Passion Points: Green/Eco
When the owners of Rhode Island’s Stone House set out to restore the seaside villa, which dates from the mid-19th century, it was big news in Little Compton. For one, the exclusive coastal community (there are some 3,500 residents) has long been resistant to change, refusing to add even a touch of glitz, à la Newport, to its bucolic beauty. The design-driven hotel project, however, was developed with such care and a commitment to cutting-edge eco technology that it has satisfied most early critics. (Stone House opened, quietly and without much fanfare, last fall and is now headed into its first summer season.)
About an hour’s drive from Providence, in an area known for ultra-scenic coastal villages and unspoiled farmlands, Stone House sits on 2.5 acres and has views of Round pond and the Atlantic in the distance. The property comprises the original building, lovingly restored and holding ten rooms, as well as a renovated wood barn, which houses three rooms, a small spa and showpiece Pietra restaurant. Each guest room is different in layout and design, though throughout, Stone House eschews the typical New England seaside look, opting instead for sleek contemporary interiors, with designer furniture, large bathrooms and such details as WiFi, Bose music systems and iPod docks that are mounted in the walls and connect to the flatscreen televisions (so you can watch your own shows and movies). Bath amenities are all-natural Farmesthetics products, which are lovely and crafted in nearby Portsmouth, and snacks and food items hail from classic Wilbur General Store from Little Compton.
Some of the most impressive details, however, are well-hidden. Solar panels supply most of the property’s electrical lighting (on sunny days), geothermal pumps installed more than 100 feet in the ground regulate heat and air-conditioning, an on-site zero-impact recycling program reprocesses paper, plastic, glass and even the rain water is collected and used for irrigation. The commitment to green technology and sustainable development extends into the kitchens of Stone Houses’s two restaurants: Pietra and 1854. Headed by acclaimed chef Paul Wade (formerly of the Little Nell in Aspen), the menus feature mostly ingredients sourced within a fifty-mile radius. Housed on the ground floor of the Wood Barn (restored with reclaimed 150-year-old timber), Pietra has a nice patio for summer meals where you can watch the sky turn crimson during sunset while nibbling on such dishes as grilled octopus and roasted radishes, chanterelle and black truffles risotto, and roasted lobster bisque. Try the Westport Rivers Rkatisiteli, a crisp white wine produced at a nearby vineyard. More casual 1854 serves heartier fare, like braised ribs and grass-fed beef burgers, and occupies a former speakeasy in the main house’s cellar; with its low ceiling, gas fireplace and dim lighting, it is best for a cold or rainy evening (when it’s nice out, there’s no getting away from Pietra’s terrace).
The property isn’t large enough for hiking or long walks, so most guests stay put or take the short 10-minute stroll to scenic—and private—Warren Point beach, one of the area’s most coveted sandy coves (only Round Pond residents and Warren’s Point beach club members have access). Travelers who need constant entertainment will not be happy at this property, as the activities list is confined to biking, sailing, beach- and spa-going and relaxing; Stone House doesn’t have a pool or tennis courts.
Stone House is obviously hoping to join the ranks of New England’s most mythical resorts (Twin Farms, The Point, Wauwinet), though some design and service kinks still have to be ironed out to make for an overall smooth experience. (Then again, the price point is also on a different scale: a night at the all-inclusive Twin Farm during high season costs $1,100, while rooms here start at $300). For travelers based between New York and Boston, however, this restored resort offers a nice new option for a weekend getaway—especially during those magical weeks in the early summer and early fall when the New England coast is transformed from a hostile, wintry seascape into a glittering childhood panorama, dotted with lighthouses, caressed by gentle surf and cast in amber light.
WHO SHOULD STAY:
Couples looking for a weekend getaway with spa, good food and some light outdoor activities. Independent travelers who don’t need around-the-clock pampering and don’t mind a short stroll to get to the beach.
WHO SHOULD NOT STAY:
Families whose kids need a lot of entertainment (there’s no kid’s club) and travelers who require white-glove service. Stone House has a hearty dose of rustic New England, which is part of its charm; if a ten-minute stroll to the beach is not your idea of a seaside vacation, this is not the place for you.
ROOMS TO GET:
Each room is different. The ones in the main building win on charm while those in the Wood Barn are larger. Star occupies the original home’s small ballroom and has a coffered ceiling with painted golden stars (as well as a private porch and sweeping views); Berry, also on the second floor and with great vistas, has a large all-white bathroom with window seats and freestanding bathtub; Bailey, on the ground floor, has Tiffany-blue colored walls and an open floor plan where the top of the bed comes lines up with the uber-sized bathtub. The top-floor suites, David Sisson and Henry Sisson (named after the mansion’s original owners) have beautiful original details, like wainscoting. The Wood Barn houses the property’s larger suites, though the building itself is a bit soul-less (the staircase looks like that of a cookie-cutter condo). Plover, on the top floor, has fabulous views, a deep Japanese-style soaking tub and lovely green-and-blue color scheme.
Bathrooms come either with large bathtubs or square Japanese soaking tubs. Be sure to ask for one that suits your needs.
Read about other New England Getaways
Read about Rhode Island’s Chanler in Newport
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