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

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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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Wicked Tuna. Bob Newhart. Hampton Terrace

  
  
  

Wicked Tuna

Gonna connect the dots here.  Susan and I LOVE Wicked Tuna - which is a National Geographic Channel reality show featuring the adventures of some very salty tuna fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts.   Not guys who drag nets, but guys who catch 800 pound fish with a line and a spear.   Every Sunday night at 9 pm.

Guys who go out every day, 7 days per week during tuna season, to earn enough money to carry them to next year.   And each trip out of the harbor is an investment in time, payroll, fuel and equipment.   They are in the hole unless they score a few giant fish at least.   Fish that bring between $3,000 and $15,000 each, depending on size and quality.  Just getting a fish on the line does not mean a payday.   It seems AT LEAST half the fish they hook either pop the line, drop the hook, or end up being sharks.   I know the show amplifies the personality conflicts between boat captains, but it makes for compelling television.

These guys are real.  They have families. They swear.  They drink beer.  None of them has ever met an "R" in the middle of a word.  They love what they do, although any unbiased observer might conclude the risk and reward are askew.

Now what does this have to do with Hampton Terrace - and more fundamentally - why Susan and I LOVE living in Massachusetts?

Because here in the Berkshires, our lives are populated with guys like this.

I cannot tell you how many times people ask if running an inn is like the old "Newhart Show" where "Dick Loudon" moves to Vermont to run an inn.   The ever-expanding cast of odd Newhartcharacters was fodder for potentially decades of funny episodes. (Larry, Darryl and Darryl)

Susan and I have recently come to the realization that our lives are exactly like this.   We have Bob the painter, Chris the landscaping guy, Wade the plumber, another Bob the heating guy, "Cajun Don" who does small carpentry jobs, another Chris who does larger jobs, chain-smoking Scott and his brother who do major construction for us, Antonia and Jose - our housekeepers since 2006, aided by their children, siblings and cousins as needed...  Curt who delivers milk.  And when I go to the local Ace hardware store:   Rudy, Brian, Jenn, Collette, Kevin.  At the corner gas station:  Big Glenn and Little Glenn.   At the local grocery:  Earl, Leslie and Michael.  And on and on.

Why do we appreciate these "salt of the earth" people so much?  We have a mutual dependency for sure, but just like I know every one of the Wicked Tuna captains and crew would sacrifice everything for a fellow fisherman in need, I feel the same about the cast of characters who support Hampton Terrace.   If the heat goes out in the middle of the night....we have it covered.  Pool pump shorted?   Solved.

I grew up in a place where it mattered whether you were white or black (in every possible scenario).  You either grew up on the right side of Vineville Avenue or the wrong side.  Where did you go to school?   ...which church?   ...which high school sorority or fraternity?  ..old money or new money?   ...which country club?   ...which civic club?

And it is not like I was on the wrong side of the tracks there.   My family has been in Macon since the 1840s, and we DID belong to the country club, etc.  I just hated watching how people acted to those who did not meet their criteria for inclusion.

No such issues here.  Although I know Lenox MUST have a well-hidden clique of some who might worry about such things, I have never been impacted by them.   In 17 years...can't name one.

The wealthiest person in the Berkshires - Jane Fitzpatrick - drove a Ford Escort station wagon and literally never met a stranger.

So when I see Dave, Paul, Tyler, chain-smoking Dave, and the others on Wicked Tuna, I also see Bob, Wade, Chris, Antonia and Jose at Hampton Terrace.   Hard-working, family-oriented locals who are loyal to us, and completely without pretense.   And we try to be loyal to them.

What will be their mood today?   How did the Sox, Patriots, Bruins or Celtics do last night?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venfort Hall in Lenox. A Berkshires Landmark

  
  
  

Ventfort Hall Lenox

We never want to take for granted that one of America's great mansions is located across the street from Hampton Terrace.

Ventfort Hall is MUCH more than a restored historic home.   A very aggressive schedule of tours, performances, special events, teas, parties, lectures, etc. keeps visitors flowing twelve months a year.   It is the ONLY "Berkshire Cottage" that attempts to stay open through the winter.

Venfort Hall StaircaseBuit as a summer home in 1893 by Sarah Morgan (sister of J.P.) and her husband, George (cousin and business partner with J.P), Ventfort Hall has 28 rooms, which includes 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and 17 fireplaces.  Sarah and J.P. each inherited large estates from their father, and Sarah spent most of hers on this home.  As was the case with many of the great Berkshire estates, Ventfort Hall went through a half-century of alternate uses, including abandonment, until a local not-for-profit was created in 1994 to save the property.   Over the subsequent years, millions have been raised and invested, primarily through the efforts of benefactor Tjasa Sprague, who can still be seen daily, overseeing projects in the mansion.

One of the interesting angles to note, is that Ventfort Hall is a work in progress.   The deterioration was so severe in some areas, that quite a large investment had to be made in "things you do not see," such as the roof, exterior brickwork and foundations, code issues needed to allow occupancy, heating, remediation, etc.   And utimately work has been finished on many of the grand interior spaces, such as the Grand Hall, staircase, dining room, parlors, studies and second floor bedrooms.  

I am proud (Stan Rosen) to have been added to the Board in the early 2000s, and I was asked to Chair the first event held in Ventfort Hall in half a century.   We had to wait until the Building Inspector approved an occupancy of 100, and we planned a party to reintroduce Ventfort Hall to the Lenox community.

We pretended we were George and Sarah Morgan, inviting our friends to see our new summer cottage in 1893.   The entire evening was an authentic throwback, including the music played Ventfort Hall Dinnerby the string quintet in the minstrel gallery, the food served both at the cocktail reception and at the seated dinner, the wines offered, the after-dinner entertainment and cigars...   A wonderful evening, only surpassed by the "White Star Line Party" a year later.  Another story, for sure.

Pardon the ramble down memory lane.  Back to the present:   Ventfort Hall is a MUST-SEE for those visiting the Berkshires and even worth a trip to the area - coupled with several nights at Hampton Terrace.   As a matter of fact, mention you are visiting Hampon Terrace because of Ventfort Hall, and I am likely to offer you a discount.

Buy Tickets Now for Shakespeare & Company 2014 Season

  
  
  

Shakespeare Season resized 600

Located about one block from Hampton Terrace, Shakespeare & Company presents its 2014 Summer Season - celebrating the 450th birthday of The Bard.

Tickets are now on sale through their website, and special packages are also available for Judy Newmanthose who make it a goal to see as many of the summer's offerings as possible.   We have plenty of guests who try to do that, but no one is more committed than Judy Newman, who has stayed here 56 nights since 2007.   Originally referred by the Shakespeare & Company box office, Judy waits until the S&Co. schedule is announced, and then locks in at least three visits per summer.   Judy has been here so many times, we don't even check her in.  She goes right to her room and we see her at breakfast.

Shakespeare & Company scheduleAlthough Judy tends to come on weekends, most of our Shakepeare and Company guests like to come midweek, when they can save up to $70/night at Hampton Terrace, compared to the weekend rates.  We also do not have a midweek minimum, which helps those who cannot stay three nights on the weekends.   This is also true for our guests who are interested in Jacob's Pillow, Williamstown Theater Festival, Berkshire Theater Festival and Barrington Stage Company.

But don't think you are limited to Shakespeare at S&Co.   This talented group of actors can do anything - and they also tackle mysteries, romances, comedies - virtually no limit to their range.  And they have been known to relocate Shakespeare's most iconic works to a different time and space.  After all, where did West Side Story come from?

And here at Hampton Terrace, we are very proud to have hosted many of Shakespeare & Company's most beloved actors:   John Douglas Thompson, Malcolm Ingram, Johnny Lee Davenport, Olympia Dukakis, and more.

Additionally, Hampton Terrace has twice hosted actors and the production team for "Broadway in the Berkshires," a bi-annual fundraiser for the Shakespeare and Company educational activities.   And we have also twice hosted the after-party, which in 2013 featured an impromptu sing-a-long with Academy Award-winning composer, Alan Menken.

Founded by Tina Packer more than 30 years ago, Shakespeare & Company has reached iconic Shakespeare & Company seasonstatus in Lenox, home of the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood.   How proud we are to have such an important attraction literally walking distance from our inn.

Shakespeare & Company programs all year round, but concentrates its most expansive productions during the June through October "season."   During this period, at least four different productions are rotating simultaneously.   And then the entire calendar changes over several more times.

From November through Spring, the company presents other interesting shows - usually not Shakespeare.   They are committed to helping the Berkshires build and sustain a twelve-month tourist season.

 

 

 

 

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