Best Fall Getaways

Been there, done that. Or have you? Discover 23 weekend getaway properties so transformed, you’ll never believe you’d set foot in them before (and why fall is the perfect time to visit them).



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On the Waterfront: River, Harbor & Oceanside Redos

The Tower Cottage
203 Forman Ave /// Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (877) 766-2693
From White Plains: 2 hours

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The Tower Cottage is the tallest home on Point Pleasant Beach.

Lately, the Jersey Shore doesn’t exactly win any distinctions when it comes to class and elegance (hear me, Snooki?), but all that has changed with one little B&B. The Tower Cottage, housed in the tallest and one of the oldest homes in Point Pleasant Beach, places you, the guest, squarely in an English Manor or Italian Palazzo—with rooms so royally appointed, you can be somewhat disoriented when you walk out the front door to a neighborhood of small and tidy homes. Owners Tony and Maureen Haddad took a run-down flophouse and turned it into a premier luxury B&B through a top-to-bottom gut restoration, seemingly buying out the local chandelier factory. Maureen, with Shirley Temple blond locks and an exuberant personality, is unabashedly romantic. Tableware and ultra-soft towels are Lenox, flowers in each room are fresh each day, and, after much thought, Maureen chose high-thread-count Sferra bedding with Hungarian goose-down comforters and pillows.

Room: Ask for the Tower Suite in the third floor turret. An elevated bed with equally lofty bedding is surrounded by windows and capped with a crystal chandelier. The large bathroom has a two-person Jacuzzi and five-massage spray shower. Maureen is meticulous when it comes to keeping the tubs and showers clean—she triple-washes them after every use.

Board: No restaurant here, but Maureen has a lot of Jewish mother in her. She welcomes each guest with a small fruit and cheese plate. A couple of hours later, she whips up scones or other baked delights for afternoon tea, served on elegant gold-rimmed Lenox china. When you return from dinner (the choices are endless from “best dive” Spike’s Fish Market at 415 Broadway, to newcomer Daniel’s Bistro at 115 Broadway), fresh-baked cookies and Godiva chocolates are waiting. But Maureen’s sumptuous breakfast is what will ultimately put Tower Cottage on the “Best Of” map. She grows her own herbs and tomatoes, which end up in her omelet specialties. Her fruit-dense coffee cakes will be winning awards any time now.

Only Here: Learn to sail in a New Jersey Sailing School weekend clinic, through October 10 (newjersey sailingschool.com).

While Here: Fall is a great time to go big game fishing. Shun the drunken party boat hordes and troll for a variety of swimming species from a smaller, more personalized 31-foot craft at Andreas’ Toy Charters (andreastoycharters.com). Landlubbers will be happy to stroll along the Atlantic Ocean on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk (jenkinsons.com).

Facts and Figures: Rooms range from $275 to $425 per night and include a cheese plate, afternoon tea, cookies at bedtime, a gourmet multi-course hot breakfast, bikes, and lots of TLC.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
On Pleasant Bay (2173 Rte 28) /// Chatham, MA (800) 225-7125
From White Plains: 4 hours

The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club sits on 27 waterfront acres.

A two-year, $40 million refurbishment has beautifully refreshed this elegant but laid-back seaside retreat long favored by families who “summer.” Classic Cape Cod-style buildings are tucked amid charming brick paths and lush English-style gardens on 27 meticulously landscaped waterfront acres. And while summer is always glorious on Cape Cod, an early autumn visit is one of the seasoned traveler’s best-kept secrets—the weather’s still delightful, but the crowds thin out and the prices drop.

Room: Ask for the new Signature Collection guest quarters in which you can wake up to the strains of your own iPod playlist, thanks to smart panel technology. Individually styled in soothing beachside palettes of soft blues, greens, and yellows, these oversized bedrooms and suites showcase stunning water views and sophisticated interiors featuring gas fireplaces, bespoke bedding, and sumptuous marble baths. Outdoors, private decks and patios, dotted with cozy upholstered wicker chaises, offer a mix of fire pits, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs. Rates start at $525 per night in low season and $2,800 in high.

Board: Four excellent on-site eateries offer everything from overstuffed lobster rolls to tender filet mignon, but do not miss dining at the superb 28 Atlantic, Zagat’s highest-rated restaurant on the Cape. Standouts include the tuna tartare trio starter and the petite-clambake entrée featuring sweet, succulent lobster.

Only Here: A vintage-style Good Humor ice cream truck, complete with clanging bell and uniformed driver, meanders through the property several times a day dispensing complimentary Chocolate Éclair and Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars and other frozen treats.

While Here: Hop aboard a boat from Wequassett’s dock for a seal- or whale-watching expedition or a short jaunt to the deserted Outer Beach of the Cape Cod National Seashore—helpful staff handles all the schlepping and set up of chairs, umbrellas, picnics, etc. Cycle along the old Cape Cod Rail trail or tee off at the private country club next door. A driver in one of a fleet of brand-new BMW SUVs will ferry you there or wherever you’d like to go, including the quaint little town of Chatham.

Facts and Figures: Room rates vary widely—from $195-$2,800 per night, according to configuration and season. Prices include in-room gourmet coffee, homemade pink lemonade, and, at turndown, handmade chocolate shells and a different freshly baked sweet treat—say, homemade peanut brittle—each evening.
—Laurie Yarnell

Black Bass Hotel
3774 River Rd /// Lumberville, PA (215) 297-9260
From White Plains: 2 hours

Washington never slept at the Black Bass Hotel—but he should have.

When car-dealership mogul Jack Thompson first bought the ailing Black Bass Hotel, located precariously on the Delaware River and Canal, he spared no expense in its “labor of love” reclamation. First opened in 1745 as a frontier post and owned by British Loyalists, its running joke is that “Washington never slept here.” By 2003, the hotel was so run down, one engineer deemed it an “imminent risk for massive loss of life.” Thompson, determined to make every stay a “superior experience,” stipulated: “Make it safe, make it clean, and make it like it was.” So manager Grant Ross and Jack’s daughter, Laura Thompson Barnes, cultivated a historic-chic vibe, “marrying twenty-first century with 1745,” incorporating original stone walls and recycled charred beams (from an 1830s fire) into the improved structure.

Rooms: You can’t go wrong with any of the beautifully restored rooms, (i.e., Grover Cleveland loved what is now the “Grover” room, with original antique Shakespeare-carved sink and mirror in the bathroom), but the River Suite is a personal favorite. A handsome earth-toned room bisected by a thigh-high stone wall into sitting and sleeping areas also features a large
travertine Tuscany-meets-Great-Adirondack-camp bathroom and a small balcony patio with alluring views of the canal and river right below.

Board: The restaurant has been popular with the locals for years—and that goes twice for the signature “Charleston Meeting Street Crab,” with triple-reduction cream, sherry, and cheddar. It’s been on the menu for 50 years. Both the Lantern Lounge and Tavern Bar add eccentricity and deep history in a darkly atmospheric room.

Only Here: Be sure to lift a pint or stem at the pewter bar purchased at auction 50 years ago from Maxim’s of Paris in the Tavern Bar, where large glass cases of British Royal memorabilia dating from before Queen Victoria to Charles and Di take up all wall space. Downstairs you'll find the original 1745 stone façade and windows which now serve as entrance to the basement saloon.

While Here: Head a few miles upriver—a gorgeous fall foliage ride—to Sand Castle Winery (sandcastlewinery.com). Gregarious Bratislava native Joe Maxian will regale you with stories and pontificate on the proper way to taste and drink wine. Be sure to ask for his “universal medicine for all of your problems” mulled Alpine spice, a combination of hot sweet wine and spices that gives chicken soup a run for its money.

Facts: Rooms from $195 to $395 include a hot breakfast in the restaurant and free Internet access.

Linden Point House
30 Linden Point Rd /// Stony Creek, CT (203) 481-0472
From White Plains: 1¼ hours

Linden Point House overlooks the Thimble Islands.

This is as close as you can get to the pink-granite Thimble Islands off the central Connecticut coast without actually being on one. Recently, New York City defectors Joel (photographer) and Hannah (artist) Baldwin turned a dilapidated shore home into a stunning showcase. Hammocks, Adirondack chairs, a Victorian gazebo, and benches now pepper the tiny peninsula once overrun with bramble and driftwood. Hannah’s oil paintings are displayed throughout a warren of artistically decorated sitting rooms, dens, and dining rooms—all with views of Long Island Sound’s most picturesque islands.

Room: All five guestrooms are heavenly, though the Master Suite ($375) is the most spacious. A lushly dressed queen bed, set in the center of a large room between two Roman columns, faces a bay window overlooking the granite islands and shoreline. Ready-to-be-lit candles surround a Jacuzzi in a big white-tiled bathroom that is flooded with sun from two skylights.

Board: You’re encouraged to bring your continental breakfast (cereals, fruit, bagels) to any room, patio, or sitting area on the property. There’s nothing like sipping your first morning coffee while watching mist dissipate from a pink-stone, boat-studded harbor. In town, the Stony Creek Market (178 Thimble Island Rd, Branford, CT 203-488-0145) offers fresh and healthy gourmet deli food, the best of which is toothsome Annie’s curried chicken salad. For dinner, bring a bottle of wine, purchase said chicken curry and some rolls, then picnic on Linden Point House grounds while savoring the jaw-dropping sunset—gold on pink. This is an artist’s nirvana.

Only Here: Ask Hannah and Joel how they met (hint, he was a Look magazine and lifestyle photographer; she was a Wilhelmina model).

While Here: This is arguably the most picturesque place on the Connecticut coast. Take a 45-minute Thimble Island tour on the Sea Mist (thimblelandcruise.com) to learn about it, then nap on a hammock.

Facts: Rooms are $200 to $375 per night and include a bountiful continental breakfast.

 

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