Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort

We finished our first family road trip. Like the first road trip we took in our Model X, Pensive, we again headed out to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.. The purpose of the trip was nominally as a test-run to prepare for future travel, and a quick trip—Autopilot made the trip in just over 90 minutes—to a family-friendly resort with affordable suites was the perfect choice for that.


While we somewhat frequently head out to ther Berkshires, previously we've always stayed in a bed and breakfast closer to the center of Lenox. Cranwell provided a better choice for this trip because it had a large campus for our toddler to explore, and a swimming pool in the spa she could use with her mom which proved as exciting for her as we'd hoped. Cranwell also offered a great combination of cheap rates and low-occupancy as they only had 18 rooms open; if my description of the property is convincing you that you should book a room there too, you better hurry as the property in its current form is closing: Hyatt's subsidiary Miraval bought it and has been transforming it into its east-coast outlet to complement its principal property in Arizona, and its smaller outlet in Austin, Texas.

The impending transformation of a family-friendly resort to a ludicriously priced adult-only all-inclsuive new-aged retreat had piqued my curiousity, and it'd been on my list of places I'd wanted to visit for the last year or so. When I booked, January 27th was the absolute last day (checking-out only) on the calendar. Before heading-out, they'd opened-up February, so I didn't quite get to close-out the property. Talking with some of the staff, construction is well behind schedule, which hadn't accounted for the paperwork and inspections imposed by a small Massachusetts town. Management (and the staff tended to refer to them simply as management rather than either Miraval or Hyatt) were opening inventory as Cranwell on a month-by-month basis (March is now open, as well) but essentialy all of the old guest-facing staff has been gone for months. Other than self-service aspects of the spa, it is unstaffed; registration and the front-desk are being handled by normally back-office employees who are otherwise biding time for the transition to Miraval. They were all very friendly, but interactions were a bit odd given the make-do situation and check-in could have been smoother if it didn't feel like it was being done across Milton's desk from Office Space.

The Carriage House

The Carriage House, according to the eMail confirmation I received, had been last renovated in 2012, although it sounded like it's since been renovated again as part of the Miraval work, which would surprised me if accurate, given its condition. The rooom was nice, and we had a spacious suite with a king bed and plenty of space (we set-up our toddler's cot in the master bedroom), an attached full-bath with white-granite counter-tops and a combination bath-tub/overhead-shower. Connecting the bedroom to a short entry-way (which had a half-bath) was the living-room, where we set-up the travel cribs for our five-month-old twins. The hotel did provide us with a crib, which was solid, clean, and deep; but we decided to test-out the travel cribs instead. The hotel was clean, but the carpet and seating (especially the couch) felt more like family-resort than Miraval or even Hyatt Place; but perhaps those will be replaced later. The bathroom was well-lit, clean, bright and spacious; but also housed two of the surprising drops in presentation. With only 18 rooms available, and the hotel apparently empty the previous day, I was surprised that we had a towel which (while laundered) showed make-up stains. The shower head also had noticeable build-up on it from hard-water. All of the nozzles had obvious mineral build-up, and a noticeable minority of the heads were clogged completely.

The Spa

After the fences errected around the property and active construction, the limited services offered in the spa is the most visible artifact of the transition the property is undergoing. While the sauna, fitness center, and pool are all open; there are no personalized services. The massage staff was laid-off, and while previously there were mother-and-me specials for tween girls, including pedicures and make-up, those are also gone. Old fitness equipment is being sold, and former service areas are being used to store items for sale or already claimed.

There are still posters placed around the spa area advertising former yoga and exercise classes, encouraging mindfulness; in that sense one could see theoretical synergy with Miraval. In a few places there were TV screens set-up to play a Miraval brand-awareness video; it didn't seem out-of-place that, while the screen near the make-shift registration desk was playing, I never saw the screen in the Spa turned-on.

Sloane Tavern

Sloane's Tavern is the local restaurant, and was surprisingly busy given the state of the hotel. Our driver hypothesized that the other diners were mostly locals given the occupancy level, although we did see a couple of others around the resort during the day.

The food was surprisingly good, although not exceptional. Having been to the Berkshires in winter before, many restaurants don't keep their posted (summer) hours, so that the restaurant was open and a reasonable value may have encouraged some locals to come out. Based on recommendations from the resort staff, I tried a burger with bacon and asked for jalapeño peppers. The waitress indicated they couldn't do jalapeños (admittedly not one of the $1-extra additions listed for the burgers, but present the buffalo dip appetizer) but suggested bannan peppers instead. Our daughter had the burgers from the children's menu, which where two sliders, and a side of carrot sticks; she didn't eat much of it, but it made a good snack the next morning before we headed-out for breakfast.

We later found that the quickest way back to the hotel would be by exiting through the rear and crossing the spa parking-lot (which housed the Tesla charger) and going through the spa entrance; but at night one we only knew about the shuttle back and forth to the carriage house. Either our server failed to call, or it was delayed leaving, because we ended-up waiting close to 15 minutes on what was a 3 minute drive.


Residents were a mixed-bunch for our weekend. There were a couple families with young kids, including a father and his son, there to enjoy the pool it seemed. There were a bunch of older folks, probably regular guests in the past, a few of whom sported golfing hats. There were a few whith New York license plates I saw carrying skiing boots to their cars.

Construction is moving around, so if you book one of the newly available days (or any later date released in the future), your experience may be different; but while we were there, the construction, although certainly obvious, was not in the way. It never woke us up (our kids did that by 6am), and it never disturbed any of our kids' naps (although we weren't in-room all of the time). I'm as curious as ever to see how the resort looks as a full-fledged Miraval resort, and what aspects (such as the renowned golf course) remain.


Living in Massachusetts, going to the Berkshires feels like a yearly trip. Usually we've gone to see a show at the local outdoor theatre, Tanglewood. While Tanglewood is usually associated with being the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, we've been attending the nearly annual visits by the NPR quiz-show Wait, Wait…don't tell me!. We've been out their for weddings1, and once for Valentine's day (very much the off season, just like this trip). If you've a Tesla, there is a bank of chargers not far from the highway exit, near the Big Y supermarket (restrooms are easily accessible, and you can stock-up on any needed snacks or drinks). It's near, but not next-to (not an ideal walk), the Lee outlets which is a common place for killing a few hours driving through the area.

The Berkshires are beautiful, and make for great hikes in warmer weather. In the winter, and with little kids, the hikes are probably not something you would want to do2. When the temperature drops, and the snow is falling, one option is to fully embrace the weather. There are several places to go skiing in the Berkshires, although they're generally a bit of a drive once you get off-of the Turnpike (Interstate 90). You might consider Jiminy Peak, which is about 30 minutes north from Lenox (which is itself about 15 minutes north of the Lee exit). If your principal purpose is to go skiing, you're better off heading to Vermont or New Hampshire (or even Maine); but my favourite spot when I went to school in Rhode Island was Berkshire East which is another 45 minutes east of Jiminy (close to Interstate 91). Berkshire East was less crowded than Killington, but offered better skiing than anywhere else south of Vermont/New Hampshire.

Skiing didn't make sense for this trip, though. We did go into Pittsfield a few times, which was 13 minutes away (and about half-way to Jiminy). We found a great, and compared to Lenox very economical, breakfast at Otto's; and it is right next to the Berkshire Museum which our daughter loved so much we explored its rather small three floors until it closed. The museum was general purpose, with much of it taken-up with exhibits about various types of animals: the basement houses exhibits from water and wetlands, the first floor has birds and small mammals, the second foor, has some mounted big game, in addition to a bunch of pieces that don't seem to fit with any particular theme, but if you were to be told lived in a museum, you wouldn't be surprised.

On our way headed back east towards Boston, we stopped at the Eric Carle Museum. Eric Carle wrote and illustrated several children's books, most famously The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The museum is fairly small, but was not crowded when we were there, so our toddler enjoyed playing with the interactive exhibits, which included a game where you were responsible for feeding and entertaining an increasingly ravenous caterpillar until it turned into a beautiful butterfly. The museum is located in Amherst, and there are several places to eat downtown. While we were in the Berkshires for the off-season, we were smack in the middle of the college season, and Amherst is home to both Amherst College and a University of Massachusetts campus, which meant that finding a spot for brunch was more challenging than we'd hoped. Parking, on the other hand, was not a problem: the parking lot near city hall had two reserved spots for EV charging ($0.20/kWh via Charpoint's network) that were both empty when we arrived, although the second spot was taken when we returned. Parking on Sunday was free.

One location I've yet to find time on any trip to visit despite always being on my list of things to see is the Norman Rockwell Museum which is in Stockbridge.


A goal of the trip was to serve as a trial run for later family trips, such as our trip to Brooklyn in March. To that end, it's worth looking at what worked, what didn't work for us, and what we learned from the trip.

What worked

Our daughter, after accepting that we were staying overnight, settled into her cot. She was used to cots from daycare, and the cot we found (a Regalo branded cot) packed-up nicely, so this was a solid win. Likewise, the two infants slept remarkably well in their travel cribs. We had picked-up a new Guava Lotus Travel Crib to complement the older model our daughter had used; the newer model replaces velcro ties with easier-to-use clips, but otherwise they're quite similar.

We brought two sound machines, the same Marpac Dohm machines our kids use at home, for the babies. Between the sound machines and a suite allowing us to tuck the cribs both away from our bedroom and the hallway door, we had a pretty good sleeping situation.

We played-up that there was a pool, and my daughter would be able to go swimming with her mother. This was super exciting for her, as it hasn't been something she's been able to do in her memory (we haven't been swimming as a family while pregnant with the twins, and parent's aren't allowed in the pool during swim lessons). This both allowed us a carrot to get through the first night, and resulted in a positive association from the second day. That we were only staying two nights probably helped as well.

Finally, the on-site 6kW Tesla charger was great. We could plug-in in the evening, and have a full battery in the morning (after confirming there were no other potential users registered that weekend). When we stayed at a bed-and-breakfast in the area, the charger was under powered, meaning we still needed to stop at the Supercharger on the way back home. With three kids, this trip we didn't have unnecessary waiting on account of charging or re-fueling..

What didn't work

Considering how much our daughter had traveled before she was 2, her reaction to staying at the hotel overnight was surprisingly; but we hadn't traveled as much in the past year, and so most of her travel predates her working memory. Our plan with the twins will be to try to avoid the same gap as much as we can.

Things we forgot. We brought plenty of food for the babies, but we didn't bring a lot of options for our toddler. We rectified this by running to the supermarket for cereal and milk. We also forgot to pack the Amazon Fire Stick, which is what we usually use for pre-bedtime wind-down shows, is incredibly portable, and can plug into any TV with an HDMI port (and sufficient clearance or an extension cable).

Our younger twin is generally a lighter sleeper than his older brother, as well as fussier. Given that we were in a hotel, we broke down some of our recently instilled sleep discipline with respect to overnight feeding times; hopefully we can recover without too much effort upon our return home.

Finally, again related to our Model X, Pensive: the passenger-side falcon wing door kept not opening all of the way. This happened a few times while we were in town, but seemingly far away from any obstacles. Manual overrides worked fine to finish its opening.

What we learned

Inevitably, I learned, that when checking into a hotel, I'm exhausted. I had forgotten about the strawberries I'd ordered for arrival as they never appeared. I'd ordered them as I hoped it'd be something special for my toddler upon arrival, so in hindsight, I'm dissapointed that it wasn't there to ease the first night. In that vein, we learned to make sure we had our daughter's favourite cereal, some banannas, and especially milk for her.

The berkshire museum was a blast, she particularly loved the animal-centric exhibits, and the Owl plush toy she picked-out did seem to help her be more willing to sleep the second night.

Choosing a suite, allowing the infants' cribs to be in their own room, was vital. We realized this was incredibly helpful when we had our first child, and we began booking Embassy Suites because of that. With a toddler who, despite her best efforts when she's in a good mood, has trouble being super quiet, having a suite became even more important. The toddler did sleep alright in our room, which was a relief. Most of the rooms we've booked for the year are one or two bedroom suites, but in an effort to burn Marriott points ahead of their March 2019 devaluation, we'd booked the Ritz Central Park for Thanksgiving, which would put us into a standard room without even a junior-suite-like layout. Given the experiences this weekend, and that, at thanksgiving the twins will be at the same age where our toddler benefited the most from being in a separate room, as she would otherwise stand-up and look around for us, I think we'll need to cancel those plans for this year.

I learned two things about my Model X, Pensive, as well: 1) frost really shows handprints on the frunk; and 2) dirt confuses the rain-detection for the wipers (and this is still enabled during Summon).

  1. tip for those who aren't familiar with New England WASPs: these events are essentially a several-hour cocktail hour, are heavy on alcohol, and light on protein or substantive food to absorb it

  2. although my daughter did want to see the waterfalls, we convinced her to wait for warmer weather