Destination Dispatches: A Weekend Getaway to Glenmere Mansion

- Jean Marie Healy, Chief Marketing Officer and head of the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection, is a lifelong New Yorker now based in both NY and London.

Discounted Chanel and Prada, and a luxurious former mansion turned into 19 rooms of five-star bliss—These are a few of my favorite things.

I grew up in New York State’s majestic Hudson Valley region, about an hour north of Manhattan, which is a great area to visit. There is no shortage of historic sites, including former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s weekend home-turned-museum, and West Point, the elite military academy. There are wineries and hiking trails galore. And it’s definitely one of the best places in world to enjoy glorious fall foliage.

But better than all of that, the area boasts the second most popular tourist attraction in the N.Y. area: Woodbury Common, an outdoor shopping mall of over 220 designer outlet stores for brands including Chanel, Dior, Prada, Todd’s, Burberry and Jimmy Choo. It’s outlet shopping for the well heeled with welcome signs in ten languages to make visitors from as far away as Japan feel at home.

But where to rest one’s weary pieds after a tough day of shopping? Until recently, the options were limited to some low-budget chains in the area. But thanks to Alan Stenberg and Dan DeSimone—one a PR executive, the other an orthopedic surgeon, now a hotelier duo—a magnificent Tuscan villa by the name of Glenmere Mansion awaits you nearby.

Several years ago, Alan and Dan were driving through the area and spotted a slightly worn-down but architecturally stunning mansion, and decided they had to have it. They’ve since made it their life’s work to turn Glenmere into the five-star jewel it is today, spending over $30 million to create this welcoming and elegant hotel. I hesitate to even call Glenmere Mansion a hotel, because the experience is more like staying in the home of charming friend with impeccable taste. A member of Relais & Châteaux, Glenmere offers both a fine-dining restaurant (don’t miss the butter-poached lobster) and a cozy tavern.

Pre-dinner drinks can be taken in either the pretty sitting room or stately-yet-inviting library.

I visited with a friend on a rainy weekend in March. While initially disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy any outdoor activities, we found that relaxing in the hotel was a perfect way to pass a weekend. There is a fantastic spa (with a hammam!) and tons of books and games throughout.

Lastly, the rooms. Ours, the Princess Suite, was furnished to the highest standard, with interesting objets d’art galore. Most importantly, the sumptuous bed and finest of linens resulted in the best night’s sleep I’ve had in recent memory.

When I lived in New York I always felt there was a dearth of fabulous weekend getaways in close proximity to the city. The search is over. Grab your credit card and some comfortable shoes, and enjoy a spa, shopping and fine dining weekend you won’t soon forget.

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