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  • Inn & Spa, (from US$279 per night, ojairesort.com). Unwind by the pool, order a cocktail and admire the Topa Topa Bluffs mountains at sundown.

    Drive further north and drop in to the hyper-kitsch Madonna Inn (from US$189 per night, madonnainn.com) – one part Liberace, one part David LaChapelle. Head up the coast to see the elephant seals on the beach at Piedras Blancas, then follow the famous Route 41 to Yosemite Valley and marvel at the waterfalls, giant sequoias and a mountainous landscape made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. Where to stay? The legendary Ahwahnee Hotel (from US$471 per night, yosemitepark.com) with its grand stone façade and cabins in the woods.

    Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, near Santa Barbara

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    Explore the luxurious Aman hotel, Amangani (above) and Badlands National Park (below)

    THE BADLANDS

    The name conjures up Sissy Spacek farm-girl chic and Bruce Springsteen ballads, but its origins come from the Lakota Native Americans who named the area "Mako Sica" or "Land Bad". Despite its moniker, South Dakota has some of America's wildest open space, with the purple, pink and brown mountain stripes bringing Missoni textures to mind.

    Rent a five-star hotel on wheels in the form of an RV and make a loop of the area; starting in Rapid City, take in Mount Rushmore, then head north

    to Deadwood. During the 1870s Gold Rush, this was bandit country. Today, the town looks like a movie set, where you are the star. Stay in the pioneering luxury of the Martin & Mason Hotel (from US$200 per night, martinmasonhotel.com), furnished with antiques. Order the filet mignon at Jakes at The Midnight Star, Kevin Costner's restaurant, then play roulette and drink martinis downstairs.

    Next, head west, to the eerie rock formation Devils Tower, which became a cinematic icon as the landing base in Close Encounters. Keep going, until you reach the Grand Teton mountains and the Wild West outpost of Adrian Zecha's luxury Aman empire, Amangani (from US$725 per night, amanresorts.com). Built in sandstone and redwood, this dramatic resort couldn't work anywhere else. "It's the kind of hotel I might design, if I designed hotels," says Rick Owens.

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    Photograph: Corbis

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