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Breathe Easy at Resorts

Resorts may not be top of mind for tour planners, but some jaw-dropping, action-packed and historic properties are worth a closer look. With unique history, striking scenery and experiences only available on-site, these resorts across the U.S. pack appeal for a wide variety of group travelers.


Topnotch Resort 

Stowe, Vermont

Acre upon acre of northern hardwood forest at the base of Vermont’s Mount Mansfield is the setting for popular ski destination Topnotch Resort. But skiing isn’t the only thing that draws groups to Topnotch: The resort is a mecca for tennis lovers and racket-sport enthusiasts alike. 

Groups can sign up for any of 25 activities at the tennis academy’s recently renovated indoor and outdoor courts. “It’s a fun experience even if you’ve never picked up a tennis racket,” said Elizabeth Seward, sales manager at Topnotch. 

In addition to tennis, equestrian activities stand out at Topnotch. With its ideal ski location, Topnotch also boasts plenty of activities for fresh powder seekers.

“One reason group travel planners choose Topnotch Resort is the variety of activities their clients can enjoy,” Seward said. Core resort staples like spas and pools are many, but unique offerings draw planners in. “People love our bike rides and snowshoeing along the Stowe Recreation Path, which starts here on the property,” she said.

Bishops Lodge 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Enchanting New Mexico is on full display at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe, and attractions for group travelers are brimming over. The resort, whose name pays homage to the 1860s on-site chapel and home of a local 19th century archbishop, has a rugged desert-meets-oasis vibe. Groups can stay in any of their more than 80 guest rooms or pick a family-style casita, where guests enjoy private rooms and shared living spaces. 

The resort is a quick jaunt from Santa Fe, but travelers might not even feel the draw of the city with so much to do at the resort. Experiences, as Bishop’s Lodge calls its activities, include the small and intimate (such as historic chocolate tastings) as well as “mild to wild” whitewater rafting. Groups can consider hiking, outdoor yoga, guided geology tours or birding on the resort’s 317 scenic acres or get in touch with their creative side through pottery, incense workshops or al fresco painting classes.

The Greenbrier

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

The first thing that will strike groups at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is the neoclassical architecture of a bygone era. Surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains, the Greenbrier offers modern luxury in a historic setting. The resort was founded over 200 years ago to accommodate the many visitors to nearby natural mineral springs. 

“People love the Dorsey Draper decor,” said Stephanie Yeager, Greenbrier’s director of marketing. “It’s not something you see with a typical hotel — every single room is different.” The stately Greenbrier has earned a listing as a National Historic Landmark, and its history stretches back to America’s revolutionary period.

“It all started in 1778,” Greenbrier’s public relations head Cam Huffman said. “That’s when visitors first started coming to the area to bathe in and drink the restorative waters of the springs.” Visitors believed the nearby spring held magical powers. “They came to soak, and those same waters are still used in our spa today,” Huffman added. 

The potential of healing — and relaxation — drew many of America’s trendsetters over the years, including presidents, business leaders and visiting royalty. Today, the Greenbrier draws in not only East Coast elites but also tours, multifamily trips and groups longing for a grand getaway.

“We have over 55 activities on our 11,000-acre property,” Yeager said. “It’s like a cruise ship — you don’t have to leave. Some people really love golf, but we also have falconry, off-roading in the mountains, so many things. And people love the 100-year-old original pool.”

Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island, Michigan

If groups are looking for a charming experience, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel is it. 

The old-world hotel, with its world-famous Midwestern friendliness, offers groups a chance to get away from it all — and has since the late 1800s. Here to deliver “exclusive experiences” and “extraordinary memories,” the Grand Hotel is full of activities, starting with simply enjoying the breeze from a rocking chair on the expansive front porch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, said Dana Orlando, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. 

The Grand Hotel has had a first-row seat to plenty of important moments in the American experiment — shades of which can still be explored and enjoyed today. Groups with an ear for history can spend a whole day feasting on lectures and historic tours with themes such as  Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties; Movies on Mackinac; and The Art, Antiques and Interior Design of Grand Hotel, all led by the hotel’s resident historian. Groups can enjoy other outdoor leisurely pursuits like biking, carriage rides, golf and exploring the property’s legendary gardens on foot.

The Foxhall Resort

Douglasville, Georgia

“Foxhall is just a stone’s throw from Atlanta, but when you get here it’s a complete escape,” said Angel Lipscomb, director of sales at Foxhall Resort. 

Part sportsman’s paradise, part relaxing escape, the Foxhall is western Georgia’s best-kept secret. Originally acquired by Roy Richards to serve as an equestrian haven for his wife in the 1980s, the property grew to become a resort with world-class paddocks and stables, noted for housing the horses in competition at the 1996 Olympics. 

Today, groups can take aim on the Foxhall’s Beretta Trident Course, a 15-station sporting clay course. UTV tours offer high-adrenaline opportunities. If groups prefer the tranquility of waterside activities, kayaking, exploring the Chattahoochee River or fighting for a dream trophy bass on one of the Foxhall’s 16 freshwater lakes are all options, too. If group members are new to scatter guns, quail hunting or picking the right lure for the right fish, guides are available to help them learn the new skills.

Big Cedar Lodge

Ridgedale, Missouri

Anyone who has visited a Bass Pro Shop knows that picking up some gear may have been a convenient excuse, but the adventure of the shop itself was the visit’s true aim. An even greater adventure awaits the guests of the Big Cedar Lodge, developed by Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris. This jaw-dropping property in the Missouri Ozarks will leave groups refreshed and inspired.

“If you’re wanting to escape the world and the hustle and bustle, Big Cedar has so many amenities,” said Madison Horner, the resort’s public relations manager. “We have numerous restaurants, including the property’s original building, which was transformed into the Worman House Restaurant in 1921.”

When it comes to outdoor activities, if groups can imagine it, chances are, Big Cedar has it. “The resort team customizes tours for different seasons,” Horner said. In the winter, groups can enjoy holiday tram rides, take a “Deck the Trails” self-guided drive-through tour of landmark Top of the Rock, and explore on-property caves through the Lost Canyon Christmas Tour. “We also have the ‘Best Summer Ever’ outdoor adventures and Cedar Fest in the fall, and we’re expanding what we offer all the time,” Horner added.

Don’t miss the daily evening sunset ceremony. 

“We salute by cannon and play ‘Amazing Grace’ on the bagpipes,” Horner said. “It’s incredible. The scenery is beautiful and the whole experience leaves people in awe.”