Minding Our Manors
What the new owners have planned for Cranwell, Blantyre, and Canyon Ranch
It was more than 30 years ago that California-based real-estate developer Linda Law first stepped into Lenox’s Gilded Age mansion-turned-luxury hotel, Blantyre, the guest of an old roommate’s family. “I was at that time young and didn’t have any money,” she says. “I fell in love with it, and it’s been on my bucket list since then.”
Check off one thing on Law’s bucket list. Law’s company, Blantyre Hotel Ventures LLC, purchased the property last summer for nearly $7 million after friends in the Berkshires alerted her that it was for sale. “I literally went out the next day and sat in the main hall meeting everyone, and ended up negotiating a deal,” Law says.
Perhaps in her wildest dreams, she might have imagined owning Blantyre, but what she couldn’t predict was that her acquisition would come at the same time two other historical resorts in the southern Berkshires would also make leadership changes.
Canyon Ranch, which includes 120-year-old Bellefontaine Mansion on its grounds, is facing its future with a mix of continuity and change. Last March, founders Melvin and Enid Zuckerman retired from their leadership positions after 38 years, leaving CEO Susan Docherty, who joined the organization in 2015, to be its guiding light. The Zuckermans plan to retain a presence at the Lenox location, where they have an apartment, spending summers and giving talks while enjoying the facilities alongside them. This is part of the continuity.
Change comes in the form of 19 year-round luxury condos expected to have their certificates of occupancy by the end of November. Known as the Residences at Bellefontaine, this three-story project, set near the Bellefontaine mansion, will allow those who want to embrace a Canyon Ranch lifestyle more deeply to do so, and it’s drawing people from around the country.
“It connects directly to Canyon Ranch, so, in the wintertime on those cold February days, drive into the garage, go up through the elevator, and walk directly through your unit to the spa, to the dining room without having to go outside,” says general manager Mindi Morin.
The residence is a $22-million project that offers living spaces that range in price from just over $1 million to $3.6 million.
Morin says that there are also renovations being completed on 22 rooms in the facility. In 2018, the organization has plans for additions to the lifestyle. Called Canyon Ranch Aesthetics, it will give visitors the opportunity to partake in the latest non-surgical facial treatments.
New buildings also are planned for Cranwell. Purchased for $22 million earlier in 2017 by Miraval, which itself had recently been acquired by Hyatt, the 380-acre resort built around structures dating back to the late-19th century will see seven new buildings added. Work will also be done to preserve the integrity of the past. The cost for both efforts totals $75 million, and construction is not expected to disrupt the running of the resort.
“While the resort will be renamed as Miraval in the Berkshires once redeveloped,” says Marc Ellin, Miraval Group’s global director, “we will continue to celebrate the rich history of the resort throughout the campus.”
General manager Victor Cappadona, who previously worked at Cranwell in the 1990s and returned two years ago to be part of the renovations, points to the challenges of adding onto the facility. Its already-existing structures were built during several different eras of the property’s history, and the goal for Hyatt has been to create continuity in the landscape.
“So how do you tie a common thread? How do you make it feel like there’s some uniqueness to each building? That’s something that has to be evaluated on every decision we make,” says Cappadona.
The old concrete administration building, built in 1969 by the Jesuit school housed on the property, was taken down in October. Cappadona expects foundations for new buildings to begin in December, with a May 2019 completion date.
By contrast, Linda Law says that Blantyre, built in 1902, came to her without much need for new construction. “What it needed was some love,” she says.
In March, Law will show that love by closing Blantyre for a month and attending to the building’s needs—electrical outlets, new carpet, extra meeting space, and general updates. Her other focus has been to connect with the community and building partnerships. “We used to have a sign in the front that said ‘private,’ but now we are opening up everything.”