CT Travel Guide
Following an extensive refurbishment, this month Grace Hotels formally takes over Washington, Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa — and introduces an impressive new dining destination that would put the first Thanksgiving to shame. The 58-acre property, a favorite respite for moneyed New York power brokers and politicos, is now the Mayflower Grace: the second American location for the luxury hotel group.
The centerpiece of the acquisition involves the launch of a fine dining restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, showcasing modern European cuisine: pretty contemporary plates that you probably wouldn’t expect in the quintessential Yankee environs of rural Connecticut. For instance, smoked lobster served in small, clear, egg-shaped orbs with screw tops is a bit more “Lady Gaga” than “First Lady,” but coming from Cartwright, a five star-awarded grand chef Relais & Chateux, the results remain unsurprisingly sophisticated and polished for the teeth-gnashing upper crust clientele.
It hews to the formula of his muse at The Vanderbilt Grace in tony Newport, Rhode Island. (Next: Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn is re-launching as White Barn Grace later 2014, according to a press statement, though it has already adopted the new name on its website.)
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Oh, who are we kidding? We're sure St. Regis Hotels and their polo team, captained by hunky Nacho Figueras, let Prince Harry and his Sentebale Land Rover team win the match with a final tally of 4-3. After all, the
hot ginger Prince Harry even scored the winning goal.
The polo match took place last week as part of the Royal Salute Sentebale Polo Cup at the Greenwich Polo Club in Connecticut. The match was the opener to the polo season and it's primary goal was not to give us pictures of Prince Harry and Nacho together but rather to raise awareness and support for healthcare and education of the children of Lesotho, Africa.
Several other St. Regis Connoisseurs came to cheer the St. Regis team on--which includes Dawn Jones (wife of Tommy Lee Jones)--such as fashion designer Jason Wu, Starwood’s SVP Brand Management Dave Marr, Greenwich Polo Club Co-Founder Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour, Nacho's wife Delfina Blaquier (pictured above), model Karolina Kurkova and Olivia Palermo.
The J House in Greenwich is a swank boutique hotel that opened in May inside a former HoJo. TripAdvisor reviewers so far have had nice things to say about it, like the service is excellent, rooms are super-clean, modern decor, nice pillows, etc.
Well, last week, it got peed on. According to Patch, a "very intoxicated" man was arrested at the hotel on Thursday night after three witnesses saw him drop trou and urinate all over the lobby. Which didn't make us laugh as hard as when we remembered that, yes, we've stayed at this hotel, and, interestingly, one of the first things we commented on about the room was the high-tech Neorest R 550 Dual Flush 1.6 GPF Japanese toilet. It even came with a remote.
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Ah, Greenwich, Connecticut, home to finance and insurance companies plus blonde monied madams (both young and old) sporting twin-sets and driving fast cars. Corporate viking GE is in nearby Fairfield, and they also come to play here. So, it's fitting that an old HoJo hotel was torn down to make way for the new J House opened last month care of Brenwood Hospitality Group. We drove our beat-up minivan to the hotel, handed it to the valet with nary a blink, and went inside for a look.
Yale students donned their caps and gowns this past weekend for graduation. To celebrate the Ivy Leaguers, the Study at Yale gave away a graduation present. Unfortunately, it wasn't a new car. But it was still pretty cool: The hotel handed out Moleskine notebooks embossed with the Study logo and with the Yale commencement 2011 insignia.
Moleskine, of course, is the mother of all travel notebooks/journals/etc. It's a favorite for its simple design, durability and infinite uses. All guests who stayed at the New Haven, Connecticut, hotel this past weekend got a big black Moleskine—a big upgrade from the usual hotel pad that falls apart when you use it.
You know the scene. You open the door to your brand new hotel room, run over to the window, open the blinds and bam, you are hit with the anti-view. Maybe you are looking down a dirty alley, witnessing a drug deal, staring at an air shaft in the face, or seeing a brick wall. Whatever you are viewing it is not extremely pleasurable. Help out your fellow hotel mavens by uploading your anti-views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number with the not-so-easy-on-the-eyes view.
While the internet charges at Hilton Hotels vary in price, you can usually count on their budget brand, Hilton Garden Inn, to offer up free WiFi. But the tradeoff? This anti-view from your room. Yeah, and the snow piles aren't doing much to help.
HotelChatter Flickr member Bnilsen dropped this in our Flickr pool last month and while we don't expect much from a suburban budget brand hotel, this view still put us in funk.
And the scene looking in wasn't that much better either.
It turns out you don't have to go to Vegas, Dubai or Macau to experience some high roller fun--you can just go to Connecticut!
That's because the Foxwoods Resort and Casino has completed a brand new High Rollers Luxury Lanes and Lounge with 20 bowling lanes (six of 'em for VIPs), billiards tables, a two-level lounge with a piano and 50-seat marble bar, two full-service bars and more than 60 HDTVs. Already this place, which actually opened back in October, is fulfilling our New Year's Resolutions list for 2011 (see #4.)
In an article from Hospitality Design, we learn that the inspiration for the bowling lanes was actually "evoking the glamour of Las Vegas in the '20s and '30s." Interestingly enough, Vegas casinos weren't actually around in the 20s and the 30s.
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The Study at Yale is settling in for the 2010-2011 academic year in New Haven, Conn., but could the 124-room Ivy League hotel be gearing up for new locations as well? That's what it sounded like when we chatted with Paul McGowan, the Study at Yale's creator and owner.
The Study at Yale has already impressed us with their spacious rooms, complete with reading chairs and ottomans as well as with their seersucker bathrobes, gingersnap cookies at the front desk and reading glasses on loan. But there are even more little touches at the hotel that we learned about from McGowan.
For instance, during reunion weekends, the hotel's bellstaff will wear hats commemorating the years of the graduating classes being honored that year. The bellstaff also gets in on the college gear year-round by wearing jeans and rugby shirts.
Yet an amenity that definitely scores top marks is the hotel's Daily Events Bulletin Board which is updated every day with the events happening in, on and around campus from athletic games, to talks and seminars and art and music exhibits.
When the Study at Yale opened near the Ivy League campus two years ago, we got all excited about the fun perks at the hotel like complimentary WiFi,leather reading chairs and the bathrobe which featured a seersucker design stitched with the hotel’s logo--a pair of reading glasses.
Speaking of reading glasses, the hotel has another fun perk, well, actually it's more of a necessity. If you've forgotten your reading glasses on your trip, you can borrow a stylish pair from the hotel who has partnered up with designer Amy Sacks.
And if you like them, you can end up purchasing them from the front desk or ordering a new pair from the Amy Sacks catalogue (Frames range from $60 to $90.) Which means no more desperate purchases of granny glasses from CVS. Now that's service!
Room rates at The Study at Yale start at around $239 a night but popular weekends on campus tend to sell out quick.
Relais & Chateaux has a long and storied past of finding the most sophisticated hotels and restaurants, especially in France, where the organization was founded in the 1950’s. Lately, however, the venerable collective has been expanding its portfolio to new continents and more whimsical properties, including Winvian in the forested hill country outside Litchfield, Connecticut.
The eighteen guest cottages and cabins that dot the 113-acre property were designed by fifteen different artists, and all come together to form a sort of dreamscape in the Connecticut back country. Each cottage has its own unique character, and a name to go along with it. We’ve picked out a few of our fantastical favorites to share with you.
Still looking for a Labor Day getaway? If you’re one of those hotel guests who pay for the experience and are into the whole super-luxe, rural New England scene, you’re in luck: Winvian, the Relais & Châteaux property made of 18 “cottages” in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills is offering a Labor Day deal, and as of today there is still availability for the weekend.
Starting at just $750 a night (bear with us—this is a deal for the preppy-posh Winvian where rooms started at $999 a night two years ago), you too can play house in a themed cottage designed by a fancy architect (15 of them got to play make-believe when designing their respective chalets.)
It’s a fun, whimsical concept—there’s a Treehouse, a Log Cabin, and a Library cottage—although kind of a pricey way to rekindle childhood memories.
Our inner geeks have been pretty excited about New Haven’s new-ish hotel, the Study at Yale, ever since the place opened last year. But until we pay the hotel a visit ourselves, we’ll have to rely on our steamy fantasy involving a rendezvous with a hunky Visiting Scholar. Er, also, the TripAdvisor reviews, which are impressively positive—13 “excellent” ratings and one “very good.” Apparently even the doormen are “dapper!”
A few highlights:
* “The only other choices near the university are a Courtyard by Marriott that in our experience could use a good cleaning, and the Omni, which is good but overpriced for what it is -- so The Study is a wonderful, welcome addition for visitors who are looking to stay near Yale,” writes TA user Oliver001.