Glenmere Mansion

A patchwork palette of river and mountain scenery lured financial magnates, literary giants and the politically powerful to build estates along the Hudson River in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among them, Glenmere Mansion, an Italianate villa complete with marble columns and statuary, appears as if transplanted from the Tuscan hillsides. But the pastel-shaded Gilded Age manse that crowns the 150-acre hilltop estate overlooking picturesque Lake Glenmere in Chester, New York, is located only 60 miles from the Triboro Bridge.

Carrère and Hastings, the architects for the New York Public Library, The Frick Museum and Nemours, a DuPont mansion, designed Glenmere. Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone, owners and Maîtres de Maison, impeccably restored and transformed it into a luxury inn and spa. They personally influenced the design of the 18 exquisitely appointed accommodations, which feature fine woods, soft colors, lush fabrics and every amenity.

That happy-to-be-here grin grows along the long, winding driveway and becomes a vocal wow! when the car slows to a halt at the entrée court facing the Mediterranean pink villa with azure blue shutters. The butler is waiting; he greets, carries luggage, offers a complimentary Bellini and an escort to the room. Whenever a guest chooses, there’s a house tour to introduce the fine art and collectibles in the library, the scenic lake vistas from the grand porch, the classically proportioned Italian garden with authentic fountain and swimming pool, the fitness center, yoga studio and a glorious, 8,000-square-foot spa.

Speaking of the spa, it can be accessed in robe and slippers via a loggia from the main house. At its reception and boutique area, an inviting, window-walled library in contemporary furnishings faces a fireplace and the outdoor fountain. Each of the five treatment suites is done in Moroccan décor, has its own bathroom facilities and a soaking tub; the Couple’s Suite adds twin tables, side-by-side soaking tubs and a fireplace. The wet spa is called the Bath House and its herbal steam shower, cool mist shower and vitality pool—with a waterfall for an all natural head and shoulder massage experience—adjoins the steam room, or hammam. Three signature hammam rituals take place in the oversized Carrera marble steam room where the huge, heated, marble-topped “belly stone” (actually an all-marble treatment table) is used for exotic soap scrubs and oil applications.

Overnight guests, day-trip visitors and local foodies flock to dine at Glenmere Mansion where the culinary reputation was one of the factors that earned it entry to the Relais & Chateaux family of small inns. Executive chef Geoffroy Deconinck’s fabulous farm-to-table dishes incorporate locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Prix fixe menus (and breakfast) are served in The Supper Room Thursday to Saturday and at Sunday brunch; a la carte fare is available at The Frogs End Tavern and in the Il Cortile courtyard. One of the perks of dining in The China Room—which is reserved for groups of 34 or fewer—is choosing which pattern from Glenmere’s extensive porcelain and silverware collection to use for a table setting.

There’s biking, swimming, croquet, tennis and bocce on site (along with a helicopter landing pad). Shopping is available at the nearby Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and art can be found at Storm King Art Center. There’s golf at Mansion Ridge Golf Course, hiking at Harriman State Park and in the fall, winery-tasting and apple and pumpkin picking are all on offer. But even with everything there is to do around Glenmere, most guests don’t leave the property until checkout.

irvina lew

Irvina Lew is an author and freelance contributor to guidebooks, magazines and websites who shares intriguing stories about the world’s best destinations including hotels, restaurants, spas, cruises and safaris.