Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Weekend to 'Just Be' and B

Gone the crowds of summer

Dear Postcards from New York Reader,

Sometimes even those of us who thrive on the bustling energy of New York City can use a couple days’ reprieve. For a quick weekend away that doesn’t require hours of travel, look no further than the Long Island Wine Country. (Yes, Long Island!) My boyfriend and I decided on a quick getaway to enjoy the peak of the fall foliage season, and it was perfect – close enough that we didn’t need to take a full day off work to get there and far enough to feel like we’d left the concrete jungle behind.

After a little research, I discovered a few weeks after New England and Upstate forests reach their color peak; the warmer regions on Long Island are just beginning to burst. So, we decided to head “out east” and landed in East Marion, a quaint little village on the tip of the North Fork.

With more than 30 wineries (see www.liwines.com for a complete list), the east end of Long Island also boasts numerous small, family-owned inns, each with their own charm. After much deliberation (there were so many inns to choose from on www.iloveinns.com), we booked a retreat at a lovely bed-and-breakfast that had it all – fireplaces in every suite, whirlpool tubs, a full service spa, and glowing reviews on www.tripadvisor.com. Appropriately named Quintessentials.

Ever the planner, I was determined to do it all – tour the vineyards, eat great seafood, do a little antiquing, take pictures beneath a rainbow of trees, hike, bike, and, oh, relax a little too. Our journey began mid-afternoon Friday aboard the eastbound Hampton Jitney (North Forth Route), which conveniently stops at various points on the east side of Manhattan. In no more than 15 minutes we were out of the city, our mood changed with the scenery – from cramped and rushed to clear and relaxed. (The further we went, the more I began to rethink my jam-packed agenda.)

Between catnaps, we caught the vivid displays of burnished maples and fire-engine red oaks on the passing landscape. Within an hour and a half, we were at Riverhead, where we picked up a rental car (an Enterprise branch is conveniently located directly across from the bus stop) to drive the rest of the way.

After another half hour or so of cruising along Route 25 past farmland and vineyards, we arrived at the 1830’s Italianate Victorian inn just after twilight, greeted by the aroma of homemade apricot tart. The innkeeper Sylvia Daley welcomed us by name, with a smile as warm as the herbal tea she poured before we could drop our bags.

The inn was even more inviting than it looked on the website. Its blend of traditional Victorian and contemporary cottage décor and sprinkling of personal photos and antiques made Quintessentials feel more like a relative’s home than a hotel. Comprised of five suites, each named after a parish in Sylvia's native Jamaica, guests can choose their rooms in advance on the website, but be forewarned, it’s a tough pick as they all look so cozy.

There is the Negril Suite, awash in the calming blue of the Caribbean, and the Mandeville Raj Suite, equally luxe with a private deck. Then there’s the Kingston Room, dubbed the “honeymooner’s favorite,” and the quaint Savannah Room. In the end, we chose the mid-range Brandon Room and, upon entering, were more than satisfied.

With the warm glow of the gas fireplace to beckon us, the room’s country chic décor included a comfy queen bed draped in quilted linens with extra blankets (and chocolates on the pillows), an elegant mix of mahogany and antique furnishings, tapestry upholstered footstools and valences, and a Victorian loveseat in the corner.

And, although our goal was to tune out, we were relieved to have a TV/VCR/DVD and wireless internet access at our fingertips. Best of all the bathroom had a large, extra deep whirlpool tub, perfect for soaking away hours at a time. Needless to say, after a long workweek, we were more than happy to spend the bulk of the evening indoors.

To be continued...

Jaime Wilson

Address to Remember: Quintessentials B & B, 8985 Main Road, Box 574, East Marion, NY 11939, 631-477-9400 or 800-444-9112, http://www.quintessentialsinc.com/

Directions: From Times Square MTA 7 or S to Grand Central Station & 42nd St. Walk two blocks east to corner of 44th St. and 3rd Ave to take Hampton Jitney to Greenport or East Marion 800-936-0440 or 631-283-4600 call inn to arrange car or taxi pickup. Or, take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Penn Station to Greenport via Ronkonkoma. 718-217-5477.

Photo by Jaime Wilson

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