By Jeff & Stephanie Sylva
Almost everyone would like to erase 2020—and the good news is that 2021 is right around the corner. Although none of us know what’s in store, chances are this new year will be better than the previous. (It can’t be worse, can it?) So, why not kick it off in style? Here are a few of our favorite places that are open and eager to welcome you, happily and safely, with proper COVID-19 protocols in place.
THE RED LION INN
In the heart of Norman Rockwell country in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, the revered Red Lion Inn is famous for its fabulous front porch and side piazza. Both will be enclosed for the winter months, which means there’s a rocking chair with your name on it where you can relax with a drink and dinner.
There’s reduced seating on the front porch; masks are required indoors throughout public gathering areas. Hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless whenever possible, are placed at key guest and employee entrances and contact areas.
The Red Lion is surrounded by picturesque forests and hundreds of walking paths, foot trails, and steep climbs. The grounds of Naumkeag, a storied country estate of the Gilded Age, are open for strolling and exploring. Neighboring Mount Greylock is home to the highest peak in southern New England with sweeping vistas of five states. The Appalachian Trail cuts directly through the Berkshires with numerous trail entrances throughout the area.
But for colder days, visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, home to the world’s largest collection of Rockwell’s work. The Red Lion Inn’s Norman Rockwell Museum experience includes a $50 dining credit per room per night that you can use toward food and drink purchases at any Red Lion Inn restaurant, as well as two tickets to the Rockwell Museum per night. Info: redlioninn.com.
TOPPING ROSE HOUSE
About 100 miles from Manhattan on the East End of Long Island sits a magnificent wedding cake of a house. Called Topping Rose, it’s smack dab in the middle of Bridgehampton’s cafes, art galleries, and shops. The hotel is one of the Hamptons’ first full-service luxury hotels, with 22 gorgeous rooms in the House, Studio, and Cottages, along with a gym, outdoor pool, a spa, and shuttle to the beaches and area attractions. And oh, yes—there’s a Jean-Georges restaurant on-site, using ingredients from the property’s one-acre farm. It’s open year-round, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Built in 1842 for Judge Abraham Topping Rose and his family, the main house, with its flat roof, cupola, pilasters, and frieze band, was designed in a local version of the Greek Revival-style which was immensely popular throughout the country at the time. Behind the house and to the east is its barn, a two-story wood structure with a peaked-gable roof with a cupola in the center. Info: toppingrosehouse.com.
TOPPING ROSE HOUSE
the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, in the Finger Lakes region, as the home of Wells College. What they may not know is alumna Pleasant T. Rowland—she’s the founder of American Girl dolls—has helped restore more than ten historic properties in the town. Five—Aurora Inn, E.B. Morgan House, Rowland House, Wallcourt Hall, and Zabriskie House comprise the Inns of Aurora.
Many of the guestrooms feature fireplaces and balconies overlooking picturesque Cayuga Lake. Each day begins with organic, fair-trade coffee and fresh, homemade granola bars, necessary fuel for taking a kayak out to explore the lake. Afternoons are best spent at one of the nearby wineries and breweries. You can dine at 1833 Kitchen & Bar, which serves farm-to-table American cuisine and craft cocktails at night. Inside, the dining room features two fireplaces where fires blaze during cooler months. The new cocktail lounge offers 12 bar seats and several intimate conversation tables that serve as a welcoming area for happy hours, pre-dinner drinks, or a relaxing nightcap. For a more relaxed atmosphere, check out Fargo Bar & Grill, directly across from the Aurora Inn.
Guests interested in an outdoor adventure are welcome to check out a pair of hunter boots for an afternoon of exploration or an educational visit at the local organic garlic farm. In colder weather, snowshoes and sleds are available. After an active day outdoors, be sure to drop by the 21,000-square-foot spa and healing center (scheduled to open early 2021), with hydrotherapy pools, meditation spaces, and eleven treatment rooms complete with warming fireplaces. Info: innsofaurora.com.
Palm Beach, FL
In November, Nantucket’s famed White Elephant opened the 32-room White Elephant Palm Beach. Housed in the former Bradley Park Hotel, it was originally constructed in 1924 as one of the first resorts on Palm Beach’s Main Street. The hotel stands one street north of Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach’s original Main Street, less than two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and one block from the Intracoastal Waterway.
Guestrooms and suites range up to 3,000-square feet, along with two penthouse suites (with living rooms, fully equipped kitchens, and terraces). They offer complimentary use of Priority Bicycles and Radio Flyer Wagons and exclusive access to Barton & Gray yachts for excursions. If you’d prefer to ride, you can be chauffeured into town in a 7 Series BMW, or you can sign one out for a few hours and drive yourself. (A shuttle will whisk you to the beach.) For meals, there’s Lola 41—a Nantucket staple—that serves its globally-inspired dishes and local seafood specialties. Info: whiteelephantpalmbeach.com.