The pine-scented woods, rolling hills and rippling rivers of the Berkshires have caught the attention of city dwellers for generations. Hiking, cycling and skiing are just a few of the fresh air diversions.
Cute-as-a-button villages like Stockbridge, Williamstown and Lenox are just a few hours from Manhattan and double as cultural hotspots. Fine art museums (the Norman Rockwell and Clark Institute) and world-class music and dance festivals (Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow) draw culture vultures like bees to honey. The sophisticated crowd’s padded wallets act as a springboard for a cluster of high-end shops, gourmet restaurants and a notable antiques scene. The area’s rich cultural identity and indoor-outdoor options means you can pack a lot into a weekend visit.
If your winter weary soul is in need of a luxurious yet affordable destination that has it all, head to Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club in Lenox, Massachusetts. I wanted 24 hours of wraparound rest and relaxation and got it during a recent getaway where I did nothing but eat, sleep and spa my way to happiness.
If you want to be buffed, puffed and pampered, the 35,000-square-foot Spa at Cranwell is one of the largest in the Northeast, with an enticing menu of soothing treatments. Hotel guests have complimentary use of the steam, sauna and whirlpool, so you can rejuvenate even if you don’t book a pricey service. There’s a large indoor lap pool, spacious fitness center and numerous daily group exercise classes.
113 uniquely decorated rooms are spread over acres of manicured grounds. Cranwell Mansion, the hotel’s showpiece, has been meticulously restored to its Gilded Age grandeur. Guest rooms in this architectural diamond offer views of the Berkshires. Accommodations in the more modern buildings are equally polished and plush.
The high quality of local food is connected to the regions agricultural landscape, with freshly harvested ingredients at arm’s length. The property’s three restaurants are examples of fine Berkshire dining, all serving contemporary cuisine with a classic American note. Don’t sleep too late because you’ll want to experience breakfast served in the elegant Music Room. The waffles are as light and fluffy as clouds, the perfect canvas for New England maple syrup.
The 18-hole golf course is a big draw in season. If Jack Frost has made his presence known, cross-country ski or snowshoe on 10 kilometers of snow-dusted trails.
Packages at Cranwell are modestly priced, so you needn’t spend a bundle to spoil yourself. The Berkshire Ski Package includes a room, a lift ticket at nearby ski areas Jiminy Peak and Butternut Basin, unlimited cross-country skiing, a $20 dining credit and full use of the spa facilities, starting at $150 per person, per night midweek, $210 on weekends, based on double occupancy. Spring brings golf packages for a similar price and spa packages are available year-round.
How to get there: Ride the Peter Pan bus from Port Authority to Lenox in three hours. The hotel will pick you up at the bus stop in town for $15, with advance arrangement.
Photos: Tessieview, About Travel, Cranwell Resort, Massachusetts Tourism Board
Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.