Sunday, April 10, 2011

Buttermilk Falls Inn (Hudson Valley, New York)

Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa was one of those places weve wanted to try for years.  We made our reservations online for a long weekend in February and took the 5 hour drive up to the beautiful Hudson Valley, very nearly bursting with anticipation for our exciting getaway.  In the weeks leading up to our stay we read reviews of how beautiful the landscape is, even in the dead of winter, and how peaceful it is to stroll the grounds and visit the animals-we were particularly excited to meet the infamous Pickles.

The drive from Philadelphia was a pretty one and I giggled when we saw signs for Peekskill and wondered how the girls of Eastland had been.  As we neared Buttermilk the area became a bit industrial which admittedly killed the mood a bit but this was quickly forgotten as we pulled into the driveway and were welcomed by the stormy blue inn wed seen online for years!

Looking around, taking in the details, everything seemed perfect as, in the cool winter air, we crunched over the gravel pathway leading to the lobby.  We enter and smile and announce we are here to check in!

Response: a confused look.

Because the Inn is full.

Despite our automated confirmation email *and* an email directly from a Buttermilk representative regarding our stay, our room had been double-booked and they have no other space available.  The staff was sincerely apologetic about the matter and remained courteous in the face of our understandable frustration.  Though we relayed numerous times we understood it was not their (the people presently trying to assist us) fault, we were still upset this had happened as we had driven hours to get there and had been looking forward to our stay for a very long time. We expressed our surprise at such a significant error and explained that the logistics of planning this time away had genuinely been quite difficult to orchestrate and that this was more than merely an "inconvenience."  While they did offer to accommodate us at a nearby hotel, which we can appreciate, our interest wasnt "the Hudson Valley" it was the Inn itself.

Nonetheless, they asked that we take a few moments to consider and offered that we enjoy the afternoon tea in the adjoining room (which we declined-salt in the wound you know-we had read about “tea time” and it was one of the many activities we were excited to experience).

We decided it was not proper to have Buttermilk finance a stay at lodging we were simply just not interested in so declined the offer at the hotel, reiterating the Hudson Valley itself was not the appealing factor-Buttermilk was.  At this point the representatives apologized and offered a complimentary night’s stay at Buttermilk during a future visit.  As the Inn was full we understood this was the best they felt they could do.  While it didnt excuse the booking error it meant something that they attempted to make up for it.  You can imagine our disappointment as we drove off the property, suitcases never having even been opened.

Luckily the story doesnt end there.

Fast forward a few months.  We are heading back to the Hudson Valley and back to Buttermilk Falls.  Except this time, after crunching up the pathway to reception, things went as they should! We were warmly welcomed, given a tour of the Inn, and shown to our room: Winterberry. We chose this room for its decor, its location, and its balcony which offers a view of the Hudson river.  The room looked just as it had online and we were so pleased every detail was as expected!

Winterberry Room

View From Winterberry Room

Our spa experience wasnt as nice as our welcome. The spa entrance and lobby itself leads you to believe you are about to embark on a totally relaxing and pampering experience. But instead of a zen-like retreat the lounge/waiting area is actually the deck of the indoor pool. Which isnt the worst thing ever-you do have gorgeous sweeping views of the outdoors through the floor-to-ceiling windows-just hot, echo-y, and smelling of chlorine and nail polish (the nail area is also in the pool area, sectioned off by nothing) wasnt the way one typically unwinds before a massage. Further disappointing: I had requested/confirmed a female and was not happy to learn I been assigned a male.  The massages were only ok.

But on to more positive features!

Mornings began with tasty breakfast options-plenty of meats and pastries for him and fresh fruits and grains for her. Days were spent browsing through the albums in the common room that relay the history of the building and the area and leisurely walking the pretty, but not vast, grounds hand-in hand (often grabbing old bread from the bag in the lobby left for guests to feed the birds) or just having Q-time on the porch swing.  Tea time each afternoon offered additional baked goodies and was a nice event we looked forward to each day.

View of Inn from Hudson River

Though the Inn had opened its own restaurant we chose to explore the town and have dinners elsewhere (our favorite experience was The Egg's Nest which offered a hodgepodge of curious items in terms of decor and one of the best and most interesting animal-free dishes Ive ever had). We envisioned evenings at Buttermilk around the outdoor fire with a glass of wine but it never seemed to be lit.  Instead we cozied up in our robes on our balcony rockers with warm mugs of tea under the stars.

The goal for our stay was rest and relaxation and overall the Inn delivered.  As a base for area activities or just a short romantic getaway Buttermilk ambiance and service hit the mark.

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