LET YOUR SENSES FEAST ON ALL OF AUTUMN’S VIBRANT GLORY AT WOODLAND RETREATS WORLDWIDE
BY AMBER GIBSO
THE RITZ CARLTON
Located two and a half hours north of Tokyo, the Ritz Carlton, Nikko is one of the best new spa resorts in the world, opening last summer in the mountainous Northern Kanto region of Japan amidst a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its scenic beauty, Buddhist temples, and Shinto shrines. Autumn is an especially exquisite time to visit, with maple, white birch, gingko, and larch trees dazzling guests with their vivid red and orange hues throughout October and into November. Even the grass turns rust red at Senjogahara Marshland, just ten minutes from the hotel.
This is the first Ritz Carlton property with an authentic Japanese onsen experience, and guests are invited to enjoy the indoor and open air hot sulfur spring baths, believed to purify the mind and body with therapeutic thermal waters from the nearby Okunikko Yumoto Onsen, first discovered 1,200 years ago by a monk summiting Mount Nantai. Wash away all of life’s mental and physical tensions with a blissful bath before a spa service and nightly meditation.
A modern minimalist design brings the natural beauty of Nikko indoors with earthy wood and stone materials illuminated by ample natural light. All 94 spacious guest rooms and suites feature a private engawa balcony for outdoor lounging, accented by local mashiko pottery and landscape paintings. The crown jewel Ritz Carlton Suite includes a private fitness area, full kitchen, massage treatment room, and panoramic views of Lake Chuzenji and Mount Nantai. Upon departure, receive a sacred omamori Japanese amulet as a keepsake and wish for safe travel.
Rates start at $1,000 for a Riverside Garden View room. 2482, Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321 1661, Japan, ritzcarlton.com/nikko
An acorn was planted for every tree removed during the construction of Montage Healdsburg, Sonoma’s largest luxury resort and the most significant hotel opening in the area in nearly two decades. With 22,000 oak trees spread across 258 acres, fall foliage here is fierce, with shades of yellow, orange, copper, and crispy sienna spreading across the rolling hills. All 130 bungalow style rooms include floor to ceiling windows and spacious furnished terraces with outdoor re pits and daybeds to best enjoy the views of the majestic oaks. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a frittata or avocado toast while you’re wrapped in a plush robe. Most rooms have outdoor showers too, and all feature standalone tubs. Stone, wood, and copper are utilized to reflect a contemporary but low impact, eco conscious design.
The Montage team has also planted 450 hazelnut trees with the ultimate goal of producing truffles on property. They even have a Lagotto Romagnolo canine ambassador, Beau Alexander, who is training to become a truffle hunter. Naturally, the resort has its own vineyards too, more than 15 acres planted with Bordeaux varietals, managed by winemaker Jesse Katz of Aperture Cellars, whose wine you’ll find stocked in the minibar alongside decadent bean to bar dark chocolate by Volo Chocolate.
Spa Montage is a highlight; it’s easily the most sumptuous spa in Sonoma. The harvest honey ginger infusion ritual involves warm local honey drizzled down your back for a full body wrap after an invigorating ginger and mineral salt exfoliation. is autumn, Montage Healdsburg is offering a welcomely decadent Sky’s the Limit package that includes private flights from anywhere in the United States, a stay at the resort’s premier three bedroom guest house, and a private tour of the Robert Ferguson Observatory with a personalized photography session with astro photographer Rachid Dahnoun.
Rates start at $1,395 for a forest king room. 100 Montage Way, Healdsburg, montagehotels.com/ Healdsburg
Québec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world, and for a few fleeting weeks in fall, the region’s maple trees shift to a passionate red. One of the best places to witness this blaze of autumn color is in the picturesque village of North Hatley, at the 19th century mansion of Manoir Hovey. It’s rare to find this kind of European charm so close to home, just 20 minutes from the Vermont border, 75 minutes from Montreal, or a bucolic six hour drive from New York City. There are even two electric vehicle charging stations on property.
This Relais & Chateaux estate sits on 30 acres of forest and English gardens along Lake Massawippi, and the shaded woodlands, flowing rivers, and pristine lakes inspire a deep appreciation of nature. Taste the region’s bounty at Le Hatley, a fine dining restaurant with French Canadian mastery helmed by chef Alexandre Vachon. During fall harvest, Vachon highlights wild caught game and locally raised free range poultry accented by foraged mushrooms and hearty root vegetables in an eight course tasting menu. Vegetarian tasting menus are also available upon request, and the onion tarte tatin will make carnivores jealous.
Warm up with a bath in the soaking tub and enjoy local sparkling cider and ice wine paired with local cheeses beside the gas or wood burning fireplace, or on your private patio or balcony overlooking the lake. You can explore the lake by kayak, canoe, or pontoon, or simply take a dip in the heated outdoor swimming pool nestled in the rock garden.
Rates start at $450 half board, including breakfast, gratuities, and four course dinner at Le Hatley. 575 Rue Hovey, North Hatley, Québec, Canada, manoirhovey.com
When the Bristol opened in 2018, the 65 room boutique lifestyle hotel put the small town of Bristol on the map for road trippers with the highest rooftop bar in town, 11 spacious suites with TVs that swivel between the bedroom and living room, and one of the best local restaurants. The rustic brick walls at Vivian’s Table are original (circa 1925), and the new menu elevates regional Southern fare with a sophisticated flair. Fried green tomatoes are stacked with mozzarella slices for a caprese salad tower, and succulent lobster tail is served with sweet potato waffles drizzled with peppercorn maple syrup. At the rooftop bar Lumac, there are musical performances weekly ranging from country to folksy indie pop.
Next door to the hotel is the Smithsonian affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum, celebrating the 1927 Bristol Sessions with permanent interactive high tech exhibits and rotating special galleries. All of downtown is walkable, with State Street dividing the city in half. Tennessee is on one side and Virginia on the other. Explore the antique shops and grab a late night dessert or morning affogato at Blackbird Bakery, open 24 hours most days of the week. There are 12 golf courses within a 20 mile radius, surrounded by the picturesque Appalachian Mountain range, and the fairways are a great vantage point to enjoy the changing autumn colors. Plus, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just an hour away and makes for a leisurely and vibrant scenic drive. Closer to Bristol, the Creeper Trail is popular with cyclists and hikers. Rates start at $224 for a heritage suite. 115 Country Music Way, Bristol, bristolhotelva.com