Suncadia resort offers a nearby break from Western Washington's gray
You can arrange to ride horses at Suncadia through an outside company.
Suncadia's Rope Rider golf course, which opened in August, is adjacent to Swiftwater Cellars, a new independently owned winery built atop the old Roslyn No. 9 coal mine, constructed in 1930 and closed in 1963.
Suncadia Resort's balmy swim and fitness center includes lap-swim and free-swim areas in addition to two 200-foot-long waterslides.
Swiftwater Cellars includes a tasting room and the large, lodge-style Hoist House Restaurant.
You want to go far enough away to feel like you're on vacation.
But if you choose a destination that is too far away, you end up spending precious weekend hours on the road or waiting in ferry lines.
If this dilemma sounds familiar, I have a year-round solution for you: Suncadia Resort.
This popular destination, tucked into the woods outside Cle Elum, just 90 miles from downtown Seattle on I-90, feels far away even though it isn't.
That's a huge plus if you're short on time or have kids who love to ask: "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"
Suncadia often is sunny and warm when Western Washington isn't, hence the name.
Established in 2003 with The Inn at Suncadia, the resort has expanded steadily over the years. It now includes a large, bustling lodge with a restaurant and bar, a spa, three golf courses, three swimming pools, vacation homes, condos, a convention center and, as of last year, an independently owned winery.
River-view rooms in the expansive lodge overlook a steep slope that ends dramatically at the sparkling Cle Elum River far below. In the distance, the lower peaks of the Cascade Range give you a feeling of wide open spaces.
Occupying 6,400 acres, Suncadia is 80 percent undeveloped woods and meadows.
More than 10 miles of paved paths criss-cross the enormous property. Bicycle rentals for all ages and motor scooter rentals for those 16 and older are offered in spring, summer and fall, in addition to paddle boats and kayaks that can be used on an on-site lake.
In winter, you can rent cross-country skis to explore 7 miles of groomed trails. Snowshoe rentals are also available, and ice skates are rented at the on-site outdoor rink in winter.
Nearby attractions include excellent hiking, rafting, horseback riding and fly-fishing.
While Suncadia is a fine romantic destination for couples, it is also surprisingly family friendly, much like its sister properties, Skamania Lodge on the Columbia River in Washington or Sunriver Resort southwest of Bend, Ore.
Young children are as welcome at the lodge's main fine dining restaurant, Portals, as they are at the swim and fitness center, which features an indoor pool with two 200-foot-long water slides.
Suncadia's newest golf course, Rope Rider, which opened in August, is a par-72 course that includes youth tees on every hole as well as shorter three- and six-hole loops to accommodate younger golfers.
CampCadia with its all-day, half-day and evening programs for kids for ages 4 to 12 includes activities, crafts and field trips.
If Suncadia has a downside, it's that not all the amenities are connected.
If you're staying in the lodge and want to go for a swim at the fitness center, you have to take about a five-minute walk along a meandering tree-lined path to get there. It's not a big deal, but not ideal if you're toting kids with wet heads, especially in winter when the trail may have icy patches.
The Swiftwater Cellars winery, which opened last summer, is a 15-minute walk from the lodge.
Shuttle service is offered by request between the lodge and the winery, but service can be slow.
On the flip side, the walk back in the dark under the stars on warm summer nights is a true delight.
No matter how you get there, Swiftwater Cellars, which features a spacious tasting room, an even larger dining room and live music on Friday and Saturday nights, is worth the short journey from the lodge.
The Hoist House restaurant, which is also kid-friendly, is a fresh change of pace for lunch or dinner if you're looking for something different than Portals, which offers three meals a day and a Sunday brunch at the lodge.
Built atop Roslyn No. 9 coal mine overlooking the Rope Rider golf course, the winery also includes a golf pro shop and special event facilities.
Right outside the winery, you can see the entrance to the old mine, which opened in 1930 and was the last mine in the region to close in 1963.
Accommodations at the lodge, built in 2008, reflect a luxury-style resort's quality and amenities.
The standard rate for river-view rooms -- for two adults and two kids on a Saturday night -- is $285, which includes the nightly resort fee of $21.60 and tax.
One-, two- and three-bedroom units, studio penthouse and penthouse rooms cost more.
If you're booking more than a few weeks in advance, consider reserving an 800-square-foot studio penthouse that feels more like an apartment than a boxy hotel room.
It sleeps up to four on the top floor of the six-story lodge, with a kitchen and dining area (great for giving the kids breakfast and snacks from home), a double-sided fireplace and a large soaking tub.
After taxes and fees, it's regularly $340. That's a $55 premium over a river-view room. But if you figure in what you didn't have to spend on multiple tanks of gas, ferry tickets or plane rides to a farther destination, it's a steal.
In October, some rooms are discounted, even on the weekends: Ask about promotional discounts for the resort's harvest festival, including Saturday-night rates of $218 for a river-view room and $273 for the studio penthouse (taxes and fees included).
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037; email@example.com.
3600 Suncadia Trail, Cle Elum, five miles west of Cle Elum off I-90 at Exit 80. Go to www.suncadia.com or call 509-649-6400.
Cle Elum, a 10-minute trip east, is a great place to pick up hotel room supplies or quick meals. There's a Safeway, a McDonald's, gas stations and other amenities. If you like sweets and espresso, you should also check out the fabulous Cle Elum Bakery at 501 E. First St., just the place to stop before or after a hike.
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