Fall Getaways Near Westchester County 2011: Glenmare Mansion in Chester, NY
Travel to Tuscany… No Passport Required
634 Pine Hill Rd // Chester, NY
(845) 469-1900 // glenmeremansion.com
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour
Photo by Kim Sargent Photography
As you approach Glenmere, the stunning, nearly two-year-old luxury hotel in Chester, New York, you may be forgiven if you begin to wonder how it is that you managed to drive from Westchester to...Tuscany. Could this drop-dead-gorgeous, salmon-colored Italianate villa—with (you’ll soon learn) marble-columned porticoes, sweeping marble staircases, and exquisite thick-wood furniture—be for real? It looks just like the drop-dead-gorgeous mansions you admired on your last trip to Italy.
Lucky for you, it most certainly is for real, thanks to two gutsy (they may declare “crazy”) men from Tuxedo Park, who poured in more than $30 million to turn the abandoned, run-down home of one of America’s wealthiest families into this magnificent Relais & Châteaux retreat.
Former public relations executive Alan Stenberg (the more outgoing member of the pair) and former orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel DeSimone (the one who loves to cook) were smitten with the 100-year-old, 35-room home of real-estate powerhouse Robert Goelet, which was designed by the same folks who designed the New York Public Library and The Frick (not too shabby, eh?), and decided to turn it into a luxury hotel. But they couldn’t do it on their own. So they enlisted the help of their dear friends, a German couple who agreed to sign on, but only if the hotel would exhibit their modern art collection (hello Motherwells, Rauschenbergs, Apfelbaums…) and only if its construction was environmentally friendly (goodbye old doors and windows—all 120 of ’em; hello new energy-efficient duplicates).
It took Stenberg and DeSimone four years to renovate the estate—“We took our ideas from the hotels we loved in our travels,” Stenberg said—and the result is nothing short of spectacular. No two of the 18 guest rooms are alike, though all feature sumptuous beds, fine antiques, great art, and bathrooms that might themselves serve as guest rooms-—all have heated marble floors (and marble walls and ceilings); some have fireplaces. The public space the duo considers “the heart” of Glenmere, the marble-pillared courtyard, is used for cocktails and, in warm weather, outdoor dining.
Said one of Glenmere’s black-clad waitresses, “I just admire it all day. This is a jewel.” A jewel well located for visiting nearby attractions, including Storm King Art Center, the 500-acre sculpture emporium, and Dia:Beacon, the contemporary art museum in Beacon. Nearby, there’s also hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and, come winter, cross-country skiing.
But, if you can’t tear yourself away from the premises (which would be totally understandable), there’s a heated outdoor pool, two tennis courts, a fitness center, bocce and croquet courts, and, come next year, a spa. But no matter how you spend your day, end it by dining in the regal Supper Room, with hand-painted églomisé glass panels with Tuscan hill images. The night my husband and I were there, we met one Goshen couple who came to Glenmere to celebrate their wedding anniversary. “I know it’s crazy,” the woman said. “We’re only ten minutes away. But we love it here.” Not crazy at all.
The Nitty-gritty: Deluxe rooms begin at $550 per night, double occupancy, and go up to $850. Suites range from $1,250 to $3,200 per night, and The Penthouse is $3,500.