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Hey, Weekend: Places to Reconnect with Nature

It’s true some of life’s best decisions are made in nature, but these days it’s harder and harder to peel away from technology and reestablish balance. For a departure from the digital world this summer, venture to these three woodsy California hotels proving to be worthy of the detox. 

Wylder Hope Valley

Wylder. Photo by Res Fuller

Originally established in 1926 by the Sorenson family who operated the eponymous year-round resort until the 1970s, the completely reimagined property now resides on 165 acres with 30 wooden cabins; a refurbished 1951 Spartan trailer; 13 tent and RV sites; and seven yurts. Situated within the Sierra Nevada Mountains (a mere 20 minutes from South Lake Tahoe), the plethora of summer activities here is nothing short of endless with everything from guided yoga and hiking amid aspen groves and pine forests to wildflower walks, mountain biking and Eastern Sierra history lectures. Stock up on take-home gifts, t-shirts and gourmet snacks (think homemade mixed berry cobbler) at the General Store, or head for dinner at Sorenson’s Café with menu selections such as the cabin salad with cucumber, heirloom tomato, and red wine vinaigrette, and beef burgundy stew. After, stargaze by the fire pits before turning in for the night.  

Wylder Hope Valley

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Fireside

Tucked just two miles from Yosemite National Park’s South Entrance, the 75-acre property, opened three years ago, features 50 standalone two-bedroom cabins with mountain modern furnishings, artwork inspired by the surroundings, fireplaces, kitchenettes, and Wi-Fi. The resort has also just launched Explorer Cabin 41, which functions completely off the grid retrofitted with 12 rooftop solar panels. “Since opening in 2019, our Explorer Cabins have provided guests with an unprecedented closeness to nature and an elevated experience in terms of style, comfort and amenities,” says Brett Archer, general manager at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. “With the solar cabin, guests enjoy the added benefit of clean energy use, which is completely seamless in terms of their experience.” Outdoor options include guided hikes, horseback riding, climbing, and vintage steam train rides along the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. If adventure isn’t on the daily agenda, venture to Ascent Spa for the Hiker’s Trek designed to revive tired legs and feet with hot towels, an exfoliating sugar scrub and massage. 

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Alila Ventana Big Sur

Comprised of 59 secluded rooms and suites propped along the cliffs of the jagged Pacific Coast, the breathtaking 160-acre resort is ideal for a solo adventure or a romantic getaway. At the picturesque property, choose from guestrooms appointed with private decks with forest or ocean views; macramé wall hangings; black-and-white nature-inspired photographs; and minibars stocked with hand-selected artisan provisions, or suites with features such as soaking tubs, outdoor showers, hammocks, and wood-burning fireplaces. Additional accommodations include safari-style canvas tents in a 20-acre redwood canyon designated solely for glamping guests with wood-burning fire pits; a pair of Adirondack chairs; handheld lanterns; and access to the Big Sur Smokehouse for organic salads, soups, and a selection of house-smoked meats. The long list of activities spans a guided falconry experience led by Master Falconer Antonio Balestreri; a clay workshop with a local artist; guided e-bike excursions; Aerial Cirque classes; and private watercolor painting courses. For a day of inner reflection and solitude, head to Spa Alila with new massage offerings and journeys such as the Talisman replete with herbal poultices filled with organic and wildcrafted herbs, gentle, yoga-like stretches, and a Swedish-style massage; or the Astrosoma experience using innovative muscle testing along with one’s own individual astrology natal chart for awareness and transformation.

Alila Ventana Big Sur


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