GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (WWLP) – When many people think of visiting the Berkshires, Tanglewood and antiquing in Great Barrington come to mind. Now with COVID-19 guidelines easing, the idea of taking your next great getaway is becoming a reality.
The Berkshires are a popular summer vacation area for many people but it’s been a little quiet since the pandemic began.
“We’re hoping for a good summer. Normally summer is our busy season so we’re hoping that middle of May things get back to normal,” Antique Emporium owner, Joshua Cohn told 22News.
Tanglewood announced that their summer season will be the first time the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston POPS play with an in-person audience since the pandemic started.
“I think everyone is incredibly excited, the orchestra is thrilled to the be back on stage and will be even more excited when they have a live audience,” Boston Symphony Orchestra President and CEO, Mark Volpe told 22News.
For concerts, they will be spacing audience members apart and all extra buildings on the grounds will be closed during performances, excluding the bathrooms of course. Before you end your Berkshires night with some classical music, a trip downtown to antique stores in Great Barrington might suit your fancy.
“You never know what you’re going to find. People come in looking for one thing and walk out with something completely different,” Cohn told 22News. Antique Emporium specializes in smaller antiques, one of the largest collections of bohemian Loetz art glass and estate jewelry.
“People are always surprised to find this in downtown Great Barrington, they come in and say it looks more like a museum,” Cohn continued. People from all over New England and the greater Northeast visit Cohn’s shop. “It’s been a destination. People come from New York, come from Boston they visit for the weekend and go shopping to see what they can find.”
While many people see the Berkshires as a great place to come for a day-cation, if you’re looking to take your vacation overnight there are a lot of great places to do so, like one bed and breakfast that opened during the pandemic.
Some of Great Barrington’s newest bed-and-breakfast owners, Terri and Terry Coughlin opened Granville House in July of 2020. Yes, that’s husband and wife, Terry with a “Y” and Terri with an “I.”
“I’m really excited about this summer,” Terry Coughlin told 22News.
The idea of opening a B&B in the Berkshires isn’t new, it’s 20 years in the making. Before moving out to the Berkshires, they worked in the hospitality industry in New York. “We always knew when we decided to do this dream, that it was going to be here,” Terry said.
Granville House is a five-bedroom bed and breakfast that offers a peaceful getaway filled with music, modern vintage design, and Terry cooking breakfast every morning. Opening in the middle of a pandemic threw off their original plans a bit but hasn’t hampered their success.
“We’re fortunate that since day one we’ve had a really solid business and we couldn’t be happier. [When] We opened July 1st we said ‘Let’s just hope for the best, we’ll tread water and see if we can survive,’ and we’ve done more than survive,” Terry told 22News.
Because the pandemic is still on-going, they’ve had time to plan for what operating in the midst of it looks like. Masks must be worn in all common spaces, and breakfast is served to your room instead of their dining area.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be greeting guests wearing a mask or [not having] that first instinct of wanting to shake someone’s hand when they meet them but it’s very manageable,” Terry explained.
They hope their Berkshires oasis gives guests a cozy experience away from the stress of the pandemic. While staying safe and close to home. There are no TV’s in the bed and breakfast. but there are a plethora of books and an entire room dedicated to vinyl records that guests can listen to in their room. These activities will keep guests busy during their stay.
“People over the last year have been cooped up and need to get away but need to get away somewhere that feels safe and local and doesn’t require getting on an airplane,” Terry said. “It has given people a comfortable space to get away during a really hard time when people have been very closed in,” Terri added.
Their dream started as Terri’s life goal, after remembering the great times her family had visiting bed and breakfasts’ when she was younger. On their first date, she expressed her interested in owning one in the future.
“We talked about having a bed and breakfast one day. Which I found out he wanted, so I thought, and the rest is history,” Terri explained. Terry with a “Y” was so madly in love, that he said it was his dream too but really he was winging it to impress Terri with an “I.” For their honeymoon, they visited different bed and breakfasts’ and decided the Berkshires is where they eventually wanted to own one.
“It’s one of those things that you can’t imagine. You have a hope and it’s just exceeded all hope, it exceeded a dream,” Terri said.
“I envision in the future there will be more times where guests that didn’t know each other when they arrive, will get to know each other and shoot a game of pool together or something like that. I think there will be more of that level of comfort as things start to get back to normal,” Terry pondered.
A normal, many people are anxiously awaiting. Make sure you check the CDC guidelines before traveling.