Memo from Glenmere Mansion

” . . . . a weekend in the country,
How amusing,
How delightfully droll.
A weekend in the country,
While we’re losing
Our control.”
Stephen Sondheim

Good evening and greetings from Glenmere Mansion in Chester, New York – a mere 75 minutes from Manhattan. This is our 3rd visit to this enchanted hostelry and we couldn’t be happier to be here. The occasion is the 10th anniversary of our very dear friends, A and K, who we met aboard Crystal Serenity on an Atlantic crossing back in 2013.

About Glenmere Mansion: Designed by famed architects, Carrère and Hastings, Glenmere was built in 1911 for multimillionaire Robert Wilson Goelet (1881-1966). Goelet’s charge to his architects was to think “Tuscan villa”. The mansion was built on a hilltop overlooking a lake amid hundreds of acres purchased by Goelet. The stunning gardens surrounding the estate were originally designed by Beatrix Jones Farrand, America’s first major female landscape architect.

Glenmere Goelet

Glenmere was sold during World War II and became a resort hotel; over the years, the hotel sadly fell into disrepair and, eventually, was seized by the local authorities and a tax lien was placed upon it. 

In 2007, the mansion and estate was acquired by Alan Stenberg and his partner, Daniel DeSimone, whose inspiration it was to restore Glenmere Mansion to its former glory. It took several years to complete the multimillion dollar project and you can see all that was spent from the moment you arrive. 

In fact, Glenmere Mansion is held in such high esteem that it is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux which, at present, has only 530 properties worldwide.

Glenmere Entrance
Arriving at Glenmere Mansion

Glenmere - AAC Arrives
AAC CPA has arrived

As soon as we drove up, the mansion’s butler, Charles, came right out to meet us. If we didn’t know already know Alan, we’d swear that Charles ran the place – he’s extremely knowledgeable about everything Glenmere, and has the knack of anticipating what you want and/or need, sometimes before you do. He’s that good.

Glenmere - Charles
AAC CPA and the indispensable Charles

While Charles took care of our luggage, we went to check-in. Michelle at reception told us that, thanks to Alan, we’d be upgraded from our usual #16 (there are only about 19 or so rooms in the place) into the Master Suite. (How lucky are we?) Charles got us into the private elevator and we ascended to the top floor and entered our digs for the weekend.

Glenmere Elevator
Private elevator to the Master Suite

We knew, from past visits, that every inch of this place has been thoroughly and lovingly thought out and impeccably designed, but we were still unprepared for the sumptuousness of the Master Suite. We later realized that the “formal” entrance to the suite is on the floor below, after which you ascend a gorgeous staircase. The suite has a master bedroom with en suite bathroom which features a free-standing bathtub (rubber duckies included), a steam-shower and (even in July) heated floors. Down the hallway is the beautiful living and dining room. Outside the living room is a private terrace, which runs the entire length of the suite. Thank you, Alan, for your generosity!

Manor Suite Entrance
Lower entrance to the Master Suite
Manor Suite Hallway
Master Suite Hallway
Manor Suite Bedroom
Master Suite Bedroom
Glenmere Tub
Bathtub with rubber duckies
Manor Suite Living Room
Master Suite Living/Dining Room
Manor Suite Terrace
Master Suite terrace overlooking the Cortile

After settling in, we met the boys for lunch in the mansion’s Cortile (or inner courtyard). We started with a perfectly chilled bottle of an Italian Rosé, followed by salads and – for one of us with a real appetite – a chicken and waffle sandwich with lots of French fries. Everything was delectable.

Glenmere Cortile
The cortile (or inner courtyard)
Glenmere - waffle
The chicken and waffle sandwich
Glenmere Nicoise
Salade Nicoise

After lunch, it was time for a walk around the grounds. In addition to the gorgeous pool area, there’s a loggia (which was set out with jigsaw puzzles and games), the bocce ball courts, the tennis courts, the croquet lawn (all very Gatsby, don’t you think?) and, finally, the fabulous spa, the main feature of which is one of only four authentic hammam spas in the entire United States. If spas are your thing, Glenmere is where you want to be.

Glenmere Formal Gardens
The formal gardens

Glenmere Pool
The pool
Glenmere Hammam
The fabulous hammam

Then we came back inside to snoop around the common areas of the mansion: Frog’s End (the more casual restaurant where we’ll be dining tonight), the library, which has a wonderful collection of books and more games, the “living room”, where cocktails are served each evening, the Supper Room (the more formal restaurant, where we’ll be dining on Saturday night) and, finally, the China Room, which is available for private dinners. The thought and care that has gone into every detail of every room is absolute and complete.

Glenmere Supper Room
The Supper Room

Glenmere Terrace
AAC CPA on the terrace

Before I forget, I want to put in a word for the Glenmere staff. Alan and his partner, Dan, have assembled an outstanding group of local professionals who are here for one reason only: to insure that you have a memorable visit. We remember many of them from past visits and some of them have been here since the mansion opened in 2010.

So now the rain has stopped and we’re going to have another walk around before inviting the boys up for cocktails in a few minutes.

Stay tuned for more details of our Glenmere adventure.

To be continued . . . . . . . 

Glenmere Sunset
Another perfect Glenmere sunset


2015 Wrap-Up, Part I – Travel


At this time of year, everyone seems to be publishing “best-of” lists. As I’ve been blogging for barely 3 months, I thought I’d challenge myself to post 3 of these lists: one each for travel, cuisine, and culture.

Today is for travel and I’ve narrowed the scope of this post to four places I’ve slept during the past year that I would recommend to you.

In alphabetical order:

L’Ermitage – Beverly Hills, CA

L'Ermitage - 01Entrance to L’Ermitage

We’ve been staying at this property for years. Back in the day – the early 80’s, to be precise – L’Ermitage was one of the very first “all-suite” hotels. I remember staying there in June 1982 and being wowed by the concept – all that space for lil’ ol’ me. The property was completely renovated and upgraded about 15 years ago to maintain its edge.

L'Ermitage - 02L’Ermitage Pool and Cabañas at Dusk

We were last there this past June and the hotel was in the midst of a major makeover. Because of our longstanding relationship with the hotel, we were given a sneak preview of the new rooms, and they’re extremely beautiful and up to the minute in terms of amenities and technology.

Another big plus is that L’Ermitage has a great location, just a few minutes walk (wait: who walks in Los Angeles??) to Rodeo drive and other Beverly Hills landmarks.

I’d also like to put in a word for the service at the hotel – couldn’t be better. You’ll be very well taken care of at L’Ermitage.

L'Ermitage Cabana LunchA bite of lunch in a poolside cabaña

TRAVEL TIP: L’Ermitage

Glenmere – Chester, NY

Glenmere - 01
A Tuscan mansion in upstate New York?

We discovered this fabulous property just after it opened in 2010. A 75-minute drive from Manhattan, it is the former Tuscan-style mansion built in 1911 by Robert Wilson Goelet on his enormous estate in Sugar Loaf, a hamlet in Chester. The original architects, Carrere & Hastings, also designed the New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Museum.

The estate was sold during World War II and converted into a resort hotel. By the 1960s, however, it had fallen into disrepair.

In 2007, the property was purchased by Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone and over the next several years – and at an estimated cost of $30 million – was transformed into a magnificent luxury 19-room hotel and restaurant. A spa – perhaps unlike any you’ve seen before – was added a couple of years ago.

Glenmere - 02 - Spa

The Spa at Glenmere – Do I believe my eyes?

We returned to Glenmere for a couple of nights last August. If anything, they’ve upped their game. Butler service and a complimentary breakfast are now included. The grounds are magnificent, as is the property itself. If you want to splurge for a special occasion, Glenmere is the place to do it.

Glenmere - AAC arrives

AAC CPA arrives at Glenmere

Glenmere - View

Check out the view from our room

Glenmere - Terrace

AAC CPA relaxes on the terrace on a Wednesday afternoon

TRAVEL TIP: Glenmere Mansion

Peninsula Hotel – Paris, France

Peninsula EntranceEntrance to the Peninsula

We were in Paris last May following our crossing from Miami to Lisbon aboard Crystal Serenity. The Peninsula opened about a year ago and, as with all grand Parisian hotels, it is a masterpiece of design and execution. Located steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, it is an ideal location for a visit to the City of Light.

The rooms are beautifully designed and feature up-to-the-minute technology, including iPads on either side of the bed to control virtually everything in the room (except for AAC CPA, of course). This can result, of course, in dueling remote controls when watching television. (Should anyone have time to watch TV in Paris?)

Peninsula - iPad

Dueling iPads

The bathrooms defy description and I mean that in the best way possible.

Peninsula - 02

Do you believe me now?

There are several dining venues in the hotel, including the elegant rooftop restaurant, L’Oiseau Blanc, which has wonderful food and awesome views of the Eiffel Tower. It is adjacent to a very deco bar, which serves extremely tasty cocktails. In good weather, the bar opens onto a terrace where you can appreciate the territory.

Peninsula - AAC - 01

The outside terrace at the Peninsula

Peninsula - AAC - Cocktails

AAC CPA and I enjoy evening cocktails at L’Oiseau Blanc

TRAVEL TIP: Peninsula Hotel

Hotel Yountville – Yountville, CA

Yountville - AAC - 01

AAC CPA arrives at the Hotel Yountville

Any oenophile worth his or her salt will travel to California to enjoy the wine country. These days, there are so many wine regions out there but, for many, the Napa Valley is the place to go. We’ve stayed in the wine country on several occasions but, last summer, spent a few days in Yountville at the Yountville Hotel and I highly recommend it to you.

Yountville - Balcony

Our private balcony

Besides being a lovely place to stay, it is located on the main drag and within walking distance of all the great Yountville restaurants. (French Laundry, anyone?) And Yountville is an extremely convenient place to stay as you’re within a 30-minute radius of many of the great wineries in the Valley.

Yountville - AAC CoffeeAAC CPA relaxing after breakfast

Oh, and for those of you who like to get in a morning run before debauching yourselves at the myriad of wineries in the vicinity, here’s the view from one of my jogs:

Yountville - Jog

I actually jogged here!

Before checking out of the Hotel Yountville, we had already booked the hotel for a return visit next summer. That’s how much we enjoyed it.

TRAVEL TIP: Hotel Yountville

Next up: 2015 Best of Cuisine!