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
Everyone knows the theater companies in the Berkshires are Broadway-quality. In fact, most of the summer productions are populated with Tony Award winners and nominees.
Notable actors and directors come to the Berkshires because (1) productions run just several weeks, therefore it is possible to shoehorn a performance between other theater, television or movie obligations, (2) the productions are of such a high level that working in the Berkshires is actually resume-building, and (3) they know the local audiences are appreciative, supportive and sophisticated.
So today we feature Barrington Stage Company, which has a brand new theater right off North Street in Pittsfield.
Julie Boyd, founder and driving force behind every facet of the company, chose the current location because of her penchant for staging lavish musicals. Formally located in Great Barrington (thus the name), Barrington Stage Company wanted to participate in the cultural revival of Pittsfield, and have a location equally convenient to north and south county. The theater she found has a large stage and orchestral pit and as of now, is completely restored and in service.
Fortune smiled upon the company when one of its experimental productions, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," found its way to Broadway, earned several Tony Awards, and then generated licensing funds which were steered into the new facilities.
The company also presents traditional theater in this venue, as well as in smaller-scale venues near-by.
This year's season is already underway and can be seen by clicking on the Barrington Stage website.
It is important to note that local theaters run six or seven days per week, allowing patrons to maximize their days in the Berkshires. In other words, if you plan to patronize Tanglewood on the weekends, why not add several days before or after the weekend to experience Shakespeare and Company, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Jacob's Pillow and dozens of other Berkshire stages? That does not even cover the musical offerings beyond Tanglewood which go six or seven nights per week.
If you stay at Hampton Terrace in Lenox, you will not be wondering what to do with your time. We have assembed lists and resources to help you plan your stay. For your free guide to Berkshire offerings:
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.
Hampton Terrace is 6,000 square feet and some might call it impressive. If I had low self-esteem, however, I might be intimidated by our across-the-street, 28,000 square-foot neighbor, Ventfort Hall.
In 1893, J. P. Morgan's sister, Sarah, spent over $900,000 of her inheritance constructing her summer home. You and I are the beneficiaries of her vision.
Scheduled to be demolished in the mid 1990s, Ventfort Hall was saved and is under renovation, room by room. To this point, visitors have marveled at the architectural detailing and sheer audacity of its scale, but have had to imagine how the building might have served as a home. Except for a dining room table and sideboard on loan, Ventfort Hall has been mainly on display for a decade as a building, devoid of furnishings.
No longer. As of this Saturday, fourteen restored rooms and halls will feature the imaginations of local designers.
As in most designer showcases, these rooms won't attempt to make you feel like you have walked into 1893. They will try to paint a modern patina over a Jacobean Revival palate. I suspect some will succeed spectacularly...and some will fall short.
That is part of the thrill of this type artistic exercise.
The showcase will be open seven days per week until January 15, 2012. Times vary by day so check their website for details.
With the "Tanglewood" Season upon us, the Berkshire Eagle called lodging properties across the county to see how the summer was looking.
Titled, "Strong Tourism Season Expected This Year," Clarence Fanto highlighted special events, unique to this summer, which are helping to drive traffic into the inns.
North County is benefiting from MassMoCa's Wilco Solid Sound Festival, which was such a hit last year the concept is being repeated. Pittsfield and Great Barrington are each celebrating their 250th anniversaries with special programs.
And Tanglewood is filling three weekends prior to the arrival of the BSO, starting with the British Motorcar Festival the weekend of June 17th, Earth Wind and Fire the weekend of the 25th, and four James Taylor concerts leading into July 4th.
They also are helping the economy with several significant mid-week popular music shows, Steely Dan and Train.
For some Hampton Terrace quotes, click through to the article. Most of our weekends are already filled, but there are some openings still. Our "Mid-Week Special" of $199/night is filling the gaps between the weekends, as usual.
But there is still availability most weeks, so check with us.
Over 180 items to consider.....Tanglewood, theater and museum admissions, inn and hotel packages, dinners, summer camps, spa days, items from Berkshire retail shops and galleries....
Bidding has begun and it is all on-line. Bidding closes on June 5th, so you will know within 2 weeks if you have won your item.
BID ON A WEEKEND AT HAMPTON TERRACE! We donated a 2-night stay, worth $400+. Current bid is $120...so you might get a bargain visit...with all proceeds going to a good cause.
Some of the items are unique opportunities...not normally open to the public. For example, a chance to spend a day in the kitchen with a local chef, or tours of the private spaces and collections at some of the museums.
All proceeds will create a Berkshires Marketing Fund to replace shrinking state tourism marketing funds.
To keep our favorite venues, museums, restaurants and lodging establishments open and thriving, we all must all participate in the effort to keep our area on the tourism radar. That takes money, and if you look at the diversity of the auction items, you understand that this is an issue that everyone is taking very seriously.
So whether you are a local or a visitor, click below to see the auction items....and have fun bidding!
Roger St. Pierre, a free-lance UK writer, recently published an article in the Belfast Telegraph about a visit to Boston and the Berkshires. His review of his night at Hampton Terrace:
"Lenox is the place to stay in these parts. The site of Tanglewood – summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra – it’s the inland alternative to the Hamptons for the rich and famous yet is affordable and unpretentious.
I’d recommend the delightfully renovated 1897 Hampton Terrace, a welcoming and elegant B&B whose ebullient proprietor, Stan Rosen, is an entertaining former jazz impresario who counts many of that music’s greats among his personal friends. Style and service are both impeccable here."
About the jazz impresario part: Roger writes about a lot of topics, but he is very well known in music circles. He recently produced a six-part BBC radio series on American Music, but his first-person experience with British music dates back to the 60s, when he handled PR for the Jackson 5, James Brown, Bill Haley, Marvin Gaye and dozens of other iconic American acts touring the UK for the first time. He has written over 1000 album liner sleeves, and thousands of music articles for various magazines. He also has written two encyclopedias of music and the definitive biographies of many important musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Bon Jovi and Madonna.
And, in 1969, he was co-promoter of the historic ‘Peace For Christmas’ concert, which headlined John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band – and outfit which included that night Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, George Harrison, Billy Preston, Alan White of Yes, Delaney & Bonnie, the Manfred Mann Band’s Klaus Voorman and, of course, Yoko.
So......those of you who know me......know that I was in some kind of personal heaven hosting this guy in my living room. We shared wine, swapped stories and dropped names for hours in front of the Hampton Terrace fireplace.
Most recently, Roger has shared his love of music with a passion for travel....having visited over 100 countries and more than 35 states. He edits UK's Holiday and Leisure World, and writes hundreds of travel guides and reviews throughout the world.
So imagine our excitement to have "made his cut!"
Anyone heard of Google Alerts? It is very easy to sign up for an e-mail "ping" every time a certain phrase pops up anywhere on the Internet.
Blogging and Facebook posting are ways I keep in touch with our guests, expose Hampton Terrace to new customers, and raise Google search engine awareness.
So to measure my effectiveness, I want to see every time Berkshire, Berkshires, Lenox or Hampton Terrace are used on the Internet in any context. I am looking for my "reach."
First...and let's get this out of the way: Kate Middleton is from the Berkshires UK (pronounced "Barkshers") so I have received SO MANY NOTICES about her and William....that if anyone confiscated my laptop they might think I am a Royal Wedding stalker.
Secondly, Warren Buffet, the billionaire owner of Berkshire Hathaway has been in the news a lot lately...or so it seems...based on the number of articles currently being posted about a scandal in his company. Most people are probably not noticing....but every mention of his name somewhere on the web pings my Blackberry. Very irritating.
Lenox: I learned that the power went out yesterday in the subways under the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, they are still making Lenox china, the Lenox hotel in Boston has specials, and the Lenox Hill section of Harlem has a lot of stuff going on.
Most interesting, however, is how many Hampton Terraces are out there. I knew there was a massive Hampton Terrace Resort on the Savannah River near Augusta, GA at the turn of the century. It burned down, and as far as I can tell, we are the only Hampton Terrace "lodging" establishment in the last 100 years in the world.
But there is a Hampton Terrace (street) in North Hampton, Mass., a Hampton Terrace subdivision in Libertyville, IL, a Hampton Terrace Neighborhood Association in Tampa.....and Hampton Terrace Bed and Breakfast in Lenox, MA, located in the Berkshires!
That is what I am looking for!
Kate and William Photo: John Stillwell/Getty
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.