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Let’s Party, But Where? Venues Guide, Part 4: Dutchess County

The backdrop of natural beauty in the Rural Intelligence region has been luring brides and grooms to say their “I Do’s” here for years. But really, why shouldn’t any event — birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gatherings — get to enjoy the fabulous venues (and yes, frequently the views) that make a special gathering so memorable? After exploring some great locations in Northwest Connecticut, and Columbia and Berkshire counties, we move on to northern Dutchess County.

By Elizabeth Hartley

The Rhinecliff, Rhinecliff
This historic railway hotel, built in 1854 and on the national Register, underwent a multi-year renovation and upgrade completed in 2008. Today it mixes the best of the old and new, and is still only 2 minutes to the Rhinecliff Amtrak station, with beautifully updated rooms, each with a river view, and a variety of menu options for wedding and other events. Wedding ceremonies can be held on the hotel lawn, and dinner and dancing on The Riverview Room with an adjacent wraparound porch where you can watch sundown and passing trains.
Capacity: 120
In-house catering: Yes, a variety of menu options
What makes it special: An unparalleled view of classic Hudson Valley: the river, the trains, the sunsets.

Bykenhulle House, Hopewell Junction
Manicured lawns, surrounded by abundant flower gardens and charming stone walls and paths, ensure your pictures will be stunning while the charming historic house, which can accommodate 14 overnight guests, is luxurious enough to please the most finicky guests. A variety of wedding packages make planning and budgeting easy, too.
Capacity: 125 on the lawn; 65 seated in the ballroom
In-House catering: No; choose from the venue’s short list of exclusive caterers
What makes it special: An exceptionally sophisticated and romantic setting with an Eden-like quality.

Le Chambord Inn & Conference Center, Hopewell Junction
As its name implies, there’s a French flair evident here that softens the stately character of the Georgian colonial mansion built in 1863. The inn has 25 guest rooms and its ballroom accommodates 300 while doing the near-impossible — retaining a small-scale, even intimate, atmosphere. 
Capacity: 300 indoor, year-round
In-house catering: Yes, exceptional food
What makes it special: A lovely setting offering a number of inspiring wedding packages to make planning easier.

The Grandview, Poughkeepsie/Beacon
A wedding palace that’s earned its good name, The Grandview is set high above the Hudson. Its mesmerizing views of the mid-Hudson Bridge alone make it a winner, but add its remarkable event staff, among the most battled-tested ever, and you can’t go wrong holding any sort of event here. The staff has seen and solved every problem, while brides report they always feel special. 
Capacity: 600 for dinner; 1,000 for cocktails, year-round.
In-house catering: Yes
What makes it special: The outdoor ballroom is truly heavenly.
     
Locust Grove Historic Estate, Poughkeepsie
This 40-room Italianate mansion with Hudson River views boasts five miles of carriage roads and hiking trails on its 180-acre site. Its rich history has wide appeal, and because events are limited to one per evening, the special day feels both private and unique.
Capacity: 150 indoors/outdoors, April to November only
In-house catering: No
What makes it special: Exceptional beauty and adaptability, plus high ratings on Wedding Wire.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/03/17 at 10:19 AM •Permalink

Let’s Party, But Where? Venues Guide, Part 3: The Berkshires

The backdrop of natural beauty in the Rural Intelligence region has been luring brides and grooms to say their “I Do’s” here for years. But really, why shouldn’t any event — birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gatherings — get to enjoy the fabulous venues (and yes, frequently the views) that make a special gathering so memorable? After exploring some great locations in Northwest Connecticut and Columbia County, we move on to Berkshire County.

By Elizabeth Hartley

Bloom Meadows (Hancock)
Sarah and Greg Holland recently opened Bloom Meadows in Hancock, an all-inclusive wedding barn with vaulted ceilings, fireplace and a stone patio with views of the surrounding meadow and mountains. Sarah, who is also a wedding photographer, has seen a thing or two go right (and wrong) on that special day, so their goal with Bloom Meadows was to anticipate and therefore avoid them. The property provides rooms for the bridal party to get ready, options for ceremony location, and even a “day-of” event coordinator.  Locally constructed wood tables and chairs come with the rental. 
Capacity: 250+ (add a tent to host more)
In-house catering: No
What makes it special: A private, peaceful space and proximity to Williamstown for a variety of overnight accommodations. 

MASS MoCA, North Adams
MASS MoCA offers some of the most dramatic and creative spaces for special events anywhere (not just in Berkshire County!). This 19th-century renovated factory setting (on the National Register of Historic Places), now home to an ever-changing collection of important contemporary art, provides a multitude of easily customizable spaces in its galleries — even some outdoor locations — able to host anywhere from 30 to 500 guests. Each one has its own personality and fun features: super high ceilings, hardwood floors, brick or whitewashed gallery walls, views of the countryside, or enormous historic windows. The newest spaces will open in June in Building 6, which will offer another 130,000 square feet of interior space (with a capacity of 400) over a number of gallery spaces, also full of awe-inspiring contemporary art. 
Capacity: Sol Le Witt Galleries: 200 for receptions; 140 for ceremonies; 50 for dinner; Lobby and Courtyard with views of the clock tower: 200
In-house catering: No
What makes it special: The sheer scale of the museum and variety of its spaces can support any theme or decorating scheme. 

Gedney Farm, New Marlborough
In charming New Marlborough, now designated a National Historic District, Gedney Farm offers two Normandy-style barns for special events on 37 acres of high meadow and pasture — one with 16 guest rooms and suites, the other a three-level event space that once housed Percheron horses. It now seats 250 for dinner.  State-of-the-art HVAC means there’s comfortable A/C in summer and heat in winter, and the barn’s soaring interior provides a country grandeur that’s hard to beat.
Capacity: 250 for dinner; more if you add an event tent
In house catering: Yes, required
What makes it special: The refined but rural setting, plus Gedney’s chef creates incredible food, tailored to suit personal preferences as well as dietary restrictions, says manager Michael Smith.

Stonover Farm, Lenox
There’s plenty of genuine comfort and country elegance at this former Gilded Age farm, with none of the gilt. It’s all toned-down quiet elegance, and walking distance to Tanglewood along a lovely country road, no less. Stonover’s 10 beautiful acres, complete with duck pond and happy ducks, provide a picture-perfect destination for weddings. Couples can use the four-acre field for a tent of any size, or set up the reception, dinner and dancing in the property’s magnificent hay barn. Ceremonies are typically held on the barn ramp, with guests seated on the lawn, while the post-ceremony pre-dinner cocktail reception can be held pond-side. The inn accommodates up to 14 overnight guests, with the bride and groom enjoying the spacious and well-appointed School House Suite, a separate building a few hundred feet from the mansion.
Capacity: 250 or more if a tent is used
In-house catering: No
What makes it special: A refined farm location with genuine Berkshire history.
   
The Clark, Williamstown
Art of the highest quality and a rural setting of exceptional beauty make the museum a winner for anyone seeking a strong cultural backdrop and a high level of service. Specifically, that means the museum’s four new spaces in the Clark Center available for private events and STARR Catering’s Dan Hardy, who won the Executive Chef of the Year award in 2015. 
Capacity: Michael Conforti Pavilion, overlooking the reflecting pool:  200 for receptions; 150 for dinners; The Museum Pavilion, which also overlooks the reflecting pool:  65 for cocktails and dinners; Lower Level Court & Café 7:  250 for reception, 150 for dinners; The Lunder Center at Stone Hill and Moltz Terrace, an indoor-outdoor space accessed via a woodland path: 100 for receptions; 50 for dinners
In-house catering: Yes, required
What makes it special: Sleek spaces easily accessible to all, and rural beauty with lots to do in nearby Williamstown and North Adams. 

Blantyre, Lenox
A Berkshire “cottage” from the Gilded Age, this Tudor-style mansion offers exquisite dining and accommodations, including weddings. A member of Relais & Chateaux, Blantyre’s luxurious appointments, antique furniture and lovely floral arrangements are the epitome of French-American-style elegance. 
Capacity: Seated indoors: 120; Under a tent on lawn: 200 for dinner; 300 for a reception; Dinner and dancing in The Music Room: 60
In-house catering: Yes (required)
What makes it special: The food, the views, the level of service and overall luxury.

Lake House, Lee
This private lakeside inn with 16 suites and guests rooms includes a luxurious wedding suite with king-size bed, living room and balcony overlooking the lake. Bridal parties can hold the ceremony on the cliff and their reception on the lawn, and both have lovely views of Laurel Lake. Guest rooms come complete with a mini bar, makeup table and comfy couches for friends and family. 
Capacity: 200 guests on the lawn in a tent. Lake House requires its 16 guest rooms and suites be rented for the weekend.
In-house catering: No
What makes it special: A first-rate private lake-side location, straight out of The Happy Hollisters.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/27/17 at 09:51 AM •Permalink

Let’s Party, But Where? Venues Guide, Part 2: Columbia Cty

The backdrop of natural beauty in the Rural Intelligence region has been luring brides and grooms to say their “I Do’s” here for years. But really, why shouldn’t any event — birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gatherings — get to enjoy the fabulous venues (and yes, frequently the views) that make a special gathering so memorable? After exploring some great locations in Northwest Connecticut, we move on to Columbia County.

Photo: Gigia Einarsdottir

By Elizabeth Hartley

Thor Icelandics, Claverack, NY
A picturesque farm in Claverack with fenced pastures and 50 or so friendly, fuzzy and very sweet Icelandic horses sure seems dreamlike, right? (It is.) The farm offers two locations for pitching an event tent: the hill, which has unobstructed 360-degree views from Albany to New Paltz, and the upper track, an actual competition track at the heart of the farm. 
Capacity: 250, give or take
In-house catering: No
Indoor/outdoor: Entirely outdoor and seasonal, May through October
What makes it unique: Brides and grooms can ride in to their ceremony on horseback. Because there’s only one event per weekend, there’s less pressure to set up and break down.   

Basilica Hudson, Hudson, NY
Once upon a time, Hudson, the only city in this rural county of dairy farms, had a gritty industrial heart. Built in 1880, this former forge and foundry is very close to the Hudson River and resembles a Medieval church. Basilica found new life a few decades ago as an event venue with spaces (including outdoor areas) both large enough and flexible enough to house every sort of event imaginable.

Photo: James Day, Within This Day Photography.

Main Hall At 6,000 square feet, this is the principal space for big events (as well as performances, film productions and photo shoots). An intimate wedding of 80 won’t get lost here, but the space can comfortably hold 1,200. There are first-rate restrooms, soaring ceilings (ranging from 20 to 40 feet), multiple entrances and a convenient loading dock.
North Hall Typically set up like a small theater, this striking space features the same high ceilings as the Main Hall, including tall windows and decorative brick and tile work. It’s popular for wedding ceremonies, can seat 150, and has updated heating and A/C so it’s comfortable year-round. Bonus: Separate entrances allow independent access from the rest of the building.
Back Gallery Located in the smaller of Basilica’s two buildings, this 40-foot by 40-foot space has exposed brick and white walls, an industrial heater, and museum-size loading doors. It’s ideal for art exhibitions, intimate ceremonies or performances, and other small-scale events. Two skylights in the 15-foot-high ceiling provide natural light, while ceiling lights can be adjusted as needed.
West Wing Easily accessible from the Main Hall, this space often functions as the bar during large events and its two large windows make it perfect for food service, too. It’s warmer and more intimate than the rest of Basilica, but can easily accommodate 250 standing or 100 for a sit-down dinner. The West Wing Entrance is an adjacent 700-square-foot area that can be used for receptions or coat check.
What makes it unique: Like any enormous re-purposed space, the sheer scale, high ceilings and abundant natural light at Basilica give it enormous flexibility for large events and elaborate themes. Its proximity to the Hudson River and the Amtrak station (both are a few hundred easily walkable feet away) makes it super convenient and easily accessible, too. 

Oak Hill, Hudson, NY
One of a dozen or so mansions built by the Livingstons along the Hudson River and the last one still in the Livingston family, Oak Hill is also one of the newest event sites in Columbia County. The 100-acre estate has great views of the river and the Catskill Mountains. The manor house was built in the 1790s by John Livingston, son of Robert Livingston, well known as one of the region’s original land-grantees. Legend has it that John, seeking out the best views, climbed an oak tree to determine the best spot for the new home, hence the mansion’s name. The grounds are park-like and offer several places to pitch your event tent. Or use the barn, which has a capacity of 150. 
Capacity: 250-300 in an event tent; 150 in the barn
In-house catering: No, but you can hire Oak Hill to produce your event.
Indoor/outdoor, seasonal: Both, May through October only
What makes it special: The views, exquisite park-like grounds and exceptional privacy. 

Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown, NY
Clermont State Historic Site, a Livingston estate, was home to seven generations of this prominent family. The mansion has hosted scores of engagement parties, wedding ceremonies and receptions for the family since the 1700s, and in 1996, management opened the gates to the rest of us, making a variety of sites available on the grounds of the home that include a wooded area, expanses of open lawn or century-old gardens — all with exceptional views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. 
Capacity: 50 to 300, depending upon the site
In-house catering: No, but experienced museum staff provide guidance
Indoor/outdoor and seasonal: Outdoors only, May through October
What makes it unique: Interestingly, rental fees are not based on the size of the guest list or the number of hours the site will be in use. (Fees range from $800 to $2,200 for wedding receptions, depending upon the location and time of day.) Site managers also don’t require you to use one of their approved caterers, but they can recommend those who have produced successful events, ensuring a smoother and more trouble-free experience. 

Old Austerlitz, Austerlitz, NY
In the eastern part of Columbia County, Old Austerlitz is a charming part-restored, part-re-constructed historic village that celebrates the region’s local history. Located along both sides of Route 22, Old Austerlitz is the brainchild of life-long Austerlitz resident and antiques-dealer Bob Herron, who works with a passionate group of local history buffs to administer and expand the multi-acre site. The buildings include a picturesque church built in 1853 and a red one-room schoolhouse, both native to the site, as well as the 1794 Morey-Devereaux House and a rustic barn perfect for events, both of which were re-constructed on site in the last decade. 
Capacity: The Barn: 150 for a sit-down dinner; The Church: 120 for ceremonies
In-house catering: No, but excellent kitchen facilities in Morey-Devereaux
Indoor/outdoor: Both, but seasonal
What makes it special: This charming compound (think a mini Old Sturbridge Village) offers a variety of spaces to set up your tent while maintaining open country views. One event per weekend helps ease stress. Ample parking.

Hudson Opera House (now Henry Hudson Hall), Hudson, NY
Built in 1855 as Hudson City Hall, this exemplary building is New York State’s oldest surviving theater, one of the region’s most-treasured historical buildings, and the cultural heart of Hudson. In another few weeks, after a year of restoration that includes, among other improvements, the addition of an elevator, the Opera House will reopen its upstairs theater for community and private use for the first time in more than 55 years. The space can support a variety of seating configurations. 
Capacity: Performance Hall: 100 to 250 for seated dinners; up to 300 for performances. West Room: 80. Common Council Room: 60. Center Hall Gallery: 100
In-house catering: No
Indoor/outdoor, seasonal: Indoor, year-round and climate-controlled
What makes it special: A spectacular space with a grand history and thoroughly modern amenities, the Opera House supports and promotes the arts in the community, so income from special-event rentals ensures ongoing programming and the continued restoration of the building. 

Southwood, Germantown, NY  
If the special event of your dreams involves moving whole-hog into an historic estate for the weekend (or longer), then Southwood is the place. It offers all the comfort and elegance of country estates in the Gilded Age without the pretension or formality.  One of the Livingston manors, the house is remarkably intact and beautifully maintained. You get all the privacy you need and room enough to expand (without prying eyes from an event in the next room). That includes the mansion, built in 1837, and three rental houses on the 86-acre property with views of the Hudson River and Catskill mountains. Collectively, the houses sleep 25. The bonus? Adorable farm animals and a heated pool. 
Capacity: Up to 150 guests outdoors
In-house Catering: No
Indoor/outdoor, or both, and seasonal: Events allowed in tents outdoors from May to October
What makes it unique: For a destination wedding or event, there’s something to occupy everyone in your party, which is essential, and lots of lovely spaces for all the components of your event.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/13/17 at 01:18 PM •Permalink

Let’s Party, But Where? A Guide to Venues, Part 1: NW CT

The backdrop of natural beauty in the Rural Intelligence region has been luring brides and grooms to say their “I Do’s” here for years. But really, why shouldn’t any event — birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gatherings — get to enjoy the fabulous venues (and yes, frequently the views) that make a special gathering so memorable? In our series looking at one-of-a-kind venues in the region, we begin with Litchfield County, and its facilities that range from a rarified, exclusive inn to a compound that offers a summer camp-like experience.

By Elizabeth Hartley

Iris Photography

South Farms, Routes 63 and 109, Morris, CT
Owned by the Paletsky family who’s been farming here for four generations, this beautifully restored, updated and enormous barn complex (20,000-square feet!) perfectly captures farm culture from the 1940s. Ben Paletsky keeps the place going by offering a bit of everything for sale — beef, pork, hay, produce, and high-end events for those seeking a true farm setting. Ben devotes 5,000 square feet to The White Barn (for dinners) and the Stone Barn (for performances and ceremonies).
Capacity: The White Barn: 200 for a sit-down dinner
The Stone Barn: 150 for a ceremony or performance
In-house catering: No, but they can recommend excellent local companies. South Farms does an in-house beverage service featuring local beer as part of CT Craft Brews (Ben grows hops), as well as locally made wines and spirits. 
Indoor/outdoor and/or seasonal: The White Barn is open year-round. 
What makes it unique or special: “The great staff here is always crafting something new for our events,” Paletsky says, citing how they turned a 25-foot tree into an enormous chandelier for a wedding in the Stone Barn. Questions from customers range from, “Where can I keep my horse after the ceremony?” and “How are the acoustics for a zydeco band?” to “Where can we have a croquet match during cocktail hour?” The Paletskys continue to expand the farm’s offerings, recently completing the conversion of a nearby antique schoolhouse into a yoga and healing retreat.

Photo: Winter Caplanson

Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston, CT (Warren)
On Lake Waramaug, Mayflower descendants Judy and Bill Hopkins turned their dairy farm into a vineyard in 1979, and haven’t looked back. They grow 11 varieties of grapes that yield white, red and sparkling wines.  Groups of 15 or less don’t need reservations for the tasting room (open year-round). The Hayloft Wine Bar, with views of the lake, hosts 30 for parties and small events year-round, says daughter Hilary Hopkins Criollo. An event tent set up in the vineyard, with surrounding flower gardens and stone walls, is available from May to October. The vineyard provides cheese plates for purchase with wine tastings, but otherwise doesn’t cater, although they can recommend local companies.
Capacity: Event Tent, May to October: 250 for a sit-down dinner
Hayloft Wine Bar:  30 for a party or event; 50 for wine tastings.
In-house catering: No
Indoor-outdoor/Seasonal: Hayloft available year-round; other spaces seasonal
What makes it unique or special: Table service with a view of Lake Waramaug in the Hayloft Wine Bar, and the tent in the vineyard surrounded by stone walls and lovely gardens. There’s also a firepit for evening parties.

Bellamy-Ferriday House & Gardens, Bethlehem, CT
This exquisite home, barn and historic gardens, administered by Connecticut Landmarks, embody the dramatically different passions of two extraordinary people: Bethlehem pastor Joseph Bellamy, a renowned leader of the Great Awakening, the emotional religious revival of the 1740s, who built the house in stages starting from 1754 to 1767, and New Yorkers Henry and Eliza Ferriday, who acquired the estate as a summer residence in 1912. Eliza and her daughter, Caroline, designed a formal garden of roses, peonies and lilacs, and made other landscape improvements that continue to attract garden enthusiasts among the many visitors to the property. The estate is available for private events, but because it’s a landmark, event hosts need to carry their own liability insurance and festivities must end by 10:30 pm. Lilac season from mid-May to mid-June is especially lovely and fragrant.
Capacity: 150 for parties
In-house catering: No
Seasonal: May to October
What makes it unique: Bellamy-Ferriday captures aristocratic New England at its best. Its historic landmarked status, lovely rooms full of antique furniture, exquisite gardens and location on the town green can’t be beat.

Photos courtesy Winvian.

Winvian, Morris, CT
This resort on 113 acres with a Colonial-era home at its center is as unconventional as it is luxurious. The main home, built in 1775 by physician Seth Bird, was acquired in 1948 by Winthrop and Vivian Smith, who named it “Win-Vian,” a sweet combination of their names.  After Winthrop died, Vivian married Charles McVay, captain of the USS Indianapolis and author of the book, In Harm’s Way.  In addition to five-star dining and superb meeting and event spaces, Winvian offers 18 luxurious cottages, each conceived around a different theme. Even the boldest among them, a restored 1968 Sikorsky helicopter, a treehouse sited 35 feet above ground, and a cottage built around a glorious white oak tree, offer the best in creature comforts. There’s a full-service spa and a variety of spaces for meeting and events both inside and out.     
Capacity: 250+
In-House catering: Yes
Indoor/outdoor: Both
What makes it special or unique: Attention to detail on every front: Exceptional accommodations, beautiful event spaces and first-rate dining in a rustic-chic setting. 




Club Getaway, Kent, CT
If you ever wanted to go to summer camp as an adult, here’s the place — and you can bring your family and friends with you. Located on 300 acres on the shores of Lake Leonard, Club Getaway offers rustic but comfortable cabins and family-style dining — a fun and relaxed setting for casual events, and there’s no dirth of activities even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.  “We try to make dreams come true,” says general manager Leslie Fink, who says the club has hosted high school proms, weddings, and family and school reunions. There are golf carts for older guests and counselors for kids (so adults can, indeed, play).
Capacity: 280 overnight guests, higher for day-long events
In-house catering: Yes, guests must use their caterer
Indoor-outdoor: Yes, both
Seasonal: Yes
What makes it unique: The range of recreational activities and organized and individual sports, both on and off the water, is staggering. Club Getaway also offers something most venues simply cannot:  a literal time warp that catapults you back to summer camp and childhood. 

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/28/17 at 11:21 AM •Permalink

The Olde Rhinebeck Inn Offers A Two-For-One Innkeeper Deal

Photo courtesy of the Olde Rhinebeck Inn.

By Lisa Green

When she started reading, Jonna Paolella couldn’t have cared less about Amelia Bedelia or Pippi Longstocking. She was obsessed with Country Inns and Back Roads, by Norman T. Simpson.

“I’ve known since age seven that I wanted to be an innkeeper,” she says.

There aren’t many kids who dream of a career at such a tender age — and then go on to fulfill that dream. But Paolella did, by establishing the Olde Rhinebeck Inn in Dutchess County. At the time, she was the youngest innkeeper in America.

That motivation didn’t come out of thin air. Her mother had turned their home in Park Slope (Brooklyn) into a bed and breakfast. Paolella’s favorite book, which included bits about historic lodgings in the Hudson Valley, led her to Rhinebeck 18 years ago, when she opened the bed and breakfast in a house that dates back to 1738. (You can feel its age in its unplumbed walls, listing floors and steep stairway, but the amenities are about as modern as you can get.)

Dining room, photo courtesy of the Olde Rhinebeck Inn.

Paolella clearly loves the innkeeper life. You can tell it by the conversation she keeps. Talking a mile a minute, she tells guests about the history of the house, its many additions, and changes she’s brought to it over the years, interspersed with her musings about Airbnb’s effects on the hospitality industry and which of the restaurants at the nearby CIA are the best.

But as anyone who’s ever stayed at a B&B has observed, this innkeeping thing is rough, basically a 24/7 proposition with little, if any, time off. You really have to be devoted to the business to be so tied into it.

And that’s a bit of a problem for Paolella, who suffers from wanderlust just about as much as many of her guests. And besides that, getting away is essential to avoid burnout in an industry where innkeepers hang on an average of 5 to 7 years. She knew what she was getting into, but she also knew that sharing the responsibilities didn’t make her seem incapable of handling the business.

Innkeepers Cindy Curnan and Jonna Paolella.

Enter Cindy Curnan, who had owned The Gables in Rhinebeck, but sold it to move to Hawaii. She’s a wanderluster, too, but she was ready to return to where she grew up. She was looking to open another Hudson Valley B&B, and initial plans were to do it with Paolella backing her. But when a discussion about the financial and time commitments involved turned into a seven-hour conversation (with both of their husbands included), the result was a partnership of the Olde Rhinebeck Inn.

There is a Byzantine web of connections between Curnan, the house and Paolella. Curnan actually lived there as a teenager; her mother owned the house — not as an inn but antiques store, for a while — and she lived across the road from the inn when Paolella moved in. Neighbors kept telling Paolella that she needed to meet Curnan; they both owned inns and were so much alike.

The original stairway is extremely steep with narrow treads. “Best to scale it sort of sideways,” Curnan advises.

“I saw activity going on and just walked over to introduce myself,” says Curnan. A BFF was born.

The women have crafted out the ideal job sharing arrangement and — what do you know — a balanced life, by the sharing the duties. So now Paolella can take a lengthy vacation (or, at this point, take the time she needs to help her aging mother) and Curnan will not miss enjoying the perks of being a first-time grandmother. They can finally experience all the culture, restaurants and historic properties they prescribe for their guests. And they can spend some quality time with their husbands.

“There’s a real benefit to be had to sharing the resources and burdens of this business,” Paolella says. “I had another property, a vacation rental, and I knew it was just too much for one person. Our arrangement allows us to have a better quality of life, better marriages. The nice thing is, we have a schedule, but we have flexibility and the built-in trust that we can be away and the place won’t fall apart. And Cindy is a clone of me, so we really work well together.”

The Spirited Dove room. Photo courtesy of the Olde Rhinebeck Inn.

Indeed. They practically finish each other’s sentences. They’re a lovely portrait of women’s friendship, too. Recently, while Curnan took a few weeks off, Paolella surprised her by creating a loft bedroom above the dining room so Curnan would have a place to stay when she’s on duty (Paolella and her husband live at the inn).

And what a welcoming destination they’ve created. Spacious rooms filled with antiques, but updated with fancy showers and flat screen tv’s so embedded in the old walls you barely even notice them. There’s an “amenity plate” of homemade cookies, fruit and chocolates to greet guests in their room, and a pond to reflect upon from the porch. A gourmet breakfast is included, of course, with organic milk and eggs (courtesy of their own hormone-free hens) and, best of all, the lively chatter between innkeepers and guests. The inn is just three-and-a-half miles from Rhinebeck’s main street and close to Hyde Park (and many other historic properties), Walkway Over the Hudson, the Dutchess County fairgrounds, and Bard and Vassar colleges.

“They say you shouldn’t go into business with your friends,” Paolella says, “and we do have a business agreement. But it works for us.”

Which brings comfort all around, to innkeepers and guests alike.

Olde Rhinebeck Inn
340 Wurtemburg Rd., Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 871-1745

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/25/16 at 11:45 AM •Permalink

Hotel Tivoli And Its Restaurant Bring An Artistic Vision To Town

By Jamie Larson

Since its opening a little over a year ago, Hotel Tivoli has been adding a rich vibrancy to the happening, yet slightly hidden, scene growing in its namesake village, Tivoli, New York. The walls lined with art created by the hotel’s notable owners Brice and Helen Marden, the high-style furniture and the beautiful bones of the historic building merge to create an atmosphere as unique as the village and the Mardens themselves. 

Yet, despite the abundance of image and form on display throughout the ground floor dining and bar room, it’s never overwhelming. The ability to treat guests to such a complex visual experience, while also fostering the feeling of comfort and ease, represents the Mardens’ balance of vision with expertise.

“It’s the flavor and taste of the owners,” says assistant general manager Janett Pabon. “There’s a sense of generosity. It’s almost like stepping into their home. There’s a sense of care that’s been put in.”

Brice and Helen Marden are superstars of the modern art world. While the subject and styles of their work varies, Brice Marden’s minimalist work focusing on elegant, purposeful lines has cemented his place in the arena. Their success has allowed the couple, who have one of their homes in Tivoli, to create a hotel and restaurant that is suited to their specific tastes. They also own the Golden Rock Inn on the Caribbean island of Nevis and have a home on the island of Hydra, Greece. It’s nice to know that those with the ability to be anywhere in the world still appreciate the beauty and idyllic charm of Tivoli and the surrounds. That’s probably why, despite its sophistication, Hotel Tivoli still feels so rooted to the region.

That connectivity resonates most clearly in the food served by Chef Devon Gilroy at The Corner. With a rigorous dedication to seasonality, the restaurant serves dishes that remind us of the beauty of the region. While these self-imposed rules create challenges during the winter, the kitchen embraces them, turning out stellar dishes: Arctic char crudo with beets and cress; hand-cut pappardelle with fennel and pork sausage, garlic, chilis and cured tomatoes; Kinderhook Farm lamb rack and merguez with parsnip and blood orange.

“We face some challenges with seasonality but we’ve stuck to our high standard of quality,” Pabon says. “In the city you can go to the market and meet the farmers. Here you can be at the farm. That’s really what the Hudson Valley is about. When things come in season we get really excited.”

Also, like everything else in the Hotel, the food is a work of art, presented elegantly on unique ceramics by Tivoli Tile Works. It’s thoughtful design details like these that begin to accumulate during a visit or stay here, and contribute to that transported feeling.

Pabon says every aspect of the hotel was created with intentionality and a focus on comfort. Nowhere is that more clear than the serene rooms which, again, feel true to the history of the building while embracing bold yet unobtrusive design elements.

“The whole intent was to be open for the community. This place has always been a cornerstone,” Pabon says. “We’re really happy to be here and to share it with people.”

One subtle aspect to the Hotel — that you may not notice at first but feels truly significant once you do — is that while there are countless artworks throughout the establishment, there are no labels, no titles, no names. The art is to be experienced individually as elements of the hotel rather than specimens in a gallery. Hanging tagless, the pieces shrug off all context other than what the guest brings to them and encourage a more personal and ephemeral experience. 

“We want you to just enjoy the art and have a moment. This is a place for you to contemplate,” Pabon says. “You can sit down and have a conversation and be heard. It’s about simplicity and ease, the aesthetic of a fine line.”

The trend of boutique hotels has exploded in the region over the past couple of years. People want to stay someplace that resonates with the reasons they’ve come here in the first place — but they also have come to expect a high level of comfort and unique style. Striking that balance between being familiar enough to be comfortable and original enough to be exciting is no easy feat. What’s so interesting about Hotel Tivoli is how sharply the owners have honed that edge. It’s a testament to the Mardens’ vision that they’ve been able to pull off something so original, yet approachable, with such confidence.

Hotel Tivoli and The Corner
53 Broadway, Tivoli NY
(845)-757-2100
Sun. – Thurs., 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Fri.– Sat., 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Brunch Sat. and Sun., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 03/14/16 at 11:37 AM •Permalink

Blantyre Opens The Door To Be Manor-Born For The Moment

By Lisa Green

They took the private sign down.

“We want the local community to experience Blantyre,” says Christopher Brooks, the new general manager, who served as its chef for 12 years. After a hospitality stint in Nantucket, he’s back at the exquisite Scottish-inspired country manor. Owner Ann Fitzpatrick Smith and Brooks are making the rarified atmosphere more accessible to those of us who might never have given it a thought. Now it’s more likely to be a consideration.

Built in 1902, the majestic Tudor-style estate is elegant and romantic. And they may have taken away the private sign, but there is a hushed mien of privacy inside and outside the property; it’s almost as if this exquisitely decorated and outfitted mansion — the first Relais & Chateau property in the United States — is your personal country estate. From the moment you enter — a staff person at the front door waiting to greet you — the Blantyre experience begins.

The holidays are a particularly inviting time to take that in. Lunches and dinners (set up in the dining room, as if you’re in someone’s home) are open to the public, as is a traditional Sunday brunch featuring “Gilded Age cocktails.” An afternoon tea served Monday through Saturday is as formal as a traditional tea service should be. 

The main house, which was modeled after a Scottish property with towers, turrets and gargoyles, was furnished in the English style, which has been enhanced with the furniture and objects that Blantyre’s owner has collected over the years. During the holidays, the manor is sumptuously decorated (all those fireplace mantels call for garlands) and a host of Santa Claus figures populate the rooms.

You don’t need to book an overnight stay to enjoy any of these services — but you might want to, since one-night stays are now available. It’s a kind of “every wish is your command” place. You want to walk the grounds in the summer? A packet of insect repellant is handed to you. You have compliments for the chef? He’s brought out to meet you. You’d like to listen to pianist Karen Tchougourian tickling the ivories while you eat? A dinner setting is arranged in the music room.  Your room is prepared with a cheese tray and champagne, the new James Taylor CD, bath salts specially ordered from elizabethW Artisanal Scents. In the winter, there’s nothing quite like soaking in the hot tub in the Potting Shed spa as you look out onto a pristine white landscape.

Christopher Brooks, general manager at Blantyre.

Blantyre is also open to holiday gatherings. Groups can arrange to have their own wine tastings, conducted by the sommeliers and wine director, with a private tour of the wine cellar, which holds more than 10,000 bottles.

“Our guests are our treasures,” says Brown. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, once you’ve entered the Blantyre universe, that becomes imminently clear.

Blantyre
167 Blantyre Road, Lenox, MA
(413) 637-3556

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/13/15 at 01:40 PM •Permalink

The Milliner Guesthouse And Inn: Hudson In Four Rooms

Photos by Shannon Greer.

By Jamie Larson

One of the most enjoyable things about the ongoing small business renaissance in Hudson is its vast diversity of style. Each shop, guesthouse, restaurant and cultural center is a reflection of the unique style, and often caprice, of the individuals involved.

The Hudson Milliner, one of the city’s newest guesthouses, is a perfect example. At 415 Warren Street, the building, right in the center of it all, is both a beautiful expression of the honed taste and professional eyes of artist-owners Charlotta Janssen and Shannon Greer, and the strong historic aesthetics of Hudson itself.

“People come to Hudson to create exactly what they want,” says Janssen, who owns two funky Brooklyn restaurants—Chez Oskar and Lola BKLYN. “That’s what we did. We wanted to make spaces that really work, for us and our guests.”

From 2010 to 2013, Janssen and Greer toiled over every detail of a massive renovation. As a painter, Janssen fell in love with the exposed brick and old beams they uncovered after gutting both upper floors, marveling at the surviving 19th-century hardware. Greer, a photographer who also uses the rooms as sets for shoots, fixated on the natural light that pours into the spaces, formerly apartments and offices. The downstairs, now a handsome furniture store by Chris Lehrecke, was a millinery, hence the name and those of the suites: The Top Hat, Bowler, Fedora and Cloche.

“I looked at the design like a photographer, how I would shoot there,” Greer says. “Finding the right furniture is important and I’m always thinking in terms of lighting. But we also wanted to preserve the idea of Hudson. We wanted to keep the sense of place.”

It just feels like Hudson in the Milliner. The couple made bold design choices that at times border on the whimsical, but nothing is over the top. The exposed structural elements bring the feel of the small city into the room; the Hudson-sourced antiques provide guests with a personalized experience and the industrial elements and use of white add a slightly modern feel. That all may sound busy, but it’s not. Every space has been meticulously thought out and fits together like a strange, elegant puzzle.

“We tried to imagine what we would like in a bed and breakfast,” Janssen says. “We designed it for ourselves and wanted everything to be unique. Anyone coming up to Hudson wants space and sun and to be alone with their lover or family and feel comfortable.”

They said they hate the idea of going to a hotel where every room is the same, every lamp and every mirror bought by the dozen. Janssen and Greer painstakingly selected and fought over every design element. For what you get, plus location, the rates are a steal at $250 to $300 a night. But we’ll keep that between us.

For Janssen and Greer, the journey to open the Milliner was a circuitous one that started not as a business venture but a search for a country home in the area where Greer spent some of his school-age years. “We had this whole romantic notion of living in a barn,” she says, her arms wrapped around Greer’s shoulders. “But we are too urban.”

“We fell in love with Hudson,” Greer remembers of their 2010 property search. “It’s everything we liked about the country but you still have that urban feel. There’s music, art and amazing farm-to-table food.”

If, while staying at the Milliner, you feel like cooking in to take advantage of the beautifully retro kitchens, or hosting some friends for dinner, The Farm Box will deliver a fully stocked supply of locally grown goods ready for cooking right to your suite. Call it farm-to-table room service.

Janssen and Greer now live about half the week in NYC and the other half in their place off the back of the Milliner. With renovations complete, the two are now settling in. Janssen will be showing her paintings in October at the R Wells Gallery at 725 Warren; Greer is trying to shoot more and more of his work in Hudson. The couple has made a home for themselves at the Milliner and they’d be happy to have you as their guest.

“It is too big to be just our place but we fell in love with it,” says Janssen. “Now everyone can love it, too.”

The Hudson Milliner Guesthouse and Inn
415 Warren Street, Hudson, NY
(917) 930-4302

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 01/18/15 at 09:52 PM •Permalink

A Vintage Modern Bed and Breakfast in Williamstown

By Amy Krzanik

2When a top-notch innkeeper rhapsodizes about a bed-and-breakfast other than his own, you pay attention. Ira Goldspiel, a design aficionado who runs the Inn at Kent Falls, stayed at The Guest House at Field Farm in Williamstown and he raved about experiencing authentic 1940s modernist architecture and decor in a bucolic Berkshires setting. Owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the oldest land trust in the United States, the inn was originally designed and built right after World War II as a house for Lawrence Bloedel, the onetime Williams College librarian, and his wife, Eleanor Palmedo Bloedel, who would become important art collectors and bequeath their collection to the Williams College and Whitney museums. (The Whitney received more than sixty works, including important canvases by Milton Avery, William Baziotes, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Fairfield Porter.)

interior “They had talked with Frank Lloyd Wright about drawing up plans for the house, but as they disagreed on several points, they went back to [a favored architect], Edwin Goodell, with whom they had worked previously,” says innkeeper Ole Retlev. The International Style house (which looks like something you might find in a Sao Paulo suburb) was turned into a bed and breakfast twenty years ago, and Retlev is vigilant about maintaining its integrity. “When we redid the kitchen floor, we used real linoleum,” he says, pointing out an Eames chair and Vladimir Kagan sofa that are original to the house as well as the bookshelves that Mr. Bloedel built himself. “All the colors of the walls are original.”

roomThe Guest House at Field Farm attracts people who are looking for something other than a traditional bed and breakfast and has an established summer clientele drawn to the Berkshires by Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and MASS MoCA.

The six -room Field Farm is also home to an award-winning architectural “Folly” (below) designed in 1966 by Ulrich Franzen,  a shingled pastiche that references Victorian architecture, silos, and propellers. It is open by appointment only from June through October. foll2 The Guest House itself will be open only through the end of November, but the rest of the 316-acre property, which is a mini sculpture park (with pieces lent back to the property by Williams) is open free all year long for hikes, picnics, and cross country skiing. As the inn has no gift shop, Retlev sends guests for a short walk up the road. “I send everyone who comes here to visit Cricket Creek Farm before they leave,” says Retlev. “So everyone stocks up on the most wonderful cheese, bread, and other goods before driving home.”

The Guest House at Field Farm
554 Sloan Road
Williamstown, MA
413.458.3135
Now - October 31: Open seven days a week
November 1 - 30: Fridays - Monday
Closed after that until April 2014

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/14/13 at 10:26 AM •Permalink

The Barlow: A Hotel For Hudson (Finally!)

By Jamie Larson

Barlow13 The small city of Hudson leaves visitors wanting for little. Warren Street’s center is lined with world-class art and antique galleries, restaurants that rival Manhattan’s (or at this point, Brooklyn’s) best, bars, spas, niche boutiques, and eclectic theaters a block or two away. All that plus a richness of historic architecture and sweeping waterfront view of the Hudson River, with the Catskills beyond, makes the city almost a hallucination of urbanity plopped in the middle of the countryside. The complete package—almost. 

As the city has grown into the vibrant metropolitan destination it is today, one big problem remained. There just weren’t enough places to stay. All there was when it came to itinerant bedding was a number of elegant bed and breakfasts, which filled up incredibly quickly, and an old motel and hotel whose best days were so far behind them that they are often not spoken of in polite conversation. Many years into Hudson’s resurgence, and there still wasn’t a hotel that catered to its needs and sensibility. 

Barlow Front Until now. The Barlow Hotel, which opened this past June, has come to the rescue, and it’s about time. Situated right in the heart of Hudson’s business district at 542 Warren Street, the 16-room Barlow offers visitors all the creature comforts, style, and privacy expected of a modern boutique hotel, while incorporating the character and feel of this unique river city.

Owners Russell Gibson and Duncan Calhoun bought a home in Hudson back in 1992 after Calhoun stumbled onto it when he got lost trying to find a yard sale, and five years ago they opened their own B & B next door, the Croff House. They obviously cottoned to the hospitality trade; their experience in it and and love of the town combined to create a hotel that fits so snugly into the local tableau that one might think it has always been there.

Barlow 6 “The B & B was really the catalyst for us to do the hotel,” Gibson says from behind his desk in the high-ceilinged lobby, a fireplace to his right, and a huge yet understated painting of the Hudson River by local artist Tony Thompson behind him. “We knew people wanted a hotel but needed the right building and location. And here we are.”

Calhoun and Gibson have taken efforts to retain the historic details of the repurposed Barlow-Osborn Building, built in 1927, including its elegant staircase with Art Deco lines. The rooms are well decorated with queen- or king-sized beds, flat-screen televisions with Direct TV service, gas fireplaces in every room, coffeemakers, refrigerators, safes, and chic bathrooms with some of the highest-end showerheads you’re likely to find in a fifty-mile radius. bar “What we’ve tried to do is combine the architecture and the charm of the city with the technology today’s traveler demands and the comforts they don’t get at home.” Gibson says. “Though we’re contemporary, you don’t forget you’re in Hudson.”

As comfortable as the hotel is, Gibson and Calhoun hope guests will see it as an extension of the town itself. “We’re a European-style boutique hotel,” Gibson elaborates. “We want you to experience the entire hotel and we also want you to go outside the hotel and experience Hudson.” To that end, The Barlow has partnered with dozens of local businesses to create the “Privilege Partner” program for its guests. When a guest shows their electronic room key at any of the participating shops, restaurants or spas, all within walking distance, they receive a discount.

barl “Duncan and I went up and down Warren Street talking with merchants and city government,” Gibson says. “The business community was very pleased we opened the hotel and the city has been very supportive along the way.”

And there’s still more to come. Some renovations are still underway, including a future gym and conference room. “We’ve noticed that the demographic of the Hudson visitor has changed as Hudson begins to be more publicized,” Gibson says. “There’s more expectation that service be of a higher quality.”

“Our weekend home morphed into our full-time home and into a new life,” says Calhoun. “We’ve watched that same pattern happen to more and more people.” Gibson and Calhoun both say they wouldn’t be surprised if some hotel guest that very night ends up being their neighbor in the near future.

The Barlow: A Hudson Hotel
542 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534
(518) 828-2100

 

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 08/26/13 at 09:19 AM •Permalink