Luxury Is a Passion Project at Relais & Chateaux’s Glenmere Mansion
The question, “What is luxury?” was proposed to a group of diners seated inside Glenmere Mansion’s charming private dining room adorned with elegant vintage china.
Luxury, it seems, is not an objective experience, but rather quite a subjective one. The conversation circled the table prompting various answers from each in attendance: “What is luxury?”
Is it not having to lift a finger?
Is it never being denied?
Is it reveling in quality?
Is it the feeling the comfort of being home while being away from home?
Perhaps luxury is simply solitude in a well-made, comfortable chair or a glass of Champagne.
Melanie Acevedo and Daviod Engelhardt
In many ways, the word is too obtuse to define, and the word has gone the way of superlatives “best” or “delicious” — two words that have been used so frequently and with such shameful hyperbole that they are essentially meaningless.
Nevertheless, the diners settled on the definition that luxury is the joy in the unexpected. It can be characterized as an unexpected level of service or hospitality, the unexpected comfort of a bed, or possibly the unexpected beauty and craftsmanship of a work of art. (I’m specifically referring to the Glenmere’s Carrera marble decals throughout the hotel — and, yes, they did purchase interest in an Italian quarry so all their marble would match perfectly.)
At Glenmere, a Relais & Chateaux property, the drive toward providing luxury — that is, true, small gestures meant to uplift and provide guests small bursts of unexpected joy — is a veritable passion.
The best example of how far Glenmere goes to provide its guests small joys is captured by a collection of antique wooden puzzles placed throughout the hotel. Gorgeous, and a joy to look at in their own right, these puzzles are routinely dissembled and then partially assembled again so guests have the chance to complete the puzzle and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Melanie Acevedo and David Engelhardt
The two owners, Dan DeSimone and Alan Stenberg, purchased Glenmere Mansion as a dilapidated, forgotten property in Chester, New York; just one hour north of New York City. They dove in head-first and made Glenmere one of the premier North American properties — in fact, it was quickly inducted into the Relais & Chateaux family inside its first year, an unheard of feat due to the company’s elevated standards and discerning selection process.
The pair was well-traveled, well-fed, and well-cultured; qualities they felt prepared them for a life of high-end hoteliers. Their approach to hospitality follows the Golden Rule: They treat their guests how they would like to be treated and their drive toward creating a special place for each of their guests comes from a visible love and genuine passion for their property.
The warm, 18-room mansion is a place for true relaxation, and although home to a wealth of amenities like tennis courts, a spa, a pool, and nearby Storm Kings Art Center, Stenberg confesses that their guests have a hard time leaving their room.
Glenmere is a featured property in the new Relais & Chateaux book, The Art of Entertaining, wherein 17 of the brand’s beautiful North American properties each claim a chapter to showcase their entertaining expertise. For their part, Glenmere executed a Great Gatsby affair that F. Scott would no doubt be proud of.
Melanie Acevedo and David Engelhardt
"Relais & Châteaux members are among the world's foremost experts on entertaining,” said Patrick O’Connell, president of Relais & Châteaux North America and chef proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington. “Each Relais property has its own authentic style, reflecting its locality and the personality of its owners. These dedicated artists have spent generations perfecting their craft and delighting their guests with continual surprises.”
The Gilded Age relic was an ideal location for a fete of this level complete with vintage cars, an elaborate menu comprising of dishes like lobster américaine; medallions of venison with sauce poivrade; and chestnut potatoes pairing with craft cocktails — such as The Glenmere Gatsby (Tito’s vodka, passion fruit, lime juice, and cardamom-star anise syrup served in a martini rimmed with crushed pink peppercorns).
Relais & Chateaux recently acknowledged the indubitable passion behind Glenmere Mansion at a ceremony earlier this December held in Tokyo, where DeSimone and Stenberg were awarded the highly prestigious and coveted Passion Award; Glenmere Mansion is the first member hotel within the United States to win this trophy.
The Art of Entertaining retails for $45. Click here to purchase your own copy.