A July 2003 trip
to Hancock by kmclark
Quote: While I'd been here before, never like this - and with so much time to relax and learn the vicinity. I'd recommend this Berkshire location to anyone who wants to indulge in culture, great food, good shopping and relaxation.
We shopped big-time, ate like piggies, and we picked up the best of the season's veggies and fruit at the Whitney Farm Stand. I was talking with a lady from Lenox who travels all that way to Cheshire to get the best tomatoes ever. Hancock's a "coffee break" from real life and filled with real people.
Basically, we called the desk for a wake-up and directions and worked with the natives to get from points A to B and really had a good time. Thanks Hancock and environs!
Hotel | "Vacation Village in the Berkshires"
The room was excellently decorated in hunter green, burgundy, and gold throughout; it had good temperature control/phone/TV and the help was a button away. There was an indoor pool and the traffic was calm and quiet (pulling in patrons from as far away as New Brunswick) without speed bumps. It was a nice and respectful place...a bit low-key but we boosted the economy and found ways to get a grip on gift shopping and so much more. This location is ideal with excellent scenery, amenities and sights.Resort Experience: The complex is currently 14 buldings with 16 units each and still constructing. They travel up the hill around the office/"club house" and are so safe and gorgeous. Our unit was clean and well equipped. The staff was ever-ready with answers to our every question as well as offering suggestions, maps and routes to follow. This place is nice, new, clean, and hidden in the Berkshire hills with tons of secret restaurants and deals the locals know best - and we got a coupon booklet for freebies and discounts (which didn't hurt our feelings). We relied on the locals a lot and were well directed - very tourist friendly. We learned the terrain and navigated Pittsfield and environs pretty well with instructions and an excellent map from the front desk, never really missing a beat.
The living room had a queen size pull out sofa-bed and the bedroom had a king-size bed with peach colored linens; both with velour blankets and tons of pillows. Towels were plentiful and folded in decorative fashion we took apart to learn for future knowledge, home improvement and gift giving. There was a jet-tub and separate shower unit; double sink bath and everything one could want in the kitchen. The staff provided a notebook for TV guidance, medical/religious/shopping data with recommendations for dining of all types and so much more. There were laundry facilities on each floor and a fireplace in the living room - a nice touch for the colder months, and we had a cute, cozy balcony we enjoyed after each day's excursion with a lovely view of white birch trees and mountains and the silly wild canaries chasing each other about the trees. The neighbors were quiet, as we tried to be, and the kids were nice It's a lovely place to unwind.
I especially liked Judi with her wide smile and ever-helpful advice. Every question had a friendly answer and nothing was beyond them in helping make our stay pleasant. Vacation Village is located gently off Brodie Mt. Road and has everything within accessible range. Try it out.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 5, 2003
Vacation Village At Berkshires
276 BRODIE MOUNTAIN ROAD
Irene had the enormous berry-filled pancakes (triple stack 12" round with butter and syrup) and I opted for a ham and cheese omelette with rye toast. The menu offered a breakfast/lunch variety (they close at 3pm) from $4.95 to a max NY sirloin open-faced sandwich (with veggies and pototoes) for $7.95 . . . nearly everything was priced below $4 and mainly local people were in attendance (a very good sign). The wait staff was congenial and the chef actually whistled at me- wow (but believe it or not he was actually as old as me). But that started the day off right! Seriously though, the food was perfectly prepared and plentiful. The Chef's Hat Restaurant is worth a stop to start any day off properly in the Berkshire hills. It's closed on Mondays as is the Clark Art Institute, so our planning worked perfectly. We found The Chef's Hat a special beginning to a day out on the way to Williamstown.
The Chef's Hat
905 Simonds Road
Hancock, Massachusetts 01267
It seemed customary to take clients here and to make sure the coffee (or whatever) was ever-filled and they/we were kept content. The staff was excellent and friendly, and the food was supurb. I'd like to have had a longer look at the menu but it had everything. They boast about the blueberry pancakes, but the Chef's Hat was not to be beaten. Price difference is a matter of cents/sense. We did well in Williamstown, but the cheese in the omelettes was much better here.
It's a pretty place with strong wooden walls and decor; a bit more formal (but still relaxed) than the Chef's Hat. Several client groups were dining and it seemed to be a favorite, very local, haunt for the Vacation Village staff. We enjoyed great conversation with our guide and certainly covered a spectrum of topics...thanks Phil.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 6, 2003
Bob's Country Kitchen
42 South Main Street
Hancock, Massachusetts 01237
Restaurant | "Panda Inn Chinese Restaurant"
The decor was delicate with soft lighting and I'd just bought the batteries to load into my camera but felt a bit out-of-place standing up to take photos. The little restaurant was mobbed with people yet service was very efficient. We were also told at the resort service desk that shrimp is served here after 5pm and there's a "Grand Buffet" that we never found, but we were very content with what we did find in the "Panda Inn" . . . it was a great bargain and experience in an easy-to-locate downtown Pittsfield location.
Panda House Chinese Restaurant
Route 7 South
Downstairs there was a vast unaltered collection of "Saturday Evening Post" covers, all dated (of course) showing a progression of the man and his art.
Not being a #1 fan, I have to admit I was impressed with the art, its placement and the entire presentation. Rockwell's legacy presents a good man with decent values, a great perception of humankind, and a love of dogs. Yes, I was awed.
The gift shop was filled with high-priced goodies of all kinds. Irene was aghast but I did pick up a couple items for gift giving. We didn't make it to the studio, but the other facilities were very nice indeed and I'd recommend the trip to anyone.
Norman Rockwell Museum
9 Glendale Rd.
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
I shared this with Irene on our way to Hancock and she was awed. However, it was closed to the public as its 3 buildings and acreage are on the market for the second time since I came to know it.
This masterpiece was built in the 30s by Sir Henry Hudson Kitson, sculptor of Lexington's "Minuteman" and other notable works. Apparently, he was a bit of a crank and workmen, generally imported from England, quit his heavy-handed domination quite readily. The roof is an 80-ton mass of shapely shingles designed to resemble both thatch and the surrounding rolling hills. They rest on secure and weighty chestnut beams. The floor is concrete with a tiny gift shop just inside the entrance. The windows are primarily lovely stained glass. There are acres of gardens, basically planted with wildflowers to attract birds and a small lily pond, which was stocked with goldfish.
Santarella has 3 floors with a trapdoor to lower sculpted works from the working studio to the ground floor. It has B&B accommodations ($125-150/night), complete with antiques and Kitson-type artifacts in the rooms.
Several years ago it was marketed for $850,000 and was bought by the Atkins family. While we were disappointed it wasn't open, we enjoyed the local mountain scenery and look forward to a new owner's keeping it up and reopening it for the viewing of area artists' works. This is an out-of-the-way gem, a fairytale structure, sure to remain in the heart of every visitor.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 25, 2003
75 Main Road
The private bedroom had a walk-in closet as well and a possible extra bed, a full bureau and a second phone. We had a charging flashlight (another wonder) in the kitchen area and a hair dryer in the bath - all extras in my timeshare experience.
We brought fruit, meat, eggs, veggies, and extras to take care of our individual requirements but found extras locally. Of particular delight was the Whitney Farm stand in Cheshire. I give it a "10" in offerings and pricing, and still have a grapefruit left--wish they were more nearby but a great find and recommended by the resort staff. We had the best fruit salads and tomato/lettuce combos with pepper steaks.
The Vacation Village in the Berkshires is very busy and has a separate reception area and location with a "Par 4" mini golf activity with soft serve that excels on a hot day. We stopped there twice and hit the nearby Berkshire Mall with its convenient connection between routes 7 and 8.
I can't rave enough about the nearby sites of interest, especially the museums, the Rockwell and the Clark being my favorites but the Crane will be seen soon (free admission) as I have interests not shared by my companion. Nearby Albany hosts New York's State Museum (which has ongoing interesting exhibitions) and way more but we never ventured that far. There was a 2 hour TV special on Albany's history which was fascinating but I thought a "gray line" tour might be beneficial before hitting the museums there in NY's capital.
And, of course, the shopping and convenience food places are all in our immediate vicinity as well. We had a bit of difficulty finding the KFC but the resort map helped tremendously. The staff was well-informed and helpful. The area's filled with places to go, things to do (let alone at the resort which did have daily servings and activities), scenery par excellence, and friendly assistance at every turn.
Bottom line, we had a great getaway and I highly recommend you take a week to enjoy the Berkshires via Vacation Village.