Between the songs, campfires and mosquitoes, summer camp had its highs and its lows. Fortunately, hotels have adopted some of our favorite summer camp qualities, like fire pits for roasting s'mores, woodsy decor and picturesque natural settings. Take your pick of properties, located from the mountains of Colorado and France to the Catskills of upstate New York, and travel back to a simpler time.
For the summer camp experience with a historic touch, try The Lodge at Sea Island. It's set on the site of a former cotton plantation on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, along the marshes and shores of St. Simons Sound. An avenue of historic antebellum oaks dripping with Spanish moss leads to the English manor-style lodge, which feels something like a hunting lodge inside. For that summer camp vibe, head to the screened-in recreation area, where original brick floors, a wood-burning fireplace and rows of wooden picnic tables are illuminated by strings of light bulbs draped across the rafters. Feel like a kid again at the Water Sports Center, which has kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and sailboats available to guests. And when night falls, head outside to sit by the fire pits and make s'mores while stargazing. Your personal butler delivers a finishing touch at bedtime: milk and freshly baked cookies.
The Catskills region of upstate New York is a great place to shed your cellphone in favor of the woods. We'd advise doing so at The Graham & Co., a simple yet stylish upper-middle-range property located two blocks from the lively small town of Phoenicia. There's tubing and hiking nearby, and the property itself offers free loaner bikes, movie nights and beer upon check-in. Rooms (some with kitchens) have Tivoli radios with iPod hookups, but no TVs, and the reclaimed wood furniture and large comfy bean bags make for a hipster summer camp look. Spend your afternoon by the small outdoor pool with mountain views, playing volleyball on the lawn or in the covered lounge playing board games or listening to music. In the evening, head out to the fire pit to soak up the fresh air.
From the wood-paneled guest rooms with wildlife-themed oil paintings to the homey bar with a stone fireplace and exposed wood, the Auberge du Manoir in Chamonix, France, feels like a cozy lodge in the woods and is very reminiscent of summer camp days. But this mid-range property in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes is also decidedly adult, thanks to a charming sauna and an outdoor hot tub with picture-perfect mountain views. While the country craft vibe here is not for everyone, Superior Rooms do offer a more sophisticated, pared-down aesthetic.
Adventure Suites is the sort of place you wished summer camp was like when you were a kid. Each of the 17 suites at this upscale property in the White Mountains of North Conway, New Hampshire, has a very different theme, ranging from a kitschy log cabin complete with log walls and furniture to a Victorian Spa Suite with a four-poster bed and an elaborately carved fireplace. Bonus: all suites have hot tubs. Outside, there's a huge lawn and patio with Adirondack chairs around a stone fireplace. Here, guests make s'mores in the summer, while being surrounded by White Mountains views. Every morning, a 1950s-style diner serves make-your-own breakfast and coffee, taking the traditional summer camp canteen to another level.
Nothing says summer camp quite like a lakeside setting, which is why The Inn On Lake Superior gets our vote. The grassy grounds of this mid-range property extend right up to a boardwalk and the rocky shoreline, with Lake Superior stretching out beyond. Stroll along the boardwalk up to a nearby lighthouse, or borrow one of the hotel's bicycles to take in the scenery on two wheels. Decor is fairly generic, but rooms are comfortable and spacious, there's a rooftop pool and summer activities include making s'mores by the fire.
This luxury resort offers ski-in, ski-out access to Beaver Creek Mountain in the winter, but we're just as impressed with its year-round offerings. For starters, there's indoor and outdoor fireside dining and cocktails -- perfect for channeling summer camp evenings. Inside, the lodge-style decor includes cozy leather chairs around a fireplace and an antler chandelier hanging from a pine ceiling. Suites can feature large stone fireplaces as well. This property is particularly well-suited to families, offering indoor camping for kids and lawns for playing cornhole or horseshoe games. The resort also enforces family quiet time starting in the late evening. Don't miss the brick terrace at the back of the property, where you can roast s'mores on the fire pit -- right next to a lifelike bear statue.