I'm planning for summer and am hoping to do some outdoors activities such as hiking, white water rafting, mountain climbing and so on. Are there any hotels that you would recommend that are 30 minutes from excellent outdoor activities, specifically dozens of miles of hiking trails. Also, resorts in such locations are especially desirable. Thanks for sharing your experiences!
My all-time favorite resort is in the Las Vegas area - the J. W. Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa - it's WAY off the strip, in the residential community of Summerlin, but right next to the gorgeous Red Rock Canyon recreational area, which offers a variety of exploration and hiking options. The hotel is fabulous, orginally built by a European entity and eventually bought by Marriott. Because of Marriott's no-smoking rule, to a non-smoker visiting Vegas, it is truly a breath of fresh air. The pool doesn't have any wild slides, but it is massive and no more than I believe 4.5 feet deep at any point, with a very nice outdoor restaurant bar. The grounds are luxurious and quite lovely (if there was an ocean nearby, it could almost pass for Hawaii) and if you want a spa experience, they've got it, along with a variety of restaurants on-site; not only the lovely dining room under the Marriott side of the place, but also connected to this resort are several others, from an Irish pub to sushi to fine dining to snacks to chocolates. The bonus is the Rampart Casino at the far end of the place, where they still allowed smoking last time I was there (and is not owned nor operated by Marriott - which I think is against that religion?), but if you want some decent gambling fun, it's there.
My perfect day there is a big breakfast downstairs, followed by hiking (coolest part of the day) with our own snacks, then back to the hotel for a light lunch pool-side and a swim, back to our room for a rain-water shower shower or jacuzzi bath (rooms have nice spa tubs) with a glass of wine, then a great dinner, and some late-nite fun in the casino. If you want to see the strip or a Vegas show, they offer a free shuttle. And if you want other water experiences, there's always Hoover Dam - worth the trip/tour, but you have to get there on your own. Can you tell I love this place?? The best part is that generally, airfare to Vegas is one of the best deals around.
I recommend the Monterey Marriott. There are many trails in the area, including a coastal trail that is over 30 miles, I believe. There is also hiking in the Carmel highlands as well as Big Sur and Point Lobos (State and National Parks), and other coastal forests. There are also many nice attractions to see and visit in the area. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a wonderful village to kick around in, with many shops, restaurants and art galleries and cultural attractions. Pacific Grove is a similar. The Monterey area offers shopping, world class golf, boating, biking, great scuba diving, fishing, marine mammal watching, many restaurants, art galleries, Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, a world class Aquarium (the Monterey Bay Aquarium), beautiful, rugged California coastline, and also a world class road course, Laguna Seca Raceway.
http://www.seemonterey.com/tourist-attractions (good website - see top 10 day hikes and top 10 things to do!)
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570 - page for Pfieffer Big Sur State Park
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571 - page for Point Lobos State Nature Reserve
If you want to do some amazing hiking, I highly recommend a visit to Yosemite National Park. The trails there are amazing and endless. The geography is breathtaking. If you like mountain climbing, there is Half Dome. The park does get crowded during the summer months. Spring and early summer are the best seasons to enjoy the spectacular waterfalls. If you want to climb Half Dome, I believe you must now make a reservation as they only allow a certain amount of climbers/day. Also, there are no Marriotts in the park, but there are a number of them in Fresno, about 60 miles south. If you want to stay in the park, you will want to make a reservation at Ahwahnee Hotel and the Wawona Hotel are inside the park. Tenaya Lodge (used to be a Marriott) is just outside the park. Reservations must be made fairly early.
Lorraine, thank you for such a great review. We stayed at the JW about 3 years ago and were very disappointed in our stay. Even though our room was absolutely gorgeous, we found the staff to be very unwelcoming. We ended up cutting our stay short and saving enough money to pay for several meals when we moved to the Fairfield Inn near the airport. However, we have decided to return to the JW for one night this summer before flying home. They had a fabulous deal for Marriott Reward members which included the room, breakfast for 2, and a $25 resort credit for $109.65. According to their website, the offer is available Sun.-Thurs. until Sept. 30. They also have free parking. I don't know if it made a difference or not, but we were gold members at the time. I don't like to base my opinion on just one stay, so I'm really hoping they treat us right during this stay.
Friday, May 11, 2012 Update
This "fabulous deal" has now been modified according to the current rate rules. It is not quite the deal I reserved, but I think it is still a good offer. When I checked my upcoming reservations and noticed that it was not exactly the deal I had reserved, I called Customer Support and the representative was very helpful. She made sure she had all the details including the exact terminology on my confirmation email and contacted the hotel on my behalf. I had an email from the hotel within the hour stating that there was an error on their website; however, they would honor all conditions of my reservation. New reservations will be made using the new criteria.