Hotels and resorts to consider in 2018

From Central Texas to Cancun, there’s something for everyone.


If you want to travel more in the new year but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas.

There are so many things to consider when you’re planning a vacation.

Who will be traveling with you? What does everyone like to do? How comfortable are you in new situations? How much time and money can you afford?

If you want to travel more in the new year but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas from you, from close-to-home adventures to farther-flung destinations.

Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine

If you’re traveling with kids, I’m not sure there’s a better experience than a visit to Great Wolf Lodge, located a little over three hours from Austin in Grapevine.

When my husband and I visited in October with our three kids, ages 9, 6 and 4, we discovered a treasure trove that managed to keep everyone happy and entertained for a long weekend.

“We’re full of fun, fun, fun,” said Phil Cunningham, general manager of Great Wolf Lodge, which has more than a dozen properties across the United States and Canada. “We’re serious about fun.”

RELATED: Spots to include on your travel bucket list

Here’s a sample of what we loved about Great Wolf Lodge: the sprawling water park that just so happens to be indoors, making weather and temperature a nonissue; the outdoor Howlers Peak Ropes Course, where you can fly through the air in the safety of a climbing harness (closed-toe shoes required); the Scooops Kid Spa, where our daughters enjoyed manicures from atop a banana-split throne; and the nightly dance parties, where “ambassador of fun” Jonathan Romrell wowed us with his dance moves.

“I was blessed with good rhythm,” he said.

If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss the KidCabin Suite, which includes an in-suite log cabin with bunk beds and a day bed for little ones. Check the website for special rates and offers.

Info: 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine. 800-693-9653,

Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

It’s not hard to love the California coast. And yet staying at Terranea Resort has made me love it even more.

My husband and I first visited Terranea — located about 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles — with our kids in 2016 and were instantly enamored with everything, from the cool ocean breezes to the toasty fire pits to the gray whales that make rhythmic arcs on the surface of the water below. It was, we decided, the perfect spot for a family vacation.

RELATED: The magic of the California coast

This year, we returned without kids and were just as enamored in a completely different way. Turns out, it’s also an ideal place for a couples vacation.

Terranea has made such a deep impression on us that we’ve vowed to return every year as long as we’re able. To our family, it’s that special.

Info: 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes. 310-494-7891,

Hyatt Lost Pines, Lost Pines

This summer, my childhood best friend, who lives in Houston, and I decided it was time for a kid-free vacation and booked a one-night stay at Hyatt Lost Pines, located 30 minutes from Austin, near Bastrop.

The goal? Enjoy everything the property had to offer during our less-than-24-hour visit.

Enjoy it we did. We sipped Champagne by the glittering pool. We got pressure-perfect massages at Spa Django, where the music of Django Reinhardt, the spa’s namesake, greets guests when they enter a treatment room. We lingered over dinner on the patio. And we laughed in the way that only dear friends can.

In the morning, we grabbed a quick coffee, exchanged a quick hug and I was back at work at my usual starting time. Yes, it was fast. But it was wonderful, too.

Can’t spend the night? The spa is available for day use and, even though it’s on the outskirts of Austin, feels a world away.

Info: 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Lost Pines. 512-308-1234,

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, Cancun, Mexico

I have traveled to Cancun numerous times, but as we were planning our most recent trip last spring, my daughters had only on request: to drink something out of a coconut.

At Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, that’s easy enough — nearly anything you want, even chocolate milk, can be served in a coconut.

It’s just one example of the aim-to-please mentality we found over the course of our three-night March stay at the resort: If you can dream it, they can do it.

RELATED: Playtime in Mexico’s Playa del Carmen

Among our highlights of our trip: Practicing cartwheels across the sugar-fine sand, battling the waves on a rented Jet Ski and enjoying an extended meal at the on-site La Joya, which serves authentic Mexican cuisine.

The hotel is also ideally situated for a day trip to Isla Mujeres, where our kids were thrilled by our golf cart transportation and the dozens of baby turtles we met at the Turtle Farm, a quaint tourist destination that safeguards turtle breeding grounds and protects their eggs.

Info: Boulevard Kukulcan Km 9.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500, Cancún. 888-830-9008,

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

In Chicago, finding the right bites in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood

Living in Chicago, I am spoiled. The food here is ridiculously good, whether you're visiting your neighborhood hot dog stand or you scored a reservation at Alinea, often lauded as one of the world's top restaurants, where a course may take the form of an edible, green-apple-flavored helium balloon. The restaurants are so exceptional that I've become...
Making the most of your European cruise
Making the most of your European cruise

Last year I spent two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise, filming a one-hour TV show designed to present an honest look at the pros and cons of cruising and equip travelers with the knowledge they need to be smart cruisers. You might not think of it as budget travel, but cruising can be extremely affordable. When you consider that the price includes accommodations...
A hidden Big Bend gem: The Lajitas Arch
A hidden Big Bend gem: The Lajitas Arch

Tucked behind a trash dump about 10 miles west of Terlingua, a crumbly stone arch stands like a rocky red reminder that Utah didn’t get all the cool geological formations. The arch — actually a double arch, because you can glimpse a second, smaller one just upstream of the main one — looks much like the ones scattered through Arches...
A gamble on a revitalized Reno, Nevada
A gamble on a revitalized Reno, Nevada

Midway through his 1940 Western classic “The Ox-Bow Incident,” author Walter Van Tilburg Clark paints the barren Nevada landscape that is the backdrop to a lynch-mob killing. He writes plaintively of snowy peaks, even in the summer months, of dried creekbeds, meadows bedecked in purple and golden wildflowers, violets “as big as the...
Traveling to Brazil? Get a yellow fever vaccination first.

Travelers headed to Brazil should add one more item to their trip prep list: Make an appointment for a yellow fever vaccination.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently raised the level of concern for Brazil, in response to a yellow fever outbreak. The agency expanded its warning to travelers after a number of unvaccinated tourists...
More Stories