Hampton Terrace was fortunate to be at the epicenter of a great event last month...Broadway in the Berkshires.
Produced as a fundraiser for Shakespeare & Company education programs by Lenox's Deborah Grausman, the evening featured a number of Broadway-associated actors who donated their time and talents. The evening raised over $60,000.
New York-based reviewer William Wolf captured the spirit of the evening. Pictured at left is Tony-winner and evening host, Chip Zion, and organizer/rpoducer Deborah Grausman.
We were priviledged to host several of the actors for the weekend, but in a larger capacity, Hampton Terrace served as the host of the "after-party" for the actors and major donors of the evening.
Approximately fifty people attended the after-party, which was highlighted by much spontaneous singing around the grand piano....with jazz pianist David Grausman showing his chops to keep up. If our piano could express joy, this would be an evening it would remember.
Hampton Terrace has been very fortunate to be associated with many such collaborations: a staged reading of a musical version of "Sense and Sensibility" which is under development.....and a production of David Black's "An Impossible Life." Both productions featured Tony-award level actors and were capped by receptions here at Hampton Terrace. Many of the actors stayed here during the production.
Susan and I are very honored to be able to meet and host such talented people. We hope our association continues many years into the future.
Photos by Kevin Sprague
Shakespeare and Company, located a mere block from Hampton Terrace attempts to program year-round to provide entertainment of the highest caliber to Berkshire visitors. For ticket information CLICK HERE.
It has been a while since we did a blog on celebrity relationships at Hampton Terrace. Time to get back to it.
Last month we were honored to host Jerry Williams from California for a week. Jerry is a semi-retired percussionist... who has performed on more than 750 movie scores. Jerry, and his wife Shirley, were in town to enjoy "John Williams Movie Night," conducted by his brother....John Williams, of course.
Did John stay here? Not necessary, because John has a 30+ year relationship with the Berkshires and has his own 2-bedroom cottage (with grand piano) on the grounds of Blantyre.
But he did visit Jerry here at Hampton Terrace, and he played our Steinway Grand. Not content to let that be a "word of mouth" rumor for either Hampton Terrace or the Steinway, we asked Jerry if he would mind asking John to document his visit.
Within the week, the following note arrived:
I consider this extraordinarily generous on the part of John, of course, who took the time to send a letter from California. But especially from Jerry. This is akin to asking a girl if she would fix you up with her better-looking best friend.
But having spent a week with Jerry and his wife, I detected nothing but great respect and admiration for his brother, and a sense of awe at what John has accomplished. In my opinion, John Williams will be remembered as the greatest composer of this generation, and most probably of the century.
John's trip to our piano was not a serendipity. He has a passion for pianos, according to Jerry, and was especially intrigued by this one.
Our 1929 Steinway "L" has been played by many of the world's most famous musicians and singers, including Arthur Fiedler, Emanuel Ax, Van Cliburn, Roberta Peters, Robert Merrill, Jerome Hines, Robert Shaw, Claudio Arrau, Alicia de LaRocha, and others. Many signed the pin block.
How that came to be...will be the subject of another blog.
But add John Williams. Jerry has promised to be back. We are hoping it will be as soon as next summer, when it is a certainty that Tanglewood will do something special for John's 80th birthday.
Celebrated stars of Broadway, current and past, will perform in Lenox on Monday, August 13th. Some will stay at Hampton Terrace and all will attend a reception here after the show.
The Berkshire Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the Berkshires. It receives state funding as a "regional tourism council" and also orchestrates campaigns on behalf of its 700 members, including Hampton Terrace.
Reminding potential visitors about what the Berkshires can offer is increasingly difficult as budgets tighten at the state level, at not-for-profits like the Norman Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood, and at corporate members, like Canyon Ranch and Jiminy Peak.
So the message has to be clean, concise, targeted and results-oriented.
Would you not agree that the campaign above fits the bill? These posters appear in many dozens of rail and subway stations in Boston for the next several months. Hits at the Berkshire Visitors Bureau website are up 20% since the campaign started...and that is no small feat since the BVB website is already the #1 ranked website utilizing the term "Berkshires."
The goal is to do New York City next year. Very smart people are behind this campaign and I cannot imagine it will not happen.
Our sons, Colin and Tristan Rosen, graduated from high school yesterday. Tanglewood is the venue for most of the high school graduations in the Berkshires. Beats the school auditorium.
For the graduates, standing on the stage at Tanglewood makes for an unforgettable experience. This is a quite brilliant gesture on Tanglewood's part, in that virtually all of these kids are heading somewhere outside of the area for college.
And why not send them off with a strong imprint of what makes the Berkshires special.
Our daughters both graduated from Lenox, and both ultimately moved back. Many of their friends did as well.
While teenagers, very few of them appreciated what the area had to offer. Lenox is "boring," they all would have told you. But their exposure to classical music at Tanglewood (local teens know how to slip under the hedge and hang in the maze during concerts), theater (Shakespeare & Company produces and directs Shakespeare classics in all of the schools), and art (student art shows are held in local galleries and mansions), et al, represents the subliminal placement of seedlings.
Ultimately, as adults, they will compare their quality of life with their memories of the Berkshires. Their biggest challenge, if they choose to move back, is finding a career.
A new initiative, 1Berkshire, is tackling the issue. A consolidation of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Creative Economy, and the Berkshire Economic Development Council, the new entity will attempt to create a fertile ground for new businesses, collaborations and relocations to the area. I serve on the steering committee of this exciting initiative, and do so having seen the challenges my daughters and their husbands encountered seeking career employment in the Berkshires.
Our sons are heading to Florida State in Tallahasee. Whether they come back to the area will depend on many unforseen factors, but hopefully a lack of good jobs will not keep them away.
Hours after we proclaimed that Hampton Terrace had been renovated and refreshed after the harsh winter, BLOG, the Internet god, sent us a tornado.
Yesterday we posted "Hampton Terrace's Spring Transformation," proudly proclaiming that we had left winter's destruction in the rear view mirror. Adding a punctuation to that, our yard service showed up in the afternoon to mow and trim.
So, of course, that could never be the end of the story.
Last night, while watching the Red Sox/Yankees, I saw a crawl appear stating that dangerous storms were heading toward the Berkshires. Okay....seen that before. About 8 pm, four guests showed up to check in and I noticed a drizzle as I told them to pull their cars into the back parking lot. I walked through the house and by the time I was walking down the back steps to meet them, the sky ripped open with driving winds, rain literally blowing sideways, and branches flying through the air.
I saw a branch fall on one of the cars that was entering the parking lot, denting the roof and breaking the windshield. Our largest, healthiest maple tree split with a mighty crack.....its largest branch falling into our side porch. Our pool furniture was flying into the water, lightning was crackling all around and, of course, the power went out. All, literally, in 60 seconds or less.
Above is a photo taken from Route 7 in Lenox, west from High Lawn Farm. This is no doubt the funnel that came through Lenox taking down trees and power lines.
By this time it was dark, so I had to show our guests their four rooms under the harsh glare of our emergency light. I lit candles in their rooms and sent them out to dinner, hoping the power was still going on Church Street. It was.
All total, we had six rooms booked last night and power did not come back until after midnight.
TODAY.....4 pm.......the sky has suddenly become black and the trees are leaning sideways again. We just turned on the Weather Channel and see there are 60 mph winds and quarter-size hail coming over Canaan, New York, right at us. Here we go again.
It is because less than 30 minutes ago I had the tree pictured above cut up and removed. "BLOG.....please state your demands, and we, your humble servants will comply...."
Got to admit it....winter 2011 tore us up. That's okay, because we have swung the pendulum the other direction with more upgrades at Hampton Terrace than we'd normally consider.
Let me start by thanking Scott, Wade, the two Bobs, Sean, Jose, Juan and Antonia. We have been at this for a dozen years, and we know we can depend on certain individuals, regardless of the circumstance.
Our front entry (masonry steps and circular porch ballustrade) is completely restored - looking as fresh as the day it was built in 1897.
All of our interior ceilings, doors and trims are newly painted and the foyer and three-story-stairwell will get a fresh coat of yellow this week.
The harsh winter demanded extra effort in the yard this spring, resulting in better defined pathways, more landscaping and new pool furniture.
Everyone who stays at Hampton Terrace receives an e-mail right after check-out asking for ways that we can improve their experience. This has resulted in numerous small tweaks and upgrades in every corner of the property. And we will continue to do that...knowing that satisfied guests are our best ambassadors.
Front entry photo courtesy of six-time repeat guest Greg Pignataro
There are something like six dozen inns and b&bs in the Berkshires. Two dozen in Lenox alone. About 10% have pools. It appears that many innkeepers feel a pool is unnecessary.
And unnecessary it is. Expensive to build, maintain and heat, I cannot say that our pool has added even one dollar to our bottom line......we tended to be full June through September regardless of whether swimming was, or was not an option.....which we added in 2005.
But I look at it this way. Just like exercise may not add quantity to life, but improves quality of life......our pool adds immeasurably to the guest experience here at Hampton Terrace.
Yesterday afternoon is an example. Although the pool was a luxurious 85 degrees, the afternoon was mid-70s and a bit breezy. No one went in the pool. But around 6 pm or so, there were six couples, sitting in the Adirondack chairs around the pool, enjoying wine and cheese, serenaded by our authentic rock waterfall.
Every couple who stays a weekend at Hampton Terrace from November until mid-June....also September....gets a $30 credit at Nejaimes in Lenox...an upscale wine/gourmet food shop. We also supply glasses, plates, openers, etc.
So the couples enjoying the ambiance around the pool in the early evening were doing so on our dime....a very happy group indeed.
Today is warmer, and I suspect people will actually be IN the pool today.
So to answer my own question...without a doubt, having a pool at a B&B in the Berkshires is worth it to our guests, and therefore to us. Not to mention that occasionally my gift to myself is a martini by the pool at the end of a long day.
We have a coffee-table-sized book in our living room which gets the most wear of any other. Co-written by our friend, Nini Gilder, "Houses of the Berkshires" is well-researched and packed with rare photos never before assembled in a narrative about the impact the Gilded Age crowd and their architects had on the local countryside.
We bought the book the week it was published, but due to the limited market for it, it was soon out of print.
But thankfully, a revised edition has been created and is on sale at TheBookLoft.com. Until June 11th, it is 20% off.
I completely recommend this book as required reading for anyone who loves the Berkshires.
The Great Estates and the clusters of mansions that line the streets of Lenox, Stockbridge and Great Barrington represent the well-spring of all that is cultural about our area.
The Tanglewood estate became the summer home of the Boston Symphony. Cranwell, Wheatleigh, Blantyre, Canyon Ranch, Eastover and Kripalu's property are all estates that have become resorts and spas. The local Stanford White-designed gambling house became the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The critical mass of culture attracted Norman Rockwell, Sterling Clark and the founders of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. Ventfort Hall, The Mount, Chesterwood and Naumkeag have become historic house tours and museums. Elm Court hosts high-end weddings. Belvoir Terrace is a presigious arts camp. This list could go on and on.
So...who built these houses and why? What did they look like in their day?
First step....buy the book. Second step, plan a trip to Hampton Terrace and let us help you see every house you can. Since 1999, we have had 15,000 couples stay at Hampton Terrace and I assure you, they do not spend their days here staring at the walls. We send people out to sightsee and we have prepared lists to help them plan their stay. Want your list?