Thinking about where to go this summer?
Family vacations have become more complicated than simply packing the suitcases and the kids in the minivan and heading to the nearest beach. Vacationers not only want an excellent beach within walking distance, of course, but also excellent service, a nearby spa and outdoor activities.
Food has also become a top priority, as people are planning their vacations around where to eat. Say "resort food" and most people cringe, thinking of fast-food burgers or bland chicken that has been sitting in mystery sauce all day. Not anymore.
Forbes.com has selected the best hotels and restaurants in summer resort towns, from Napa and Martha's Vineyard to the French Riviera and Cyprus. Start you next tour here:
Vanderbilt Hall Hotel: Newport is known for its mansions, but due to taxes and the fact that brains are not always hereditary, most of the homes have been opened to the public or converted into hotels. One of the best places to stay while vacationing in Newport (especially around the Newport Regatta) is the Vanderbilt Hall Hotel. Built in 1909 by Alfred Vanderbilt (son of Cornelius, aka "The Commodore"). The building was used as the Newport Men's Social Club. At one point the building was also the Newport YMCA, but Doris Duke purchased the building and restored it. Today, Vanderbilt Hall Hotel has 50 guest rooms, which are decorated with period reproductions and canopied beds. A butler greets arriving guests, and a musician solos nightly at the grand piano in the center of the lobby. While the Vanderbilt does not have the sprawling lawn that is typical of other Newport cottages, it does have a sauna, fitness rooms, business facilities, a billiards room and large indoor pool that was built when the building housed the YMCA. Rates range from $295 to $795 per night from May to October. Vanderbilt Hall Hotel, 41 Mary St., Newport, R.I., Phone: (401) 846-6200, Fax: (401) 846-0701, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
White Horse Tavern: The White Horse Tavern has quite a few claims to fame. The pub is one of the nation's oldest taverns and was built in 1673 as a two-room, two-story residence. During the early 1700s the tavern was owned by a notorious pirate, who is credited with obtaining its liquor license. Later, the tavern became the ad hoc meeting place for the colony's General Assembly, Criminal Court and City Council. Members used to dine here and charge their meals to the public treasury. We can't say whether local politicians are still fiddling with their White Horse Tavern expenses, but the restaurant is a perennial favorite with both locals and tourists. With its giant beams, small stairway and clapboard walls, the White Horse is an excellent example of 17th-century American architecture. Luckily, the food has moved up a few centuries. The White Horse serves American and continental cuisine, such as watercress and beef tenderloin salad; peeky toe crab Napoleon; lobster; grilled mahi-mahi; and New Zealand rack of lamb. White Horse Tavern, 26 Marlborough St., Newport, R.I. 02840, Phone: (401) 849-3600, Fax: (401)849-7317, E-mail: email@example.com.
San Juan Islands
The Resort at Deer Harbor: The San Juan Islands have long been a popular destination for Seattleites looking to escape the perpetual rain and fog. While there are plenty of choices, such as the Inn at Langley on Whidbey Island, people are talking about the Resort at Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, which recently underwent a $3 million renovation. The resort was originally an apple orchard, and some of the cottages that housed the apple pickers from the 1930s and '40s still remain. Deer Harbor sits along the water and has 26 individual cottages, all with private sundecks with hot tubs. All of the cottages are shingle style, and guests can linger on the beach, swim in the outdoor pool or go on a whale-watching trip. The 18-hole Orcas Island golf course is nearby. Rates range from $189 to $399 during the summer. The Resort at Deer Harbor, P.O. Box 200, Deer Harbor, Wash., Phone: (360) 376-4420, Fax: (360) 376-5523, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina's: Christina Orchid's restaurant has been drawing crowds for over 22 years. The chef and her husband, Bruce, highlight Northwest cuisine, which means lots of seafood. The restaurant is housed on the second floor of an old waterfront building in Eastsound and has a beautiful view of the sound. On a warm night, book a table on the outdoor deck. The menu changes seasonally, but right now the spring menu offers salad of blood orange, avocado and feta; halibut cakes with miso ginger tartar; and oysters broiled with champagne cream. For entrées, try the king salmon with citrus butter, roast chicken with corn pudding or the grilled ahi with field pea salad. Christina's, Porter Building, Main Street, Eastsound, Orcas Island, Wash., Phone: (360) 376-4904.
Anassa Hotel: The Greek Islands are always a popular summer destination — islands such as Santorini and Mykonos are known for their beaches, spectacular sunsets, clubs and oiled bodies. The problem is that the islands can often become overrun with thumping music and overly oiled people. Consider Cyprus instead, where the cult of Aphrodite was once based. One of the best places to stay on the island is the Anassa Hotel. The resort looks like a miniature Greek village, with its whitewashed villas and terra-cotta tiled roofs. Inside, the palette echoes the sunny colors of the Mediterranean, with its yellow marble floors, arches, columns and oversized terra-cotta pots dotting the hallways. Each room has its own balcony overlooking the sea, and many have their own plunge pools. One of the resort's pools is a gigantic infinity pool, and the other is tiled with mosaics. The indoor pool is not to be missed, with its columns and glass roof. The Anassa also has an on-site spa, to make you feel like a Greek goddess (at least for an afternoon). Rates range from $227 to $325 per night. Anassa Hotel, P.O. Box 66006, CY-8830, Polis, Cyprus, Phone: 357 6 888 000, Fax: 357 6 322900, E-mail: email@example.com.
Cyprus Kitchen: Because of Cyprus' strategic location, it has been invaded by just about everyone — Greeks, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans and Byzantines — and since 1974 the island has been divided under Greek and Turkish rule. While we would not suggest striking up a political debate with the locals, there is one positive result from all the invasions — eclectic cuisine. Greek, Turkish, French, Japanese and Mexican food are all available on the island. But when in Cyprus … it's best to eat Cypriot food. One of the best restaurants in town is the Cyprus Kitchen, which serves traditional Cypriot meze (starters) and grilled meat. Most of the menu highlights locally caught fish. The interior is crammed with mementos of village life, from a plough and loom to handicrafts. Reservations are essential. Cyprus Kitchen, Ataturk Caddesi 39, Gonyeli, Lefkosa (Nicosia), Northern Cyprus, Cyprus, Phone: 392/223-1694.
Marbella Club: Fans of Spain's Costa del Sol will tell you the only place to stay there is the Marbella Club. The structure was originally the private home of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe. Because he had so many houseguests, he enlarged the property and wanted to turn it into a private club. The result? The exclusive Marbella Club. This beachfront resort has 121 rooms and suites housed in Andalusian-style villas. The club recently added an 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Dave Thomas, which overlooks Gibraltar, the African coastline and the surrounding mountains. Guests can also enjoy the beachfront Thalasso Spa, which has an indoor seawater pool, steam baths and saunas, solarium and 12 treatment rooms. Rates range from 235 euros ($216) for a standard room to 3,275 euros ($3,010) for a five-bedroom villa. Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa, Bulevar Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe, s/n 29600 Marbella (Malaga), Spain, Phone: 34 95 282 2211, Fax: 34 95 282 9884.
Hostería del Mar: While you may not want to leave the Marbella Club at all during your stay, one incentive is the restaurant Hostería del Mar. Both the setting and the food are exemplary. The dining room has beamed ceilings and is decorated with hand-painted porcelain. But during the summer you'll want to sit on the tree-shaded patio. Dinner might include calves' sweetbreads in mustard sauce; clams stuffed with ratatouille; roast duck with roasted-fig-and-cassis sauce; Catalan-style shrimp with chicken; and a casserole of monkfish with white wine sauce, clams and fresh asparagus. Desserts include a selection of cold soufflés. Hostería del Mar, Cánovas del Castillo, Marbella, Spain, Phone: 95-277-02-18.
Hotel Splendido: Take a cue from Bogart and Bacall, Callas and Onassis, Taylor and Burton, and head to Portofino for a Mediterranean break. The Hotel Splendido, as the name would suggest, is splendid indeed. The main building is an ancient, wisteria-clad villa that overlooks the bay and tiny harbor of Portofino, and is surrounded by olive trees and pine groves. Originally a Benedictine monastery, the building was attacked so often in the 16th century that the monks abandoned it, and it became overrun with sheep. The villa was converted into a hotel in 1901, and the Orient-Express group purchased it in 1985. (The Duke of Windsor was the first person to sign the visitors' book.) The rooms are light and airy, and decorated in the shades and styles of the Mediterranean (lots of yellow, marble, tile and arches). In addition to the main building, there is the adjacent building, the Splendido Mare, which overlooks the piazzetta around the waterfront. Most of the rooms have their own balcony or terrace overlooking the bay. Summer rates for the Hotel Splendido range from 571 to 2,300 euros ($524 to $2,114). The Splendido Mare ranges from 517 to 1,850 euros ($475 to $1,700). Hotel Splendido, Salita Baratta, 16 16034 Portofino, Genoa, Italy, Phone: 39 018 526 7801, Fax: 39 018 526 7806, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ristorante Puny: Portofino, like all of Italy, is a diner's delight, and you will rarely have a poor meal. Insiders flock to Ristorante Puny, which caters more to locals than tourists (the trattoria does not accept credit cards). If you can get a table, try the pappardelle al portofino, which blends tomato and pesto; portions are anything but puny. Or go with Ligurian seafood specialties like baked fish with laurel, potatoes and olives, or the moscardini al forno, baked octopus with lemon and rosemary in tomato sauce. Gelato is also served. Ristorante Puny, P. Martiri dell'Olivetta 5, Portofino, Italy, Phone: 0185/269037.
St. Tropez, France
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc: Sara and Gerald Murphy, artists and friends of the Fitzgeralds, once rented the entire Hotel du Cap Eden Roc for the summer. This hotel (and the entire whirlwind of parties, drinking, painting and the family pet monkey) later became the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald's Hôtel des Étrangers in Tender Is the Night. The hotel, located on a 25-acre private peninsula, has been attracting celebrities, literati and politicians ever since. General manager Jean-Claude Irondelle has said that Eden Roc "isn't really a hotel, but more a domain reserved for the elite of all nations." A better word would be "moneyed." Hotel du Cap Eden Roc opened in 1870, and today it consists of three different buildings, all along the rocky coastline. Like most beaches on the French Riviera, expect rocks, not sand. Rates range from $393 to $1,020 per night; prices for the larger suites are available only on request. Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Boulevard Kennedy, B.P. n 29, 06601 Antibes Cedex, Phone : 33 4 93 61 39 01, Fax: 33 4 93 67 13 83.
La Colombe d'Or: The walls of the hotel La Colombe d'Or are covered with Mirós, Bonnards, Picassos, Légers and Braques, all given as payment by the artists in their hungrier days. While some say that art feeds the soul, if your stomach is growling, head to this hotel's eponymous restaurant. The main dining room has a fireplace, or in warmer weather you can dine outdoors on the patio, with its ivy-covered walls and cream-colored umbrellas. The stars and candles make it a very romantic setting. Lunch and dinner are served here, and expect traditional Provencal fare. We do not suggest attempting to pay for your meal with a drawing scribbled on a napkin. La Colombe d'Or, Place de Gaulle, 06570 Saint Paul de Vence, France, Phone: 04 93 32 80 0, Fax: 04 93 32 77 78, E-mail: email@example.com.
For more, go to Forbes.com..