Take a walk around Lake Kora and enter an enchanted forest, teeming with small woodland creatures, lush greenery and trilling birdsong. Beams of sunlight shimmer along the surface of the still lake, and the wind gently rustles papery beech leaves out of their torpor. Lake Kora is one of the “Great Camps” built in the Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York, after artists like Thomas Cole inspired a reverence for wild places. The Adirondack Park now encompasses six million acres of untouched wilderness and is deeded to stay that way forever.
Like other Camps masterminded by the Rockefellers, Astors, Morgans and other titans of industry in the Gilded Age, Lake Kora, built in 1898, is a secluded outpost where magnates of the day spent summers paddling on the 500-acre lake, hiking the woods and enjoying lavish banquets before a roaring fire in fireplaces big enough for a small woman to stand in.
Rooms in the main lodge and boathouse are rustic yet refined, some with hunting trophies from President Theodore Roosevelt’s day, while others offer wide-plank wood floors, mats made with pine twigs and other Adirondack touches. The famous Tree House room is built around a tree that grows out of one end. Gardener’s Cottage, a two- story dwelling with a private dock, is equipped with a loft bedroom, stone fireplace and kitchen. The Island Cabin, a secluded home on a nearby private island, was the first building at Lake Kora. Guests enjoy canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fine dining, lake swimming, an original bowling alley, plucking first editions from bookshelves, cognac and conversation around the fire pit.
Most unique is the exclusive booking arrangement: Lake Kora is a buyout for family, friends, business retreats—anyone looking to create the ultimate bespoke experience. Traveling to this remote location by seaplane is the quickest and easiest way, and by far the most thrilling. As the Fly the Whale seaplane ascends over New York City’s East River, the dramatic skyline view leaves your heart in your mouth. Dipping over the forested Adirondack acres offers a perspective both humbling— and life-changing. And that is just the beginning.
In the Shadow of Yosemite
A whisper away from the rugged Yosemite National Park, The Château du Sureau presents a delightfully refined counterpoint. By day, guests can immerse in nature and explore the spectacular peaks and waterfalls nearby—the Château’s Yosemite Excursion offers hiking and a picnic in the Park. Upon return, luxury awaits.
The exclusive 10-acre country estate, just 16 miles from the Park, is reminiscent of an elegant European chateau. Ten beautifully appointed rooms are tastefully decorated with tapestries and original artwork, and they are all different. Each is inspired by an herb or flower that grows in the South of France. The Thyme Room features elegant arched windows and exposed wood beams, while The Rosehip Room boasts a cozy reading nook and a deep marble soaking tub. Several rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces and expansive views; the pièce de résistance is the spacious Villa du Sureau, a 2,000-square-foot private villa. Nestled in the verdant foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Villa guests will be reminded of visiting a private estate in Provence.
The Elderberry House Restaurant features sophisticated California cuisine. The chef works with local farmers and producers to source local, seasonal and organic ingredients from farms nearby. Dishes are expertly paired with wines from a vibrant wine list, and guests can enjoy a relaxing dinner al fresco on the patio. After an active day, guests can relax and restore themselves at the Spa du Sureau, with a Lavender Blossom Body Polish or the Hikers Repose Massage and get ready to head back to Yosemite the next morning.
Outdoor Options Around Yosemite
Yosemite is open year round, with the exception of certain areas and entrances.
Sierra Fly Fisher offers a half day fly fishing tour beginning at the Estate traveling to the “best fishing spot” along the Merced River. Sierra Fly Fisher provides all the essential gear such as waders and poles.
Yosemite Conservancy Explore Yosemite National Park throughout the year with Yosemite Conservancy’s Outdoor Adventures Program. Their expert guides provide excursions ranging from a private trail hike, photography tours, art classes, to a Naturalist experience.
Yosemite Adventure Company Explore the Sierra National Forest off-road. Yosemite Adventure Company features Rykers, Jeeps and UTVs; climb 6,900 feet elevation to Devils Peak, a Sierra National Forest Fire Lookout Tower for a 360-degree view of the Sierra Mountain Range, get behind the wheel and ride to Bass Lake Vista for an epic view, or follow your private guide into the Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias stopping for a one-mile hike to the Bull Buck tree. Pedal Forward Bikes & Adventure Pedal Forward features a one-stop mountain concierge service offering bike rentals, repair, gear and detailed trail recommendations on where to ride based on guest’s ability and interests. Chateausureau.com
Utah has among the highest number of International Dark Sky-designated parks and communities—so many that its governor recently declared April the official Utah Dark Sky Month. Among the 23 such places are five national parks, 10 state parks and even two towns, so there are plenty of opportunities to experience the stars on a road trip, camping adventure or nighttime stroll. An insider’s tip: The winter months are actually some of the best for taking in the starry sky fields here, both because it gets dark earlier in the day and because the reduced moisture in the air helps make the stars more transparent to the naked eye—and easier to capture with a camera.
Located in the town of Huntsville, about 15 miles from the North Fork Park Dark Sky area, the 15-room Compass Rose Lodge takes its cues from the surrounding Ogden Valley’s agricultural heritage by offering a charming farmhouse experience. The property is also home to the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory (HALO), which lodge guests can experience via guided tours and astronomy sessions, when you might spot everything from globular clusters to the rings of Saturn. Compassroselodge.com
Like its sister properties Nayara Springs and Nayara Gardens, Nayara Tented Camp, which opened in late-2019, is located deep in the rainforest in Arenal Volcano National Park. Designed to offer a glamping experience—albeit a luxurious one—the low-impact hotel was inspired by the tented lodges of Africa and Asia, and was sustainably built to have a sense of place.
The 29 spacious accommodations are set up in the hillside to offer direct views of the volcanoes, and have amenities like double-head outdoor showers. Head further up the mountain to soak in one of the seven private, interconnecting hot spring baths, or relax with a candlelit meditation class in the yoga pavilion, which sits cantilevered over the rainforest. Through its reforestation program, the camp has created an on-site sloth sanctuary made up of over one thousand Cecropia trees; guests can tour the sanctuary with the “Sloth Concierge,”, or head out for hikes, picnics, lava field treks and birdwatching walks with the in-house nature guides. nayaratentedcamp.com