Whether you are in a new or a long-term relationship, there’s nothing quite like getting away from the stresses of everyday life – just the two of you, for a healthy dose of escapism. Pampering each other with a romantic rendezvous at some dreamy destination can do wonders for body and soul, with the added bonus of spending quality time together. How long has it been since you’ve done just that?
To help you get started, consider a weekend jaunt to Delaware and the Brandywine Valley (Wyeth and DuPont country). Rich in art, history, manicured mansions, not to mention scores of fine eateries and that shopping mecca – QVC, there’s something here to suit every taste and pocketbook; please both you and your significant other.
It Takes A Village
First things first, you’ll want to choose a centrally located home base within striking distance of all those attractions, one that exudes comfort, charm, and modern-day amenities including an on-site spa. By all accounts, The Inn at Montchanin Village and Spa in Wilmington, Del. is that and more.
Once a part of the Winterthur estate, this quaint, sprawling village of carefully restored 19th century buildings, cobblestone paths, and landscaped courtyards, captures the spirit of another era, while providing all the comforts of home. Warm and welcoming cottages and two-story suites each with their own individual character, feature relaxed furnishings, cozy private porches, gas fireplaces, and kitchenettes with mini-fridge, complimentary teas, coffees, soda and water (Nice touch!). Other perks include free Internet, a common fireplace lounge with a fully stocked “honor bar” nightly at 5 p.m., plus a limitless stash of Hershey kisses – sweet!
On a recent breakaway, once my love and I were settled in our comfy lodgings, the promise of a soothing facial for me (including hands and feet) and a relaxing massage for hubby (Joe) was the perfect prescription for finding our balance. Of note, couples that prefer service pas deux can nourish that special bond side-by-side via Signature Massages in a private treatment room. As for us, singly pummeled into serenity, once reconnected, we practically glided back to our quarters.
The royal treatment continued into the evening, as we treasured the joy of each other’s company while savoring a superb, four-course, candlelit supper at the on-premise, renowned Krazy Kat’s Restaurant. Housed in a renovated blacksmith’s shop, its whimsical décor is a real kick with tiger-print chairs and portraits of military-garbed cats and dogs. Service is impeccable. Executive Chef Joe Johnson’s menu is stellar. Standouts like Dijon-crusted Colorado lamb cowboy steak, accompanied by red beet soubise, chive potato latke and smoked honey and the prosciutto-wrapped chicken cutlets and tomato ragout, roasted eggplant and linguini are testament to his innovative approach. My personal favorite – a delicious scallop creation consisting of foie gras spaghetti squash, candied pancetta, brandied cherry jam and gooseberry mustard emulsion – was truly memorable.
Day Two. A hearty Krazy Kat breakfast, quick review of the day’s activities, a handful of those kisses for the road and we set off to explore a blooming fantasy at nearby Longwood Gardens (longwoodgardens.org).
With over 1,000 acres of gardens here, enchanting fountains dance at intervals and you can catch choral concerts, organ sing-a-longs or performances in the picturesque setting of a cascading waterfall. Colorful blooms paint the landscape in vibrant hues, a perfect backdrop for a romantic lunch on the grounds at 1906 Restaurant. For a decadent floral finale, the Chocolate Flower Pot (entirely edible) is a chocoholic’s dream.
Next stop, The Brandywine River Museum of Art (www.thebrandywine.com), and masterful creations of a different kind. It’s no secret that three generations of Wyeths lived and painted the landscapes and people of Chadds Ford. The Brandywine houses an extensive collection of their work along with Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, Rockwell Kent, and others. Budding or seasoned artists will surely want to include the museum’s tour of Andrew Wyeth’s home and studio. His library is astounding, but the studio trumps all with his original palette, paints and entire set up intact. Advanced tickets recommended. Shuttles depart from the museum.
Lights, Camera, Shop
Our next excursion had us in West Chester, Pa. for a behind the scenes look at QVC Studios (www.qvc.com), where we experienced a live broadcast in action. The tour ends in the QVC store. Need I say more?
Back at the Inn to refresh, we lounged by the fire enjoying complimentary tea and biscotti; relaxing before a big night on the town – dinner and a play at Farmhouse Bistro at Peoples Light (www.farmhousepeopleslight.com).
This is not your run of the mill, overcrowded dinner theatre. First off, in a tranquil country inn setting, The Bistro serves a delightful prix fixe menu that is creative, tasty and reasonable ($40). Afterward, you walk next door to where a beautifully restored 18th-century barn showcases local theatre at its best.
Beauty, History and the Crown
Day Three, and the Winterthur Museum Garden & Library (www.winterthur.org),a final must do before heading back north. The former elegantly furnished 175-room home of Henry Francis du Pont is considered one of America’s most beautiful historic mansions, along with its 60-acre world-renowned gardens. There’s so much to take in from tram tours and guarded walks to elegant, fabulous period rooms, fascinating historic objects. This is an afternoon – or a full day – well spent. Most notably, through Jan. 5, 2020, you can catch a major new exhibition, “Costuming The Crown,” which gets you up close and personal to 40 iconic costumes from the first two seasons of Netflix’s acclaimed series.
The Inn at Montchanin Village and Spa (www.montchanin.com) is a charming hamlet of 11 restored buildings dating from 1799 to 1910, including 28 luxe rooms and suites. Located minutes from downtown Wilmington, Del., it’s a short drive from Bergen County, but a world away.
For a free event guide, contact The Chester County Conference & Visitor’s Bureau via www.Brandywinevalley.com.
By Louise B. Hafesh
Louise B. Hafesh is an award–winning writer and contemporary realist artist. The president of AdVantage Publication Services, Inc., an editorial syndicate for regional and national publications, she can be reached at www.louisebhafesh.com.