It should come as no surprise that guests at spa resorts expect a certain (read: high) level of luxury: Lavishly appointed surroundings, high quality spa treatments, über-attentive staff are all de rigueur. Mirbeau Inn and Spa lives up to these expectations, and in fact goes a step further. A number of small but noteworthy touches helped turn our brief overnight trip into an exceptional getaway.
Located in Skaneateles — the heart of central New York’s Finger Lakes region — the 12-acre property has a Country French design. Six buildings, including the main château and four “cottages,” encircle a faithful replication of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny, complete with colorful plantings, an azure-painted arched bridge, and a small pond full of lily pads and croaking frogs. Eighteen of the 34 guest rooms are in the château, which also contains the dining room and a cozy bar and lounge.
Upon our arrival, we headed straight for Mirbeau’s 14,000-square-foot spa, housed on the lower level of the main building. I waited for my “Refined Elegance” pedicure in the quiet room, a classically decorated oval space with a heated foot bath and large fireplace. Technician Lisa Adour greeted me promptly, and — while filing, scrubbing, and polishing my tootsies — filled me in on the region’s fall activities (see sidebar). As I waited for the polish to dry, I checked out the spa’s Aqua Terrace. It was easy to imagine spending a cool autumn afternoon in this comfortable outdoor area, lounging first in front of the giant fireplace, then in the large whirlpool, and all the while sipping a glass of vino available from the adjacent wine bar.
The sliding glass doors in our first-floor suite — which was furnished in French-country style, with exposed ceiling beams and gingham-covered headboards — offered a bird’s-eye view of the garden. The gas fireplace, fully stocked fridge, and free Wi-Fi were all perks we expected to find. But we were pleasantly surprised by the oversized bathroom’s deep, claw-foot soaking tub; for an additional fee, you can have an aromatherapy bath — festooned with your choice of rose petals, orange peel, or chamomile leaves — drawn right in your room. But the beds were a real revelation. Made exclusively for the resort, each of our two queen-sized sleepers included four of Mirbeau’s signature pillows — which, according to a note in the room, we could purchase if we so desired. After laying my noggin on these faux down-filled beauties — and subsequently spending an extravagant 10 hours in dreamland — I nearly bought out their entire supply.
The spa’s quiet room has cushioned lounge chairs and a heated foot bath
Before dinner, we stopped in the bar for an aperitif. Our bartender had no problem suggesting a drink for me. The Finger Lakes area is known as a wine-making mecca; my glass of Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Dry Riesling was clean, crisp, with just a hint of citrus — a shining example of the region’s most popular varietal. But finding a suitable libation for my 23-year-old daughter Hilary — a fussy drinker who likes strawberry daiquiris and little else — was a challenge. After several pours were proffered and rejected, the barkeep served up a concoction that was a great success. He christened it “the Hilary.”
While this is a spa resort, it would be a mistake to go to Mirbeau expecting “spa cuisine.” The dining room offers a substantial farm-to-table menu, which is more steakhouse than anything else. Our four-course dinner included wonton-wrapped “bundles” of sautéed local vegetables, a smoked blue cheese plate with savory-sweet apple chutney, filet mignon au poivre, and chicken under a brick. Every morsel — right down to the thimbleful of chilled pea soup served as an amuse-bouche — was first-rate. Too stuffed to even contemplate eating dessert at the table, our server volunteered to bring it to our room two hours later — an offer we happily accepted.
It was these small accommodations — the custom-made cocktail, impromptu room service, those perfect pillows — that made our stay at Mirbeau a memorable one. Combine your visit with a tour of area wineries, and it’s a safe bet that you’ll have an autumn retreat you won’t soon forget.
851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles; 315-217-4118; www.mirbeau.com
Rates (per night, double occupancy) range from $255-$450 through 10/15, $219-$329 thereafter. Meals and spa treatments additional; special packages available.
Sixteen miles long but less than a mile wide, pristine Skaneateles Lake is lined with steep, wooded hills and stately 19th-century homes. Through early October, Mid-Lakes Navigation offers daily sightseeing cruises that depart from the village dock, which is about a mile from Mirbeau. Mailboat, lunch, and dinner cruises are all available; www.midlakesnav.com.
The village of Lafayette (about 10 miles east of Skaneateles) hosts its annual Apple Festival in October. Apples, cider, donuts, fresh-made pies — along with rides and games, a crafts fair, and nonstop entertainment — all help make this a popular Central New York shindig every fall. Oct. 12-13; www.lafayetteapplefest.org
Oenophiles can easily spend weeks — if not months — visiting the 50-plus wineries on the Finger Lakes’ three wine trails. The largest, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, includes 34 member winemakers that offer special events throughout the year; check out Glenora Wine Cellar’s “Leaves and Lobsters” bash on Sept. 14-15; www.senecalakewine.com.
After strolling around Skaneateles’ historic village and shopping district, stop at the Sherwood Inn, a hostelry that’s been in business since 1807. The restaurant offers traditional fare (Yankee pot roast is a favorite) as well as seasonally prepared steaks, chops, and seafood. This year, Wine Spectator gave the eatery its “Award of Excellence” for the extensive wine list — which, naturally, features many Finger Lakes vintages; www.thesherwoodinn.com.