling companions doesn’t come cheap, we found some adventure-oriented destination properties that range in price, so you can match such a getaway with your budget.
When it opened below the Anvil Hotel in January 2020, the Cache House was designed as a communal, pod-style hotel for budget-conscious skiers and adventurers visiting Jackson Hole and the Tetons. But COVID-19 makes sleeping in a group and using a shared bathroom a little tricky. Cache House allows buyouts of its 24-bunk rooms for $99 per person, which includes dinner and a lift ticket to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Otter Bar Lodge
Forks of Salmon, California
Otter Bar Lodge has been a world-class whitewater kayaking school since 1981. It’s located in a stunningly beautiful, extremely remote stretch of shoreline along Northern California’s Salmon River, about three hours south of the Oregon border. Due to COVID-19, owners Peter and Kristy Sturges have shuttered the kayaking school and turned their property into a buyout-only, vacation-rental lodge (from $2,500 per night, with a four-night minimum). You’ll have seven bedrooms, a sauna and a hot tub, and swimming holes and road biking out your door.
Fall City, Washington
These aren’t your average backyard treehouses. Designed and constructed by master treehouse builder Pete Nelson, TreeHouse Point is a family-owned retreat in the Snoqualmie Valley, 30 minutes east of Seattle. You can stay in seven of these exquisite structures (from $300 each) or rent them all for a small gathering. (Take note: kids under 13 aren’t allowed to stay overnight in the treehouses.) There’s an on-site yoga studio and miles of hiking trails nearby.
Take over the summer-camp-style Camp Wandawega for the option to stay in a variety of properties, from cabins and A-frames to vintage trailers, tepees, and tents. The whole place can sleep up to 50 people. If your group is smaller, you can book out single units via Airbnb, like the upper floor of the bunkhouse (from $1,200) or a three-bedroom cabin (from $650) and still have plenty of room to roam. Camp counselors are on hand to suggest outings, which include guided trout fishing, cycling, archery, and canoeing.
AutoCamp Cape Cod
AutoCamp, which has two locations in California, is opening a new outpost in Cape Cod this spring. Its upscale Airstreams look more like a hotel room than a camper, and its tiny-home cabins and deluxe canvas tents are great for families. You can rent the whole place for events of up to 250 guests (full buyouts from $15,000), or just book a couple of neighboring Airstreams (from $229 each) for your group. Spend your days deep-sea fishing or sea-kayaking off the cape or hiking through a 135-acre reserve at Lowell Holly Reservation, 30 minutes away. Cruiser bikes are available for loan.
Scarp Ridge Lodge
Crested Butte, Colorado
Housed in a historic building in downtown Crested Butte, Scarp Ridge Lodge is available for full-group buyouts year-round (from $4,200). The 13,500-square-foot lodge has five bedrooms, plus a bunk room for kids, as well as plenty of space for hanging out, such as a great room and bar, an indoor saltwater pool, and a rooftop hot tub. In the winter, guided cat skiing is included. Year-round, your stay comes with chef-prepared meals and customized adventure planning.
Urban Cowboy Nashville
The best part about a buyout of the eight-bedroom, 19th-century Victorian mansion known as Urban Cowboy Nashville? It includes a private bartender and meals from Roberta’s, an iconic Brooklyn restaurant set up at the property’s Public House through 2021 (from $6,000 a night). There are seven suites inside the main lodge, as well as a freestanding cabin out back. By day, bike Stones River Greenway, paddleboard the Cumberland River, or explore 30 miles of underground pathways at Cumberland Caverns.
Washington School House
Park City, Utah
With 12 well-appointed rooms and suites, the Washington School House Hotel—set in a building first built as a school back in 1889—feels more like an expansive home than a hotel. The luxury property can sleep up to 34 people, has a heated outdoor pool, and offers a 24-hour concierge that can plan outings like skiing at nearby Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley Resort, snowshoeing, dogsledding, and fly-fishing. Breakfast and a daily après-ski spread are included (full buyouts from $7,000).
Ruby 360 Lodge
Yes, there’s a jagged mountain range in the middle of Nevada—the Rubies. And although there are no ski resorts, there is a lone heli-ski outfitter, called Ruby Mountain Heli. In 2017, the heli operation’s owners built a ten-room lodge, Ruby 360, that overlooks the Great Basin Valley and can be rented out year-round (from $2,500 per night for ten rooms). Amenities include chef-prepared meals, a hot tub with a stellar view, and a helicopter landing pad out the front door.
With just eight rooms, the SurfHouse, a boutique hotel minutes from the beach in sunny Encinitas, north of San Diego, is the perfect size for a buyout (rooms range from $130 to $250, a full buyout from $1,200). It has four rooms on the top floor and four rooms on the ground floor, so smaller groups could also just book out one floor. Each room has an outdoor shower, and a stay comes with free loaner surfboards and cruiser bikes.