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IT’S IN NEW ENGLANDERS’ DNA to want to speed the arrival of summer and warm weather. Those who are overeager already have scrawny tomato seedlings on the windowsill, while the rest of us are counting the extra minutes of daylight. But don’t be in such a rush: “Mud season” around here has its charms — and its perks. Some of New England’s best inns and resorts offer the enticements of lower rates, sometimes more than half off high-season prices, and special packages to lift us out of the spring doldrums.
1. Sweet Deals: Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock, Vermont
The sugar maple is by far the most plentiful tree in Vermont, and they practically spew sweet sap
during the warm days and cold nights of mud season. The Woodstock Inn — which functions like the manor house of one of Vermont’s toniest towns — honors the state tree with sugar season specials. You can settle into one of the 142 opulent rooms and suites for less than half the price of a summertime stay.
You’ll feel like a houseguest of the Rockefellers — not surprising, since Laurance and Mary Rockefeller established the current incarnation of the inn in the late 1960s. The genteel Federal-style architecture and decor recall an earlier inn on the same location facing the town green, while more 21st-century amenities include the sumptuous LEED-certified spa. After a seasonally appropriate Maple Mud Slide Treatment, stop in the main lobby where coffee, tea, and cookies are served every afternoon.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Peruse Yankee Bookshop (802-457-2411, yankeebookshop.com), the state’s oldest independent book dealer, for a title you can read in the inn’s conservatory as you scoff at the rain through big windows.
If it shines: Visit Billings Farm & Museum (802-457-2355, billingsfarm.org), the pioneering scientific dairy farm preserved by the Rockefellers and located in a National Historic Park. The Farm Life exhibit will tell you everything you need to know about maple sugaring.
14 The Green, 802-332-6853, woodstockinn.com. Sugar Season Escape package through May 21 bundles luxury room and breakfast for $189 weekdays, $219 weekends. The Extra Sweet package adds a $100 spa credit for $70 more.
2. Here’s the Rub: Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Stowe, Vermont
Is Stoweflake an expansive spa that happens to have lodgings attached — or is it a ski-town resort with a spa that offers more than 120 treatments to cover the health, wellness, and beauty bases? Either way, the Spring Serene Season Special trims up to 50 percent off the usual room rates. If you’re a bargain hunter who usually opts for the cheapest room at a luxe property, take this opportunity to upgrade to first class — the rooms in this promotion are all at the luxury level.
Those 450-square-foot rooms might make it hard to leave the big, comfy chairs by the fireplace, but you should opt for a Stowe Escape Spa package on at least one day of your stay. A 50-minute well-being massage, for instance, is a great prelude to a spa cuisine meal at the indoor/outdoor poolside cafe. You can alternate between relaxation and exhilaration with the Hungarian mineral soaking pool and the tumbling hydrotherapy waterfall in the Aqua Solarium.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Make a pilgrimage to cult-favorite craft breweries The Alchemist (802-882-8165, alchemistbeer.com) and Idletyme Brewing Company (802-253-4765, idletymebrewing.com). Still raining? Taste another side of craft carbonation at Stowe Cider (stowecider.com).
If it shines: Catch some spring skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort (802-253-2065, stowe.com) through April 19; or if the lower-altitudes are snow-free, hike or bike the Stowe Recreation Path (stowerec.org).
1746 Mountain Road, 800-253-2232, stoweflake.com. March 29 through May 21, rooms from $134, spa package $117 per day (usually $144).
3. Mountain High: Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
“They don’t make ’em like they used to” is how most guests react when they first enter the lobby of this regal White Mountains grand hotel. Crystal chandeliers, stained glass, and antique mirrors usher you into the second coming of the Gilded Age. But the natural setting remains paramount. From the veranda you can watch the sun set between mountain peaks. Your table in the octagonal main dining room will offer similar vistas, since no one is stuck in a corner. Take advantage of low rates — about 40 percent of high season — to upgrade to a vista room and wake to a view of Mount Washington itself.
The Bretton Woods ski slopes are scheduled to stay open through the third weekend in April. But you could also spend the day in the spa, with its dizzying array of ways to get rubbed, scrubbed, oiled, and soothed. Golf, hiking, and mountain biking depend on how quickly spring mud turns into terra firma. Whatever you choose, the view never quits.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Take a free guided tour of the resort’s National Historic Landmark property, offered twice a day. Or, if you’re a self-starter, a self-guided tour brochure is also available.
If it shines: Get a close-up look at the forest bursting with new growth on the resort’s zip line canopy tour.
310 Mount Washington Hotel Road, 603-278-1000, omnihotels.com/mountwashington. Escape & Save package cuts another 10 percent off room rates that start at $209 (for stays of two nights or more).
4. Quick Getaway: Briar Barn Inn, Rowley
This smart and stylish complex of 30 spacious rooms, a spa, and a restaurant has made quite a name for itself since opening in early 2019. Weathered country antiques give the young inn a welcoming farmhouse ambiance. The wedding business tends to fill the inn on Friday and Saturday nights, but if you’re looking for a fast escape, Briar Barn is running a Sunday Special deal through April 30. The best available room — even a grand king suite — is only $115 if you also book either a meal or a spa treatment.
Grove restaurant, which feels like a traditional New England tavern, occupies the inn’s namesake post-and-beam barn. Sunday brunch is popular with North Shore neighbors. You could easily join them for grilled flatbread with fried eggs before afternoon check-in, then hit the spa for a duet massage — featuring a private room for two — before settling into a lounge chair in front of your gas fireplace or luxuriating in a long soak in the deep tub (bath salts included).
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Keying in on Briar Barn’s antique accents, check out the three-story Salt Marsh Antiques (978-948-7139, saltmarshantiques.com) for something special to take home.
If it shines: Take binoculars to nearby Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (fws.gov/refuge/parker_river/) on Plum Island to catch the spring bird migrations.
101 Main Street, 978-653-5323, briarbarninn.com. Rooms $115 with package on Sundays, otherwise $159-$225 in spring.
5. Pine Tree Posh: White Barn Inn, Kennebunk, Maine
Plush and pampering, the White Barn Inn set the standard for luxury getaways in Kennebunk, which explains why strong demand in the summer drives room rates into the “very special occasion” category. Now’s the time to see how the other half summers, but at rates often half that of the high-season level. You can pretty much pick your level of luxury on the sprawling grounds along the Kennebunk River. Stay cozy in a traditional inn room, spread out in a suite with gas fireplace and soaking tub, or opt for your own private cottage.
The spa is regularly voted one of Maine’s best. This is your chance to experience some less common treatments like Native American raindrop therapy or Japanese reiki energy transfer. The restaurant, in an 1860s barn, was a New England pioneer of farm-fresh menus. Current chef Matthew Padilla (above)brings his own deft twists to seasonal classics. Since this is coastal Maine, indulge in the six-course chef’s lobster menu.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Check out Kennebunk’s colorful history and art scene at the Brick Store Museum (207-985-4802, brickstoremuseum.org). Photographs and artifacts conjure the past, while contemporary craft and art illuminate the town’s present.
If it shines: Pedal a rental bike on Ocean Avenue past the Bush 41 “summer White House” at Walker’s Point, north to the fishing piers at Cape Porpoise.
37 Beach Avenue, 207-967-2321, aubergeresorts.com/whitebarninn. Rooms start at $289 midweek in March and April; “Stay Your Way,” adds $100 daily resort credit for $60 over room rate.
6. Cape Escape: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham
If you need to unwind, the Chatham Bars Inn might have the answer. But don’t go for just a weekend — make it a three-night stay for the price of two nights through April. While there are 217 rooms and suites spread over the sprawling waterfront property, consider staying in the main inn rooms during shoulder season because they’re closest to the action. That might include Friday night mixology classes, complimentary to all guests (of legal drinking age). You could learn to make drinks like a blueberry gimlet, a grapefruit martini, or a lavender sour. Guests get recipe cards, bitters, and shrub mixers to take home.
The main inn, built in 1914, presides over a quarter-mile of private beach — literally steps from its sloping front lawn. On days with a warm breeze — or not, if you’re nestled under a throw — you could rock on the front porch and stare out to sea. Indoors, take a eucalyptus steam shower in the spa or tuck into an embarrassingly luscious lobster roll in The Sacred Cod, the inn’s upscale tavern.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Check out the art house, indie, and Hollywood offerings at Chatham Orpheum Theater (508-945-0874, chathamorpheum.org), a revived 1916 movie house.
If it shines: Try to spot seals on a long walk along nearby Lighthouse Beach, about a mile south from the inn.
297 Shore Road, 508-945-0096, chathambarsinn.com. Extend Your Stay deal offers three nights for the price of two through April. Rooms start at $251 in March, $365 in April and May.
7. Shop & Spa: Delamar Greenwich Harbor, Greenwich, Connecticut
The Delamar really knows how to treat its guests, starting with that glass of bubbly at check-in. It’s a hint that this stylish 82-room hotel, on the edge of one of the finest harbors along Connecticut’s Gold Coast, has its own not-so-secret Côte d’Azur ambitions. One glance at L’Escale Restaurant’s antique terra cotta tiles from Provence and a quick perusal of the menu — bouillabaisse or steak au poivre, anyone? — confirms the French Riviera model.
Designed with girlfriend getaways and mother-daughter bonding in mind—men are always welcome, too—the Fashion & Beauty Binge package is available all year, but right now it’s based on low spring room rates. Designed for two, it includes half-hour massages and hand paraffin treatments, breakfast, and valet parking, as well as discounts at some local boutiques. Save time, though, for hanging out at the Delamar — whether for the complimentary wine and cheese in the lobby on Friday and Saturday evenings or a film-noir-themed cocktail and roasted local oysters in the lounge at L’Escale. And everyone gets complimentary late checkout.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Shop the upscale boutiques of Greenwich Avenue in town (complimentary trip via the hotel’s Tesla).
If it shines: Explore the trails and vernal pools of Mianus River Park. Starting in May, colorful warblers should flood into the woodlands.
500 Steamboat Road, 203-661-9800, delamar.com. Fashion & Beauty Binge package starts at $309, including approximately $200 of spa services.
8. King of the Hill: Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Ocean House perches like a castle above the seaside resort village of Watch Hill, which counts Taylor Swift as one of its fair weather residents. The long veranda of the reconstructed 1868 original still provides a catbird seat for the comings and goings along Block Island Sound. And if it’s a bit chilly outside, you can get the same vistas from many
of Ocean House’s 247 windows.
Airy public areas emphasize the seaside light while retaining the original inn’s resplendence. The 49 rooms and 20 suites are spacious and unabashedly plush. The Spring Escape rates starting at $595 — deluxe rooms only—are admittedly a spendy splurge, but that’s for a deluxe or terrace water view room — roughly 500 square feet — that starts at more than $1,100 in the summer. The resort boasts the celebrated Coast restaurant and the package includes a semi-private cooking class and $100 resort credit. The only shortcoming is that you might have to work at actually relaxing, since the tempting daily activities might include wine and beverage tastings, guided property tours, and fitness classes such as yoga or tai chi.
WHAT TO DO
If it rains: Swim laps in the heated indoor saltwater pool, take a wellness class, or enjoy a movie and fresh popcorn in the screening room.
If it shines: Feel the spring sun on your face and the wind in your hair when you take a complimentary spin in a Mercedes convertible. Reserve ahead as guests compete for a fleet of 11 Mercedes vehicles, including two convertibles.
1 Bluff Avenue, 855-678-0364, oceanhouseri.com. Spring Escape package is available every night March 25-April 30, Sunday-Thursday only May 1-June 17.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon are frequent contributors to Globe Magazine. Send comments to email@example.com.