Fall in the Finger Lakes
Fall is a time to cool down from a busy summer, breathe in the fresh Finger Lakes air, and pause. It is a romantic time, too, with glasses of deep red wine, quiet fireside meals for two, and apple picking at nearby orchards. By mid October, Aurora begins to turn brilliant colors of saffron and burgundy — there’s a reason why National Geographic call the Finger Lakes a “leaf peeping paradise.” Here’s a glimpse at just some of the reasons why we’re so in love with fall in the Finger Lakes.
Summer in Aurora brings long, sunshine-filled days perfect for getting out on the water, tasting wine from nearby vineyards, and driving around the lake with the windows down. Yet sometimes — especially in the heyday of summer — our favorite thing to do is to turn off our phones, pick up that book we’ve been meaning to read, and find a quiet spot to relax. From a leisurely afternoon in the shade or an al fresco meal on the veranda, here are just a few of our favorite places to soak in the quiet beauty of summer in the Finger Lakes.
1. Rowland House’s Porch
Named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora has spectacular mornings filled with sunshine and songbirds. Pour a fresh cup of coffee and head to the eastern porch at Rowland House for a calm start to the day.
2. Rowland House’s Lawn & Boathouse
Whether you’re soaking in the sun on the deck of the boathouse or cooling off in the shade of an ancient tree, forget about the rest of the world with a quiet afternoon at Rowland House.
3. E.B. Morgan House’s Hammock
Need a break from the summer sun? Grab a book or magazine from the home’s library and make for this shady, quiet spot just north of E.B. Morgan House. It’s the perfect place for a short nap.
4. The Aurora Inn Dining Room’s Veranda
Ready to make your summer getaway?
Treasure Hunting — A Reflection from Rose
As a nature loving innkeeper with additional strong tendencies towards treasure hunting, I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be working for the Inns of Aurora on Cayuga Lake. On any given day and in every season there is an abundant supply of small wonders just waiting to be discovered while exploring the shores of the mighty Cayuga.
At 38 miles long and 430 ft. deep, Cayuga is the longest among the 11 Finger Lakes and second in depth to its western neighbor, Seneca Lake. Beach glass, lucky stones, seeds, pods, shells, cones, husks, feathers, driftwood and fossils tumble in on the surf daily creating a magnificent collage that reflects the natural history of the Finger Lakes.
When my boys were little, we spent entire days at Long Point State Park. It is one of our all-time favorite beaches located about 2 miles south of the village of Aurora. Hours in the fresh air yielded impressive hauls of treasure that would later be sorted, matched, divided, traded, strung, painted, or randomly assimilated into an ever changing and always present assortment of small nature themed alters scattered around our home. The overflow made its way into jars, bowls, boxes, pockets, lunch pails, envelopes, gardens and a host of hidey-holes where little boys tuck their treasures away.
Those sweet days on the beach are among the most fond memories of my boys in childhood and our adventures together. In my life, nature has always been the masterful entertainer, a constant source of inspiration, and in times of need or sorrow, the great healer. Not surprisingly, my now adult young men and I still love to collect when the circumstances present. The relaxing time together conversation or not, is warm and familiar.
Interestingly, a recent guest at E.B. Morgan House, where I work, shared with me that she enjoys creating decorative mosaic art and loves to incorporate found objects. She was delighted to learn that a short walk from the house was a treasure trove eager to be harvested. Thus the inspiration for this story and another opportunity to share a lesser known but highly satisfying activity possibility when you come to visit!
— Rose Ryan
Innkeeper, E.B. Morgan House
Five Reasons to Love E.B. Morgan House
Built with thick walls of limestone in 1858, E.B. Morgan House offers seven cool, tranquil guestrooms for rest and sunny lawns and shady porches for a leisurely afternoon. Here are just five of the many things we love about our most intimate inn:
Historic details abound at E.B. Morgan House, from its seven original marble fireplaces to the hand-carved curved closet door in Room Four. Surrounded by windows with idyllic views of the village, the canopy bed in this room makes for an elegant but cozy retreat.
Whether you’re an early riser or like to sleep in, mornings at E.B. Morgan House are as calm as they come. When you awake, you’ll be greeted by the smell of fresh, organic coffee brewing in the butler’s pantry and a selection of freshly-baked muffins from Dorie’s Bakery down the road. On the same floor as the pantry and the home’s library, Room One is an ideal spot to spend a leisurely morning.
E.B. Morgan House is filled with cozy nooks and corners — perfect spots to hide for the afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea. One of our most favorite such hideaways is in Room Six, with its comfortable armchair patterned in the room’s signature plum and sage hues.
Sparkling marble floors, luxurious Italian robes, and spa-quality amenities from William Roam are just a few of the delights you’ll find in each guest bathroom. Several, like the one in Room Five, feature whimsical Bombay chests from nearby MacKenzie-Childs and original art from our owner’s personal collection.
There are few places as relaxing as the hammock at E.B. Morgan House on a breezy afternoon — although a lakeside Adirondack chair is a close second. With rolling lawns leading to Cayuga Lake and a private dock for swimming during the warmer months, afternoons are a delight to spend at E.B. Morgan House.
Now, there’s even more reason to love E.B. Morgan House. Reserve your two-night (or longer) August 2016 getaway at E.B. Morgan House and receive 15% off of your stay! Book online with promo code EBLove15 or speak with us at 315.364.8888.
This promotion is not applicable to existing reservations and cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Reservations with this promotion are available at E.B. Morgan House in August 2016, require a minimum consecutive two-night stay in the same guestroom, and are subject to availability.
The Magic of Turndown
Laura Coburn, marketing consultant for the Inns of Aurora, recently had the opportunity to shadow one of our star innkeepers, Dale. She shares her experience with us below.
I grew up in a large house built for entertaining, and my parents regularly welcomed guests from near and far. My father used to say, “We don’t travel much, so we bring the world to us through our welcoming of guests.” When my three older sisters grew up and moved away, their empty bedrooms afforded my parents the space to have overnight guests more often.
I had the happy opportunity to be part of the welcoming ritual for our guests, making fresh beds and appropriating sets of towels. I enjoyed putting the finishing touches in place, arranging fresh flowers in vases and placing some thoughtfully selected reading from my mother’s library on the bedside table. I would fill a small pitcher with water and secure a glass to place alongside it. I remember standing at the doorway and surveying my work, happy to have helped create a welcoming environment for our visitor.
Recently, I had the pleasure of reliving this ritual by shadowing Dale Whittaker, lead innkeeper for the Inns of Aurora. I have been a guest of the inns on many occasions, and this was my backstage pass to see the magic unfold. Learning from Dale was a special treat–he is unwavering in his commitment to exemplary guest experiences and his attention to detail is awe-inspiring.
When you step into a guestroom at any of the inns after evening turndown service, you experience something that brings to mind the french term, je ne sais quoi — appropriate because Dale himself has a passion for the French language. It’s a moment when you pause and think to yourself, “What is it about this room? I don’t what…but it feels so inviting.”
I won’t give away all his secrets, but I will say that the lighting has been carefully selected, the window shades pulled just so, music wafts softly through the space, and the bed has taken on a “come hither” repose. On the bed rests a thoughtfully chosen quote and two scrumptious pieces of dark chocolate from Le Belge in California’s Napa Valley.
On the evening Dale shared his artistic ritual with me, he encouraged me to stand in the doorway of each finished room for one last look to appraise the view from the guests’ perspective. The experience brought me back to my parents’ home, feeling pride in a job well done.
The magic of turndown service is that you don’t know precisely what transpired to transform your guestroom into your own little heaven–you just know there’s a certain something that makes you feel invited to relax in the comfort and approachable luxury that is the quintessential Inns of Aurora experience.
Rupert’s Table: More than just Dinner
Laura Coburn, a marketing consultant and all-around team player for the Inns of Aurora, recently joined Rupert, executive chef for Skillet & Embers Catering Co., for a magical evening at E.B. Morgan House. She chronicles her experience below.
The best experiences are often the ones that you couldn’t have imagined. What makes these experiences great is the unexpected, and the simple fact that you will never be the same afterwards. I had one such experience in a magical place with the sunset over my shoulder and a feast before me, created by a chef literally at my side. I had the pleasure of experiencing Rupert’s Table at E.B. Morgan House.
Chef Rupert Robbins has created an offering that leaves guests feeling nourished in many ways. E.B. Morgan House is stunning all on its own, but when you combine Rupert’s gracious, welcoming hospitality and his soulful cooking, you’ve got a transformative experience.
I caught up with Rupert after the first in a series of five custom culinary experiences (called, simply, “Rupert’s Table”), offered exclusively to guests of E.B. Morgan House on specific Mondays this May and June. I asked Rupert what he believes makes guests so over-the-moon about this event, and he replied: “It’s really less an event and more like a family gathering. I’m cooking for these folks as if they were at home with me — and, in a way, they really are. The guests enjoy the personal feel of being hosted and served by their chef. I’ve given away a secret or two while we converse about the food, too!”
Rupert painted a picture that I could almost smell as he told me how it all unfolded, on a Monday in May. At 7:00 a.m., the braising began with a cozy cover of collard greens rather than traditional foil. He reserved drippings for the brown gravy to be later draped over a nest of spinach ricotta gnocchi, layered with asparagus, and crowned with succulent beef. By the time guests arrived to check in to their rooms, the house was filled with a smell delicious enough to match its sumptuous décor. Before dinner, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the veranda and nibbled on rustic olive bread with green peppercorn and scallion butter.
True to his southern roots, Rupert allowed the evening to unfold with a comfortable, conversational pace. Each course was its own act in a sort of culinary performance art: just as a musical score suggests a tone in a story line, both the lighting inside and the epic sunset on the lake conspired to make magic that evening. I truly felt as though we had discovered the indescribable sweet spot between high luxury, elevated cuisine, and the comfort of cooking at home with a dear friend.
When I asked Rupert what he was looking forward to about the next Rupert’s Table dinner, he knew the answer right away: “The people, of course — greeting them, feeding them, and delighting them.”
For more information on upcoming Rupert’s Table events, including dates and menus, please visit the Rupert’s Table page on our website. Attending Rupert’s Table costs $400 per couple, including a wine and cheese reception hour, a three-course paired dinner, luxurious overnight accommodations in any guestroom at E.B. Morgan House, breakfast the following morning. taxes, and gratuity. Please call the front desk of the Aurora Inn at 315.364.8888 for reservations.
Celebrate the Smoochiness
Our wonderful guest services associate, Rose, blogs about her special word for the Inns of Aurora…
What can be said about the gorgeous Inns of Aurora that has not already been said? One word really sums it up for me. That word is “smoochie”! From the moment our guests arrive they are treated to genuine hospitality, luxurious accommodations, extraordinary art, sumptuous cuisine and the enduring natural beauty of Cayuga Lake. Having had the pleasure of Inn keeping as well as working in reservations, I have seen firsthand the deeply relaxing and refreshing effect a stay with us offers our guests. With a choice of three unique properties, there is something special for everyone.
Beginning with the Aurora Inn, our friendly and accommodating front desk staff makes you feel right at home. The inviting ambiance of our parlors, tempting aromas from the dining room and classic charm and elegance of this 1833 building are the cornerstones of a pampered, romantic stay. Large, carefully appointed guest rooms are filled with abundant natural light. Early morning organic coffee and house baked muffins are quietly left outside your door upon request. Mornings are just as sweet as evenings here!
Just 7 doors north, guests who choose a visit to E.B. Morgan House experience a step back in time among high ceilings, fabulous textiles, sparkling chandeliers, and a bevy of inviting fireplaces with cozy seating options. Snuggling up with a steaming beverage or glass of wine is enjoyed inside or out with extra soft throws stored in a basket in the parlor. There is a library for the bookish, piano for the music lover, and close proximity to the water for all who love the sound of the splashing waves and sight of migratory birds.
Two doors further north is our dreamy Rowland House. Moody shades of indigo and passionate accent pieces cradle our guests with palpable warmth. Celestially inspired lighting elements, rich woods and nautical trims combine to create a one of a kind experience for guests seeking a refined, approachable respite. This is the place to let your hair down, be who you are and embrace the magnificent wind off of the lake. At all of our properties, nightly turn down service invites guests back to their rooms with low lighting, soft music and fine handcrafted dark chocolates.
We truly love that we are able to help you relax, refocus and celebrate the smoochiness in your life.
The Serenity of E.B. Morgan House
By Lynda Logan, E.B. Morgan House Head Innkeeper
One of the many gifts of being an innkeeper at E.B. Morgan House is the incredible beauty that one experiences, on a daily basis. Every season, every time of day, has it’s own unique beauty. It remains fresh and wonderful. There is always a sense of happy anticipation when I return to be part of it…even after nine years.
The sunsets, of course, are legendary in Aurora. Nowhere is this truer than at E.B. Morgan House. The light subtly changes, giving new perspective with each season. With sunsets in summer, the grass sometimes glows a fluorescent green. It is most amazing. The afterglow seems to go on and on.
It’s almost impossible to stay here, for any length of time, and not feel the energy of the house. It offers a respite of peace and tranquility in a sometimes chaotic world…few are unmoved by the experience.
I often reflect on the gratitude I feel being part of this wonderful place. I have such admiration for the man who built this fine home and for the woman who had the vision, talent and fortitude to restore it to its’ former glory and beyond. They, together, have given such pleasure to so many. This grand, solid, comforting home is a treasure to be enjoyed for years to come, enabling all who enter these beautiful doors to bask in the serenity that is E.B. Morgan House.
The Three Little Inns
Now that Rowland House has been up and running for several months, our team has been able to acquaint itself with the taste, feel, and mood of the house. Each of our properties is beautiful–but each is incredibly different. Our guests vary in their reactions–and it’s always fun to see how folks react when they experience a property for the first time! It’s hard to describe the je ne sais quoi of each property without experiencing it for yourself, but there are a few, easy ways we use to assist our guests in imagining what it will be like to walk through each door for the very first time.
For example, the Aurora Inn is the most historically decorated and accurate of the three properties. The building has been an Inn since 1833, and you can feel history around you–even in the updated and immaculately appointed rooms. Lights remain comfortably low in the evenings, conjuring images of flickering candles and oil lamps before the advent of electricity. The color scheme is muted golds, reds, and greens–in keeping with the trends of the Inn’s first hey day.
The E.B. Morgan House, on the other hand, is bright, vivid, and full to the brim of whimsical charm. Color is the watchword of E.B.’s old family home, with each nook and cranny full to bursting of pinks, vibrant oranges and purples, and the grains of rich fabrics. Floral patterns decorate every guest room, and it’s hard to imagine the House as anything but a bright, cheerful sanctuary.
Rowland House is definitely the little sister of the trio–and the youthful, energetic atmosphere of the house strikes as you first walk into the otherwise dignified foyer. A marriage of contemporary decor and historical, beautifully renovated architecture, Rowland House is as striking as it is charmingly energizing. Open and bright, it’s easy to imagine the dinner parties and weekend soirees Alonzo Zabriskie must have hosted, once upon a time.
Each property has its very own allure–and each has its own personality. Which is your favorite?
Be a Sleuth
Next month we’ll be hosting our first murder mystery dinner at the gorgeous E.B. Morgan House. Although absolutely beautiful and the furthest thing from a sinister haunted mansion, the larger-than-life spaces and opulence presents a perfect backdrop for a mansion-based whodunit.
Our innkeeper Dale came up with the idea to host a murder mystery and we decided that Halloween-time would be the perfect opportunity to play host to some intrigue! The entire evening, including an exclusive, catered dinner, the traditional E.B. Morgan wine and cheese hour and morning muffins and coffee, and, of course, the game itself, are all only $380 (plus tax)! (The real crime here is the price of the evening–it’s a steal!)
If you can’t wait to begin collecting clues, here’s a great New York Times article from several years ago about the first mystery novelist–which, in a twist of fate, was a mystery itself until the 21st century. Or, if you’re looking for a more current whodunit, try out Robert B. Parker’s detective Spenser. The late Parker was witty, prolific, and very creative. Besides, it will get you in the right mood for a visit to the E.B. Morgan House–innkeeper Lynda is a big fan!