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Hampton Terrace Innkeeper Blog: Deals and Things to Do in Lenox and the Berkshires

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Lenox Collaborations: Hampton Terrace and MacKimmie Co.

  
  
  

MacKimmie Co

Collaborations are usually win/win.   Hampton Terrace is walking distance from a number of REALLY interesting shops.   Usually it is easy to forget that, as we tout the merits of our local historic houses, theaters, museums, restaurants, spas and outdoor activities.

Doris and Vytas Barsauskas relocated MacKimmie Co. Home and Gift from Marblehead, Massachusetts to Lenox earlier in the year.   They sell high-end designer throws, blankets, pillows and loungewear - a perfect thing to consider now that Lenox is dipping below freezing.

Doris and Susan started a conversation several weeks ago about how our businesses might promote each other, and that resulted in a "Private Sale" with wine and cheese last Saturday night at Hampton Terrace.   The fact that almost all of our guests stopped by between 5:30 and 7:00 to enjoy the comraderie demontrates that collaborations such as this are a natural fit.

Doris and Vytas displayed their beautiful wares all around our living room, and with aMacKimmie Co fireplace roaring and John Coltrane playing in the background, several dozen of our guests were able to see MacKimmie Co.'s offerings.   All guests of Hampton Terrace were offered a 20% discount on their total inventory until the end of the year.   

Not that there is a connection, but I just received an e-mail from Elizabeth Aspenleider, Communications Director at Shakespeare & Company, asking if I thought Hampton Terrace guests might like a 30% discount to Private Eyes, running through November 9th.  She also asked if we would consider a blast-email to our 8,500-couple mailing list about their holiday production, in trade for a similar promotion about Hampton Terrace to their 16,500-person list.   Yep.  We'll go for that.

I am going to chalk all of this up to the joys of living in a small town, where successful collaborations raise all ships.

 

 

The View From Our Window: Ventfort Hall - Summer Home of the Morgans

  
  
  

 Ventfort Hall

A couple of days ago I mentioned historic Trinity Church, which is located across the street from Hampton Terrace.   It occurred to me, as I stand on my front porch, there are a LOT of iconic sights from our front door.

Ventfort Hall was built in 1893 by Sarah Morgan, sister of J. P. Morgan at a cost of $950,000.  In those days, an impressive mansion could be built for $10,000, so this demostrates the scale of this Jacobean-Revival home.  Sarah and J. P. each inherited about $1,000,000 from their father.  J. P. used his inheritance to ultimately become the richest man in America.   Sarah used hers to build this summer home.

Dont feel sorry for her.   She married George Morgan - her first cousin, who was also J. P.'s business partner, so there was plenty of subsequent cash flow to fuel the Gilded Age lifestyle.

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The Morgans kept the summer home until they died, after which it was rented by Margaret Vanderbilt, whose husband, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, had died on the Lusitania.

Like many of Lenox's "cottages," Ventfort Hall was left abandoned for many decades.   But a very strong local effort to save it was led by Tjasa Sprague, and now Ventfort Hall is completely stable and undergoing a multi-phase renovation.   All of the main floor public spaces are done, as well as most of the second floor bedrooms.

Ventfort Hall has become "The Museum of the Gilded Age" and is open for daily tours.   Tjasa and her staff have energetically filled the calendar with social functions, lectures and events.  It has become quite the resource for Lenox.

Most of our guests at Hampton Terrace have taken advantage of our close proximity and taken the tour.   I find myself taking such things for granted, which is why I decided to focus on iconic places beyond our front door.   This is truly one of American's great remaining mansions.

View From Our Window: Yo Yo Ma's Daughter is Married in Lenox

  
  
  

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We have always claimed Hampton Terrace is well located.   How about this?   Yesterday afternoon there was a wedding directly across the street from us, in the intimate and historic Trinity Church.   Turns out it was Yo Yo Ma's daughter, Emily.

Emily married John Mistovich of Londonberry, New Hampshire.   Both Emily and John graduated from Harvard, 2014-09-28_1151she with a law degree.

Our relationship with Yo Yo seems to be one of "close proximity."   From 1997 to 1999 Susan and I rented a 30-acre farm in Tyringham, MA, with a 1763 farmhouse.   Yo Yo Ma bought the farm next door and constructed a beautiful home, designed to blend perfectly with the 240+ year old farmhouses in the neighborhood.

Ma is a fixture at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony.   One summer, we received a call from our old Maoon friend, Claire, who said she heard Yo Yo was performing the Brandenberg Concerto in solo recital at Ozawa Hall.   She said she planned to fly up to visit us, and hoped we could get tickets.   This was with like....4 days notice.   The concert had sold out 6 months prior.   But I drove to the box office and waited for the window to raise at 10 am.   I asked if, by miracle, any tickets had opened up for Yo Yo Ma.   "Are you ever lucky!," the woman said.   "We decided to sell several circles of "stage seats."   I bought the first 3 seats available.  Picture two small semi-circles of chairs framing the solist...and us in seats 1, 2 and 3 in the closest circle.   We were literally 6 feet to the left of him as heyoyoma looked out over the audience.  He looks to the left as he plays, with eyes closed and always a smile on his face.   2 hours of that.   Can you imagine?

After the show, he greeted fans in the green room, and the line predictably, was a block long.   As is his reputatoon, Yo Yo greeted and chatted with everyone in the line - seemingly in no hurry.   Our friend Claire (last name to be withheld) gushed...."Yo Yo.....I want to have your baby!."

We have seen Yo Yo many times since, both onstage and around the area.   It is a phenomenon.   Arguably the most famous classical music performer in the world....Yo Yo Ma acts like he has never met a stranger.   He is warm, interested and fully engaged with everyone he meets.

Back to Trinity Church.   The door to the church is always open.   Hampton Terrace guests are welcome to roam around inside and check out this historic building - constructed by the Gilded Age families who populated Lenox and the Berkshires at the turn of the century.

Is September the Best Month to Come to Lenox and the Berkshires?

  
  
  

Lenox Tub Parade

We have owned Hampton Terrace for more than 15 years at this point, and we have certainly developed a feel for our area, and the best times to come.

Not to take anything away from our celebrated summer season:   Tanglewood (Summer home of the Boston Symphony) and all of the museums, theater, music, historic sites, restaurants, shops and nature.  National Geographic Traveler has ranked us "The #7 Destination in the World."

The majority of the 3 million visitors to the Berkshires come July and August.   Inn prices are higher during the "season" ( plus 3 night weekend minimums) and lines form for everything.

October also contributes heartily to the 3 million visitor tally.

Berkshire FoliageMany Berkshire attractions are seasonal.   Most of the historic house tours only run between Memorial Day and late October.   Some restaurants close from November until Spring.   Most of the theater companies take the same period off.

The crowds leave after Labor Day and return for Fall Foliage.   So September is lightly visited - and we drop to off-season rates.

Yet our guests get almost as many county-wide amenities and opportunies as the July/August/October visitors.   

The Hampton Terrace pool is still open in September, and we still feature our all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts.....but our rooms are $70/night less!

And on top of that....locals go the extra mile to make September attractive to visitors:   The Lenox Tub Parade (September 13), Lenox Apple Squeeze (September 27-28) and numerous Fall Festivals in surrounding towns.   The farms all feature Fall activities (pumpkins, apples, corn mazes).

And you can know that ALL of the historic house tours, restaurants, seasonal shops, will be open - and many of the theater and music presenters are still programming (minus Tanglewood and Jacob's Pillow).

SO.....weekend or midweek - stay at Hampton Terrace for just $229/night and let us help you steer around the Berkshires.

Record-Breaking Summer at Hampton Terrace in Lenox

  
  
  

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A HUGE THANK YOU - especially to our loyal multi-repeat guests - for helping us set records at Hampton Terrace this summer.

It seemed a little sketchy at first:   a long winter and rainy Spring seemed to cause people to contact us later than usual for summer bookings, especially for midweek.

But then....

BOOM.   Full house from mid-June through Labor Day.  And SO MUCH POSITIVE ENERGY!   It seemed everyone loved everything they did in the area:  The Sterling Clark Art Institute re-opening.  Museums.  Theater.   Tanglewood.  Restaurants.   House Tours.   Hiking.  

Susan and I sincerely appreciate you all!   Thanks for treating Hampton Terrace as your home-away-from-home!!!

"Beethoven Love Elegies" at The Mount in Lenox

  
  
  

Beethoven Love Elegies

Let's combine a few of our favorites:   Beethoven, Edith Wharton's The Mount, and Deborah Grausman - the uber-talented performer/impressario who stages "Broadway in the Berkshires," and always allows us to host the after-party at Hampton Terrace.

From this point, I will quote directly from a blog by Seth Rogovoy, who puts things so well.  I shall not try to improve...

(LENOX, Mass.) – “Beethoven Love Elegies,” a dramatic program interweaving a script drawn from Beethoven’s letters and diaries and accounts by his contemporaries with performances of some of his greatest known works, will be performed by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) as a fully staged theatrical concert at the Stables Theatre at The Mount for 12 performances from Wednesday, July 16, 2014, through Sunday, August 3, 2014.

This poignant, humorous, and emotionally intense production dramatizes Beethoven’s young Deborah Grausmanyears in Vienna and his search for the perfect wife. Actor Kire Tosevski as Beethoven heads an outstanding company of five esteemed actors and four musicians (violinist Rachel Lee Priday, cellist Sebastian Bäverstam, pianist Eve Wolf, and baritone Chad Sloane).

This script is very dear to my heart,” says Eve Wolf, founder and executive artistic director of ERC and writer/pianist of “Beethoven Love Elegies.” “It is so moving to witness Beethoven at this younger age when he was boisterous, flirtatious, and sociable, and then to see his gradual descent into isolation when his deafness became more extreme. Beethoven was very spiritual and never lost hope, in spite of this adversity. The music reveals his struggle as well as his unstoppable hope and optimism.”

Depicted in a tragicomic script based on Beethoven’s letters and contemporaries’ recollections of the composer, “Beethoven Love Elegies” spotlights the composer’s attempts at finding an enduring love while growing increasingly deaf. The tragedy of his unfulfilled desire for a meaningful, and lifelong relationship finds its voice in his music. This production features recorded excerpts from Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio,” which represents Beethoven’s idealized view of marriage; his Variations on Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen (A young girl or a little wife), based on an aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute; the “Moonlight” Sonata, which was dedicated to his piano student, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom he fell in love; the “Ghost” Trio, which contains one of the most profoundly moving slow movements in all of Beethoven’s works; and rarely performed Lieder that express his inner emotional drama (these include Neues Liebe, neues Leben, a song about first love; Der Kuss, a humorous portrayal of a man who gets the kiss he wants from a girl who tries to resist him; and An die Hoffnung, Op.94, one of his most moving songs, which expresses the sustaining sweetness of hope amid despair).

When: Wednesday July 16 – Sunday, August 3

Wednesdays 7/16, 7/23 + 7/30 at 8:30pm

Fridays 7/18, 7/25 + 8/1 at 8:30pm

Saturdays 7/19, 7/26 + 8/2 at 8:30pm

Sundays 7/20, 7/27 + 8/3 at 4pm

Where: The Stables Theatre at Edith Wharton’s The Mount, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, Mass

Tickets: $55. To purchase, visit the Ensemble for the Romantic Century (ERC) or call 800-838-3006.

Hampton Terrace Earns TripAdvisor "Certificate of Excellence" Again

  
  
  

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

TripAdvisor is the #1 website in the world for accommodation reviews.

Only the top 10% of reviewed hotels, inns and b&bs earn a "Certificate of Excellence."

Hampton Terrace has earned this award every year of TripAdvisor's existence.  We have to thank our wonderful guests, many of whom are enthusiastic enough about their experience to write a review.   To date, more than 650 couples have reviewed us, with more than 600 of them giving us a 5 out of 5 score:  "Excellent."

It is possible to do a TripAdvisor search for Lenox hospitality properties, as well as Berkshire properties.   In both cases, Hampton Terrace ranks #1.

A very important point, from our perspective:   This is a survey of "guest satisfaction" in various categories, such as location, rooms, service, value, etc.   Susan and I go the extra mile to make sure our guests receive the best possible experience here.

We don't pretend that Hampton Terrace is the "best" hospitality property in the Berkshires.  With Canyon Ranch, Wheatleigh, Blantyre, Cranwell, Red Lion, and more than 100 other resorts, hotels, inns and b&bs, we KNOW that there are many terrific places - in every price range.

But once again, we want to thank our guests for recognizing our efforts to please them with the 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.

Shakespeare & Company's 2014 Schedule and Casting Finalized

  
  
  

Shakespeare & Company

A short stroll from Hampton Terrace is Shakespeare & Company, one of the world's longest-running and most prestigious Shakespeare presenters.   Founded by Royal Shakespeare veteran Tina Packer more than 36 years ago, the company has been presenting simultaneous performances on their multiple stages for years.

Many of the founding actors/administration are still around and involved, including Tina herself.  The company has remained vibrant by mixing things up every year.   They don't limit themselves to Shakespeare, and even when they do a play by the Bard, they frequently change the setting and time period - a testiment to the timelessness of Shakespeare's themes.  Beyond that, expect dramas, comedies, Edith Wharton shorts, even live radio broadcasts like "War of the Worlds" or "It's a Wonderful Life." 

Local theater blogger extraordinaire Larry Murray published a very clear listing of this summer's performances and times on his "Berkshire On Stage and Screen" this morning.

Click the link to also learn about ticket purchase options.

And speaking of casting, notable summer leads include Johnny Lee Davenport, Malcolm Ingram, Nigel Gore, Josh Aaron McCabe - all of whom have stayed at Hampton Terrace recently.

Edith Wharton's "The Mount" is Now Open in Lenox

  
  
  

The Mount

Many small towns have a significant mansion.   Lenox has about 5,000 residents, but it has 80+ significant mansions - all called "Berkshire Cottages."  The term "cottage" is tongue-in-cheek as many of these homes have dozens of bedrooms.   Hampton Terrace is one of the smaller ones - and we have 14 original bedrooms.   The owners of these estates established and hosted the Lenox social season, which was a two-week period in early September.

These mansions were built mainly between 1880 and 1920, and some of the names are recognizable:   Morgan, Carnegie, Westinghouse, Vanderbilt, Tappan, Proctor, Sloane...

Significantly, one of the homes was built by Edith Jones Wharton, and its construction did not go unnoticed - mainly because as the home was being built, Edith was writing a book about it.   Called "The Decoration of Houses," Wharton was setting herself up to be the Martha Stewart of her day, establishing a template for those Gilded Age industrialists whose new-found wealth had to be put on display.

Edith Wharton famously divorced her American husband (of the Philadelphia Whartons) and moved to Europe, after living just 12 years in her showplace.   She never returned, but her legacy in the home lives on.   Renovations began in 1997 and after tens of millions invested, the place is a showcase once more.  Her original library collection, which moved with her to London, remained intact and has been returned to her library shelves.

Obviously, the greatest thing about leaving a chronical about the construction of your home, is that you give renovators a guide to putting it back together.  Additionally the house was well photographed back in the day.   So the renovation is as authentic as you will find in a restored historic home, and the gardens contain the same plants in the same places as the original.

The Mount is open daily from early May through October each year.   The tour of the home and gardens can be self-guided, but there are also group tours several times per day.

Hampton Terrace is located within a 2 minute drive, and many of our guests head to The Mount as part of their Lenox "must see" tour.    They also have a cafe on their back porch, a gift shop, and constant programming.

Spring Upgrades at Hampton Terrace in Lenox

  
  
  

Hampton Terrace Hallway

We have owned Hampton Terrace for fifteen years, and not a year goes by when we don't inplement a major project, or orchestrate a series of property upgrades.  This Spring is no exception.

Now that we have returned, I can share that Susan and I spent a couple of weeks away from the inn - celebrating our 35th anniversary at a beach, and visiting our kids and grandkids in Texas.   While we were gone, we had most of the main house floors completely refinished.   This is the kind of project that is best done behind one's back, although we had a really busy several days putting things back in order upon our return.   We chose to have the original, natural oak tone highlighted, and we are very pleased with the result.

Also taking advantage of our absence was Bob, our loyal painter.  We have been wanting to repaint our dining room for a while, and now it is done.   Further, I left him several cans of white semi-gloss and instructed him to freshen every trim and door he desired.   As a result, he pretty much hit everything:  the front door and all floor, ceiling and door trims, plus inside windows and closets.   I love people who self-motivate, and he even repainted our creamy yellow front hall and second-floor landing.   Then as he always does, he walked me around the property upon our return and showed off everything he did....like a proud Papa.   And left me a bill that always seems too low.   Bob is like a member of our family.

Other improvements:  new carpets in Carriage House rooms 1 and 2 and in several of our suites.   And a new furnace and hot water heater.

For those who have not been here in the past year....ALL new HD TVs, and a vastly upgraded WiFi system.   Both sorely needed and DONE.

We've also been asked to consider extra shelf space in some of our bathrooms and Susan and plan to spend the month of April working on that.

Everyone who stays at Hampton Terrace is asked, in a follow-up e-mail, to suggest improvements.   We take that feedback VERY seriously, and plan to address as many upgrades as possible over the next several months.

 

 

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