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Luxury and Charm at the Blantyre, Berkshires

Jun. 23rd, 2008 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment   
Luxury Resorts: If you have already discovered the secret world of Blantyre, you probably haven't told too many people about this fabulous hideaway. The Berkshires property, named after the original owner's family home in Scotland, is now a year-round Relais & Chateau resort located 120 miles from Boston. Blantyre offers everything from tennis courts, shuffleboard, championship croquet lawns and hiking trails over the 100 acre property to a "potting shed" spa and private guest cottages.

From the museum quality paintings, rich dark oak, hand carved fireplaces, and dramatic staircases, the old world style of this magical country mansion takes you back in time to the lavish Gilded Age similar to that of the Newport mansions. You can just envision the formal social parties that must have been held on this sprawling Tudor estate at one time.

As we drove up the private road, which was meticulously outlined with small stones, we witnessed the local wildlife, which included a large woodpecker drilling a nearby tree and a flock of wild turkeys looking on in the background. The property feels like an exclusive getaway despite being just a few minutes from downtown Lenox.

The current owner of Blantyre, Ann Fitzpatrick Brown, inherited the property from her parents, Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick. Today the property, which was built in 1902, has been carefully and lovingly restored; now offering four cottages and rooms in the Main House as well as the Carriage House. The Scottish manor houses eight exquisite bedrooms and suites, many with fireplaces. The 12 accommodations in the nearby Carriage House complement the luxe fabrics and antique style of the Main House.

The attention to detail here is extraordinary - from the landscaping and beautifully decorated floral arrangements seen throughout the property to the first rate service and amenities. We stayed in a cottage named The Old Bath House, one of two pet friendly accommodations on the property. Filled with dog magazines and books, the cottage even had a special dog bed and a bag of treats for our bulldog. Even at turndown service, our dog was not to be forgotten as they dropped off Kobe beef treats, which were quickly devoured. The cottage had a large king bedroom, living room with wood burning stove, a cozy kitchen and a deck with a sprawling view of the rolling green fields.

The Potting Shed spa next to the outdoor pool hosts an exercise room, sauna and treatment rooms for massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. During the winter months, the tennis courts are transformed to an ice skating rink with "warming hut" for a cup of hot chocolate. They also offer snow shoeing, cross country skiing and sleigh rides.

Dinner here (where jacket and tie is required for gentlemen) is truly one of the Berkshires best kept secrets. From the presentation to the quality, the restaurant will not disappoint. Upon entering the main house, we were shown to the opulent conservatory where we relaxed with a glass of cabernet and canapés while listening to the pianist, who plays there nightly. We were presented with the menu and servers were standing by to answer any questions we may have had. Once we had determined our selections, we were requested to move to the highly anticipated dining room, located behind closed curtains adjacent to the grand hall.

Once the curtains were opened, the most exquisitely decorated dining room was revealed. Towering bouquets of fresh cut flowers were carefully placed on each of the 12 candlelit tables for an intimate and truly first class experience.

Executive Chef Christopher Brooks prepares a superb prix fix three, four or five course offering nightly. We sampled the rare Hawaiian marlin with fennel radish and a grapefruit soy emulsion as well as the sautéed Scottish langoustine with lemon risotto for starters. Our main courses included the sea bass (the chef's daily choice of fish) and the Kobe beef strip loin with local cremini mushrooms, spinach and gold potato confit. There are more than 2,000 wines on the list (which is more like a book) and the sommelier was nearby to offer assistance in selection and answer any questions. The extensive wine list is also left in your room so you have a chance to peruse before dinner.

What makes Blantyre so special is the intimate feeling that you are a houseguest of a close billionaire friend. When it came time for dessert, we retired to a sofa in the grand hall in front of the fireplace for some petit fours, after dinner drinks, coffee and cappuccino. Time stood still (for once) and we were not even aware that nearly three hours had passed since we had first been greeted in the conservatory.

Upon our departure, we were given a beautiful coffee table book of the Berkshires wrapped in a bow along with two bottles of water for the ride home. Simple yet understated elegant touches that go a long way with guests, which is easy to see why so many keep coming back for more.

Returning home, many people asked us if we went to Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). We then realized the only downside to Blantyre (if we had to mention one) is that it is impossible to leave the property to enjoy all that the Berkshires had to offer. Staying here was truly a fairytale come true. Rates start at $550 per night for a stay in the Carriage House and $950 and up for a night in one of the cottages.

For LxM Kellie K. Speed
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