As I sit in front of this computer, the temperature outside has passed 80 degrees, which for May in the Berkshires, is early. And probably temporary. It will make our Memorial Day guests ask about our covered pool. Two nights ago, it was 31, so that is not quite fair. However, it is always our goal to have it open by now.
But this year, our pool operator is running behind getting peoples’ pools open. There is a new federal law mandating a pump shutoff function on pool drains. That caught me by surprise, although I do remember now that someone in Congress had pushed this through when his granddaughter had been pinned under the water by a pool drain. Fixing this potential problem is important, although it will cost us $1,000 for the new drain plus labor. The larger issue is that installing these new drains caught us by surprise, and we would have made sure that we were higher in the queue with our pool guy. Now he has to open the pool, wait for the chemicals to make the water safe, and for the pool heater to raise the temperature to a point where he can go underwater to the drain, and make the change. Then he has to wait for the health department to inspect the new system before they will issue the certificate for the pool to open this year. So this weekends’ guests will be disappointed. Unless the temperature goes back down to 30.
Hampton Terrace is one of the few Berkshire or Lenox inns with an outdoor heated pool. We typically keep it open through September.
Trying new strategies to resist a downturn
Tourist-related businesses are using e-mails, collaborations
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Updated: 05/18/2009 11:11:37 AM EDT
Sunday, May 17
PITTSFIELD — Tourist-related business in the Berkshires should no longer go it alone.
To be successful in the current economic downturn, businesses need to collaborate, cross-promote, and rely on technology — particularly e-mail and the Internet.
A panel that included representatives of several tourist-related venues discussed those strategies and others last week at monthly luncheon sponsored by the Berkshire Visitors Bureau.
One of the most successful examples of the collaborations cited has been the "American Icons" admission program that allows visitors to purchase joint admission to four cultural institutions — Chesterwood and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge; The Mount in Lenox; and Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock.
Ellen Spear, president and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village, said she and Laurie Norton Moffatt, her counterpart at the Norman Rockwell Museum, came up with the idea last year while looking for ways for ways to attract more visitors to their sites.
Chesterwood, and The Mount were included because they have similar themes and are near each other, Spear said. Chesterwood, a few miles from the Rockwell Museum, was the summer home of sculptor Daniel Chester French. The Mount was author Edith Wharton’s former summer residence.
The plan allows visitors to purchase joint admission to either two or four of those venues, and receive discounted admission at each site. The policy is spelled out on a small pamphlet that resembles a large bookmark.
"It’s a very simple concept," Spear said, holding up the bookmark, "and it can be explained in this amount of space. We were all willing to promote each other, and we all use the same protocol."
Spear said the policy was "such a raging success" last year, that the four partners decided to do it again this year. The joint admission policy began on May 1 and is good until Oct. 1.
"We’re all seeing visitation rates rise because of it," Spear said.
Attempts by press time to get visitation numbers were unsuccessful.
The strategies are important because the number of Americans taking vacations is expected to be down this summer, according to a new poll conducted in April by GtK Roper Public Affairs & Media. A third of those surveyed said they have already canceled at least one trip this year because of financial woes.
The poll, reported by the Associated Press last week, found that only 42 percent of Americans are planning a leisure trip this summer, a drop from the 49 percent who said they planned to take a summer vacation in an AP poll conducted four years ago.
In the Berkshires, lodging establishments need to use a variety of strategies to be successful, said Stan Rosen the owner of the Hampton Terrace Bed & Breakfast in Lenox.
Rosen said he markets his bed & breakfast by stressing the Berkshires first and his establishment second. To attract visitors, Rosen said he sends out a newsletter five times a year, and also writes a daily blog. He updated his Web site this winter, adding all new photography, an expensive gamble that paid off.
"My January-to-April business is 50% higher than what I did last year," Rosen said.
He also responds to the occasional negative review of the inn that visitors post on travel Web sites. Some of his responses have generated more business.
"I can’t tell you how many people tell me we chose your inn because of the way you responded," Rosen said.
He also sends e-mails to guests after they leave.
"I try and create a reason for them to come back, Rosen said."
Bruce Singer, who owns the Devonfield Inn in Lee, said he has found that people who normally stay between four and seven days have shortened their visits to three to four days. Singer said he is "seeing a lot of softness" in bookings between Mondays and Wednesdays.
"We need to find a way to build the experience during mid-week," he said.
Rosen said that his bookings so far are substantially ahead of where they were last summer.
"I think it’s a matter of getting the message out," he said.
Restauranteur Nancy Tho-mas, who runs Mezze in Willi-amstown, Cafe Latino in North Adams, and allium in Great Barrington, said she cross-promotes all three of her eateries "wildly" with e-mail. Details about one restaurant can be found on another’s Web site, Thomas said. She also promotes drinks that are named after cultural venues, including one called "Jacob’s Pillow."
"We want to be part of the community and a partner to the attractions and inns," Thomas said.
Julianne Boyd, the artistic director of the Barrington Stage Company, said the theater company has instituted several cost-saving measures under the theme "Affordable Theater for All" that make it easier for people to attend performances. Boyd said she also makes use of the Internet.
"I think if we’re going to reach young people we really have to use more of the social media," Boyd said. "Translated from what Stan said to theater, we’re doing exactly the same thing."
Carolyn Edwards, the senior marketing manager for the Prime Outlets in Lee, said tourists see the retail mall as complementing their visits to cultural venues.
"We’re not the primary destination," Edwards said. "We’re an add-on. When we go out and talk about us, we talk about the Berkshires."
Outlet malls haven’t been hit as hard by the economic downturn as other Berkshire venues that rely on tourism, she said.
"The good thing about the retail outlet business is that we were a bit more prepared for the downturn because everyone wants a value," Edwards said.
Planning on sticking close to home this summer and want to save up to 30% as well? Stay multiple nights at Hampton Terrace Bed and Breakfast during the summer between Sunday through Thursday, and pay our off-season rate of $190/night per room. We include full breakfast and we have an outdoor heated pool. Hampton Terrace Inn is rated #1 by Trip Advisor, so a discounted stay does not mean a discounted experience.
During the week, you will have access to the same great attractions: Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theater Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Jacob’s Pillow, Barrington Stage Company, The Mount, Ventfort Hall, The Clark Art Institute, Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood shows in Ozawa Hall, Hancock Shaker Village, summer activities at Jiminy Peak, the Berkshire Museum, Mass MoCA., and all of the Berkshires’ great restaurants and shops. Call 800-203-0656 for availability.
Compared to our July-October "season," save 30% at Hampton Terrace Bed and Breakfast in Lenox between now and June 25. Most of our rooms feature fireplaces and Jacuzzis. Kings and queens. Full breakfast. All rooms have private baths.
We are very fortunate to be rated #1 by Trip Advisor in Lenox, which is the vortex for Berkshire inns, representing about 50% of the entire Berkshires. Our Romantic Weekend Special includes a $30 Gift Certiticate to Nejaimes our local wine/gourmet food shop. Eery Saturday, Nejaimes features all-day wine-tasting event…..and ultimately, we are paying for your choice!
Call us at 800-203-0656 for availability and a quote.
BERKSHIRE MUSICAL THEATER WORKSHIP KICKS OFF INAUGURAL SEASON WITH STAGED READING OF
MUSICAL ADAPTATION OF JANE AUSTEN’S SENSE & SENSIBILTY SATURDAY, MAY 9 AT SHAKESPEARE & COMPANY
(The Berkshires, MA) — The Berkshire Musical Theater Workshop, BMTW, will present its inaugural staged reading of the new musical, Sense & Sensibility, at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theater, 70 Kemble Street,
Lenox, MA on Saturday, May 9, at 2 P.M and 7:30 P.M. Sense & Sensibility, with music by Neal Hampton (The Chimes, Mona Lisa Smile) and book and lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow (Scrambled Feet, Chekhov in Yalta), has been
developed in the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York, which has nurtured Broadway shows such as Avenue Q, Ragtime, and A Chorus Line.
The presentation is free to the public, however, reservations are required and can be made by emailing email@example.com, or by calling (413) 637-3353. For further information or to make a tax-deductible donation to BMTW, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.bmtw.org. Sense & Sensibility is a work in progress, and at this time, is not open to review, however, members of the media are welcome to attend.
Deborah Grausman, producer, and founder of BMTW, has assembled an all-star creative team for the organization’s inaugural production. They include director, Sam Scalamoni (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Lestat), Boston based conductor and music director, Amy Lieberman (New England Conservatory of Music), New York based production
stage manager, Kat West (New York City Opera, The Public Theater, Prospect Theater Company), and New York casting director, Bob Cline (National Tours: Hairspray, Annie, Drowsy Chaperone). The cast will be comprised of Broadway veteran actors as well as local Berkshire actors.
Berkshire Musical Theater Workshop is an organization founded to help new musicals make the leap from page to stage. Its mission is to provide the writers of new musicals with a creative, supportive, and serene environment in which to collaborate with actors and directors to breathe life into their work. The weeklong workshop culminates in
two staged readings with an opportunity for audience feedback so that the writers can further develop their work. Sense & Sensibility tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who are as different as can be. Elinor is reserved, self-possessed, and rational to a fault, and Marianne is wildly romantic, emotionally uninhibited,
and disdainful of half-measures. They struggle to cope with reduced circumstances and the pressure to marry well. Ecstasy, deception, dashed hopes, and near-tragedy lead them to discover profound truths that bring them closer together and ultimately put them within reach of true and lasting happiness. The lush, romantic score brings alive
the repressed feelings, soaring emotions, and signature wit of Jane Austen in a totally new and exciting way."I am so excited to be launching this workshop with such a treasured story," says BTMW producer Deborah Grausman, who discovered the piece in New York. "Collaborating with artists in an environment conducive to creativity is exactly what this process is all about, and I look forward to working with the talented creative team and brilliant cast to further develop this winning show!” "This story has all the perfect elements to musicalize," says Sam Scalamoni who is directing this staged reading for BMTW. "The passion of these characters is clear and the romance sincere."
Jeffrey Haddow received an LA Drama Critics Award for his play, Chekhov in Yalta, and his musical revue, Scrambled Feet, ran for two years Off-Broadway. The Legend of the Yellow Rose, a new opera for which he wrote the libretto, will debut at The Living Opera Company in Dallas, Texas this July. Mr. Haddow and Mr. Scalamoni are currently collaborating on Summer Stock, a musical based on the MGM film. Mr. Haddow is also developing At the Back of the North Wind, a family musical based on the classic novel.
Neal Hampton’s music has been heard on A&E and The Discovery Channel. His adaptation of Charles Dickens’ The Chimes (book, music, lyrics) was featured at the 2004 Birth of a Musical Festival in Boston and his choral arrangements can be heard in the Columbia Pictures release of Mona Lisa Smile. Recent guest conducting
engagements include concerts with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the Springfield (MA) Symphony. Mr. Hampton has served as the assistant conductor for the Young Artist’s orchestra at Tanglewood and is on faculty at Brandeis University and Wellesley College where he is the conductor of the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra.
Sam Scalamoni associate directed the Broadway productions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Lestat, and has supervised the National and the UK International Tours of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Recently, he directed the last two readings of Alan Menken’s and Glen Slater’s new musical, Leap of Faith, as well as the debut workshop of
Mulan Jr. for Disney Theatrical Productions. In addition, Mr. Scalamoni is a founding member and the Managing Artistic Director of The Skyline Theatre Company in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Amy Lieberman is the Director of Choral Activities at the New England Conservatory of Music, and has taught piano, voice, and musical theater at Belvoir Terrace (Lenox, MA). She is currently a doctoral candidate in Choral and Orchestral conducting at Boston University and holds additional degrees from Stanford University and Yale
University. Ms. Lieberman is the artistic director of ArtsAhimsa, an international performance series that explores the connection between the power of the arts and non-violent causes.
Deborah Grausman, a New York based actor/singer/voice-over artist met Mr. Hampton and Mr. Haddow two years ago when she was recommended to present their material at the BMI workshop and to sing on the Sense & Sensibility demo. She has appeared Off-Broadway and regionally in many musicals (A Stoop on Orchard Street, Peter Pan, The Flood), and her voice can be heard on national commercials and video games. She has spent many summers in the Berkshires at Tanglewood (Boston University Tanglewood Institute), Berkshire Theater Festival, and Belvoir Terrace. Bob Cline has been a casting director in New York for 17 years. In addition to his commercial and film casting, he has cast over 50 National Tours and hundreds of regional theater productions. Most recently, Mr. Cline cast the National Tours of Hairspray, The Wedding Singer, Annie, Altar Boyz, and The Drowsy Chaperone.
Kat West has stage managed productions including La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana, and I Paggilacci at New York City Opera and Little Flower of East Orange at The Public Theater/LABrynith Theater Company. Ms. West is also the resident production stage manager at Prospect Theater Company in New York.
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility has had other successful adaptations including the 1995 Columbia Pictures release starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman among others, and the BBC Television series that aired in 2008.
Casting for BMTW’s production of Sense & Sensibility has been announced. Early ticket reservations are strongly encouraged as public seating is limited.
The producers have chosen Hampton Terrace Bed and Breakfast in Lenox as a home base for this production due to its proximinity to Shakespeare & Company, and in large part because of the reviews it received when it hosted the cast, producers and director of David Black’s "An Impossible Life" last year. These reviews of the inn from cast members, including Peter Reigert, Lori Singer, David Black and others can be read on this website. Hampton Terrace is the #1 rated Lenox inn according to Trip Advisor reviews and features a Romantic Weekend Special. Our king suites have been held open for the period when the above-mentioned cast will be in residence, for guests who would like to share in what will certainly be an interesting and congenial week.