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Summer favorites make great winter retreats

Winter has a few more weeks to go and cabin fever is setting in. Perhaps you and your significant other are longing to slip away to a resort setting, yet you really don't want to travel too far from home.

There are a number of spots in Western New York that are normally associated with summer getaways, yet, in fact, are actually open year-round and offer a perfect winter getaway, often with reduced off-season rates. This article will highlight three areas of Western New York that are within a two-hour Cdrive of Buffalo.


Located at the northern end of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region, Geneva offers visitors elegant architecture and historic attractions, cultural events and a close proximity to wineries.

There are two wonderful, well-known resorts in Geneva which are perfect for a romantic getaway. Geneva on the Lake, 1001 Lochland Road (NY 14), is a four-diamond Italian Renaissance villa with 30 luxurious suites and studios. The inn, modeled after Villa Lancellotti in Frascati, Italy, was built as a private residence in 1914, and later served as a monastery for the Capuchin monks. It was converted to a resort hotel in the early 1980s.

A current promotion is the Romantic Getaway for Two, which includes one night in a Stickley-furnished suite, a bottle of New York State wine, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a basket of fruit upon arrival, a gourmet dinner in the dining room and a continental breakfast in the morning. Packages start at $289 a night.

Just down the road is Belhurst Castle, 4069 NY 14. This Richardson Romanesque-style stone castle, built between 1885-1889 as a private residence, features 11 guest rooms with private baths.

Two years ago, Belhurst built an attached addition, the Vinifera Inn, which features 20 suites with lake views, king-size beds, Jacuzzi tubs and gas fireplaces.

The elegant restaurant, Edgar's, is open to the public for lunch and dinner; the more casual Stonecutters lounge features a light menu throughout the day and live musical entertainment on Saturday evenings. Belhurst also has a wine tasting room and gift shop, featuring wines from its own vineyard. Three of the wines recently won medals in the 2005 American Wine Society Wine Competition.

During February, guests can book a Wine and Chocolate Getaway. This package includes overnight accommodations for two, a bottle of Belhurst wine, chocolate treats, a $25 gift certificate for fine dining in Edgar's, a $10 gift certificate for the wine and gift shop and a complimentary breakfast. Packages start at $170.

You could spend all your time at either one of these resorts, but there are numerous other attractions in Geneva.

You may want to head to the South Main Street Historic District and visit the Prouty-Chew Museum, which is operated by the Geneva Historical Society, 5435 Main St. This museum, housed in an 1829 Federal-style home, features exhibits on local history. There are many other interesting homes located in this district, including colorful row houses.

The Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St., is considered a local treasure. This 1894 opera house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been restored and hosts live performances as well as movies throughout the year. Its art gallery and gift shop, features original artwork from more than 70 area artists.

If you like to shop, there are numerous small stores in downtown Geneva along Seneca and Exchange streets. If you are looking for something more athletic to do, there are cross-country skiing trails at Seneca Lake State Park located on Routes 5 & 20, at the north end of the lake.

Nearby wineries include Amberg Wine Cellars, 2200 Routes 5 & 20, Stanley, which is a small family owned and operated winery. Billsboro Winery, 4760 W. Lake Road (NY 14), Geneva, produces artisan vinifera table wines.

>Penn Yan area

The Esperanza Mansion, 3456 NY 54A, Bluff Point, located on a bluff overlooking Keuka Lake near Penn Yan, is the largest home ever built in Yates County.

This circa-1838 home has been renovated into luxurious accommodations, including nine spacious suites in the mansion. The adjacent Inn at Esperanza has 22 deluxe guest rooms. The Inn is currently operating on its winter schedule: Thursday, Friday and Saturday for overnight accommodations. It will be open seven days a week after April 1. A special winter package includes a second night for only $50 when you stay the first night at regular price (rates start at $99 for inn rooms and $150 for mansion rooms).

The dining room, which is open to the public Thursday through Sunday (winter hours), serves salads and light entrees for lunch, and menu selections like prime rib and rack of lamb for dinner.

There are numerous wineries located a short drive from the mansion, along the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. The wine trail is hosting a special February event, "Be Mine with Wine," featuring a taste of some of the best romantic foods in the Keuka Lake area, paired with tastings of locally produced wines. The event takes place Saturday and next Sunday, and Feb. 18-19; tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Call the Keuka Wine Trail for details. The Esperanza Mansion is offering a special package in conjunction with the wine trail event that includes one night's accommodation, dinner and breakfast for two, starting at $150.

You may also want to explore the village of Penn Yan. Incorporated in 1833, its unique name is a result of a compromise between early Pennsylvania and Yankee settlers. To learn more about area history, visit the Oliver House Museum, 200 Main St., Penn Yan. There are also many unique shops and restaurants located in the downtown historic district. A walking tour brochure is available from the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.


The Hillside Inn, 890 Bethany Road, Wyoming, is a charming place to stay and it's only about a 45-minute drive from Buffalo in rural Wyoming County. It was originally built as a health spa in 1851 and later converted into a private residence.

Today, the inn, set on 30 acres, features 10 luxurious guest rooms, some with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. The mineral spring, which was discovered in 1851, still supplies water to the inn. The inn is open daily, year-round, with breakfast served to guests of the inn.

The inn's dining room, open to the public Thursday through Monday, serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Even if you don't have the time to stay overnight, you can still take a ride out to the inn and enjoy its restaurant; the menu features light innovative American cuisine.

While the inn is located in a rather rural setting, there still are plenty of things to do in the winter. You can take a walk along the hiking trails on the grounds, as well as snowshoe or toboggan. (Bring your own.) The Village of Wyoming, with its charming shops, is just a mile or two up the road.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find recreational activities nearby. The Carlton Hill Multiple Use Area, a 700-acre tract of land run by the state, is a popular spot to cross-country ski. It is located about 3 miles north of Warsaw off Dale Road. Another place to cross-country ski, which is not too far from the Hillside Inn, is Byrncliff Resort, Route 20A, Varysburg. In addition, there is a restaurant and overnight accommodations.

You can also enjoy cross-country skiing in Genesee County Park and Forest, 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany. Free tubing is offered at nearby Letchworth State Park.

If you're looking for something less strenuous and more romantic, Wolcott Farms offers horse-drawn sleigh rides for two through Letchworth State Park, from December through March, by reservation only. The rides, which last about 40 minutes, cost $100 a couple.

>If you go

* Geneva

For general information on Geneva, contact the Geneva Chamber of Commerce (315) 789-1776, or (877) 5-GENEVA.

* Geneva on the Lake, (315) 789-7190, (800) 3-GENEVA;

* Belhurst Castle, (315) 781-0201;

* Geneva Historical Society, (315) 789-5151;

* The Smith Opera House, (315) 781-5483, (866) 355-5483.

* Seneca Lake State Park, (315) 789-2331.


* Amberg Wine Cellars, (585) 526-6742;

* Billsboro Winery, 4760 W. Lake Road (NY 14), Geneva. Info: (315) 789-9571,

>Penn Yann

For more information on Penn Yan, contact the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, (315) 536-3111, (800) 868-9283;

* The Esperanza Mansion, (315) 536-4400;

* Keuka Lake Wine Trail, (800) 440-4898;

* Torrey Ridge Winery, (315) 536-1210;

* Oliver House Museum, (315) 536-7318;


For information on Wyoming County, contact the Wyoming County Tourist Promotion Agency, (585) 493-3190, (800) 839-3919;

* The Hillside Inn, (585) 495-6800, (800) 544-2249;

* The Carlton Hill Multiple Use Area, call the New York State DEC, 372-8678.

* Byrncliff Resort, (585) 535-7300;

* Genesee County Park and Forest, (585) 344-1122;

* Letchworth State Park, (585) 493-3600.

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