Beyond the Bridges

Snow Bound

Five lodges where you can embrace the wintry weather (or avoid it altogether).

By Stacey Wilson May 19, 2009 Published in the February 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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MANY ARE THE Oregonians who travel this month as a means of escaping the season. And while there’s nothing wrong with hopping a flight to Mexico and plopping your lily-white buns on la playa for a week, sometimes the best way to beat the cold is to go ahead and join it. Book a weekend at one of these great Northwest lodges, and, whether you choose to hit the trail or hunker down in front of the fireplace, your anti-winter bias may melt away long before the onset of spring.


Leavenworth, Wash.

One loyal guest who makes a yearly escape to Mountain Home summed up her cold-weather addiction this way: “This place just makes me feel human again.” Gushing reviews such as this are partly a product of Mountain Home’s isolated surrounds. Perched on a 20-acre expanse with a view of the Washington Cascades, the lodge is accessible only by Sno-Cat or four-by-four from November through March. (Don’t worry, the lodge provides transportation.) But rejuvenation can also be found in the large and airy dining room, where chef Thomas Obregon, formerly of L.A.’s Biltmore Hotel, lays out decadent meals like applewood-smoked duck breast with marionberry compote. Even more enticing is the fact that such feasts are included in the room price, and that you never have to worry about missing one: Lunch can be packed to go for snowshoe or ski excursions along Mountain Home’s 20 miles of skiable trails. With names like “The Moose,” “The Hideaway” and “The Sportsman,” Mountain Home’s casual rooms offer a variety of woodsy aesthetics. In fact, you’ll feel as though you’ve been snowed in–which is a good thing, considering this is one place where you’ll be quite happy to go nowhere at all. (From $130; 800-414-2378)


Sisters, Ore.

For those preferring polish to “rustic charm,” FivePine may be the ideal close-in getaway of choice. For one thing, the polish was only recently applied: FivePine opened its doors for business in March 2007, and this is the first winter that the lodge’s great stone fireplace is roaring seven days a week. Nestled in the tiny town of Sisters, FivePine’s 32 rooms manage to strike the right balance between coziness and modernity (think fireplaces and 42-inch plasma TVs). After a day spent among the frozen glades of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, the lodge’s 680-square-foot cottages—most of which sport Amish-made wood furniture and deep, Japanese-style soaking tubs—offer the perfect retreat. Those less inclined to Gore-Tex up can opt to explore the exotic wilds of the neighboring spa, Shibui, where shoji screens and Buddhas recall distant locales and warmer climes. (From $139; 541-549-5900)


Leavenworth, Wash.

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This adults-only retreat for adventureniks and outdoors junkies is so good at setting the mood that guests frequently e-mail flowery poems exalting their Run of the River experience to owners Monty and Karen Turner. Set high above the Icicle River about a half-mile upriver from Leavenworth, the lodge has scored write-ups in books such as The Best Places to Kiss the Northwest and 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, to name a few. After feasting on a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit and omelets, guests can choose to spend the day taking in the fabulous surrounds—ideally on snowshoes, which are included with a stay. Consider the Fourth of July Trail, which affords perfect views of the Icicle Valley and Mount Cashmere. For a truly luxurious escape, book the 1,400-square-foot Ravenwood Lodge, a private retreat for two set apart from the main inn. From the hand-carved spiral staircase, valley views, river-rock fireplace, full kitchen and whirlpool tub, this love nest can rekindle an old flame—or easily stoke a new one. (From $220; $425 for Ravenwood Lodge; 800-288-6491)


Winthrop, Wash.

Smart parents know the secret to a successful family weekend getaway is less about answering the question “What amenities do your rooms offer?” than it is about answering “How can we tire out the kids during the day to ensure much-needed adult time at night?” Luckily, Sun Mountain has myriad answers. The winter wonderland not only provides easy access to the second-largest cross-country ski trail system in the United States, but also offers ice-skating and sleigh rides (cue the hot cocoa). In fact, the possibilities for winter action at Sun Mountain (did we mention the snowshoeing?) are almost as impressive as the resort’s 3,000 acres in Washington’s Methow Valley. Sun Mountain’s refurbishment of 112 of its rooms and lakeside cabins, including the addition of down-home touches like locally made maple armoires, have enhanced its comfy, country feel. Between the kids’ daytime adventures and Mom and Dad’s alone time at night—perhaps spent enjoying a glass of wine from the lodge’s roughly 5,000-bottle wine cellar—the only question that really needs answering during a stay at Sun Mountain is, “Do we have to go home?” (From $160; 800-572-0493)


Union, Wash.

Alderbrook has come a long way since its humble 1913 beginnings, when the saltwater resort perched along the scenic south shore of Hood Canal offered its guests canvas tents as shelter and wood stoves on which to cook their vittles. Today, the resort’s waterfront cottages and rooms sport muted tones and Ikea-inspired touches, and a spa and indoor pool ensure relaxation, no matter the weather. Note, though, that the resort may be better for families and groups rather than, say, an intimate weekend of romance. The gregarious spirit of the place is evident in the lively Bar at Alderbrook, which can get downright rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights, and where you’ll want to belly up for some of the resort’s famous Dungeness crab mac-and-cheese. But save your biggest appetite for a trip to the Restaurant at Alderbrook, now overseen by newly hired chef Chris Schwarz, a 10-year veteran of Etta’s Seafood in Seattle. In fact, Seattleite foodies have been known to drive the some 80 miles southwest to Alderbrook just for its gastronomical offerings, which includes Manchester Farms quail with aged balsamic and red-onion jam, as well as citrus-marinated black cod with saffron-braised fennel and harissa vinaigrette. Add to this decadence the riches of the Hood Canal view, and your idea of a winter retreat may never again include snowy mountain peaks. (From $130; 800-622-9370)

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