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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Worth the Splurge

Lake Placid Lodge
144 Lodge Way /// Lake Placid, NY (518) 523-2700/(877) 523-2700
From White Plains: 5 hours

Lake Placid Lodge's rooms give you the feeling of sleeping in your own private treehouse.

The Gilded Age Adirondack Camps, where oil and steel barons came to recreate, made rugged chic. Lake Placid Lodge, a Relais & Châteaux property, is “rugged-chic” of the highest caliber. After a fire destroyed the main building (keeping most cabins intact), new owner David Garrett hired 40 local artisans to re-interpret camp design for the cosmopolitan set. (Check out Tom Yacovella’s tribute to the Whitetail made from hundreds of shed antlers—yacovellart.com/sculpture.php—yours for $100,000.) The Lodge’s current incarnation retains the purity of tradition—lots of twigs, bark, and logs as structural and design elements—bolstered by a transcendent dining and lodging experience.

Room: At $1,250 per night, it’s got to be transcendent. What can justify lodging at such stratospheric rates? Well, you are securing a Swiss Family Robinson tangled-tree-limbs suite in the main lodge or a slice of lakefront property—ripples lapping up to your picture window—for a night or two. Complete privacy, complete indulgence. It’s Pendleton blankets and birch bark furniture with butler service. Ask for the Owl’s Head Cabin—a hotel room like the Bentley is a car—with a bed you need to pole vault into and unsurpassed views of Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain as backdrop. The considerably large but cozy glossy wood bathroom includes a shower, sauna and soaking tub.

Board: In the main lodge, a low-key French sommelier will recommend the best vintages (emphasizing that Lake Placid Lodge is Tattinger Champagne’s #1 account in Northeastern U.S.A.) in casual Maggie’s Pub. Maggie is the resident champagne-hued Golden Retriever who never misses an opportunity to hike with guests, and you can chomp on upscale pub-fare, Maggie at your feet, in front of a roaring stone fireplace. Or dine elegantly in the next room at Artisans, which offers outside seating on a wrap-around porch from which you’re likely to behold a spectacular moonrise over Buck Island.

Only Here: Hotel investor David Garrett has one of the largest collections of Hudson River School of Art paintings in the world and he uses Lake Placid Lodge as his personal gallery. While sipping your “welcome” Champagne, investigate these, along with the intact birch tree that thrusts up from the basement floor to the third floor ceiling in the center of a log staircase. Ask for a complimentary tour around the lake in the Lodge’s 35’ Hacker-Craft or take one of the mountain bikes out for a spin. While Here: Over two weekends in the fall (Sept. 5-8, Oct. 17-20), Jones Outfitters and Lake Placid Lodge offer a great Orvis Fly-Fishing School deal. For $1,495, you and a friend get two nights lodging, one Helios Fly Rod (worth $750), and guided tours and fly-fishing instruction on the West Branch of the Ausable River.

Facts: $385 to $1,500 per room per night includes welcome Champagne, and a half-bottle wine, cheese and crackers en suite, nightly bonfire, unlimited water, soda and snacks, use of mountain bikes, kayaks, complimentary lake tours and the ever present personal service. Off season, rooms can be had for 50 percent off peak prices.

Ocean House
1 Bluff Ave /// Watch Hill, RI (401) 584-7000/(888) 552-2588
From White Plains: 2½ hours

The Ocean House sits on a bluff overlooking Watch Hill harbor.

Climbing the bluff that overlooks Watch Hill harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, you can almost hear the joyous shouts of Victorian era travelers as they haul their steamer trunks to the portico of this splendid yellow and white resort. Former fans recall small rooms, shared bathrooms, squeaky plumbing, and warped floors, though most claimed it the “most stunning location in the world.” Originally constructed in 1868, by 2003 the 159-room Ocean House had deteriorated to the point where the top two floors were dangerously uninhabitable and “you could put a marble on the dining room floor and it would go in circles it was so warped,” says Director of Communications Dinah Saglio. To the rescue, New York investment advisor and Watch Hill summer resident Charles Royce, who had the heart and resources (raising $140 million) to reimagine the Ocean House as a 49-room “Preferred Boutique” hotel. Too expensive to renovate, the structure was disassembled and rebuilt as an exact historic restoration using 5,000 original pieces, some of which make up the external clapboard, railings, front door, wavy windows, reception desk, and a stone fireplace in the lobby. With a focus on exceptional service and warm hospitality, the Ocean House has been winning over the community and past guests since it reopened in May.

Room: Colors and appointments mesh harmoniously with sand and sea. Amply upholstered chairs, walls, window treatments and Frette bedding in subtle blues, pinks and yellows; rooms were designed to feel like a friend’s summer shore home—with free WiFi and HD TV’s. Observe your beloved relaxing in a deep soaking tub through clever cut-through shutter windows that open onto the bedroom. Shower floors are made of round beach stones and bathroom subway tile floors mimic those of yesteryears. Though pricier, all rooms on the second floor have large terraces caressed by ocean breezes ($355-$855).

Board: The small-plates menu for in-house Seasons Restaurant is created daily from ingredients freshly plucked by Ocean House Food Forager (yes, that is her job title) Pamela Stone. A team of enthusiastic young chefs craft dishes that are creatively conceived, often witty and ultimately scrumptious. For foodies who’d prefer to observe cooking action over surfers catching waves, ask for a coveted counter seat facing the demonstration kitchen. The darkly paneled Club Room offers a less formal chophouse style cuisine and a 2,500-square-foot deck overlooking the private beach below.

Only Here: Tagged onto the room expense, a $24 per person “resort fee” saves you from digging in your pocket every time a valet, porter or concierge does you a service. It also avails you of various fall season classes and amenities, such as the ability to tag along with Stone on her foraging expeditions to on-site herb gardens and local fish markets and farms, Yoga in the OH! Spa, surf casting lessons on the beach, or beefing up your croquet skills on the resort’s championship croquet lawn.

While Here: Poke around the tiny downtown of Watch Hill. In Autumn, all the cute shops are still open.

Facts: Rooms, $260-$855; family suites, $500-$10,000 per night. Daily $24 per person resort fee includes all gratuities, afternoon tea with freshly baked goods, constantly restocked private bar, parking and valet, WiFi, and selection of daily resort activities.

Prodigious Pastorals

Inn at Westwynd Farm
1620 Sand Beach Rd /// Hummelstown, PA (877) 937-8996
From White Plains: 3½ hours

 Horses roam at the Inn at Westwynd Farm.

Not every redo is contemporary highbrow. Sometimes, it’s about giving the people what they want. When Carolyn Troxell and her husband, Frank, transformed their 32-acre working horse farm into a B&B in 2002, they discovered that the “Jacuzzi room” was sold out nearly every day. People were actually tussling over the bookings. What to do? Last year, they created a whole new wing with four Jacuzzi-in-the-corner bedrooms and added jetted bathtubs to existing rooms, ending up with an extremely popular inn. There are more living rooms and dens, and more complimentary baked goods and unlimited soft drinks here than in most lodgings, making this an ideal place for family and friends reunions.

Room: With an ambience ripped from the pages of a romance novel, each pasture-view room has a fireplace and bedside Jacuzzi and are done up in whites and creams offset by deeply colored window treatments and bedding. Carolyn loves hauling antiques back from weekend shows, so rooms showcase an eclectic assortment of distressed old-timey furniture.

Board: Westwynd Farm is known for its three-course hot breakfast served in the just-built cathedral-ceiling great room or on an outside patio besides a koi pond. Gluten-free? Diabetic? Vegetarian? No problem: Carolyn can cook to your specs. For dinner, try The Chocolate Avenue Grill downtown (ChocolateAvenueGrill.com), offering an inventive and delish take on all things cocoa.

Only Here: Watch a variety of horses, alpacas, and burro gambol all over a vast expanse of farmland (they are particularly frisky in the spring and fall) and pay a visit to the barn next door. This is, after all, horse country though some guests are surprised to discover that downtown Hershey is a mere three miles away.

While Here: Car buffs will love the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, aacamurseum.org), which showcases dozens of iconic motorcars displayed in a hanger-sized building that is fast becoming a hotspot for “quirky” weddings. The largest international flea market and car swap takes place from October 6 to 9 here. Pick up a souvenir in the museum’s Dog House Garage shop on your way out.

Facts: $109 to $189 per room gets you unlimited baked snacks, soft drinks, and gourmet three-course breakfast for two.

Rock Hall
19 Rock Hall Rd /// Colebrook, CT (860) 379-2230
From White Plains: 1¾ hours

Rock Hall was designed by "starchitect" Addison Mizner.

Five years ago, New Yorkers Michael and Stella Somers purchased Addison Mizner-designed Rock Hall as a weekend home in the swanky Litchfield County woods. They decided to sink a bunch of bucks into plumbing and electronics and, preserving its authenticity, opened their newly designated National Historic Site as a five-room “resort.” Just one of two homes that Florida “starchitect” Mizner built in New England, this Mediterranean/Moorish/Scottish mash-up features chestnut paneled walls, quarter-sawn chestnut floors, and a massive poured-concrete fireplace. Enter the front door into the cavernous reception hall where you’re invited to enjoy a signature “Rock Hall” martini (vanilla and coffee liquors) or wine served in Lalique crystal stemware.

Room: Ask for Chamber 2—the spruced-up spacious master bedroom—with bright-orange Indian print duvet and luxe bedding, private balcony, wood-burning fireplace and a department-store-worthy three-way mirror. The Somers kept the torture-chamber-esque special-feature shower—a 100-year-old surround-shower that looks like a Victorian corset, designed to spray water evenly on every part of your body though it ends up soaking every part of the bathroom.

Board: Michael has been lauded for his home-cured gravlax—which is set out, along with fresh-fruit salad, locally-made granola, Stella’s blueberry jam (made from blueberries pick on the property), cheese, and olives on a Victorian sideboard in the formal dining room. Slip a slice of just-cooked frittata or French toast on Royal Mail Staffordshire Ironstone ware beneath an appropriately weighty 19th-century French crystal chandelier. For dinner, there are several options—the closest is Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Norfolk (infinityhall.com), a three-mile drive, which serves good burgers and grilled fish in a restored live theater.

Only Here: Pick a bushel of apples from the on-site orchard. Bring your tennis rackets and play on Rock Hall courts. If the weather is still warm, take a dip in the heated pool. Stay in at night to watch a movie in the “cinema” complete with popcorn maker, Junior Mints and Raisinettes (gratis), or play pool on a 1926 Brunswick Arcade table in the billiards room. If all that is not enough, there’s ping-pong, Foozeball, and Wii’s Dance Dance Revolution on the third floor.

While Here: Ask for the gourmet picnic basket ($15-$25 per person, must be ordered 48 hours ahead) and head out to the local waterfalls. Stella will provide you with a map. Or catch a show at Infinity Hall.

Facts: Rooms ($250-$375) include Michael’s lauded gravlax along with a several- course breakfast, welcome cocktail, and use of all resort facilities including heated pool, tennis courts, movie room, game rooms, and gym.

Rooster Tail Inn
11 Cornwall Rd /// Warren, CT (860) 868-3100
From White Plains: 1½ hours

The quaint charm of the Rooster Tail Inn belies space-aged amenities.

With a name like Rooster Tail, you’d expect the place to embody country and cutsie and chintz, but nothing could be further from the truth; rooms manage to be comfy, cheeky, and forward-looking. Owners Maureen (Mo) and Clifford Jones—local builders—fell into inn-ownership in 2007. “Locals stopped to talk to us as we were rebuilding this place, saying, ‘You have to open this up to the public,’” Mo says. “So we felt it was almost our duty.” Using guest rooms as showcases for friend’s hand-made Quaker-like furniture Mo and Cliff took a street-front eyesore and styled it right onto a growing number of “must-stay” lists.

Room: Okay, I have to come right out and say it. The bathrooms are the most absurdly futuristic, space-age salles de bains I have ever encountered at home or away. The electric toilet/bidet combination (self-cleaning, I might add) and computer-programmed jet tub have to be seen to be believed. The commode cover lifts up on its own as it senses your presence. Contemporary eclectic rooms infused with shades of light mustard and other serenely neutral hues are beautifully appointed, with one-of-a-kind hand-made bureaus, sleigh beds, flourishes incorporating rooster paraphernalia, and 46-inch flat-screen TVs. Bedding is cloud-soft divine, and oh, did I mention the bathrooms?

Board: The raucous crowd in the tavern downstairs may include Joan Rivers or “Mrs. Kissinger” or one of many celebs and non-celebs who consider Litchfield County their home or second home. Suffice it to say that diners become fans become fanatical cheerleaders for both the restaurant and inn. Breakfast (included) borders on great with the most sublime ginger scones on
the planet.

Only Here: Take a spa-like bubbly soak in a super-duper jetted tub; this is not your mother’s Jaccuzi. It’s like going to Baden-Baden for the waters.

While Here: The NASCAR side of Paul Newman favored Lime Rock Park (limerock.com), where you can take classes at the resident Skip Barber Racing School or leave the pros to it—just a few miles from here.

Facts: Six rooms and suites from $295 to $550 include multi-course chef’s breakfast and free WiFi.

Nothing makes travel writer Malerie Yolen-Cohen happier than hitting the road to discover the newest, luxurious, coolest and most tweeted about hotels, inns and B&B's that are just a short drive away.

 

Hotels

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