THE HOTEL SEASON: Any lodging that has an actual season -- be it winter, or the more common, we suspect, summertime -- charms. It is truly a get-everything-you-want-when-you-want-it world, so that there are still places that close, due to the weather or other reasons, for part of the year, remains a love letter, of sorts, from the past. And the past rarely is more alluring, or posh, than at the The Inn at Furnace Creek in Death Valley.
OPENING DATE: Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. Of course, the landmark hotel opened for the very first time in 1931 -- meaning it'll be 80 very soon -- but it closes in the late spring and reopens every year in the fall, when temperatures begin to dip in the famously toasty national park. The Inn's sibling, the Furnace Creek Ranch, remains open year-round, and both are worth a visit during a Death Valley stay. But tea or a cocktail in the Inn's lobby, at that window-close two-top that overlooks the Valley? Worth the trip. Period. Plus, the borax. We like all the borax, too. Every Death Valleyist does, though. And if you break out some borax facts over that Furnace Creek Inn gin & tonic, you likely love the valley like no other.