The sad statistic: 55 percent of workers in this country don’t take the vacation days they’ve earned. That’s 222 million days that, because of rollover rules, go poof! — gone forever. The result is a hit to our psyches, moods and health. Lack of funds and time to travel far from home play a part in deciding to stay glued to the office. But three new hotels within a 30-mile radius of Minneapolis might provide a solution: They’re nearby, but visiting them makes work feel far away, and you don’t have to spend money on flights. Here’s what to expect if you book a stay, before your vacation days evaporate.
MSP Airport intercontinentalmsp.com, rooms start around $290
What it’s like: This luxury hotel celebrates its airport locale. The skinny rectangular building, flanked by a winglike awning, is a little like an airplane itself. Many of its 290 rooms overlook runways so visitors can plane-watch. A 12th-floor bar/restaurant boasts a wall of windows so long and cockpit-clear you can see the skylines of both Minneapolis and St. Paul. The InterContinental, which opened in July, is the first hotel to be connected to the airport via skyway.
Minnesota mood: The wood, stone and shades of blue used throughout the hotel are a nod to the state’s forests and beaches. Wavy-glass windows represent our dancing waves. And there’s even purple paisley wallpaper (at right) in one of the bars. Interior designers also made use of local Kasota stone, Cambria countertops and Blu Dot furniture.
Things to do: The hotel offers a deluxe American Girl Experience, with bed, robe, slippers and turndown service provided — for the doll. The humans get transportation to the nearby Mall of America to shop the American Girl Store. Spa packages will likely feature the couples massage room. Don’t want to stay overnight? Get a $45 day pass to access fitness rooms, sauna and the thermal soaking pool.
What’s cooking: Check out Altitude on the 12th floor for the views, plus flights of wine, beer or champagne. La Voya (a nod to Voyageurs National Park) applies French cooking to local ingredients, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bradstreet Craftshouse, open afternoons and evenings, serves craft cocktails and small plates. There’s an in-house coffee shop, too.
Tidbits: Go ahead, dream. A 10,500-square-foot ballroom showcases sparkling chandeliers and can seat 800 of your closest friends for a formal dinner. A $5,000-a-night presidential suite boasts two bedrooms, two baths, a private kitchen for a traveling culinary team and a Japanese soaking tub.
Wayzata, Thehotellanding.com, rooms start around $200
What it’s like: Bold, white letters atop a grand, white entrance announce this 92-room boutique hotel on Wayzata’s promenade. In the lobby, a glass fireplace beckons in cooler weather. The overall feel is modern and comfortable, with leather, wood and brick — and, did we mention, lots of white?
Minnesota mood: Lake Minnetonka — views of it and strolling alongside it — are central to the hotel’s appeal. What at first looks like a piece of abstract art behind the reception desk is in fact a depiction of the lake and town. Spa treatments claim to be inspired by Nordic heritage. Rooms showcase books by local authors, about local places, including “Boathouses of Lake Minnetonka.”
Things to do: One package includes a room for two and pontoon boat rental. Another involves golf. Guests can borrow a bike from the front of the hotel to zip around town, or stroll from one end to the other. While the hotel has its own restaurant, visitors can also make a culinary tour of Wayzata, which became a bona fide foodie destination with the arrival of chef Gavin Kaysen’s Bellecour.
Another option is to visit the spa and hang out in the relaxation room’s comfy chaise-like chairs.
What’s cooking: Restaurant NineTwentyFive, helmed by former Heartland chef Lenny Russo, serves what he calls modern Midwestern cuisine, using seasonal, fresh ingredients. The full-service restaurant lists menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner and dessert. Its dark wood paneling and cozy booths feel right for fall, but there’s a patio for warm days, too.
Tidbits: Hotel Landing is the town’s first new hotel in 50 years. It’s pet-friendly, with special beds for our four-legged friends.
Stillwater, lorahotel.com, rooms start around $200
What it’s like: Stillwater cut the ribbon on this 40-room brewery-turned-boutique-hotel in June. Clever architecture binds four 1880s buildings that had fallen into disrepair to modern additions. In the lobby, thick limestone and brick walls contrast with lofty, arched windows. Caves that once cooled kegs are now a novelty that visitors can peek into. Step into a room overlooking quaint Main Street, with a view of paddleboats dotting the St. Croix River, and you may feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Minnesota mood: Local inspiration here is subtle. Red doors in black frames were inspired by loon eyes. Carpets boast a black-on-gray Scandinavian design. Locally sourced art and custom cabinets give a nod to the area’s creative types. Blankets on the bed are by Faribault Woolen Mill, with both summer and winter versions. And the in-room honor bar stocks locally-made favorites, including Old Dutch chips, Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls and Lift Bridge beer.
Things to do: Active vacationers will be drawn to the stairs that run up the steep limestone bluff right next to the hotel. Hike them for a hearty workout, or borrow one of the hipster-style Shinola bikes provided for guests and hit Stillwater’s numerous trails. Antique- and book-lovers will find dozens of shops. And those boats? You can hop on board through October 21 for daytime or sunset cruises, perfect for fall leaf-watching.
What’s cooking: Feller, named with a nod to the area’s logging past, focuses on seasonal, local fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a cheeseburger to die for. Next door, the Long Goodbye pours craft cocktails, wines and local beers (the name refers to the Minnesota trait of being unable to leave any gathering quickly). If you want a cup of coffee or organic juice, duck into Made, adjacent to the lobby.
Tidbits: Lora has a VIP (Very Important Pets) program, with organic treats and special beds. Two rooms boast fireplaces, and one opens to a private deck that will soon have a hot tub.