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Massachusetts Travel Blog

Lead with Kindness :: Love & Accept One Another

Romantic Getaway in Deerfield, MA

Locks of love

We had a jaw-dropping incident here recently where some dinner guests used racial epithets towards one of our wonderful servers.  Appalled guests at nearby tables apologized to him. (We did not know about this at that moment as we were having supper here ourselves with family and friends to celebrate love and friendship.) In 28 years we had yet to see people like this come in here. No – hang on, 27 years. In our first year as innkeepers I received a special unsigned letter that wondered if I had wet my finger and stuck it into an open electrical socket. Remember big 80’s hair?!

The Deerfield Inn is a place where we lead with kindness, care, and warmth. Your happiness is important to us and we care about you, but we have no tolerance for intolerance. This is not a place for prejudice. If you are the kind of person who has cruel and unkind thoughts and words about the people you see around you, you may not express them here. If you do, we will be glad to show you the door. We welcome everybody of any gender, ethnicity, and creed, but haters will never be welcome in this building.

Free Family-Friendly Activities in Deerfield

Free Fun Friday

This Happy Valley is choc-a-block with brilliant free things. Wow, are we lucky here in northwestern Massachusetts! Remember we have family-friendly connecting rooms here at the Deerfield Inn and a restaurant that makes parents and children happy!

      1. One day only in Deerfield – August 14, Free Fun Friday – admission to exciting programming, museum houses, period re-enactors, historic artisan demonstrations, children’s old-time activities, at Historic Deerfield & Memorial Hall, Deerfield. Wear comfy shoes because this is the ultimate, sine qua non, museum feet day. You and your children can break for lunch with a kid’s menu at air-conditioned Champney’s at the Deerfield Inn for just $11
      1. Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers – a Victorian iron bridge saved from the wrecking ball when the Garden Club sallied out before the heavy equipment came and planted the most beautiful flower beds along its length and dedicated it to veterans of wars. A place of peace and soul-restoring contemplation surrounded by sweet scents and the soothing burble of the river below. Meander afterwards to the ancient glacial potholes where the icy water makes its own music. Known in jest around here as the glacial potholders.
      1. Sugarloaf Mountain, an easy ramble to the top to see the most spectacular view of the mighty and sinuous Connecticut winding below with mostly organic farmland stretching out in a patchwork of colors in the valley below. This is where a Mel Gibson film was filmed several years ago, and where, in the memory of many older folks, a trolley took merrymakers to the top for dances and dating.
      1. Great Falls Discovery Center in the historic former mill town of Turners Falls. Housed in perfectly as-was mill buildings, this delightful spot highlights not only the past industrial history, but also the cultural and natural.  Look to the right towards the river and you might see the massive and ungainly bald eagles’ nest where raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi places eggs undamaged by DDT for the eagles to raise when their own are too thin-shelled. Beautiful gardens of native plants and plantings to lure in butterflies and hummingbirds, and a lower level to see fish sleeking by. Sometimes sucker fish glom onto the glass to take a rest against the current and our children used to squeak with delight to see their flattened out lips and rather sinister teeth grasping to the one-way glass. Fab, fun, and unpretentiously fascinating.
      1. Dr Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden in the Quadrangle in Springfield in honor of townee Theodor Seuss Geisel.  Only five large bronze statues of well-loved key Seuss characters, but an absolute delight for children who are wowed by their size and simplicity.

BONUS –

The Botanic Garden of Smith College – FREE, the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College – FREE, Amherst History Museum – FREE, Mead Art Museum – FREE, Yiddish Book Center in an architecturally distinctive schtetl – FREE. Check out Museums 10 – six of them are FREE!

 

A New Kind of Guest – Yuccies in Deerfield

Hipster travelWe were recently cited in BedandBreakfast.com as two among a group of twenty innkeepers who have been in business twenty or more years. We have met all kinds of folk here from all over the US and the world – a fantastic mix of young and old and in-between with all sorts of different careers and interests past and present. We hear so many great stories. We have so many to tell. When we started here as innkeepers we used to be the age that more and more of our guests are now. We see so many late twenties and young thirties who are brilliant helping me with some of the more baffling aspects of Pinterest and Instagram. I thought these young people were uniformly called millennials, but within that group of twenty-somethings I am learning of sub-groups that are proud to hashtag themselves as yuccies.

This is a hipster/yuppie crossbreed – the Labradoodle of social stereotypes, who apparently aspire to be successful like yuppies and creative like hipsters. They are fluent in emoji, and pleased to be recognized by BuzzFeed as people who FaceTime their pets, and selfie stick like mad even from places as un-hip-happening as Deerfield. They care about well-being and are delighted with the eat local philosophy of Champney’s, because they place emphasis on food and how you are what you eat. They seem to be all about food, fitness, and fashion. They are quirky and cute, and tell me I just have to watch Game of Thrones and Aziz Ansari. The time has gone by so fast!

Exciting Summer Activities in Deerfield, MA!

Summer activities in Deerfield, MA

A ravishing jacket by Marlene Housner

Plan ahead for your summer! We have family-friendly rooms, and dog-friendly rooms, but call well ahead as these rooms sell fast.

For artisan arts and crafts lovers, there is the spectacular Berkshires Arts Festival, now in its 14th year in Great Barrington on July 3-6. An hour and a bit from us, but a pretty and an easy ride, and so worth it! Jewelry, glass, mixed media, sculpture, wood, wearable art, leather, ceramics, fiber, photography… They have food, music, workshops and demos. The festival starts at 10am, and it is truly a beauty.

We have tickets here for $2 off admission, and the first four to make a reservation to stay with us will get complimentary tickets for the Festival! Call us at 413-774-5587, or make a reservation online, putting Arts Festival into the comments line.

Into horses? June 25-27 brings the Arabian Horse Show of New England to The Big E, with the Championship Arabian Horse Show on July 8-11, the Appaloosa Horse Show on July 24-26, the Summer Classic Horse Show on July 30-August 8, and Friesian Championships on August 27-30. Erin, who is one of our team leaders, can make her horse smile on command! FaceBook!

Being the most rural region of Massachusetts, we celebrate farming and farmers around here. July brings sheep shows to West Springfield in July, and there are kennel club dog shows aplenty in July and August.

Check out www.TheBigE.com for the listing of events and discount advance tickets. An easy shot from the inn down I-91 to exit 13B, one mile farther on rte 147.

See you this summer at the Deerfield Inn!

Induction into TripAdvisor Hall of Fame :: Certificate of Excellence

Certificate of Excellence

Heads up before service

Huzzah! Thank you to our lovely supportive guests and friends of the inn. The Deerfield Inn has been inducted into the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for five-time Certificate of Excellence winners.

The Certificate of Excellence is only given to establishments that consistently receive great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and the “Hall of Fame” was created to honor those businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years. To qualify, a property must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, and have a minimum number of reviews.

This is such a source of pride and pleasure for all of us here. We are so delighted that what we work for every day has brought happiness to our guests, and we thank them so much for being so kind as to take the time to comment in a review about their experience. There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by our guests, and this vote of confidence inspires us to continue with our commitment to doing our very best to make sure our guests enjoy their time with us and leave happy.

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years is a remarkable feat. TripAdvisor is pleased to induct five-time award winners into the ‘Hall of Fame’,” said Marc Charron President, TripAdvisor for Business. “By putting a spotlight on businesses that are focused on consistently delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive an improvement to hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

Thank you to the wonderful people who work here with us whose commitment, attention to customer happiness, and team loyalty in both back and front of the house from dishwasher to housekeeper, from bartender to runner to front desk, from maintenance man to restaurant manager to events planner, who have all made this possible. (And Jack our marketing manager)

Hall of Fame in Trip Advisor

Jack and Sasha

New Chef at Champney’s :: Meet Ameer Whitmyer

rampsWe are pleased to announce that Chef Ameer Whitmyer has joined us to head up the kitchen team for Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern at the Deerfield Inn. Chef Ameer has extensive cooking experience, having worked on both the East and West coasts, focusing on establishing buyer relationships with local farmers and purveyors. As both a specialized meat and fish chef, Chef Ameer’s passion and knowledge, with the help of his sous chef Joshua Rock, is being conveyed to their team in the kitchen in a careful, inspiring, and articulate way.

Ameer was raised in a stream of cooking culture, and his mentor Chef Typhun Yolak showed him the importance of how cooking connects to everything in a very powerful and contemplative way, how it is primal and visceral, but also artistic and thoughtful. As Chef Typhun demonstrated to him, Chef Ameer believes that what flows through his hands flows through life – from the front of house, to family, to the kitchen: it is all connected and food is the translation of that togetherness.

Ameer’s adult experience began at Whitefish Lake Restaurant in Whitefish, MT, an upscale steak house considered the best restaurant in Montana in the early 2000’s. Next he moved to The Phoenix House in Ashland, OR, focusing on local ingredients and French techniques with an Asian flare. His journey in cooking took him to the East Coast where his family was located, and he worked in Doris & Ed’s Classic & Contemporary Seafood Oasis, in Highlands, NJ – a James Beard Award of Excellence and Gourmet Top Tables List restaurant – until this establishment was utterly destroyed by our nemesis Hurricane Irene. From there he went on to Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ, a 4-star restaurant and among Gayot’s Top 40 in the US, and then he worked at the Mumford’s Culinary Center, in Tinton Falls, NJ, where the team maintained a 1.5 acre garden growing produce for the kitchen. Ameer studied under Chef Chris Mumford, an early pioneer of the fresh and natural cooking style. His last position before joining Champney’s was at Navesink Country Club in Middletown, NJ, a private club rated among the best in its class in the NY/NJ area.

Chef Ameer has also participated in farm internship programs in the Bay area of northern California and in southern Oregon, and spent a season commercial fishing to understand first hand more about the food source process.

It is important to Chef Ameer to look for variety based on availability and creativity to keep it to the moment. He describes his cuisine as New American, and he interprets that as meaning that America is a place of blended cultures, so while he celebrates tradition here in Deerfield, he also celebrates the flavors that are on hand and available here now. Lemon grass, ginger, piquant peppers, were not grown then, but are grown here in this valley today, and that is New American to him – the blending of the best flavors of the traditional and the new.

Chef Ameer does not really have a signature dish because he says often that means relying on one thing year upon year. He is as happy making a meal of a big bowl of soup and a platter of grilled sandwiches with his family, as he is bringing well-loved favorites back into the kitchen, but his favorite dish is the best of the now and of today.

We hope you come back soon to try the new spring menus. The porch is now open when the weather is fine, and good dogs are welcome to sit there with you while you eat after your stroll. There are fresh, light, seasonal cocktails on the constantly changing wine and beer list, and Kathleen is always coming up with new dessert ideas.

You can make a reservation online, or you can call us at 413-772-3087.

Cheers!

Ghosts of Massachusetts :: Deerfield Inn Visitors

Chocolate Cupcake Recipes

IF we have ghosts, they are just marshmallow puffs!

Ghosts of Massachusetts –

They say we have had a passel of ghosts here at the Deerfield Inn for hundreds of years. At least two of them are pretty active still. One is a bit bossy and inquisitive, one is mischievous and gets excited when children are staying. No doubt a load of cobblers, but we do have people who stay here, people who work here, who are very sensitive to energy and auras, and the same activities keep repeating themselves from time to time – tissues on the floor, pinch on the bottom, tug on the pillows, things being moved from one spot to another, a knock on the door late at night…

We are not saying what has been happening these past weeks has anything to do with anything, but it is odd. Things that have been in one place one minute have gone the next. We wait a bit and that object is suddenly back again. The sign for the front desk, for example, that has a little owl on it and says “Owl be right back”: It hangs on a brad right where we can snag it and put it out on the desk if we have to step away. Carrie put it out, went to help with a TV problem, returned, put the sign back. It is a routine reflex. Then she got another call later at night, reached out for the sign – and it was gone. When she came back – bingo, there it was hanging where it should have been. This little tease has been going on for a fortnight now.

That is perhaps not as strange as a whole series of oddities just the other day – Champney’s Assistant Manager Nikki is no newbie at service. She very seldom makes an error, and she certainly has never tipped an entire bowl of soup towards herself as she was placing it on a table! Eric went to get a replacement, joking to Nikki it must be Herschel, and as he approached the table he felt his serving arm being flipped up towards him….

Nobody hurt, consternation mixed with amusement all around. You are probably thinking we were just being clumsy. One server maybe, but not two of our very, very best!

Eric then felt for his pad where he keeps it in his back pocket to take an order. It wasn’t there, so he relied on memory. As he went into the server pantry to replace his pad with another, he found his pad back in his pocket…. Huh. He filled his plastic water beaker, placed it on the coffee station counter, and pushed it towards the back. Matt called, “Service!” and Eric went to pick up. As he went by the counter, he and Matt saw, out of the corner of their eyes, the beaker slide from the back to the front of the counter, and splash to the floor.

All very strange. Who knows?

Spring Activities :: Hampshire County, MA

Massachusetts Pottery Studios

With thanks to visithampshirecounty.com, this blog is to let you know about a couple of activities that you and your family might find fun in Hampshire County this spring. We have family-friendly connecting rooms, and there is still space available on crisp April nights before the May Commencement and Parent Weekends.

Bees, Butterflies, and Bugs: Starting April 7, you can explore The Art of Eric Carle: Bees, Butterflies, and Other Bugs at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (April 7 through August 30). As a child, Carle became very interested in small animals, a curiosity sparked by his father, who would take him on walks in the woods and fields, exploring the tiny creatures that lived there. Carle says “I remember the excitement of lifting stones or peeling back the bark of dead trees to discover the living things that crawled, crept and scurried about there.” The exhibition celebrates the wings, stings, and crawling things that have appeared throughout Carle’s work, ranging from allergy tab advertisements he created in the late 1960’s to perennial picture book favorites including The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug.
Bowls: Nine western Massachusetts pottery studios open their doors to visitors on Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26, for the 11th Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail. This free, self-guided springtime event showcases both the work and the work spaces of a group of nationally-known local potters, along with 12 guest potters from around New England and as far away as Oregon State. In barns, reclaimed factory buildings, and even a converted Airstream trailer, visitors will find much more than bowls along the trail: tableware, garden sculpture, architectural tile, and decorative pieces in a range of styles and prices. All nine studios will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days with work for sale, and several of the studios will offer demonstrations during the weekend. This is one of the most gorgeous and interesting trails ever.

Gay Friendly Massachusetts Bed and Breakfast

lesbian-weddingSo on our website we have a proud multi-color flag at the bottom because we mean it. Also on our website we can enable a really cool feature that allows us to see where visitors to our site are going. That flag gets clicked so often it is a bright red blob on the heat mapping program, but clicking the flag has not led anywhere until now. I put it there because for us it is a symbol of absolute and unconditional acceptance, as natural as breathing in and breathing out. I put it there because, distressingly, guests have felt the need to call us up to ask if they would be welcomed here. Read the rest of this entry »

Back in the Day :: Stories of Historic Deerfield, MA

Joan Harlow in Deerfield, MAWe are always interested in oral history of the Inn’s past. We have heard stories of historic Deerfield from a woman on a coach group trip from a senior center who told us of the summer months when she was a little girl visiting her grandmother, the cook at the adjacent Stebbins House. Another guest told us that when he was just a lad, he remembers cages of songbirds in the fireplace lobby!

Recently we met Joan Harlow whose parents were innkeepers here for fourteen years from 1950. She grew up in Deerfield until she went to Emma Willard, and the home her parents built is the current administrative offices of Historic Deerfield behind the firehouse. When they first arrived they lived in the Pratt House just to the south of the inn, which was once where brooms were made and is now the Museum Store.

Joan remembered when Eleanor Roosevelt arrived very humbly by taxi – no limo for her with flags fluttering. Jack Harlow was a staunch Republican, but he was charmed by Mrs. Roosevelt’s passion to preserve Deerfield as a gateway to the past.

The restaurant menu was the same for an entire week, and until Joan’s mother Ruth could persuade the Flynts to let them eat in their own small private dining space, they would have a choice of baked ham, broiled chicken, tinned Sexton’s vegetables, and a relish tray with cottage cheese, pickles, and spiced crabapples day in, day out, in what was a very formal dining room until the flood of Irene gave us the opportunity to change all that. On Sunday it was roast beef for all, and on Monday the weekly menu would be in place again.

There was no elevator then, and no keys to the rooms, which unnerved metropolitan guests. The Deerfield Inn was the call center for fires, and Joan was filled with trepidation every time that red phone rang.

When Samuel Chamberlain came to take photographs for Historic Deerfield: Houses and Interiors by Henry N Flynt, Joan was allowed to watch him at his work and hold up the camera lights.

Joan also had a memory of being asked to run, run like the wind, back to the inn to “get the Ballantine’s out of the fridge.” She brought back a bottle of ale, not knowing it had to be chilled scotch for a certain somebody I shall not name!

How what we eat has changed. How odd to open tinned vegetables when this valley is bursting with produce! Anybody else have any recollections of Deerfield that I can add to my memory bank? I would love to hear your stories…