What a difference the right boss makes to any luxury hotel. Long time ago, it seems, Michael Hoffmann spent a period running Peninsula’s Quail Lodge in California and then he moved to The Boulders in Arizona. That led, via a complicated series of events, to his being parachuted into New York to head Waldorf Astoria up to, and during, its closure. Now he seems to have found his calling, back again in gorgeous countryside, namely The Inn at Perry Cabin outside St Michaels MD. This is a unique zigzag of connected whitewood buildings, one to three floors high, with all 78 rooms facing across water-fronting lawns (suitably spotted with white-painted Adirondack chairs) to Miles River. The boss was there to meet the gal after a 75-minute drive from BWI rail station.
It was five years since my last visit and much has been done. Alexandra Champalimaud has worked her design magic and room 43, Wood Duck, is now all white, including horizontal-slat shutters at the total-11 windows and two doors leading directly to the lawn. I had a working fire and a lifetime of books – it was all extremely comfy (see the video below). I quickly unpacked and just made it to Chance Miller’s weekly port lesson, when he explains what the drink is all about and shows how to break a bottle’s neck with tongs heated to glowing in the open fireplace behind him in Stars restaurant (this was, until Orient Express sold the estate to Capital Properties in 2014, called Sherwood’s Landing). SEE THE PORT LESSON VIDEO, BELOW
Next came a visit to Linden Spa, tagged as ‘the botanical art of wellness’. The spa has its own separate whiteboard house, and I loved the way walls of the waiting room have panels of real pressed flowers. My therapist used Eminence products, working my body with lots of power, and understanding of muscles. After a cup of caffeine-free Tealeaves’ organic vanilla rooibos tea, I headed up 20 pale wood stairs to the gym, where a variety of piece of equipment included an Expresso feel-like-you-are-competing bike. A quick change, and the evening jollification began. We had a tasting of Harris Creek Maximus oysters in Purser’s Bar, and then moved to Stars, where chef Ken Macdonald’s menu prominently features such sustainability logos as Seafood Watch: I started with his heirloom tomato salad, went on to Wagon Wheel Farm dry-rubbed Berkshire pork chop.
My room faced east and sunrise over Miles River was gorgeous – see above. I knew there was a treat for breakfast – see right. Yes, an egg white omelette enveloping two whole Harris Creek Maximus oysters is about as heavenly as any dish can be at that time of day, and I was then all set to see what this luxury resort is up to next. Capital Properties also owns the Pete Dye golf course on a private gated estate a couple of miles away, and now, after three years’ extensive rebuilding it will be ready, as of April 2018, to open to its members and hotel guests. The entire Dye family has been redesigning the course, turning some of the hitherto-flat holes into up-and-downs, three-D sculptures with mini hills and lakes. Beyond the course, on one finger-like promontory protruding into the river, is a now-closed golfers’ lodge which, when it re-opens, will be the ultimate luxury-level golfers’ sleeping-place-with-views (plus a quartet of four-bedroom, fully-serviced bungalows, ideal for families or groups of friends). Also, back at the Inn, the agricultural-MA who heads the produce garden will have a new and extended farm, and there is a possibility of doubling the number of bedrooms. See why Michael Hoffmann is on top of the world? SEE THE PORT LESSON, AND THEN, BELOW IT, A TOUR OF ROOM 43, WOOD DUCK