By Leslie Geary
Ask any mom if she needs pampering, and you’ll likely get an earful. A weekend away replete with sumptuous amenities, spa pampering, cultural activities and gourmet meals is too often the stuff of dreams for those with kids in tow. It doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa.
Nestled on Connecticut’s coastline in Old Saybrook, just two hours north of Manhattan (off exit 67 on route 95), this elegant inn distinguishes itself by providing an array of services for parents who deserve a much-needed break. Hate schlepping half your nursery from home every time you hit the road? Call ahead and a crib will be assembled in your room. There are free bikes for family outings or opt for one of the babysitters who can watch over your children on site. You can even bring your pet. Some rooms have working fireplaces views of the Long Island Sound, and Jacuzzis bigger than some Manhattan apartments.
Those who like to kick-start their day with an invigorating workout can head to the fitness center to try ergonomic-weight machines, elliptical machines, treadmills, stationary bikes and free weights – as well as a hot tub, sauna and steam room, too. This weary mom enjoyed an early morning swim in the indoor pool (note to summer travelers: there’s another pool outside.) Sure, it would have been great to sleep in — but soaking in the heated water while gazing at the view through a wall of French doors took the sting out of being roused from bed by two energetic toddlers. Watching fishing boats head out to secure the catch of the day was also a gorgeous reminder that Connecticut is as much about abundant shoreline communities as stone walls, farms and ancient woodlands.
Then there’s the spa, which boasts a full range of products and services inspired by the inn’s coastal surroundings. The Foaming Seaweed Wrap hydrates the skin with marine minerals and a seaweed body wrap. The Lavender Bliss Seascape–a combo pedicure and leg-and-foot scrub– incorporates massage, heat therapy and a clay masque. Other services include make-up applications, waxing, body scrubs, massages, manicures, pedicures and facials for both women and men. Phytomer products, whose creams, masques and other products include marine-based ingredients, are available for sale and seem suitably placed in this coastal oasis.
The sea also figures largely at Terra Mar, the inn’s luxurious restaurant that overlooks both Long Island Sound as well as the Connecticut River. Seafood lovers will find it the perfect place to satisfy cravings for lobster, mussels or New England Clam Chowder. But the restaurant is also noted for its fabulous Sunday brunch and ambience. I’ve never been wild about the standard morning ritual at bed-and-breakfast inns, where pleasant conversation with total strangers is mandatory even though you’d really rather read The New York Times. Thankfully, that’s not the scene here. Like the rest of the inn, the restaurant is appointed with elegant reproduction English furniture, but it’s not stuffy. In other words, not a tea cozy or doily in sight.
A post-swim omelet was air-light, the kids devoured their blueberry pancakes, and the service was super. In fact, it’s worth noting that the waiter took it upon himself to wrap plastic on the children’s milk glasses, then poke straws through these makeshift covers – which was more elegant and effective than a sippy cup. It was that kind of gesture that let us eat our breakfast without worrying that a little someone would spill milk over the silver and linens. It also seemed to be a part of Old Saybrook’s quintessentially on-the-ball service.
While there’s enough to keep you occupied at the inn, it’s worth nothing that Old Saybrook is a short distance to an entire host of enticing entertainments. Drive five minutes up the road on route 154 and stop by the James Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. Built in 1790, it was once run by Miss Ana Louise James, the first black woman pharmacist in the state. Today you can tuck into a scoop of peppermint or other homemade ice cream.
Three exits up on route 95 in Old Lyme is the Florence Griswold Museum. (Take exit 70 and follow the signs to the museum at 96 Lyme Street.) This former art colony is where Childe Hassam, Aden Weir and some of America’s most famous Impressionists painted at the turn of the 20th century. During weekends, visitors of all ages are given a small, free canvas and paints, and encouraged to try plein air, or outdoor painting, too. The museum’s educational center also has ongoing children’s arts-and-crafts programs as well. Other area diversions include historic Mystic Marinelife Aquarium and Seaport Museum. Or head south to postcard-perfect village of Essex, where you can meander though tiny village lanes past 18th and 19th-century homes and shops. There’s a lot — too much — to do in a weekend. The Saybrook Point Inn is close to so much, and it’s a safe bet that your stay there will be as convenient, luxurious and restful as possible. For more information and rates, visit www.saybrook.com.