I’m in the Greenhouse. But not your typical greenhouse. Here at Winvian in Connecticut’s Litchfield hills, the Greenhouse is the name of our ultra-luxe (and pooch friendly) cottage with a soaring glass roof, a heated floor, 2 fire places, and an adjacent luxurious bedroom complete with every amenity you could want down to a whirlpool tub, steam shower and surround sound.
Winvian, a Relais & Chateaux hotel is unlike any inn I’ve ever visited. It’s spread out on 113 acres of what was once an old farm in this bucolic part of Northwest Connecticut. There are 18 stand alone cottages designed by 15 different architects. These places are far bigger than my first New York City apartment (up to 1250 square feet).
Kids would love the cottage that literally was built around a U.S. Coast guard helicopter. They can make believe they are piloting it or get a drink from the fridge or even sleep on the couch. There’s another cottage with a huge tree in the middle and a third with a half dozen real putting greens built into the carpet. Some of the cottages are dog friendly too.
Talk about a unique family getaway- yes, while this is primarily for adults and couples there are family weekends– Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day July Fourth, etc… with a litany of kids’ activities- pony rides nearby, a bonfire with s’mores, croquet on the lawn, biking and hikes, fishing in the pond, a visit to a nearby farm and a picnic on Apple Hill. The kids could even learn a little about sustainable food—there is a huge organic garden that supplies the restaurant here. There’s even a bee hive. The one thing that’s missing: A pool but I hear there are plans for one.
But all of this doesn’t come cheap of course. The all-inclusive rate starts at $1250 a night for two adults, and $150 for kids between six and 12–$250 for teens. If you want a babysitter so you can enjoy the chef’s creations, that’s $20 an hour.
Still, well heeled families return again and again, I’m told. So do couples who might sign on for a gourmet experience where they take a cooking lesson with the chef and have a wine tasting at dinner or a romance package.
Take your pick of cottages: an artist cottage with a ceramic fireplace or a beaver cottage with a waterfall tub. The Connecticut Yankee is based on Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court , while the library cottage has a library, of course. Each cottage has individual details. In The Greenhouse where we’re staying, there are wicker cushioned couches and huge planters to go along with the Greenhouse feel. . But there are all the latest electronic accoutrements too–surround sound, iPod docking stations, flat screens TVs, fireplaces stocked with wood and fridges stocked with soft drinks wine and beer. There is an espresso making machine and even a big ice-making machine.
The main lodge houses the restaurant, solarium and game room complete with pool, foosball and table shuffleboard.
City kids would love all the room to run—there are even kids’ bikes with helmets and training wheels. Nearby, There’s kayaking and canoeing and some 50 miles of hiking trails in the 4,000 acre White Memorial Foundation with its museum where you can learn a little more about this region.
We took our rescue doggie, Trooper, on a six mile hike through the woods. Yes, Winvian is dog friendly in certain of its cottages. They had bowls for her food, and when we came up to the solarium for a glass of wine, they gave her dog treats.
I was happy to have brought her until I discovered she’d chewed the heel off another of my good shoes during the night! The repair cost will come out of her allowance, my husband said.
This is the kind of place you will feel totally pampered—at the spa too. I indulged in a facial before dinner—5,000 square feet with stone and blue and lots of glass. There’s a unique sauna where colors are selected for each specific need—soothing stress, sore muscles I leave smiling, my skin glowing.
We came back from our hike to be served a drink and a platter of cheese artfully arranged, complete with pear chutney and quince. With the all-inclusive package, all you have to do is ask… a snack, a martini, a kayak…
Dinner was superb . Chris Eddy, who has worked for Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse, is the chef. I’d give him four stars.
We start with beet salad and chilled artichoke with goat cheese, herbs, olives and beans. We could have ad warm pigeon salad. They serve us a special Asian soup and a cauliflower soufflé with American sturgeon caviar. Yum! My husband has tenderloin ad braised oxtail—all natural, of course, and I have duck breast. Let’s not forget desert- chocolate soufflé. We practically roll back to the cottage.
By the way, most of the veggies served here are grown in an expansive organic garden complete with its own beehive. While we were here, staff was hard at work preparing the ground for planting.
|Organic garden near Spa at Winvian|
The next morning after a stellar breakfast (freshly baked croissants and muffins, truffle eggs) the biggest decision is what should we do today.. There is a whole list of activities Winvian can arrange—everything from a bonfire at night to guided hikes to horseback riding, golf, private yoga classes fishing and even game shooting. Or a glass blowing workshop. One couple took off for a sunrise hot air balloon trip right from the lawn.
The sun is shining. The dog only ate one shoe. A perfect Sunday in the country. If only tomorrow wasn’t Monday…