Autumn Family Adventures: Top Options for Fall Foliage

Salamander Resort & Spa is beautiful in the fall, and year-round. Activities include learning to ride at the equestrian center.

If you’re looking for an autumn getaway and have family in tow, Salamander Resort & Spa might be just the ticket. Situated on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, there will be no shortage of fall foliage to take in, either through relaxing, or for the more adventurous guest, zip lining, hiking and biking. One of our favorite draws, though, is the full-service equestrian center, complete with 14,000-square-foot stable, nine paddocks and 25 acres dedicated to horse experiences for all ages and skill levels. We’re all about the Salamander Horsemanship Club, where children can spend half a day taking a riding lesson, enjoying a trail ride and learning about all things horses. (Nice Touch: The program also allows the adults to spend two hours using the spa facilities).

While the rugged outdoors might entice the younger crowd, inside the resort, accommodations are inviting. The Blue Ribbon Suite has countryside views, a stone balcony with outdoor seating, a fireplace and a stylish bedroom. Looking for the top digs? The Owner’s Suite was personally designed by resort founder and CEO, Sheila C. Johnson, and affords views of the Grand Lawn. A number of items from her personal collection decorate the lavish living spaces, along with dining areas, a stylish bedroom with king-sized bed, walk-in closet and an in-suite bathroom with an over-sized whirlpool tub and experiential shower. Two working fireplaces are sure to keep out the chilly autumn air during the colder months.

Tip: For family-stays on the smaller side, the resort has 38 rooms that have the ability to connect.

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What else do we love about the resort? The spa of course. The 14-room Salamander Spa has an infinity-edge spa pool with poolside cabanas, a full-service salon for hair, make-up, manicure and pedicure stations, and a fitness facility with both indoor and outdoor workout areas. Restorative facials, rejuvenating signature massages and hot stone treatments are all on offer. Although spa treatments are not available to children, the little ones have a full menu of activities all their own.

Activities at Salamander Resort & Spa include learning to ride at the equestrian center.

The resort’s Camp Salamander program is where kids can enjoy some “me time” with activities like scavenger hunts, equestrian experiences, zip-lining, hiking and arts and crafts. Children between the ages of four and 10 are welcome for either full-day, half-day or two-hour time slots. 

The resort has both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a complimentary putting green for aspiring golfers, and lawn games include croquet, bocce ball, corn hole and life-sized chess. In the unlikely event that you run out of activities to do on the resort’s 340 acres, there are a number of off property hiking trails and areas to explore (Hint: The resort recommends checking out Sky Meadow State Park). Golf enthusiasts can also take advantage of resort privileges at Creighton Farms, while guests looking for a leisurely afternoon can head to one ofthe numerous local boutique shops and local wineries. 

If you’re sending VIP clients, contact Elena Roy ([email protected]), reservations manager at Salamander. 

Cliff House 

Heading north, New England is one of the most beautiful regions to check out the East Coast’s vibrant fall foliage. If you’re looking for a spot to bring the family along for an autumn retreat, Cliff House Maine has luxury accommodations, oceanfront views and plenty of entertainment for both adults and kids. 

Set on 70 acres atop Bald Head Cliff, an hour’s-drive north of Boston, the resort just completed a major renovation since welcoming its first guests in 1872. The redesign is all about coastal style and handcrafted elements that give nod to its colonial past. Cliff House now has 40 specialty suites and a new family pool. Another major draw? The classically restored New England cottage — Weare Cottage, complete with a full laundry facility, mud room, dining room, living room and three bedrooms. (Did we mention it’s perfect for families?) There is also a wrap-around ocean view balcony, perfect for relaxing.

Smaller setups include the Two-Bedroom Corner Oceanfront Bunk Suites, which can comfortably sleep eight and have two king-sized beds, a second bedroom with bunkbeds and two full-sized bathrooms. Larger groups looking to treat themselves can also opt for a Ledges Two-Bedroom Oceanfront Suite with three full-sized bathrooms, two bedrooms and three private balconies affording views of the Atlantic Ocean. Hint: You might even be able to spot a passing whale or two. 

Cliff House in Maine is inviting when the weather cools down, especially sitting by the fire in the resort’s lounge while looking out at the ocean.

When it’s time to head out for a day of play, Cliff House’s concierge ([email protected]) can help craft a memorable family getaway. Adventurous young guests can explore the tide pools along Marginal Way in the harbor town of Perkins Cove, or visit one of the nearby amusement parks or children’s museums. The resort also recommends sampling the local cuisine — lobster — by heading to one of local shacks for a bite, namely The Ogunquit Lobster Pound or Cape Neddick Lobster Pound. 

If you’d prefer to stay on the property (and with the view, who wouldn’t?), the resort offers its Crew Club program twice a day for $45 per child, ages four through 12. Adults can drop off the little ones with Cliff House’s activities team for a day of nature, crafts, movies and storytelling. Meanwhile, parents can head out for a guided jog, play a round of golf or take a break and enjoy some relaxation at the serenity pool or spa.

The 9,000-square-foot Spa at Cliff House provides a range of services, including massages, body treatments, facials and nail care. Don’t worry if the kids want to tag along too. The spa now serves up “princess mani / pedi” services. For children up to age six, the spa uses vegan, hypoallergenic non-toxic nail polish to ensure that younger guests can enjoy some pampering as well. Also available are teen massages and facials. 

If you’re sending your top client, feel free to contact Annastacia Opasinski ([email protected]), the guest service manager at Cliff House Maine.  

Mandarin Oriental, Boston 

For a more urban twist to autumn adventures, Boston provides plenty of opportunity for family excursions. The New England city-scape has a certain charm during the chilly, colorful season, and can be enjoyed by all ages at Mandarin Oriental, Boston

Situated in Boston’s affluent neighborhood of Back Bay, the hotel provides easy access to plenty of shopping and restaurants, as it is directly connected to the Prudential Center. In fact, the hotel is within walking distance of a myriad of attractions, venues and historical sites that would entice almost any enthusiast (Boston is known as “America’s Walking City”). Fenway Park is located only 15 minutes away, perfect for any sports lover. For a more educational family outing, head to New England Aquarium or the Boston Children’s Museum, both just a short drive away. Just looking for a lazy afternoon of fun with the little ones? Check out Boston Duck Tours, or go for a ride on a Swan Boat in nearby Boston Public Garden. Any questions or recommendations for family activities during a stay can be directed to the concierge, Corey Lopez ([email protected]).

The Mandarin Oriental Boston has a Presidential Suite most suitable for families.

However, with the ultra-luxe accommodations offered at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, you might be tempted to just stay put. For the ultimate VIP treatment, guests can opt for the Presidential Suite. The opulent quarters are furnished with gold silk-lined walls and Asian-inspired touches and comprises a large bedroom, a living / dining area, Jacuzzi, pantry, wood-paneled study and powder room. A working fireplace and the ability to connect with both Mandarin Premier and Mandarin Rooms make the deal even sweeter. Other suite options that may work well for families include the Penthouse Suite, Premier or Premier Corner Suites and Junior Suites. Tip: All Mandarin Oriental Suites offer connecting room options.

While it may be tempting to take advantage of your in-suite dining menu, we say take the extra time to walk downstairs to Mandarin Oriental, Boston’s signature restaurant, Bar Boulud. The French-inspired bistro and wine bar even has a special kid-friendly menu and activities for younger guests. There is also nearby Eataly Boston, which provides guests with an interactive dining experience, and for dessert, Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, which is located across the street from the hotel on Boylston Street. Hint: Grown-ups should check out the cocktail menu.

The Mandarin Oriental Boston also has a Mini Mate program filled with activities.

To make sure the kiddos don’t feel too out-of-the-loop during a stay at the Mandarin, the hotel also offers its Mini Mate kids adventure program, available to all younger travel guests. Upon arrival, they can “catch” their own plush lobster at check-in, along with a sea-life-inspired cookie courtesy of pastry chef Robert Differ. Later, an impromptu scavenger hunt will begin with a “treasure map” of Boston, complete with recommended “must-visit” kid-friendly destinations throughout the city, ending with an “X that marks the spot,” hidden in the hotel. Additional services upon request include child-size bathrobes & slippers, kid-friendly DVDs and PS3 gaming consoles. 

Contact Hilary Green ([email protected]), director of corporate and leisure sales, for all enquiries regarding VIP guests.

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