Blantyre resort beckons the public to pirouette away on its outdoor winter wonderland ice rink
LENOX — If you're like most people, you don't have the time or money to maintain a private ice rink on your property. You also probably don't have 110 acres on which to situate this winter wonderland luxury.
In the coming weeks, you can pretend that you have both. Weather permitting, Blantyre will host Thursday "Chili Bar & Family Skate" nights throughout January and February, the first time that the Lenox resort is welcoming the public to use its outdoor rink. (Attendees must bring their own skates.) The recurring event is one of multiple initiatives that have made the upscale, recently renovated estate more inviting to its Berkshire neighbors since Linda Law took ownership in 2017 and Ocean House Management began managing the property.
"We wanted to open our doors to the community," Blantyre spokesperson Laurie Hobbs said of the skate nights.
At a cost of $25 for adults and $15 for children, skate night attendees can pirouette on a tennis court-sized ice surface, gobble some chili and sip some hot chocolate from 4:30-6 p.m. While it won't conjure Rockefeller Center or Boston Common's Frog Pond, the 80-foot-by-40-foot rink can fit as many as 20 people at a time, according to staff. That is, as long as the weather cooperates. The skate nights were originally scheduled to begin in mid-December, but previous dates have all been canceled due to warm temperatures. (As of this writing, Thursday's skate night was in jeopardy due to a mild start to the week.) According to Hobbs, the rink needs to be frozen for at least 48 hours at 20 degrees or less before workers deem it safe for use.
Prior to that final hurdle, staff create a frozen base atop one of the resort's tennis courts and coat it with water three-to-six times per day, slowly building a level, solid surface. Depending on the weather, constructing the rink can take between one and four weeks. It's not a new process for Blantyre, which has long encouraged its guests to partake in skating as well as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and other winter activities since it became a year-round destination in 2005.
"Blantyre always had a tradition of having an ice rink," Hobbs said.
But the rink wasn't open to the public and, even if it had been, locals could be forgiven for not knowing about it. The former Gilded Age Tudor home of Robert Paterson is secluded and vast, a castle in the woods that has appealed to well-heeled and famous guests for decades. It has also been a haunt for foodies; the resort's dinners have long been both acclaimed and expensive, with diners regularly ordering meals in excess of $100.
You can still do that; The Conservatory offers a $115 prix fixe dinner and touts lobster, pheasant and venison plates, among other items. But Blantyre now has a more affordable, community-friendly dining option in The Bistro, a breakfast, lunch and dinner spot that is open for dinner from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday during the winter. The dinner menu currently includes $25 trout, $28 lobster risotto and $32 steak frites, among several other main plates. And Architectural Digest recently named the bar "The Most Beautifully Designed Bar" in Massachusetts.
At skate nights, attendees can indulge in chili prepared by Blantyre's culinary team, a group helmed by chef Jeremy Berlin. Like at Blantyre's tree lighting celebration on Nov. 30, another community event, hot chocolate will be available. So, even if you're not exactly Michelle Kwan on skates, you can still enjoy the evening's culinary aspect.
"This is a fun, family-friendly twist," Hobbs said.
Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.
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