Above: The formal gardens, designed in 1911 by Beatrix Farrand, founding member and only woman of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Set upon a breathtaking hilltop and surrounded by 150 acres of lush farmlands in the lower-Hudson Valley of New York, Glenmere Mansion was once the Gilded Age retreat of the Goelet family. This thirty-five-room Tuscan villa hosted royalty, aristocracy and prominent artists. Now reincarnated as a premier hotel and spa, it offers eighteen guest accommodations, two distinguished restaurants and recreational facilities (including a chic pool pavilion). It also features formal gardens with terraced vistas and plentiful fountains, which were originally designed by Beatrix Farrand, America’s first female landscape architect. While Glenmere is just a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Fairfield County, its European style and sophistication left me feeling as though I’d been transported overseas.
RELAX LIKE A ROYALTY
Enjoy the better things in life.
Renowned interior designer Scott Snyder combined historic elegance and modern luxury in the deluxe bedrooms, junior suites and five premium suites, each of which is entirely unique. Decorated with the finest antiques and superior artwork from a private collection, the diverse accommodations feature plush beds, custom-designed Italian linens, marble baths with heated floors and oversized flat-screen TVs. Some rooms have working fireplaces and terraces with spectacular views of the gardens and the lake (mine did!). Feeling extravagant? Charter a helicopter to land on the front lawn, where you’ll be greeted by butlers.
At the exquisite Carrara marble Bath House & Hammam, the motto is: “Soothe body. Revitalize mind. Invigorate soul.” And that’s exactly what I did. Its bespoke services, from around the world, marry ancient healing traditions and modern techniques to achieve an impeccable spa experience. In addition to massages, facials and bath-and-body rituals, there’s an herbal steam room, dry-heat sauna, stimulating Swiss shower, cool-mist room, aqua-massage vitality pool and a warm-marble Belly Stone. The duet suite has side-by-side soaking tubs and treatment tables, so you can indulge with your partner or a friend. I tried the Turkish Soap Ritual, inspired by Turkish hammams, which is essentially a bubble bath for adults (minus the bathtub). First, my body was warmed on a heated Belly Stone while my spa attaché exfoliated my skin with a handmade Kessa mitt. After that, she used a thick, frothy scrub with moisturizing Castile soap to cleanse my skin before washing it off with large bowls of warm water. The experience was truly one of a kind.
Award-winning Executive Chef Gunnar Thompson leads the culinary charge at Glenmere, beginning with The Supper Room, an intimate, candlelit dining space with hand-painted eglomise panels depicting the hills of Tuscany. French doors open onto an expansive terrace, which boasts a large Italianate fireplace for cooler evenings. Offering the region’s finest ingredients and premier wines, highlights include the Sweet Corn Soup with slow-roasted tomatoes and toasted sesame vinaigrette, and the Hudson Valley Duck Breast with fresh O’Henry yellow peach, lemon and tarragon panisse, wilted garden Swiss chard and wineberry jus. For dessert, the double dark chocolate soufflé with Valhrona dark chocolate and Flor de Caña dark rum Crème Anglaise is a must. (The fifteen-minute wait is well worth it!) If you’re looking for lighter lunch fare or a casual dinner, pop into Frogs End tavern for jumbo shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, salads, burgers and fresh pasta.
The Hudson Valley offers plenty of options, including historic sites such as West Point and Hyde Park, acclaimed wineries and Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets. Head to Bear Mountain State Park for outdoorsy fun, including biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating.
FOR YOUR BOOK BAG
A how-to guide, a psychological thriller and a soul-searching debut round out my three picks to suit whatever mood you’re in.
When’s Happy Hour? by Betches. From New York Times best-selling authors Betches—founders of Betches Media, a viral social media and digital humor company—comes a tongue-in-cheek guide on how to succeed professionally by being the boss of your career. They offer advice on how to land your dream job, ask for a raise and make it to happy hour twice a week. You’ll laugh out loud and finish feeling empowered.
Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. This powerhouse writing duo (best friends of thirty years) is back with an unnerving novel of psychological suspense about three estranged friends who all have something to hide. What better place to mend old wounds than the idyllic setting of Tulum, Mexico? When one goes missing, the other two are sent on a wild-goose chase to decipher what happened that fateful night. As the clock ticks and suspicions run deep, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
Bedside Manners by Heather Frimmer. A Weston resident and radiologist, Frimmer has penned a poignant, soul-searching story about Joyce Novak, a mother who’s diagnosed with breast cancer just as her daughter finishes medical school and is engaged to be married. This one will tug at your heartstrings.
All photographs by Sargent.