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Embracing Winter at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

If you are following along on Facebook, you may have noticed that I have a theme going — embracing winter. After a dozen years of living in New England and hating winter, I’ve finally come to accept that I can’t hibernate for six months of the year. Most years, except for the occasional family ski weekend and some romps in the snow, I tend to stay huddled around my fireplace dreaming of tropical beach vacations. While we’ve taken a few February break vacations to tropical climes, like our trips to Costa Rica or the Atlantis in the Bahamas, we tend to stay closer to home because of the likelihood of trips being cancelled due to snowstorms, flu, ear infections, and all those other annoying side effects of winter.

This year we’ve tried to break out of that rut and see what fun there is to have in winter. So far we have gone ice skating at Foxwoods in CT, enjoyed Hershey Park in 20 degree temps, and in a few weeks we are even headed to Quebec City for their Winter Carnival. Most recently we had a chance to have a more local retreat and embrace winter at the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa Fire and Ice Festival in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Fire and Ice Festival

Located mid-way between New York City and Boston (about two hours from each), at the mouth of the Connecticut River overlooking Long Island Sound, the scenic town of Old Saybrook feels like a retreat from everyday life. We were able to stay during the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa’s second annual Fire & Ice Festival on Saturday, January 17th. While we arrived a bit late to enjoy all the festivities, this festival captures the essence of embracing winter with a fully sculpted Ice Bar and ice carvings, horse drawn carriage rides along the point, chair massages from their on-site Sanno Spa, oyster shucking, champagne tasting, and other food stations.

Saybrook Point Inn Fire and Ice Festival

For kids, they have a s’mores making station, hot chocolate, warm apple cider, face painting, and a family movie playing on a flat screen TV in the main ballroom. The best time to go with the family is probably between 12 – 3pm, as that is when the horse drawn carriage rides were running. For adults, you can grab a drink from the Ice Bar or champagne tasting and then warm up at the Fresh Salt fire bar, with a long gas-powered fire running down the center, or step inside and enjoy the live entertainment in the ballroom.

When we arrived, we were directed to the ticket table where you need to purchase food and drink tickets. It can be a bit confusing since you don’t know exactly what is offered, where to find it, or how many tickets you’ll need, but you can always come back to get more and a quick loop around the patio and ballroom will help you decide what tasty treats you’d like to enjoy. Tickets were $1.00 each and drinks from the Ice Bar ran about $10, as well as the champagne tasting. Hot sake, cider, and hot chocolate, as well as beer were less. Unfortunately when we arrived at 6pm the food stations were already closing but we did manage to grab a s’mores to tide us over until our dinner reservation at Fresh Salt, the hotel’s on-site restaurant. My advice would be to arrive early before the temps drop too low and you can enjoy the festival and the view of the marina and Sound during the afternoon. Then take a break, warm up in front of the fireplace in your room or a spa treatment before dinner.

The Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

You never know quite what to expect when staying at a local inn, but the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa did not disappoint and it is clearly a jewel on the Connecticut coast. With 84 guest rooms, two-bedroom villas for families, and a spacious guest house, with common rooms for larger groups, the Saybrook Point Inn is a good fit for couples looking for a romantic retreat, families looking for a peaceful escape, or girlfriend getaways.

Saybrook Point Inn review

The classically decorated lobby and friendly desk staff give the feel of a smaller inn, with the services and amenities of a luxury hotel. We were thrilled with the size of our fireplace suite, featuring two queen beds, two chairs in front of a wood-burning fire, a desk, and even a small balcony. The bathroom was also quite spacious with a very long vanity with room for all of our families toiletries, a large walk in shower, and a jacuzzi soaking tub. My only regret was that we didn’t have time to enjoy the fire. Based on the bellman making a Duraflame delivery when we were in the elevator, I imagine that you need to call down to the front desk for supplies when you want a fire.

The suite was very well equipped, with chocolates by the bedside and spa-quality amenities, including my new favorite, make up remover / cleansing wipes. We also enjoyed the easy-to-access free WiFi provided by the hotel.

Saybrook Point Inn room

Just down the hall we found a billiard room and windows overlooking the indoor pool. Along with a health club, the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa offers a whirlpool, sauna, steam room, and even an outdoor heated pool that we saw quite a few people taking advantage of during our stay (talk about embracing winter!)

I was also impressed by the hotel’s green initiatives, which seemed to go beyond the standard recycling and laundry reduction programs you see at big hotels to include LED lighting, water saving bath fixtures, reusable slippers, elimination of Styrofoam, energy efficient appliances, an on-site trash compactor, and grease recycling program. The housekeeping department also utilizes certified Green Seal cleaning concentrates and collects used soap bars from guest rooms for the Clean the World program. The hotel collects rainwater for irrigation and gets its electricity from a natural gas co-generation plant to heat hot water, guest rooms and its salt water swimming pools. It is nice when you see a hotel put such thoughtfulness into its environmental impact.

Fresh Salt Restaurant

After enjoying the Fire & Ice Festival for a little bit, it was time for us to check out another feature of the Inn, the Fresh Salt restaurant. With a nautical theme well-suited for its many windows overlooking the marina, the restaurant was nicely broken up into a bar area and two dining rooms. Still cold from our time outside, we were thrilled to be seated right in front of the stone fireplace. Fresh Salt was bustling when we arrived, as the crowd from the Fire & Ice Festival spilled over into the bar so it was good that we had reservations. Even though the crowd outside was boisterous, the design of the restaurant still afforded us a peaceful fine dining experience.

Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa in Old Saybrook CT

I started with a few fresh oysters, since I missed out trying these at the festival, while my husband sampled the Chestnut Soup. For our main courses, he went for the Veal Ossobuco over paparadelle, while I went for the baseball steak with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes and our daughter sampled the scallops over pasta. It was her first time trying scallops and she definitely preferred the pasta but as the portions were well sized, she still had plenty to eat, as did we all. Even though we were quite full from our meals, we still tried a couple of the homemade cookies with salted caramel gelato to share for dessert.

The next morning we were able to sample (and sample, and sample, and sample) the bounty that is Fresh Salt’s Sunday brunch. This buffet of food creates two challenges…where to start and how to fit it all. The buffet is set up in two of the smaller meeting rooms, just down the hall from the restaurant. In the “breakfast” room, we found an omelet station with crispy bacon and juicy sausages; a pancake station with add-ins like chocolate chips, bananas, berries and nutella; a raw bar with clams, oysters, and shrimp; and a table groaning under the weight of bagels, lox, fruit, salads, pastries, and more. After a couple rounds, we moved on to the “lunch” portion with a pasta station featuring two kinds of pasta prepared three different ways with all sorts of veggies and add-ins; a carving station; and the ever-so-tempting dessert buffet.

Sunday brunch at Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

Our service at both meals was top-notch, although the dinner was a bit of a long, drawn out affair, but that could be the fault of the festival. The Saybrook Point Inn is one of those places where you don’t need to find a local restaurant because the hotel itself is the destination offering everything you’ll need.

Sanno Spa

On Sunday, I was treated to a customized massage at the on-property Sanno Spa. Once again, I was thrilled not just by the service, but also by the luxuriousness of the facility. This full-service spa offers a variety of massages, scrubs, wraps, facials, and nail and beauty services with a total of 11 service rooms. The large locker room offered plenty of storage lockers, showers, changing rooms and a large vanity area for post-treatment beautification.

I spent a few moments unwinding in the relaxation room in front of the fire in preparation for my massage. It was nice to leave the family upstairs and escape for an hour of “me time.” The relaxation room has comfortable seating in two separate areas, and features an adjacent “tea” room with complimentary citrus-water or tea, and small bottles of wine for purchase. After my relaxing aromatherapy massage, I returned to the relaxation room for just a bit longer before rejoining my family upstairs.

Sanno Spa at the Saybrook Point Inn

Exploring Old Saybrook

Unfortunately when we visited, the weather turned from cold but clear to rainy and raw, so we didn’t spend as much time exploring the area as we would have hoped. Just looking at the causeway that connects the two forks of the Saybrook peninsula, I could just imagine taking a walk at sunset overlooking the Sound and Lynde Point Lighthouse on a romantic retreat, or going for a morning run on a girlfriend getaway. We did take a nice drive around “the loop,” which consists of scenic waterfront highway 154, around North Cove Road, where we found many beautiful, historic homes and magnificent trees that have been around for hundreds of years.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa review

On a better day we would have explored Fort Saybrook Monument Park, across from the main inn, with panoramic views of the mouth of Connecticut River with a boardwalk, bird sanctuary, and storyboards depicting the history of Saybrook Colony. Saybrook also is one of the only places in the country with two working lighthouses right next to each other, with Lynde Point and Saybrook Point lighthouses.

If you are visiting with a family, one town over you will find the Essex Steam Train and Gillette Castle, and you are not far from Foxwoods Resort and Casino with their outdoor winter patio, bowling alley and arcade; as well as the terrific Pequot Museum. About 30 minutes east you will find the town of Mystic, with plenty to offer families including the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport.

I’ve taken a few girlfriend getaways to the Norwich Inn and Spa in Connecticut, but now I’m excited to plan a trip with friends to the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa — maybe this time in summer! For couples, the hotel also offers a great Valentine’s Day package or “foodie weekends.” With a blizzard of “historic proportions” on its way to the Northeast this week, my resolve to embrace winter is wavering and I’m starting to dream about palm trees.

Note: Our stay, meals, and spa service was provided by the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, which did not require me to write about our stay. The opinions expressed above are my own.

Have you stayed at the Saybrook Point Inn and Spa? Do you have another local inn that you love to escape to?

19 Comments on “Embracing Winter at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa

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  1. Looks beautiful and very quaint! I love that part of the country. Living now in Miami, but grew up in Long Island with a lot of family in and around Boston.

      I am sure you are happy to be in Miami this week with a giant blizzard on the way to the northeast!

    That Spa looks delightful, especially after being out in the cold. My husband would love the Saybrook Point Inn with those fireplaces. Perfect for our next trip to CT to visit family…but enjoy some down time too.

    It looks like a swell place. I hibernate, too, in winter and I’m in OKC. I’ve also tried to stop doing this. If I don’t, I’ll miss half my own life. I love the yellow on the buildings.

    I love that you are getting out to explore wintery activities – and not just the typical ski resort! I think about going away in the winter, but I shouldn’t overlook all that New England and the Mid-Atlantic region has to offer – thanks for that tip!

    I went to college and grad school in New England and got married in Connecticut and love that part of the country! Saybrook is so charming and next time we visit, we’ll have to check out Saybrook Point Inn & Spa!

    We haven’t stayed at many local inns, but I really want to check some out. I’m always afraid because they’re hit or miss. I’m glad that you had a good experience. It looks like a great place to stay.

    Looks like an awesome inn. We pass by there all the time when driving through CT! That bathroom looks heavenly. We, too, are trying to embrace winter. Happy blizzard! Adding this quaint inn to my list!

    What an easy car ride from Boston. Good to know! Every once in a while I have an urge to hop in the car and get away for a few days. This looks like a fantastic option.

    As we travel full time we could technically always escape winter however my partner likes the cold so we agreed to alternate. Last year we spent the winter in Mexico and Guatemala but this year we are in Eastern Europe and the UK. Reading this makes me realize I need to find a spa!

      Sarah, at least it must be easy to
      find a spa, or at least a bath house nearby.

    I love the idea of embracing winter and exploring local(ish) things to do. We definitely need something to keep us going through these long winters in the northeast! The inn looks so cozy – I love the fireplace in the room!

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