For a grand resort experience where the golf course and spa are within a wedge shot from the front entrance try Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club. Sitting atop a crest in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts, the imposing brick mansion is an elegant, refined grand dame from the gilded age (circa 1884).

Such an imposing hotel might hint to be a tad pretentious. It isn’t. From the reservations clerk to the wait staff in the Wyndhurst and Music Room restaurants, they could not be more friendly or helpful. Gotta love that.

Much of the food served is grown locally on family farms and their wine list is extensive from the expensive to an Adelsheim Pinot Gris from Oregon ($33) or Cranwell’s Private Label Cab ($28). Be sure to save room for their Classic Crème Brulee. It’s sinful.

At Sloane’s Tavern adjacent to the Pro Shop, build your own sandwich or go big with a Sloane Cowboy Steak accompanied by a micro-brewed beer or a glass of wine (from $7 a glass).

Book one of the 114 rooms or suites in the hotel, restored cottages, duplex townhouses or the carriage house, all are very different, some with fireplaces, some with whirlpool. Rates from $205 per room including use of the spa. .


 Golf Course

 Spreading out below the mansion is the pretty parkland-style 18-hole golf course. When I first played it a few years ago, it was pretty rough. Today it’s a course of a different color. Designed in 1926 by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, the course received a major $1 million renovation in 1993 vastly improving the conditions and layout.

Easily walkable with gentle ups and downs, it’s not a long track at 6,204 yards, but several elevated greens may  require adding a club or two to reach them.

The 60-acre Cranwell Golf School with it indoor learning center, the largest in the northeast, offers the latest in instructional facilities and equipment.


   Spa at Cranwell

The 35,000 square foot  Spa at Cranwell is a wow with 16 treatment rooms, Spa Café, Spa Suites with fireplaces and saunas along with a 5,000-square-foot Fitness Center with a 60-foot indoor lap pool.  Fifty  spa services range from soothing massages to exotic “body envelopment experiences” using seaweed and thermal clay.   The Hot Stone Massage delivers a double whammy combining deep penetrating heat of warmed smooth stones with warm oil and aromatherapy.  Also popular is the Deep Tissue Massage with Moist Heat, perfect to sooth sore muscles.


A Chip Away

Minutes away is the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937. After golf  as the sun sets over the Berkshire Hills bring a picnic and some folding chair find a piece of real estate on the lawn, and relax as music of Beethoven, Strauss,  Mozart and other classic composers fills the night air. Seats also available in “The Shed.” Lawn tickets $9 to $21; Shed  from $20.


Golf Package

Unlimited Golf Package from $190 per person includes accommodations, one day unlimited golf with cart, range balls, $20 dining credit and full use of Spa. 


Insider knowledge

Upon looking up at the carved cherry wood ceiling in Cranwell’s circular dining room , President William McKinley was so impressed he had it replicated in the Oval Office of the White House.