Last summer we treated ourselves to our first family European vacation. It was an amazing 10 days traveling through Italy, Turkey and Croatia. This summer, let’s just say – it’s complicated. With both of our kids doing a variety of sports and sports related camps, we have not been able to plan out a long stretch of time to get away. So, I have been making the most of staying close to home. Interestingly enough, I found myself on a business related trip last week that felt a little like a mini vacation. I am working on a project for clients who are renovating a home in Dutchess County, New York. It was time to check in and see how the renovation was progressing, so I booked myself into the Blue Barn BnB in Millbrook, NY as it came highly recommended and was very close by.
And, there I was…all by myself and feeling like I was having a little vacation! The owner, Joni LaCasse’s dream was to “have my very own BnB, having always loved hosting gatherings of friends, preparing delicious meals and making them feel right at home.” I certainly felt like I was “right at home.” Driving up to this inviting weathered grey shingle house with the pop of blue on the shutters and front door, welcomed me immediately. The owner Joni was incredibly gracious and I loved the eclectic homey decor. Here are a few of my photos that capture the perfect “home away from home” decor – with the clever use of framing for their “roadside sign”, to the pop of yellow on the hallway door, to the well-appointed and generously sized showers. Just for the record – I did get some work done while I was there!
What I really liked about this “biz-cation” was that I could get in my car and drive there in less than 2 hours – no passports, no time change, no security clearance lines and no air travel delays!! I started thinking about other places I could explore in the comfort of my own car, on less than a tank of gas.
My husband and I got married on the North Fork of Long Island, so it is a destination that is very near and dear to me. Last weekend, there was an article in the New York Times “The North Fork Has a New Name: NoFo” describing the region as having an “urban-chic-meets-country-casual vibe.” In the years since our wedding, the area has certainly come into it’s own – with it’s own moniker and features in many travel magazines. Conde Nast Traveler writes that the North Fork “at once recalls a young Napa Valley and the seaside charm of small town New England.” CNT recommends staying at the North Fork Guest House which looks like it fits my “home away from home” standard.
With the criteria for a get-away being an easy drive from home and with a little nostalgia creeping in, I decided to check out Stone Harbor, NJ which is where I spent my childhood summers. What I remember most about this place is how free I felt as a kid. As long as you had a bike, you could get anywhere – the beach, the town, home. The days were endless – the sun rose on one side of the island and set on the other. Stone Harbor has resisted change somewhat in that there is still that carefree, small town feel. But, for visitors, a welcome addition is a new hotel – The Reeds at Shelter Haven . It is an easy golf cart ride to the beach and a magnificent place to catch a sunset. New Jersey Monthly’s Destination: Stone Harbor article is a great reference for what to do, where to stay and what to eat while you are there.
The other thing I realized about not having a big summer trip planned, is that I really like to be home. There is something to the “stay-cation” phenomenon. This 4th of July weekend, we found ourselves staying put. People kept asking me where I was going for the holiday weekend. My enthusiastic response was “we are staying home.” I did not need the “home away from home” feel – I had it right here.
When I designed our home, I wanted to make it the most comfortable place our family could be. There are amazing hotels out there (and trust me, there is something to be said for someone making your bed every morning and not having to deal with the dishes) but I am finding that “resort feel” right here at home. With a little imagination – we can create a great escape at, let’s call it, “our own personal get-away.”
It starts in my bedroom. I know everyone talks about how hotel beds are super comfy and now hotel companies are even selling their mattresses online, but for me, nothing compares to sleeping in my own bed. Our master bedroom feels like a one bedroom suite with a spacious bedroom and adjoining sitting room. We can escape the rest of the house for some quiet time or to binge watch the latest Netflix show.
Every great hotel must have that super indulgent spa to make you feel relaxed and refreshed. Our master bathroom gives me that spa-like feeling especially when I book an in-home appointment with a favorite masseuse.
Another big trend in vacations is to take a cooking class. Well, should I feel like cooking (which I have to admit I really don’t love to cook in the summer) my kitchen with it’s amazing Lacanche range is the best piece of cooking equipment anywhere. It makes whatever you cook taste so good :).
The amenity that creates a true summer retreat is a great outdoor space. I wanted to have a place for my family to relax and enjoy being with friends and family. Taking the living room outside with a shaded seating area, a fireplace (chilly nights do happen), a TV for when football season starts in August, and a great bar, allows us to enjoy the beautiful weather and get away a bit.
And, the pool – it’s not that I even have to go in to enjoy the cooling effect that just looking at the water creates.
But what turns the pool from a serene space into a party, is the addition of some fun pool toys!! Floats have become a thing. Last year, the white swan was the must have pool accessory. This year – Travel & Leisure gives us a list of the 23 Best Pool Floats – take your pick!
The finishing touch is the view. A place where you can sit with a drink when it’s 5 o’clock and enjoy the end of another wonderful summer day.
I almost forgot – the best part of a stay-cation…..you don’t have to pack a thing!!
Here’s to staying put!!