This article first appeared in our September/October 2016 issue.
By Laurie Kahle
For decades, Litchfield County, located in the hills of western Connecticut, has drawn stylish New Yorkers looking for a sophisticated country getaway. The picturesque town of Washington is known for antiquing and art galleries, as well as the Mayflower Grace, an estate property set in 58 acres. The hotel offers 30 rooms and suites plus a standout spa that is beautifully designed and serene.
In nearby Morris, farm-to-table cuisine is taken quite literally at Winvian, where executive chef Chris Eddy harvests the bounty from the property’s working farm with three acres of vegetable and fruit gardens, greenhouses, an apiary, and livestock including sheep, pigs and chickens. Eddy, who trained with Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud, applies classical French techniques to American country cooking with ever-changing menus and gastronomic events, such as fall harvest dinners.
The family-owned mini-resort has a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek attitude with 18 themed luxury cottages, including Charter Oak, built around the huge trunk of a white oak tree. There is also a state-of-the-art spa.
The ambience is more formal and refined to the north in Lenox, Massachusetts, where wealthy magnates from New York and Boston constructed imposing “Berkshire cottages,” mountain retreats to rival the grand seaside mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. These earned Lenox the 19th century epithet “the inland Newport.”
One such gilded-age palace is Wheatleigh. Built in 1893 by New York magnate Henry H Cook as a wedding gift for his daughter, the grand home emulates a 15th century Florentine palazzo. Among the 19 guest rooms and suites is the Aviary, a two-story suite with a private outdoor heated pool.
Award-winning executive chef Jeffrey Thompson has built relationships with local sources to create innovative menus for the hotel’s restaurant, which includes the glass-walled Dining Room overlooking the 22-acre grounds. Staff can arrange for a round of golf, a romantic picnic on Mount Greylock or tours of renowned art museums, such as the Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA) and the Norman Rockwell Museum. The area also features a Relais & Châteaux property, Blantyre, and a Canyon Ranch spa.