With the bad comes the good. By all accounts, this was the worst winter on record in the Berkshires...over 100 inches of snow and temperatures that averaged under 20 degrees for three months. That caused the snow to pile higher and higher, causing damage to pretty much everything: roofs, roads, shrubs...
Now the good: all of the melting snow and runoff has caused a saturation of the ground that is resulting in the greenest, thickest grass I have ever seen. Bare trees have exploded in foliage.
Yesterday, we took Susan fishing for Mother's Day. Yes, that is what she asked for....so we drove from Lenox down to Benedict Pond in South County. The vistas...the valleys, pastures and rolling mountains were so vivid that if someone had painted them in oil....you just would not accept it as real.
On a related note, the road to the top of Mount Greylock opens in a week, a chance to see all of Western Massachusetts in one sweeping panoramic vista.
See you soon.
I have always said come to our inn in June or September. The rates are still off-season, for most part, and almost everything is gearing up for the summer or still going full strength.
I have to admit...at the moment, I am in a place that is SO FAR from civilization that I have no cell service (Verizon..what happened?) and I am paying for internet by the minute using a card I purchased from the front desk of our hotel.
Yes, we are in Dominican Republic...and for those with Google maps in front of you...we are in the upper right corner, at the end of the Samana Peninsula. Hola!
We are neck deep in the third world for 10 days. Hola!
But this is our break....so onward soldiers, onward...
I know the importance of staying in touch with those who need to call or e-mail me, so thankfully I paid my credit cards down and my sister-in-law Lynn is running the inn and managed to unforward the inn phone from my cell to hers. So the calling part is handled. And I have some internet.
And I know how important it is to try to stay in touch with our guests and prospective guests via our blog.
So imagine my relief to find a link today that I can send you to which describes a LOT of good reasons to consider a June trip to Lenox, the Berkshires and Hampton Terrace.
Called BerkshireLinks.com, I highly recommend checking this list out. And then check our website for availability. Our pool will be open and our rates will stay below $200/night for every night in June except for June 17/18, June 24/25 and June 30.
A lot of guests who come to Hampton Terrace bring their bicycles, and others probably will once they read an article that I happened to find on-line.
Hancock Shaker Village: Soon after setting out on the 26 mile round trip from Lenox, a short climb over Lenox Mountain yields a panoramic view of Stockbridge Bowl and the craggy face of Monument Mountain. Spend a couple of hours at Hancock Shaker Village, with its wonderfully preserved shops, kitchen, barns and heritage garden cue sheet map
Stockbridge, Monterey and Tyringham: We start out past "Gilded Era" mansions in Lenox and through rural farmland on our way to popular Stockbridge. The ride continues along the edge of Beartown State Forest to tiny Monterey, then drops down to the Tyringham Valley. Have lunch in Lee before returning to the Apple Tree Inn along Undermountain Road, for a total of 45 miles. Cue sheet map
Alford and Stockbridge: We check out of our rooms at the Apple Tree Inn in the morning, but leave our cars here as we head out on a 35 mile ride through Stockbridge and past the Norman Rockwell Museum. After cycling along the rapids of the Housatonic river, we pass through tiny Alford and stop for lunch in West Stockbridge. We often take a break from the 2 mile moderate climb out of West Stockbridge for a walk through the Berkshire Botanical Garden. This ride is 35 miles. cue sheet map
This ride heads east to Becket MA, one of the Berkshire "hilltowns" with some steady climbing and a long descent to Pittsfield before returning to Lenox . cue shee
t map Housatonic River ride
Follow the course of the Housatonic River from Lee and Lenox to where it enters Connecticut, then back for a complete loop. cue sheet map Lenox-Williamstown
This long ride starts similarly to the shorter Hancock Shaker Village ride but continues past two large lakes through Pittsfield, Lanesborough and New Ashford before circling back after entering Williamstown. cue sheet map
We give all the credit to you, our guests...with extreme appreciation. Hampton Terrace has earned a 2010 TripAdvisor "Certificate of Excellence."
With over more than 300 reviews, you have made us #1 in Lenox for years...with a "satisfaction index" of 99.3 over the last 6 months and 98.8 over the last six quarters.
This is a full six points over the average score in Lenox....which many, including USA Today and BedandBreakfast.com consider the highest concentration of upscale inns in the country.
TripAdvisor is far-and-away the #1 source for evaluating lodging properties. 400,000 properties are listed with 45+ million reviews. Reviews are posted anonymously...and everything is accepted, unless fraud can be proven. It is the ultimate empowerment of the traveling public.
Google considers public-offered content...especially reviews...the most relevent social interaction possible. Therefore a MULTITUDE of travel-rating platforms have been created....but TripAdvisor has become the Facebook of this genre. At this point, there is such a critical mass at TripAdvisor that the race is over.
And the lodging industry fought it. Obviously. Transparency has changed the face of travel. No longer can someone renting out their spare bedroom pass themselves off as an inn. No longer can the flea-infested motel on the side of the road take your money without remorse, knowing that there are plenty of drop-ins after you. Now you....on your computer or on your phone..have the ability to see what percentage of guests before you posted "do not recommend."
Nowhere has this been most felt than the bed and breakfast industry. There are tens of thousands of b&bs and inns. You have expectations...and frankly until now...some of those properties had no way to fill them, and you had no recourse. Ask for your money back? Contact the local BBB?
Now your negative review is feared by every one of them who hopes to stay in business. Their options are to close, or upgrade. You win.
Several weeks ago I covered this subject in Romantic Getaways: Four Ways to Pick the Perfect Inn or B&B.
I also covered the subject of b&b stereotypes in Nailed It! Parks and Recreation's Take on B&Bs.
So, thanks again to you....our guests for your feedback, positive and negative. We ask for your opinions, and we do act on constructive comments.
Here's the deal. Yes, you can go to Fenway in Boston. There are no tickets left so you pay 3 times face from Ace Tickets or StubHub.
Now that the Red Sox have their 0 and 35 start behind them, nothing that they could throw at us could be worse, right?
That was on purpose, I know. For the typical Red Sox fan, the sky is always falling. Theo Epstein is thinking...let's start with the season in the toilet...that way.....if the season ends that way...no one feels like the rug was yanked (pardon sincerely the pun).
Back to my point. After all, I run an inn, not a sports column.
The Boston Red Sox are on television just about every night. NESN, channel 1849. Every one of our rooms has a tv. But that also is not my point. The Berkshires have numerous sports bar options, so stay at Hampton Terrace, watch the game at a local watering hole, and use our terrific breakfasts to cure the hangover.
If you want to walk...the Olde Heritage Tavern down the street from us has cheap beer, good bar food and plenty of televisions, which will all be turned to the game.
Five minutes north of us is Halpern's Pub and Grub, voted the Best in the Berkshires in the sports bar category, and five minutes south of us is Lee's Locker Room...a place where I have personally watched many football playoff games and Superbowls with my twin boys. Great Barrington has "The Well," and if you are really serious about this, I will help you research a list that could be 5 times longer.
I mention Yankees in the headline. While it is probably true that the typical sports bar in the area will NOT be showing the YES Network....this IS a great area in which to WATCH a Red Sox-Yankees game. Why? Because the Berkshires are pretty evenly split RED/BLUE.
We are literally ten minutes from the New York state line and Albany television is more pervasive than stations in Springfield or elsewhere. So there ARE a lot of Yankee fans here. I would say until the Red Sox recent run, it was 50/50. Now, it is probably more 60/40 Red Sox...but that does not mean the bars are any less fun during a game.
So on Red Sox-Yankee nights, you will find the bars full and the crowd mixed, making a raucous atmosphere probably unlikely either in Boston or New York where only a brain-damaged (or soon to be brain-damaged) fan would walk into a bar in the other team's garb.
Welcome to the Berkshires...where we can help you have a great sports bar experience and provide the bed you need afterwards.
James Taylor lives in Lenox. We see him in the coffee shop, grocery store line.... of course, every summer at Tanglewood for multiple shows.
Many of our guests know this and ask.... why here? Notwithstanding the fact that among his most famous lines...
Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Though the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go
So why does he live here, in a town of less than 5,000? I ran across an interview with him in Berkshire Living Magazine. Rather than paraphrase...here is the link.
Taylor's wife, Kim, was marketing director for the Boston Symphony, and much of her job centered around promoting Tanglewood, down the street. She is from Albany, an hour away, and went to college in North Hampton, an hour the other direction...so landing in the Berkshires was natural for her.
And for James as well, having spent part of his 20s in Stockbridge. He met Kim at Tanglewood in 1993 at a John Williams conducted Pops concert. They married in 2001.
But the deciding factor was when they had twin boys in 2002. They started looking for a place to raise their sons...and after careful consideration, and a couple of false starts in other places, they landed in Lenox.
Tanglewood itself is the major beneficiary of this decision. James performs multiple shows every summer, with the majority of the cash flow remaining at the venue as a contribution. This has amounted to millions of dollars.
But going beyond Tanglewood....little known is the fact that Taylor jumped into action within days of the Haiti earthquake to do what he could to help.
He arranged a private show at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington (680 seats), and said he would match all ticket proceeds with a personal donation. WAMC Northeast Public Radio broadcast the show live to solicit call-in donations. When the show sold out quickly, Taylor added a second show the next night. Total donations collected: $600,000. From the concept of the idea...to the end of the second show...less than a week.
Welcome to the Berkshires...where there the quality of life never ceases to amaze. Come visit!
Photos by Stan Grossfield/Courtesy of the Boston Globe
Okay. I know we are supposed to be adults here. But come on...who can turn this down?
This weekend through May 8th at Hancock Shaker Village, near Lenox in the Berkshires. For INFORMATION
Recently, the New York Times did a full-page feature on dining in the Berkshires. The article pointed out that the current "farm-to-table" trend sweeping Food Network programming and new restaurant development throughout the country, had roots in the Berkshires more than a decade ago.
This is also a major theme of Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" sequel.
So add "culinary tourism" to the list of reasons people come to Lenox and the Berkshires....beyond Tanglewood, theater, museums and other world-class culture and natural beauty.
But like any tourism...there are seasonal ups and downs. From now until June....local restaurants are creating further incentives to spend an evening with them. A few examples:
- The Mill on the Floss, Williamstown: three-course dinner for $29 all nights the restaurant is open.
- Viva, Glendale: four-course meal for $25 on Wednesdays and Sundays.
- Trattoria Rustica, Pittsfield: three courses for $20.
- Cork n' Hearth, Lenox: $17 mid-week "old favorites" entres.
- Alta, Lenox: Three courses for $25, Sunday through Thursday
This is the tip of the iceburg. The Berkshire Eagle featured many of the specials in an article today, called Dining Deals.
A more comprehensive list is available: Berkshire Restaurant Off-Season Specials.
Or, for a Printable Version of this list, CLICK HERE.
Additionally, save money mid-week at Hampton Terrace, where rooms are typically 40% less off-season and mid-week.
CLICK HERE to see our current SPECIALS and DISCOUNTS
Last week we were very pleased to host Michall Jeffers, a travel writer and New York City television personality. She, and her husband, John were sent by WomanAroundTown.com to write a feature about the Berkshires, and describe Romantic Weekend Specials at Hampton Terrace.
WomanAroundTown.com, focuses on interesting topics in, and around New York City and Washington, DC. They occasionally feature resorts or hotels the editors find interesting. They will not recommend a place unless one of their writers has a first-person experience there...thus our excitement to be identified, and then our relief to be "recommended."
We spent considerable time with Michall and John describing why National Geographic Traveler rated the Berkshires the #7 destination in the world. They did have a chance to do some exploring and they had two dinners in the area. They agreed that having an innkeeper's insight can help a visitor maximize an experience.
Here at Hampton Terrace, we provide two valuable and "private" lists to our guests: "A List to Help You Plan Your Stay," and a "Dining List." Usually, it takes an actual "booking" at Hampton Terrace to receive these insights - which come with the confirmation e-mail. But the editors of WomanAroundTown.com felt that access to our lists would a great value for readers of their website.
If you have run into this blog entry, and would also like to learn what the Berkshires can offer for a weekend escape, CLICK HERE.
Mark and Matthew did it again. Last year, their shots of our guest rooms resulted in a 20% jump in our 2009 revenue. At that time, we did not get a chance to photograph our public spaces or exterior. Done.
Also, Main House 5, our Walker Mini-Suite, was under renovation during their last visit, so we had new pictures done there as well.
Hampton Terrace is a Lenox bed and breakfast and a top-rated Berkshires inn.
Please visit our website to see!