EXTRAORDINARILY UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
These distinctive features showcase how the properties and destinations of Benchmark and Gemstone are extraordinarily unique.
THE FUTURE OF GAMING
The Abbey Resort | Lake Geneva, WI
Ever wanted to try virtual reality? You can when you stay at The Abbey Resort. While this scenic retreat, set on 90 wooded acres along the shores of Lake Geneva, is all about unplugging, their recently premiered Immersion Virtual Entertainment Center caters to those looking to dip a toe in this trendy tech in between splashing in the lake and playing disc golf. Located off the lobby, the center features four state-of-art 10-foot-by-10-foot VR gaming stations with fully immersive VIVE head-mounted displays, 360-degree controller and headset tracking, and an expansive gaming library that simulates outer space explorations, roaming among dinosaurs, even a cooking experience to hone your kitchen skills. A café just steps away serves hot dogs, brats, and popcorn, as well as beer and wine, while a neighboring stadium-style 30-seat movie theater shows the latest flicks every day at 8:30 p.m.
THE LADY OF THE RIVER WALK
Hotel Contessa | San Antonio, TX
It’s hard to miss her. Upon entering the lobby at Hotel Contessa, the first person to greet you is a red-haired woman dressed in an eighteenth-century high-waisted gown in a Mexican floral print. No, she’s not some costumed period actor, but a seven-foot-tall commissioned painting, titled La Contessa de San Antonio by San Antonio artist Kathy Sosa. The painting has become something of the River Walk–based hotel’s mascot, with custom drinks and special offers named after her. But even more so, the fictional woman intended to be an embodiment of the colorful culture of San Antonio has become a “selfie hotspot” for guests. Snap a shot and share yours with #LaContessaDeSanAntonio.
DONE UP LIKE DOLLY
Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort & Spa™ | Pigeon Forge, TN
Ever had a glitter facial? Only at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa™ will you find such an elaborate treatment (it is, after all, a hotel owned by legendary entertainer Dolly Parton, known for her big blond hair and glitzy pantsuits). That glitz and glam come through even more in the spa’s decor, the design of which Parton personally oversaw, boasting pearl and crystal chandeliers, pink mirrors, a rhinestone-encrusted front desk, and shiny velvet seating around every corner. But the cherry on top of a manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage is the grab bag you leave with, filled with, yes, a little bit of glitter, as well as top-of-the-line skincare products from Farmhouse Fresh (Oprah’s favorite), Skin Authority, REF of Sweden, and La Bella Donna Cosmetics.
RETREAT LIKE A CELEB
Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa | Lake Arrowhead, CA
Don’t be surprised if you think you see Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani lounging by the pool. After all, Hollywood elite have been retreating to Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, located just an hour and half east of LA, since the ’20s. (In fact, throughout the public spaces, you’ll see black and white photos of past guests who used to frequent this cozy mountain escape, like Loretta Young, Mary Pickford, Spencer Tracy, and Humphrey Bogart.) That’s because the AAA Four Diamond hotel isn’t just the ultimate in rustic luxury, it’s also utterly secluded, set at an elevation of 5,200 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains and framed by majestic pines and a private lake. In more recent years, the property has hosted celebs like Julia Roberts, William H. Macy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sean William Scott – the list goes on. Stevie Wonder even once crashed a couple’s wedding reception at the property, serenading the bride with an impromptu performance of “Isn’t She Lovely.”
Cost d’Este Beach Resort & Spa | Vero Beach, FL
When you stay at Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa, you might as well be shacking up in Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s personal home, also set on Vero Beach just seven miles north. That’s because the Grammy award–winning power couple, who own the resort, designed it to resemble their own residence with teak wood accents, limestone bathrooms, and white columns and archways. Even the art is personally curated by the family, and often comes from their home. Take, for example, the six concrete monkeys that sit on a dune on the property’s private beach. Once perched on the Estafans’s property (the couple had them shipped back during a vacation to Mexico), the statues, ranging in size from one- to four-feet tall, were recently relocated to the resort, watching over the property for good luck.
THE TENNESSEE TREATMENT
THE TENNESSEAN Hotel | Knoxville, TN
A personal butler at your beck and call 24 hours a day during your entire stay? It’s just one of the over-the-top amenities you receive when you book the signature Governor’s Suite at THE TENNESSEAN Hotel, Benchmark’s newly built property that opened in 2017. The 1,800-square-foot suite – adorned in plush carpets depicting the Tennessee River, custom-made Hackney Furniture (made locally in Knoxville), a large formal dining room, and an oversized living area
featuring a sleek self-playing baby grand – feels more like a luxury apartment than a hotel room. And as if the private butler on hand to manage your transportation, make reservations, and fetch whatever you desire from local restaurants wasn’t enough, the room also comes with the city’s best view: Floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows showcase the World’s Fair Park, Sunsphere, and Neyland Stadium.
OUT ON A LIMB
Snow King Hotel & Grand View Lodge | Jackson, WY
Just because the snow eventually melts doesn’t mean Snow King Mountain, Jackson Hole’s true locals’ ski mountain among the legendary Tetons and right in town, is no longer a place to get some thrills in summer. Open in spring, the mountain’s Treetop Adventure is just a mountain coaster ride away (find the mountain coaster no more than 10 feet outside Snow King Hotel & Grand View Lodge). Offering five different levels from easiest to hardest woven among the massive pines, the course is a bit like Swiss Family Robinson meets the X-Games, with obstacles like wobbly bridges, swinging logs, climbing nets, flying surfboards, and 13 zip lines perched as high as 80 feet off the forest floor.
BRINGING THE BREW BACK
Beachwalk Resort | Hallandale Beach, FL
When Miami brewery, M.I.A Beer Company, discontinued their Kolsch-style golden ale, loyalists begged for them to bring it back. But it all fell on deaf ears, until Beachwalk Resort came into the picture, asking them to brew it just for the resort. Renamed Beachwalk Beer, the light and crisp brew, made with German Kolsch-style yeast and Sorachi Ace hops, now flows exclusively at the resort’s Beachwalk Bistro – and is a suitable counter to the Miami heat with a clean, dry finish. Guests looking to see the custom beer’s brewing process can coordinate a tour and tasting at M.I.A Beer Company, some 20 miles southwest of the hotel, directly through the hotel concierge.