Best of New England 2006 Hotels, Inns & Resorts
The Spa at Norwich Inn
With just a few more than 100 rooms on 42 acres, the Spa at Norwich Inn is hardly a mega-resort. And that’s exactly why we like it. Well, that and the fact that its celebrated spa offers just about every treatment we can think of and has enough rooms and staffers to help us get what we want—when we want it. Plenty of fun activities—including tennis, golf, swimming and fitness classes—keep us occupied when we’re not getting spoiled with decadent massages and facials. 607 W. Thames St., Norwich, CT, 860-886-2401; www.thespaatnorwichinn.com.
The Cliff House Resort & Spa
The Cliff House has been around for 134 years, thanks to its attentive staff and ever improving facilities. Today, the resort has a full-service spa complete with signature local treatments such as wild Maine blueberry facials, rose body wraps and a seashell therapy massage. There’s also a fitness center, plus indoor and outdoor pools with ethereal ocean views. Gorgeous golf courses and sea kayaking are nearby. Shore Road, Ogunquit, ME, 207-361-1000; www.cliffhousemaine.com.
Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Club
This award-winning golf resort has a state-of-the-art, 35,000-square-foot spa, Har-Tru tennis courts (where you can take lessons), an indoor lap pool, an outdoor heated pool and an onsite cross-country ski touring center. Combine all that with comfortable rooms, a variety of dining options and technological treats like Wi-Fi and GPS-equipped golf carts, and you have heaven on earth for the discerning active vacationer. 55 Lee Rd., Lenox, MA, 413-637-1364;
Wentworth by the Sea: A Marriot Hotel & Spa
The posh bathrooms in the recently revamped Wentworth almost qualify as resorts on their own. But if you spend the day luxuriating in your marble shower, you’ll miss golf and tennis at the adjacent country club, sailing from the marina, seaweed-wrap spa treatments and aromatherapy massages—or just whiling away the morning with coffee, a newspaper and a delicious breakfast. 588 Wentworth Rd., New Castle, NH, 603-422-7322; www.wentworth.com.
Castle Hill Inn & Resort
Sink into a state of utter relaxation at this oceanfront retreat. The bustle of Newport awaits anyone who ventures away from the gracious rooms, private beach, walking trails, lush green lawn and sweeping views (the soaking tub in the Turret Suite offers one of our favorites). But for us, sipping a cocktail in an Adirondack chair overlooking the water before a romantic candlelit dinner is excitement enough. 590 Ocean Dr., Newport, RI, 401-849-3800, 888-466-1355; www.castlehillinn.com.
BEST IN NEW ENGLAND
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
Wow, do we love Stoweflake. It offers a killer assortment of activities (tennis, golf, hiking and mountain biking, a fitness center, yoga classes, cross-country skiing and ice skating), and downhill skiing is a snowball’s throw away. The rooms are notably unfussy (not a trait many area hotels can claim) but elegant. And the indulgent spa provides Vermont-inspired services such as a maple sugar body polish and a Green Mountain herbal clay wrap. The New American dishes at Winfield’s Bistro are delish, as is the wine. 1746 Mountain Rd., Stowe, VT, 802-253-7355; www.stoweflake.com.
Other Hotel Awards
Mayflower Inn & Spa
The restaurant is nationally acclaimed. The beds are topped with plush pillows. The linens are by Frette. The bathroom fittings come from Limoges. The toiletries are by Red Flower. The new spa (opening in May) is the picture of luxury. The niceties here are more than just nice—they’re over-the-top, and they’re just what you deserve. Rt. 47, Washington, CT, 860-868-9466; www.mayflowerinn.com.
Home Hill Relais & Châteaux
This isn’t your typical bed-and-breakfast. Its 11 rooms (in three separate buildings) are luxurious and decked out with L’Occitane bath products and Frette robes. Romance flows from the main manor to the French restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and serves Provençal classics like coq au vin and homemade spicy sausages. You’ll pay for Home Hill’s many privileges (tennis courts, pool and small spa)—rooms can run almost $500 per night. But this is well worth the price. 703 River Rd., Plainfield, NH, 603-675-6165; www.homehillinn.com.
HOTEL, AFFORDABLY CHIC
The Porches Inn
Next to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (better known as Mass MoCA), this place is as cool and creative as it should be. The rooms are sleek and stylish but hardly spare, the cozy robes and soft linens are most inviting and the hotel maintains an undercurrent of humor at all times. The rate for regular rooms is typically between $200 and $300; the most expensive suite (two bedrooms, two baths, two levels and two Jacuzzis) tops out in the mid-$400s during high season. 231 River St., North Adams, MA; 413-664-0400; www.porches.com.
The Pitcher Inn
After a tough day on the slopes, a bare-bones mountainside lodge is hardly a dream come true. Opt instead for the fanciful, rugged luxury of the 150-plus-year-old Pitcher Inn near Sugarbush Resort and not far from Mad River Glen. There are plenty of spa services on site, as well as en-suite Jacuzzis and an outstanding wine list that will ease your aching muscles. 275 Main St., Warren, VT, 802-496-6350; www.pitcherinn.com.
Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa
As its name implies, this resort is set grandly in the shadow of the White Mountains, near some of the most serious hiking destinations in the region. You can push yourself on the trails, then take advantage of body-soothing massages and feet-pampering reflexology at the Spa at Mountain View. The vistas from the sweeping porch will inspire you to get up and do it all over again. Mountain View Road, Whitefield, NH, 603-837-2100; www.mountainviewgrand.com.
There’s a lot to love about Nine Zero, starting with its stunning design, a study in such contrasting materials as red brick and nickel, and limestone and glass. Then there are the 189 intimate, wired rooms smack in the middle of Boston’s hopping downtown, each stocked with Mario Russo bath and beauty products. If that’s not enough, you can call in a personal shopper from nearby Louis Boston, or dine at Spire, one of the city’s best restaurants, on Nine Zero’s second floor. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA, 617-772-5800; www.ninezero.com.
HOTEL, CITY OTHER THAN BOSTON
Providence has become one of the major players in New England’s style scene, thanks in part to the new Hotel Providence. Its decor is worldly, and the cuisine at the hotel restaurant, L’Epicureo, is nationally known. But the local touches (such as artwork from the Rhode Island School of Design Graduate School in every guest room) make this hotel a real standout. 311 Westminster St., Providence, RI, 401-861-8000; www.hotelprovidence.com.
Harbor House Village
It isn’t easy to keep kids happy without sacrificing the luxuries tha
t make a vacation feel like more than an extended trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s. So hats off to this little cluster of saltbox buildings a few steps from the center of Nantucket. With in-room babysitting, toys by the pool and rooms filled with soothing Provençal accents and complimentary Pack ’N Plays, the Harbor House renders the family vacation surprisingly civilized. 99 S. Beach St., Nantucket, MA, 866-325-9300; www.harborhousevillage.com.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk
As if Newport and its Gilded Age mansions aren’t romantic enough, this exquisite manor ups the ante with rooms elaborately decorated in styles ranging from English Tudor to Gothic to Louis XVI. Then there are the perks: oversized Jacuzzis and marble wet bars, private courtyards and stained-glass skylights, full-on views of the white-capped Atlantic and top-notch fare at the hotel’s Spiced Pear Restaurant. 117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI, 401-847-1300; www.thechanler.com.
LAST-MINUTE WEEKEND DESTINATION
No time to pack? No problem. Head straight to the Equinox, where you can pick up anything you need (at a discount) from Manchester’s upscale outlets. Or simply retire to the Avanyu Spa and wear nothing but a plush robe (or your own skin) for 48 hours straight. 3567 Main St., Rte. 7A, Manchester Village, VT, 866-379-ROCK (866-379-7625);
MOST NEW ENGLAND
The Hanover Inn, the Inn at Mountain View Farm, the Charlotte Inn
Facing the idyllic Dartmouth College Green in the center of one of the prettiest college towns in the country, the Hanover Inn, (Main Street, Hanover, NH, 603-643-4300; www.hanoverinn.com), could easily get by on location alone. But the genuinely friendly, contemporary New England-style service is what really makes this college-owned inn a gem. The Inn at Mountain View Farm (Darling Hill Road, East Burke, VT, 802-626-9924; www.innmtnview.com) captures the essence of Vermont’s hardworking, ruggedly beautiful Northeast Kingdom on its 440 acres. Established as a working farm in 1883, the inn still has an animal sanctuary. Less rustic, but just as quintessentially New England, is the Charlotte Inn (27 South Summer St., Edgartown, MA, 508-627-4151) on Martha’s Vineyard. This white-painted, black–shuttered hotel (built as a home in 1864 in the heart of a historic whaling village) is an oasis of Yankee refinement.
MOST REMOTE LUXURY
The Lodge at Moosehead Lake
Moosehead Lake is far away from just about everywhere, situated way up in Maine about 150 miles north of Portland. That’s why the Lodge at Moosehead Lake is such an unexpected and welcome pocket of luxury. Elegant appointments—with whimsical, rustic accents, such as twig borders and hand-carved beds—greet and pamper guests returning from outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Lily Bay Road, Greenville, ME, 207-695-4400; www.lodgeatmooseheadlake.com.
PLACE TO STAY FOR A WEEK
The Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods
This sprawling, activity-filled destination can keep an entire family occupied and—if necessary—out of each other’s hair for an extended stay. On top of Alpine and Nordic skiing in the winter and golf, tennis and horseback riding the rest of the year, there are special events, including food demos and seasonal tours. Rte. 302, Bretton Woods, NH, 800-314-1752; www.mtwashington.com.
The Summer House
Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, at the eastern tip of Nantucket and in the quiet village of ’Sconset, the pool at the Summer House feels worlds apart from any crowded beach or pedestrian-packed sidewalk. Take a seat on one of the lovely, generously spaced chaise longues (shaded by Gatsby-esque white umbrellas) and stay for a poolside lunch. You’ll get a side of spectacular views with your lobster salad or grilled vegetable terrine. Ocean Avenue, Siasconset, MA, 508-257-4577; www.thesummerhouse.com.
Hob Knob Inn, Colony Hotel, the Inn at Castle Hill
It’s not grand or ornate, but the porch at Hob Knob Inn, (128 Main St., Edgartown, MA, 508-627-9510; www.hobknob.com), a few steps from Martha’s Vineyard’s quaint main drag, is achingly beautiful, especially at dusk, when the hotel’s lights are glowing. More dramatic is the oceanfront Colony Hotel (140 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, ME, 207-967-3331; www.thecolonyhotel.com), which has a porch befitting its spectacular seaside view. The gracious veranda at the Inn at Castle Hill (Crane Estate, 280 Argilla Rd., Ipswich, MA, 978-412-2555; www.theinnatcastlehill.com) is outfitted with comfortable, elegant wooden chairs situated to overlook the Crane Estate’s verdant grounds and the intriguing coastline of Massachusetts’ North Shore.
Nine miles from the bustle of downtown Nantucket (which is already 30 miles away from the mainland) near the Great Point Wildlife Sanctuary is where you’ll find the Wauwinet. It’s a quiet, self-contained haven with private beaches, whispering dunes and spa treatments available behind the closed doors of your beautifully appointed room. 120 Wauwinet Rd., Nantucket, MA, 508-228-0145; www.wauwinet.com.
PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
Typical kids’ programs at hotels are little more than glorified babysitting sessions—
and are likely to make any kid older than 4 cringe. That’s not the case with the creative activities at Migis (for children 5 and up), which include hiking, swimming, paddling and organized sports. You know, stuff kids actually want to do. Sebago Lake, South Casco, ME, 207-655-4524; www.migis.com.
RANGE OF ACTIVITIES
Hawk Inn & Mountain Resort
If there’s an outdoor activity you love, you can probably do it on Hawk Inn’s 1,200 acres of outdoor terrain—or very close by. Hikers, skiers, horseback riders, golfers, tennis players, paddlers, rowers, sailors, swimmers and cyclists can all find something to enjoy at this ultimate outdoor playground. Rte. 100, Plymouth, VT, 802-672-3811; www.hawkresort.com.
The best service is the kind you don’t have to think twice about. Whether you want 24-hour in-room dining as you lounge in a robe or exquisite formal meals in the main dining room (where gentlemen wear jackets and ties), the staff at Blantyre strives to meet every need flawlessly—so all you have to do is relax and enjoy this Tudor-style mansion hideaway. 16 Blantyre Rd., Lenox, MA, 413-637-3556; www.blantyre.com.
Canyon Ranch Lenox
There’s a reason why the name Canyon Ranch is synonymous with transformative spa experiences. From the moment you arrive until the second you (regretfully) leave, the focus is on your well-being. You’ll eat well, move often and benefit from first-class, healing pampering. Plus, you’ll learn enough about taking care of yourself to keep up the good work at home. 165 Kemble St., Lenox, MA, 800-742-9000; www.canyonranch.com.
Think you know luxury? Twin Farms will make you think again. The cottages are beyond over-the-top. So are the rates—but the experience is priceless (and hey, the tariffs are all-inclusive). There are lush appointments and imaginative amenities like hot toddies in the winter and croquet and hot-air ballooning when the weather’s warmer. Every detail is exquisitely executed, without pretension. A stay
here is a gift you ought to give yourself at least once. Barnard, VT, 800-894-6327; www.twinfarms.com.