As if it weren’t exciting enough to have 30 (30?!) of New England’s finest caroling choruses descending upon Lenox for the Lenox Caroling Festival, the event has truly evolved into so much more than caroling!
Joining the dueling choruses are a variety of other events scheduled for December 10 and 11. Shakespeare and Company will present David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries. If you have read Sedaris’ essay by the same name, you know just how hysterical that might be. If you have not…and you enjoy irreverent humor with a holiday twist, you’ll have to check it out.
The Venfort Hall Museum is located right across the street from Hampton Terrace and they are hosting the Designer Showcase AND the “Les Petites Dames De Mode” 19th century fashion exhibit. Venfort is a grand mansion, originally designed and built for the sister of J.P. Morgan. Come, soak in the 19th century glamour.
The Lenox Library will delight you with their Gingerbread House contest. Mmmmm, edible art!
Or…are you the kind of person that wants to see the Berkshires behind the scenes? Don’t miss the home and inn tour…while you take in the town’s holiday décor.
The caroling competition itself is nothing to sniff at – the winning chorus will take home $2,000 and present an encore performance. Spectators are encouraged to walk the town with the carolers, in order to vote on their favorite performances.
We at Hampton Terrace will of course be offering our Romantic Weekend Package, which includes a $30 Gift Card to Lenox’s wine/gourmet food shop and full breakfast by candlelight.with a 2-night stay (and more!) as well as terrific off-season rates.
For more information about this grand winter weekend, visit the Lenox Caroling Festival Website or drop us a note at email@example.com.
In this forum I have a category called "Celebrity Guests." Well known musicians, television, stage or movie stars, etc. But increasingly, a growing set of "celebrities" are turning that phrase into something negative....and you know who I mean....rhymes with Dim, Dookie and Embarrass.
Additionally, we have recently hosted very well-known authors, novelists and playwrights here. People who would wince if I called them a celebrity...so let's start a new category called "Notable Guests" of Hampton Terrace.
And let's start with the most un-celebrity famous person I have ever met...Ann Beattie. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, spent a couple of off-season, mid-week days here and we had a chance to converse over breakfast, enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fireplace, and generally spend some leisurely time. She was sincere, humble, self-effacing and as genuine a person as anyone I have ever met.
I cannot say I knew who she was. Not a reader of The New Yorker, or of fiction in general, I have to admit that my WOW occurred when Entertainment Weekly arrived in my mailbox the day after she left and there she was...her new novel Mrs. Nixon featured with a photo, half-page article and a B+. Then I Googled her. WOW again. The New York Times called The New Yorker Stories one of the "Top 10 Books of 2010."
Here is what I did know: When I checked her in and was giving her a tour around the inn's common rooms the subject of The University of Virginia came up....mainly because there is a portrait of Mr. Jefferson in my bar. Ann offered that she had been teaching English at UVa since the mid 70s (except for a stint at Harvard). And then she also said her husband, Lincoln, was teaching art at U.Va and was painting the mural in Cabell Hall. I was an art major at Virginia...so the bond was permanent by that point.
She does not typically do readings in places as small as Lenox, but she went to college with the Lenox Bookstore owner, Matt Tannenbaum, and Lenox ended up on her intinerary.
So....just like the time I asked Laura Linney at a picnic...."now, exactly what do you do?," I kind-of did the same with Ann. I asked her what she was reading that night.
She told me it was somewhat different from her usual fare....short stories and novels. This was a "faux" biography...or a historical fiction...or something else entirely. She did not really know what to call it.
She had the idea to write an autobiography of Pat Nixon...only because Nixon was among the very few modern first ladies who have never written a memoir. In other words, one could only imagine what Pat Nixon thought about her husband, Viet Nam, Watergate, or any number of important events she witnessed first-hand. So Ann Beattie decided to write it for her.
Of course, she first immersed herself in all things Pat Nixon, including checking out Life Magazine photos to see how she dressed and carried herself in public. She admits not to be much of a Richard Nixon fan....which would certainly lead to some interesting suppositions. I told her sincerely that THAT sounded like a book I would want to read.
And then, of course, I went to Google: The website Slate stated by 1980 Ann was "the most famous young fiction writer in America." She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in the 1990s and has won numerous top awards including the PEN/Malamud Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Creative Writing at U.Va. Her short stories have populated The New Yorker for decades and found themselves in several collections deemed the best of the century.
So not only am I proud that I was able to host Ann Beattie and Lincoln Perry (more on him in another Notable Guest blog) but she just wrote to me, "...will most certainly see you again and have already told friends about your lovely place - I reviewed it for that travel site and meant every word..."
We will see you soon, Ann.
Actually...don't answer that yet.
I got a call several minutes ago. A nice lady booked a room for next weekend and told me she had considered about every inn in the area before committing to us. She asked why we were $75/night less than any place she looked into...yet we are rated higher on TripAdvisor than any of them. AND...we include a $30 wine gift card to the wine shop as part of the Romantic Weekend Package.
I could only reply, "Because I am an idiot."
But am I really? The last time we had a rate increase at Hampton Terrace was 2007. But our gross revenues are 30% higher in 2011 than in 2007...in spite of the economy and increased competition. That means we are hosting 30% more guests than four years ago. Susan and I are working 30% harder.
So I guess I am an idiot.
But not so fast my friend...borrowing a line from College Game Day. I went on to tell the lady that our goal at Hampton Terrace is to exceed expectations. I want our guests to drive away from Lenox feeling, "Wow, we really got a good value." And the proof is that 19 out of 20 reviews on TripAdvisor give us a 5 out of 5. Almost 400 reviews.
I certainly will not discount that occasionally we run into someone we cannot please. Or someone who was looking for a $500 experience for $199. That is the "HotWire.com" phenomenon.... because recent economic events have caused some 4-star hotels to offer 2-star prices. Lucky for those consumers...but not a business model that works in a 14-room inn.
So back to our prices. I often get asked if we offer AAA, Senior Citizen, or other discounts. I respond that our policy has always been to charge the least we can, in order to attract the most business. And apply that rate to everyone.
So there we are. Our rates vary between in-season or off-season. Mid-week or weekend.
This week we enter eight months of off-season rates. Our Romantic Weekend Special is less than $200/night for all rooms except the suites. That includes full, daily-changing, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets of comfort food. We also provide $30 of wine or gourmet food of your choice to enjoy in your room, at our self-help bar, or in front of one of our many fireplaces. We help you plan your stay by providing lists of recommended restaurants and things to do in the area.
And according to my most recent call, we are $75 less than other inns. I guess I AM an idiot.