The Berkshires: Experience the Charm of a Bygone Era

The Berkshires are a wonderful place to visit in June.  The winter’s skiers have gone home and Tanglewood’s visitors have yet to arrive; peace prevails.  Light traffic permits a leisurely drive along the Housatonic River with time to enjoy the view of rolling hills and picturesque countryside. 

Lenox and the surrounding towns were once considered the “Newport of the Berkshires.” It’s here that members of New York and Boston Society summered for the ‘health benefits’ the fresh air provided.  Their ‘cottages’ rivaled the mansions of Newport. The preservation effort that has taken place allows one to experience the charm of a bygone era.  The gardens of lovingly restored country homes abound with lavish peony blooms. Gravel roads meander through woodlands, lush with fern and myrtle.

It was the perfect setting for Bill and I to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We had the pleasure of staying at Blantyre the former summer ‘cottage’ of the Patterson family.  We were greeted by the staff and owner Ann Fitzpatrick Brown as our bags were whisked away and within minutes we found ourselves relaxing in over-stuffed chairs enjoying fruit, cheese, and drinking champagne from antique flutes.  The Tutor inspired ‘cottage’ is meticulously decorated and filled antiques that somehow instantly feel like old friends.  The Gilded Age feel is made complete with period service and entertainment that blend seamlessly with modern convenience.  Books and welcoming sofas fill the hallways, croquet and shuffleboard await; the spa beckons to the weary traveler.

Something I particularly enjoyed was the whimsical Jay Strongwater salt and pepper collection.  Bunnies, birds, dogs and strawberries; a different set appeared with every meal. Despite the grand surroundings, much of Blantyre’s charm is the staff’s ability to set you immediately at ease.  It’s like being a guest in Jay Gatsby’s house.

A tour of the grounds reveals the former carriage house stables and potting shed now housing guest rooms and a luxurious heated pool and spa. The expansive lawns and wooded trails are a pleasure to explore.  Blantyre not only offers a glimpse into the past, it allows one to experience it.  Located in the charming Berkshire town of Lenox, MA, it was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.