There’s a reason bestseller-turned-blockbuster Twilight was set in Washington state. Marked by sweeping mountain vistas, thick with towering pines that brood beneath a heavy cap of fog, the landscape is almost otherworldly in its beauty. That beauty is on full display (and blessedly free of sparkly vampires) at the picturesque Suncadia Resort in the town of Cle Elum, set an hour and a half from Seattle. Tucked amid more than 6,000 acres of pristine forest, the five-time Four Diamond-winning resort offers a variety of accommodations—guests can stay in the main lodge or the homier inn or rent a house or condo for a longer stay. But all of the lodgings are outfitted in rustic-chic decor, marked by dark wood and masculine yet elegant flourishes.
Amenities abound at Suncadia, from an on-property winery to an ultra-luxe spa boasting four hot outdoor mineral baths, but you’d do best to take full advantage of the resort’s natural resources. Book a river float with outdoorsman Jim Gallagher of Troutwater Fly, a local fly fishing shop owner who’ll serve as your captain, guide and personal chef on a lazy float down the Yakima, a winding stretch of river flanked on all sides by mountains and ubiquitous fir trees. Some sections feel remote enough to remind one of the prettier scenes from Deliverance; fortunately the friendly locals you’ll encounter around various bends in the river bear no such resemblance. The raft is stocked with local wines and brews (like tall cans of Iron Horse Brewery’s Finger Gun IPA), but save some room for lunch. Gallagher will stop on a sandy stretch of beach to prepare a riverside feast of grilled wild salmon, couscous, potato salad, fresh fruit and veggies, and cheese and crackers before you’re picked up by the resort’s van and shuttled back to Suncadia.
Work off the lunchtime spread with a brisk hike around the property—or brave the steep 1,000 steps that lead from the main lodge down to the Cle Elum River. That way you’ll earn your dinner at the hotel’s Portals restaurant, which puts a refined touch on rustic local flavors and serves its fare family-style. The roasted Brussels sprouts are a must, and many of the dishes contain vegetables from the on-property Nelson Farm. Once a dairy farm, it’s now part of a historical preserve, which also features community gardens and a two-story farmhouse and barn that can be booked for special events. End your evening with a nightcap on the lodge’s stone terrace, where you can watch the setting sun paint the Cascade Mountains before revealing a night sky so free of light pollution that every constellation shines in bright detail.
Prefer your nature a wee bit closer to civilization? Suncadia sister property the Woodmark Hotel—both are part of Destinaton Hotels, a boutique hotel brand with properties across the U.S.—may be more your speed. You can catch a ride there from downtown Seattle with Captain Rob, who shuttles guests to the resort aboard the Woodmark II, a handsome mahogany-appointed vessel that comes stocked with a yet another cooler of ice-cold local brews (like Pike Brewing Company’s Naughty Nellie, a crisp golden ale). Throughout the roughly 45-minute trip, Captain Rob directs passengers’ attention to the houseboats and floating homes that line Lake Union—some shambling and quaint a la Sleepless in Seattle, some strikingly modern and luxurious—as well as points of interest like the University of Washington’s lakeside Husky Stadium and Bill Gates’ massive compound, the latter of which is just visible from behind a protective shade of trees as the boat crosses into Lake Washington.
After working up an appetite, hit the casual Beach Cafe to nosh on coconut curry hummus and smoked jerk chicken wings while enjoying lakeside views from the patio or, in inclement weather, through the restaurant’s large picture windows. When it comes to dining, however, a stay at the Woodmark is incomplete without a dinner at the elegant Bin on the Lake, where chef Matthew Steffen’s fare is as delicious as the sunsets—another showcase of Washington’s natural majesty that will have you longing to extend your stay. No wonder Bella wanted to linger here forever.Once settled at the Woodmark, be sure to book a trip on the hotel’s seaplane, a four-seat craft that offers the intrepid unparalleled birds-eye views of both Lake Washington and Seattle sights like the Space Needle. Guests can book 20-minute or hourlong flights, though 20 minutes is ample time for a tour, which, while exhilarating, can prove a bit daunting for passengers with weak stomachs. Alternatively, you can explore Lake Washington on your own; kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and jet skis are available for rent from the hotel’s dock during warmer months. Landlubbers can opt to rent a bike or take a leisurely stroll to downtown Kirkland, a bustling harbor town that, while replete with touristy shops and eateries, is also home to many yearlong residents, keeping resort town kitsch at bay. Those with no athletic inclinations can book an hour—or an afternoon—at the Still Spa, an oasis of therapeutic tranquility with a buffet of amenities including massages with a custom blend of oils or lotions.
-While dining out, ask for Tatoosh, a Seattle line of small-batch bourbon and whiskey carried by many bars and restaurants across the state.
-Woodmark guests prone to late-night munchies can “Raid the Pantry” from 10 pm to 1 am; a room off the main lobby is stocked with a complimentary assortment of cookies, chips and candy.
Destination Hotels destinationhotels.com Suncadia Resort suncadiaresort.com Troutwater Fly troutwaterfly.com Woodmark Hotel thewoodmark.com