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As you plan your vacations for next year, try to think outside of the old standards. Instead of LA, New York or Chicago, what about Boulder, Asheville or Minneapolis? All three could be called second-tier, sure, but they're definitely not lacking in scenery, food, drinks or atmosphere. Plus, they're all going through a bit of a renaissance lately, so you can say you were on the bandwagon before anyone else can—and that's what matters, right?
Check out our thoughts below, and click through the gallery to see SPG Amex's picks for hotels in each!
When it comes to Colorado there's always Denver, but you really shouldn't forget about Boulder. If you're into the outdoors, city life, winter, summer, skiing, hiking, sea urchin roe or cowboy steaks, it's all there. And the best part is, no matter where you go, you've got the Rocky Mountains setting the mood.
So you don't forget, book a room with a view. The Westin Westminster is set in a postcard, so your room will come with extensive views of the Rockies and the sweeping plains below. The hotel's also perfectly situated between Denver and Boulder. If you'd like to visit both—and you may as well—you're already halfway there.
Located in the Westminster Promenade, the Westin Westminster is also walking distance to boutiques, restaurants and activity centers. In true Colorado fashion, you'll have miles of walking trails from City Park right in your backyard, plus you're just a short ride to some intensely scenic golf at Legacy Ridge.
ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Asheville's been trying to get on the map for quite a while, often billed as "the next Austin." Like Boulder, it's a small city surrounded by gorgeous scenery. In this case, though, you're probably in town for the music.
Asheville's been home to a strong music and festival circuit for a long time, making a name for itself in the indie, electronic, folk, jazz, bluegrass, and pop scenes. Since 2010 the city's also been host to Moogfest, a huge celebration of art, technology, and electronic music, so named for the creator of the iconic Moog synthesizer. 2014 brought together the Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk, M.I.A., Janelle Monae, and hundreds more.
When you're booking your hotel, check out Aloft. It's the only hotel located in the true heart of downtown, complete with 35-mile views of the surrounding mountains and it's within walking distance to over 40 independent restaurants.
There's also tons to do in the hotel itself, including the pool on the third-floor Air Level, a bar called the W xyz (which features small plates and a live music series), and The Ledge rooftop lounge with stunning views. Not to mention, the hotel's totally pet friendly, even offering a pet run and the chance to hang out with the hotel's own fostered dogs—they've currently got their 11th!
Minneapolis has been exploding in recent years with its own home-grown renaissance and influx of transplants alike. As more and more people start to consider the Midwest a worthwhile destination (heaven forbid) there's more vanguard chefs, cocktail bars, bands and artists calling Minneapolis home.
If you love the allure of Art Deco, Prohibition-era atmosphere, consider booking your room at the W. It's the Roaring Twenties meets modern in all the best ways: 229 guestrooms are set in the breathtaking, iconic Foshay Tower; the Prohibition Sky Bar serves classic and signature cocktails on the 27th floor; Manny's Steakhouse dishes out award-winning meals; the open-aired Observation Deck & Museum offers sublime views of the city from the 30th floor.
During your stay, enjoy the W's Whatever/Whenever service, complimentary access to the Walker Art Center, and, much like Asheville's Aloft, your pets are welcome, too.
To get the most out of your trips, become an SPG Amex Card Member and redeem Starpoints for free nights and flights—choose from over 1,200 hotels and resorts and 150 airlines, with no blackout dates in sight. You'll earn one Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent on the Card and double Starpoints on stays at participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts. You can also transfer Starpoints to 30 frequent flyer programs. Even better? The first year fee is free for new Card Members. Learn more and sign up today!