Winter Escapes: Inn with the New
Whether you’re looking for a base camp for outdoor adventures, a cozy spot by a country fireplace, or something in between, we’ve got the details on New England’s best new—or newly upgraded—lodges and B&Bs. What are you waiting for? All you need to do is pack up the car—and get going.
Five Spots for Spa Lovers
[sidebar]Mayflower Inn and Spa
118 Woodbury Rd., Washington, CT, 860-868-9466, mayflowerinn.com, doubles from $440.
Though the Mayflower’s new 20,000-square-foot facility has factorylike dimensions and sits smack between the bustle of Boston and Manhattan, it doesn’t settle for rushed service. Well-heeled urbanites will appreciate the mosaic-domed whirlpool, the private Pilates studios, and the scented thermal sanctuary, a steam/shower/massage enclave with heated granite walls. There are also holistic offerings like the Mayflower Harmony facial, 90 minutes of antioxidant-rich products and Japanese massage. And should you somehow still be in need of relaxation, the Mayflower Sweet Surrender will bring on the REM with craniosacral, lymphatic, and acupressure massage techniques and guided visualization. Feeling fully revitalized, you can while away the following day by fortifying yourself with fresh low-cal fare that begs the question: What diet? (The spa also has cooking classes, so you can re-create its ahi tuna napoleon when you get back home.)
White Barn Inn
37 Beach Rd., Kennebunkport, ME, 207-967-2321, whitebarninn.com, doubles from $315.
Situated just outside Republican-chic Kennebunkport, the White Barn Inn is the kind of place where the rich and famous go to feel pampered (the rest of us go to feel pampered and, well, rich and famous). The plush beds are heavenly, and the restaurant, run by master chef Jonathan Cartwright, serves the most-elegant food in the state. Used to be the only thing missing was a deep-tissue massage. That changed with the July debut of the inn’s boutique spa, four pale green rooms with heated dark wood floors and a minimalist–meets–New England vibe. The emphasis here is on excellence, not
volume—unless we’re talking dollars. The green tea facial and mineral wraps are a delight, and any treatment that includes a soak in the infinity-edge tub, surrounded by a tiny moat, is worth the splurge.
Topnotch Resort and Spa
4000 Mountain Rd., Stowe, VT, 800-451-8686, topnotchresort.com, doubles from $325.
Skiing, even for you experts, often involves bruises and sore muscles. A great ski town, therefore, ought to have a great spa. Topnotch delivers with a completely overhauled and expanded 35,000-square-foot space. Its lobby, lined with handmade tiles, curved glass walls, hardwood floors, and a juice bar, is a destination in itself, but we suggest diving right in, literally, with an easy swim in the meticulously kept indoor pool. Then slip into any of 30 treatment rooms for traditional therapies (maple sugar body scrub, aroma-therapeutic massage) or cutting-edge cosmetic treatments (the on-site med spa can tighten, plump, inject, or photorejuvinate just about anything). Less nip/tuck-minded guests can tune out in the couples’ massage suite or browse the spa boutique’s shelves for cult beauty lines like June Jacobs Spa Collection and Paula Dorf.
Inn at Thorn Hill and Spa
Thorn Hill Road, Jackson Village, NH, 603-383-4242, innatthornhill.com, doubles from $169.
Just past a cranberry-red covered bridge, the 25-room Inn at Thorn Hill hovers above idyllic Jackson Village, affording mind-blowing vistas of the White Mountains. But forget the scenery: What you’re really here for is the collection of sauna, massage, yoga, and Pilates rooms. The property may exude late 1800s, but its new spa is all light and airy comfort, with a range of ultramodern treatments. Thorn Hill has the usual suspects—detoxifying mud wraps, a couples’ massage—alongside harder-to-find services such as Thai yoga therapy, which employs meditation and stretching to detoxify and relax. There’s also a unique Polarity treatment that aims to rework the body’s electromagnetic system by stimulating energy. Sound like New Age bunk? Maybe. But follow it with a dip in one of the inn’s double-sized whirlpool tubs and, suddenly, you’re a believer.
Chatham Bars Inn
297 Shore Rd., Chatham, MA, 508-945-0096, chathambarsinn.com, doubles from $180.
With the opening of a brand-new spacious spa, Chatham Bars is still a haven even when beach conditions fall far short of appealing. It all starts with a personal spa assistant, who helps guests navigate the hydrotherapy pool, Vichy shower room, and 12 private treatment suites (all of which evoke the region’s seafaring history without, mercifully, falling prey to Ye Olde Yankee Kitsche). Indulgences include the thermal Turkish salt scrub and the vitamin C facial, but our favorite is the Kräuter, an epic three-in-one process that starts with an all-over body scrub and wildflower-infused bath, and ends with a lavender oil massage.
Top Stays for Outdoor Types
3567 Main St. (Rte. 7A), Manchester Village, VT, 802-362-4700, equinox.rockresorts.com, doubles from $219.
Lazy, gluttonous vacations aren’t for everyone, or so we’re told. At the Equinox, 1,300 acres of Green Mountain landscape ensures restless sorts endless diversions. Established in 1769, the historic Vermont resort-inn is classic New England—four-poster beds, fireside chessboards, lots of hunter green—with an exclusive, Aspen-esque feel and hyperattentive small-town service. Some of the Northeast’s best downhill skiing and snowboarding can be found at nearby Stratton and Bromley mountains, where a collective 134 trails—and 180 inches of annual snowfall—satisfy both avid and budding ski bums.
Vacation decathletes can also try snowmobile and sleigh rides through fir- and spruce-lined slopes, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, hiking and backpacking in nearby Merck Forest, archery, mountain biking, canoeing, fly-fishing, wingshooting, and an off-road driving course (tip: do this one after the ice has thawed). At the on-site British School of Falconry, you can don a protective glove and learn how to handle a hawk; your fierce-looking, sharp-beaked new friend will be eating out of your hand (!) before you know it.
For those who prefer their sports indoors, the Equinox’s recently built Avanyu spa and fitness center features a 75-foot heated pool, covered tennis courts, and daily yoga, Pilates, and water aerobics classes. Book a predinner river stone massage and forget about the world outside—and that morning’s slopeside mishaps.
Barnard, VT, 802-234-9999, twinfarms.com, doubles from $1,050.
No question, it’s a bit audacious to charge $1,850 for a night at a country inn. But considering the way Twin Farms lays on the perks, guests who stay at its new Aviary Cottage should leave feeling they got their money’s worth. The deluxe two-story suite—replete with fireside Jacuzzi—is more Ritz than rustic retreat, and serves as a posh launching pad for outdoor pursuits. The inn has a skating rink, five miles of Nordic ski trails, and a private downhill ski area, and you don’t even have to schlep your gear: The latest in skate, ice hockey, Atlas snowshoe, and Rossignol ski equipment is available. There’s fine dining and a menu of spa treatments as well. And not to be outdone by anyone—not even Santa—Twin Farms also provides swish sleigh rides. (Amazing, what a few thousand dollars will buy you.)
16 Blantyre Rd., Lenox, MA, 413-637-3556, blantyre.com, doubles from $500.
We know: When you’re staying in one of Blantyre’s 25 ultraplush, ultraposh rooms, it’s hard to even imagine stepping outside. But as the snow concierge (yes, snow concierge) will tell you, the western Massachusetts spot’s 117 acres abound with cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, as well as a private skating rink that was added last year when the resort opened to guests year-round. The surrounding Berkshires play host to an even more extensive network of trails and downhill mountains like Butternut, Brodie, and Jiminy Peak. So go on, get out there: At the end of the day, a few minutes in the roomy hot tub at the resort’s intimate spa or a hand-delivered mug of steaming hot chocolate from Blantyre’s full hot cocoa menu will soothe away any residual chill.
155 Alain White Rd., Morris, CT, 860-567-9600, winvian.com, doubles from $1,450.
Almost every door at this brand-new Litchfield Hills resort opens on a luxurious surprise—a $10,000 hydro-thermo massage tub in the spa, a do-help-yourself 130-bin wine cellar—but for nature lovers, the door that matters most is on a simple red shack right behind the main house. Inside is a complimentary treasure-trove of new snowshoes, skis, and skates, plus resilient outerwear handmade by legendary Seattle outfitter Filson. Outside, the 4,000-acre White Memorial nature sanctuary—ideal for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding—awaits.
That’s pretty much the extent of what the Winvian folks call “roughing it.” Each of the resort’s 18 cottages comes with an espresso machine, high-definition television, at least one fireplace, steam shower and whirlpool tub, and exclusive bath products by British skin-care line Ren. The décor varies by theme: The glass-ceilinged Greenhouse is filled with the guest’s choice of fresh-cut flowers, while the Library, redolent of mahogany and leather, has a ladder leading through bookshelves to the bed. In the Camping cottage, those who want to keep the outdoorsy thing going can sleep under a tent canopy as winter constellations gleam overhead (okay, they’re painted on the ceiling). Oh, and the turndown treat? Not a one-off mint, but s’mores, ready for roasting.
Hot Rooms for Romantics
The Phineas Swann
195 Main St., Montgomery Center, VT, 802-326-4306, phineasswann.com, doubles from $109.
For the all-important “bed” component of their B&B, the new owners of the Phineas Swann took a cue from their environs, where the snowfall routinely reaches record-setting heights. The inn’s impossibly deep beds—memory foam stacked with feather beds stacked with mattresses—are each covered in a drift of a dozen pillows. Small wonder some couples don’t emerge, still in their pajamas, until early afternoon.
When (or if) they do, their newlywed hosts, John Perkins and Jay Kerch, who reopened the Phineas last winter after a $750,000-plus renovation, are ready with plenty of activity suggestions: evening sleigh rides, candlelit tapas dinners, antiquing expeditions (a former Manhattan dealer whose clients included Ethan Hawke, Kerch has a shop of his own nearby). If you’d rather just soak in the hot tub or snuggle before the fireplace, well, that’s fine, too.
11 Mullins Ln., North Haven, ME, 207-867-2007, nebolodge.com, doubles from $90.
It takes a bit of perseverance to get to the tiny Penobscot Bay community of North Haven—a four-hour drive to Rockland, then a 70-minute ferry—but that’s a small price to pay for your own pristine, near-private island (roughly 400 call it home year-round). One of North Haven’s sole two inns, Nebo Lodge offers just four guest rooms in winter, guaranteeing each couple a peaceful, secluded stay. Recently renovated by a group of residents, the nearly century-old inn has neat-as-a-pin rooms decorated with local artwork (chosen with help from neighbor and famous author Susan Minot); funky textiles by island daughter Angela Adams; and 100 percent Maine-made amenities, including hand-cured lemongrass soap. There are no TVs, but you won’t miss them—not with the 21-square-mile playground of regal pines and rocky shoreline outside and the cinematic canopy of stars twinkling above at night.
Old Inn on the Green
134 Hartsville New Marlborough Rd., New Marlborough, MA, 413-229-7924, oldinn.com, doubles from $198.
If it’s true that everybody looks better by candlelight, then guests look simply model-riffic at the Old Inn on the Green. The rustic inn seems perpetually bathed in mood lighting; even daylight does little to diminish its ambiance. The excellent on-site restaurant is lit sans electricity with tapers and crackling hearth, and six of the property’s sumptuous rooms have fireplaces.
The Old Inn’s brand of low-key luxury, enthusiastically preserved by owners Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard, includes carefully chosen antique furniture, fine linens, and an absence of modern distractions (that’s right, another place with few TVs). Done wrong, country charm can be cloying; here, it’s nothing but romantic.
Rabbit Hill Inn
48 Lower Waterford Rd., Lower Waterford, VT, 802-748-5168, rabbithillinn.com, doubles from $195.
Ensuring that an evening away stayed on a romantic course used to be as easy as hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob. Now, thanks to BlackBerries, IM, and checking e-mail “one last time” before dinner, amorous escapes often wind up as working weekends. Located in a corner of Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom, Rabbit Hill’s 15 bucolic acres are conveniently out of reach of most cell-phone service providers, and the inn’s well-appointed rooms are blissfully free of TVs, telephones, and WiFi. Instead, guests enjoy connectivity of a different kind—one that comes with champagne on arrival, in-room massages, creative New American cuisine, and a signature turndown service that includes treats like maple sugar candy, soft harp chords, and flickering tea lights.
And if you must bring the kids…
The Yachtsman Lodge
Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport, ME, 207-967-2511, yachtsmanlodge.com, doubles from $325.
The Yachtsman’s motel-like exterior belies the sophistication inside. Redesigned by celebrated Boston architect Peter Niemitz, its 30 rooms are outfitted with supersoft duvets, Egyptian cotton sheets, CD players with Bose speakers, and French doors that open to private patios and marina views. But the Yachtsman’s real year-round appeal is the welcome it gives to both the kids and the family dog—for an extra $25 per day, Rover has the run of the room. Come winter, the cozy-chic lodge makes a good home base for exploring Kennebunkport and is filled with (tasteful, of course) holiday spirit. The town’s annual December Christmas Prelude (held the first two weeks of the month) includes a tree-lighting ceremony and bonfire, caroling by candlelight, and shopping galore.
Tasty Picks for Foodies
Four Columns Inn
Newfane, VT, 800-787-6633, fourcolumnsinn.com, doubles from $160.
Master chef Greg Parks has been tickling palates at southern Vermont’s Four Columns Inn for 30 years, collecting a James Beard and wowing everyone from Henry Kissinger to Nicole Kidman along the way. The only one not impressed, it seems, was Parks himself. Hence, his new personalized five-course tasting menu. While Parks specializes in French- and Asian-inspired food (rack of lamb with mushroom-rosemary demi-glace, grilled squab with strawberry-yuzu sauce), with a week’s notice he’ll put together the dinner of your dreams, be it filled with New Zealand venison or farm-raised Italian caviar. The inn, which looks out on what is arguably Vermont’s most idyllic town common, was recently renovated to add in-room gas fireplaces and modern conveniences—high-speed Internet, portable DVD players—to its country-comfy décor. Order ahead and dig in—if you don’t like what’s on the menu, you’ve only yourself to blame.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk
117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI, 401-847-1300, thechanler.com, doubles from $325.
The Chanler’s customary offerings speak for themselves: 20 posh guest rooms in a restored Civil War–era mansion, a lauded restaurant with ocean views, and easy access to Newport’s sightseeing and shopping. Not one to rest on its lofty laurels, though, this September the inn hired master chef Kyle Ketchum, who promptly overhauled the menu at its flagship eatery, the Spiced Pear, and stocked it with lots of New England standards, like simple, local seafood and poultry. Comfort-food enthusiasts will devour the seared foie gras with apple pain perdu, or grilled buffalo strip loin with spaetzle and organic Brussels sprouts. And since the Spiced Pear seats just 60, diners feel comfortably removed from the often crowded Cliff Walk outside.
The Inn at Sawmill Farm
West Dover, VT, 802-464-8131, www.theinnatsawmillfarm.com, doubles from $300.
Inn addicts love Sawmill Farm—partly for its serenity (pristine hills dotted with ponds), partly for its personable hosts (it’s been family-run for nearly 40 years), but mostly for its dinners. Chef-owner Brill Williams’s seasonal American-continental menu and comprehensive cellar of rare wines—a ’74 Ridge Monte Bello is but one example—have always made supper the main event.
Earlier this year, the Williamses upgraded almost every corner of the property, remodeling the rooms and installing wireless Internet access and new outdoor decks perfect for predinner cocktails. So while fans are still inclined to linger in the lamplit restaurant over a postprandial bottle of ’82 Haut-Brion, they’re no doubt equally tempted to scurry back to their suites.
Castle Hill Inn and Resort
590 Ocean Dr., Newport, RI, 888-466-1355, castlehillinn.com, doubles from $229.
Built in 1874 on Newport’s famous Ocean Drive, Castle Hill is one of those rare places both tourists and locals adore. Renowned for its views of Narragansett Bay, the seaside Victorian manor has long proffered fine dining. This year, new executive chef Jonathan Cambra is raising the bar with his Mediterranean-inspired seasonal cuisine. His $65 prix fixe winter dinner takes a rustic turn with dishes such as grilled antelope with a red chili rub, and rack of lamb in a red currant consommé (not to mention an insanely good chocolate soufflé). Weekends find guests sipping afternoon tea before checking out Castle Hill’s arts and culture series, which kicks off this month with pianist George Winston. Those who prefer alone time can eschew the nine guest rooms for one of the renovated private beach cottages.
160 Pawtucket Blvd., Tyngsboro, MA, 978-649-4400, stonehedgeinn.com, doubles from $225.
Levent Bozkurt is nuts about wine, and his 100,000-bottle cellar is only the half of it. He recently reoutfitted his Tyngsboro inn with a wine cave and dining room filled with stacks of big-gun bottles from Bordeaux and Napa, which guests sample at monthly wine dinners. Adding to the oenophile experience is new chef de cuisine Klaus Raferzeder, who pours his creative juices into the “Chef’s Adventure” menu at the on-site Silks restaurant. The quaint 30-room country spot also added a range of “vinotherapy” treatments to its spa menu, including a crushed chardonnay sugar scrub and the Le Vin Chardonnay bubble bath. Like we said—the guy’s nuts about wine.
Reported and written by Jane Black, Michael Blanding, Blythe Copeland, Sascha de Gersdorff, Alyssa Giacobbe, Alexandra Hall, J. L. Johnson, Christie Matheson, Erin Byers Murray, Meaghan O’Neill, and Francis Storrs.