Girlfriend Bonding at the new “Three Stories” at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa
By Sherry Amatenstein and Grace Bennett
And there we were–dancing on a gently rocking private yacht under the most amaze balls sunset ever witnessed (seriously!), cups of Pinot Grigio in our hands. Does this sound like the most romantic evening ever? It was, but of the platonic kind. We are old friends who had yearned for a time to reconnect.
Lucky for us, we were invited to sample a Girlfriends Getaway Package at Saybrook Point Inn and Spa, www.saybrook.com, the 25-year-old lush haven located at the mouth of the Connecticut River in historic Old Saybrook. In a prior incarnation, the 82-room Inn was a large hotel and entertainment complex with helipad hosting the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ted Kennedy. These days it’s a genteel, award-winning cushy yet cozy spot where the major stargazing is accomplished by looking skyward.
Our ‘home’ for two precious nights was Saybrook’s regal and spanking new “Three Stories,” located across the street from the Inn. This summer, after a three-year, $250 million renovation, the 19th-century Victorian Italianate estate turned Bazooka Joe bubble gum colored, eight-room guesthouse opened. There was a new paint smell and cozy patio furniture on the rooftop fire patio where one of us kept traipsing out to read, instead being lulled into a snooze.
The rooms (each with a private balcony) at Three Stories are named for prominent Old Saybrook residents such as Katherine Houghton Hepburn–the famed actress’ mother and a suffragette–and Anna Louise James, the first female African-American pharmacist in Connecticut.
Three Stories felt like much more than your typical outpost of any main resort inn. It was a retreat unto itself, a place we could easily have whiled away all our hours if there wasn’t so much we wanted to see and do. We played pool in the lower level Yale Room (one of us whupped the other!), and drank cocktails over a game of chess by the fireplace in the first floor living room. We couldn’t resist munching on fresh fruit or the delicious homemade muffins that mysteriously kept appearing on a large wooden table by the kitchen.
After one too many muffins, we found the motivation to walk across the street to the Inn proper to hit the fitness center. More accurately, to indulge at the newly renovated, state of the art Sanno Spa. The spa has 11 treatment rooms, a Swiss shower, and indulgent treatments that feel like an orgy of muffins for your face and body.
We luxuriated, respectively, in the marine-based treatment “Ocean Memory” and “The Kate”–the spa’s relaxing signature ritual so named as an ironic salute to La Hepburn who was an intimidating presence for decades in the nearby beach hamlet Fenwick.
After our spa debauchery, there seemed no other option than more licentiousness–yup, we made our way to the hot tub and let the water luxuriously massage away whatever sentient thoughts we still possessed.
Eventually, we climbed out, showered and prepared ourselves for being on top of the water–bobbing to the beat of the gentle waves on the 56’ luxury yacht Real Escape, www.chartermotoryacht.com, to enjoy a wild pink and purple striped sunset that left us, well, spiritually spent!
The next morning we resolved to rouse every inch of our mutual willpower to get off-property and sightsee the environs. This could only be accomplished after a (insert your own superlative) Sunday Brunch at the Inn’s four-diamond star restaurant Fresh Salt. Brunch included everything from crepe and omelet making stations to a raw bar, entrees and fresh carved roasts and dips. Even pre-indulging in a decadent desert spread, we grabbed some to-die-for croissants that gave Three Stories’ muffins a run for their money!
Shockingly still able to button our shorts we headed to the car to explore the historic towns along Connecticut’s storied shoreline. Indeed, the Connecticut River has been referred to as the backbone of New England. We could have rented bikes but one of us can’t ride one sans training wheels. Don’t ask us who.
Old Saybrook, circa 1635, boasts more than 100 historic homes, such as the General William Hart House, which offers tours (860-395-1635). Other highlights include Harvey’s Beach, the shallow water town beach, www.oldsaybrookrec.com, replete with bathhouse and showers and the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, www.katharinehepburntheater.org, aka The Kate, chosen as the Best Small Theater in New England. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Kate offers tours as well as an eclectic mix of entertainment–Neil Simon, chamber music, the Nitty Grity Dirt Band. The 250 theater sets here are red, the indomitable actress’ favorite color.
North of Old Saybrook is ‘younger sister’ Essex, settled in 1648. There are nearly 15 miles of sidewalks dotted with impeccably-preserved Colonial era homes, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat www.essexsteamtrain.com (toot, toot!), The Connecticut River Museum, www.ctrivermuseum.org, which hosts many events along the water, including a Fall Gala September 20th, and the iconic Griswold Inn, www.griswoldinn.com, opened in 1776 where we succumbed–sigh!–to eating and imbibing once again.
Another must-visit seaside town is Guilford, settled in 1639, home to The Guilford Fairgrounds, www.guilfordfair.org, a hub for summer activities such as the annual fair to be held September 19th to 21st, and Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market & Winery, www.bishopsorchards.com, a family-run business since 1871.
For us though, ultimately, there was no place like home, Three Stories, where we ended our idyll as it began–on the front porch with steaming coffee, and yes, a muffin for the road during which serious girl talk ensued. The short drive to and from Westchester made reaching and returning from girlfriend bonding nirvana a snap. While it felt tragic to leave, please don’t despair for us–we will be back!
Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, is an author, therapist, journalist, writing professor and lover of travel and, of course, friendship! Her website is www.marriedfaq.com Grace Bennett is Publisher and Editor of Inside Chappaqua and Inside Armonk Magazines.