Corrections or additions?
These articles by Jamie Saxon were prepared for the October 20,
2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. Corrections were made on October 26.
All rights reserved.
When Sara Blivaiss, general manager of the Chauncey Conference Center,
on the ETS campus, got word last April that Princeton Township had
OK’d a rezoning of the center allowing them to market their facilities
to the public, Blivaiss came up with a very clever idea to draw in
traffic. A 14-year-employee of Hilton Hotels, Blivaiss took a cue from
her last place of employment. At the
Carolina Inn, a Historic Hotel of America in Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, afternoon tea was a great tradition, which drew a steady
stream of tourists and "ladies who lunch."
"I thought afternoon tea would be a great way for the community to be
introduced to the Chauncey Conference Center," says Blivaiss, who
earned a bachelors in hotel management from UMass-Amherst in 1994.
"Anyone can stay here, just like a hotel, and no one knows this. The
average person can come have dinner in our restaurant. We have a bar
and lounge. We’re situated on 370 acres of nature – deer come up to
the window. It’s like a retreat, you walk in and you feel like you are
in a lodge, away from the big city and corporate America. Even our
corporate guests feel it’s much more relaxing."
Blivaiss worked with Chauncey’s corporate chef, Frank Rette, to come
with a menu that features homemade scones (served with strawberry ham
and Devonshire cream), pastries, and finger sandwiches, and Taylor’s
of Harrogate tea served in vintage-pattern china (which comes from
Replacements of Carolina, a company that also supplies the Carolina
Inn with tea china). Then she came up with her next great idea. "In
San Francisco I had seen members of the Red Hat Society having tea, so
I got online and found 50 chapters of the Society in this area and I
invited them all to our grand opening on October 7," says Blivaiss.
The idea worked and opening day was packed with members of this social
club of ladies age 50+ who meet monthly for lunch, wear red hats and
purple dresses or suits, and call their chapter founder Queen Mother.
"They all told their grown daughters about the tea, and now they’ve
started coming. I’ve already booked holiday parties and four weddings
for summer, 2005," says Blivaiss.
Tea is served in the restaurant, which has a hotel ambience (and
balcony seating in warmer weather); the Laurie House (if not booked by
a corporate group), a former hunt club and 19th-century country home
with period furniture; or the art gallery, where the art changes
monthly. We stopped in for tea at the restaurant on a recent Wednesday
afternoon and found a pleasant mix of businesswomen chatting over file
folders and palm pilots, mother-grown daughter pairings, and a few
Ladies Auxiliary types. It was all very quiet – and very civilized.
While we tried to figure out what all the different sized spoons were
for, we sampled goodies from a three-tiered etagere. Hint: There are
no teabags here, just the real thing; don’t forget to place your tea
strainer on your cup before pouring.
While Blivaiss says one of the Red Hat Ladies told her she thought the
Chauncey Tea was "one of Princeton’s best-kept secrets," Blivaiss
admits that the hardest part of the endeavor has been the servers.
"They’re scared to death of breaking the china."
Harrison Lodging, Rosedale Road. Wednesday through Saturday, 3 to 5
p.m. Reservations required, 609-921-3600. Classic Tea $15; Royal Tea
(includes a glass of
I knew women who were getting great results at Curves and Ladies
Workout Express. I thought, why not a 30-minute workout for men?" says
Karen Donnelly, who has been an administrative assistant at Harbourton
Enterprises, a private investment/holding company at 47 Hulfish, for
Donnelly and her husband, name, Terry Donnelly, who owns Tydyn
Limousine in Robbinsville, had talked about opening their own gym but
were wary of the financial risk. "My husband and I are total
opposites," says Donnelly, an avid fitness fanatic who played
basketball and field hockey at Nottingham High School (Class of 1984)
and did Jazzercise right up until the day her son, now 14, was born.
"My husband has a weight problem, diabetes, and other health issues. I
always loved being fit. I knew he could totally benefit from a
Donnelly went online in search of a solution for her husband, who
refused to join a traditional gym, and found Cuts Fitness for Men, a
franchise started in May, 2003, by John Gennero in Clark, New Jersey.
The Donnelly’s franchise, located in Foxmoor Shopping Center in
Robbinsville, joins 150 others already open across the country.
A certified group fitness instructor, Donnelly was at one point
teaching early morning classes at the Hamilton Y before work each day.
Then, when she was 29, she had a stroke while teaching a class. "I
passed out on the floor, and my whole right side was paralyzed for a
couple of hours. My doctor said I had the equivalent of a tire blowout
in my left brain." Fortunately, she recovered quickly. "The experience
made me who I am today. I became more involved in how the body works,"
The Cuts workout involves running a circuit of eight hydraulic
machines and six cardio fitness stations at 40-second intervals. "It’s
not difficult," says Donnelly. "You get the same results as if you’d
spent two hours at they gym." The hydraulic machines have no weights
to set, which eliminate the risk of muscle soreness, and there are no
seat adjustments. You go around three times, and every 10 minutes the
intercom cues you to stop for a heart rate check. "You work all the
major muscle groups," says Donnelly.
Cuts is also a lot less expensive than a gym. A one year membership is
$39/month a six-month membership is $49/month. Both require a one-time
$50 initiation fee. If you pay in full for one year, the fee is a rock
So are there any women there besides Donnelly? "We have a couple of
women trainers," says Donnelly. "And a couple of them are women. Men
are funny. If I come up to them and say, what’s your (heart rate)
number, they say, `I’m fine, don’t worry about me.’ If my husband asks
them, they give him a straight answer."
Shopping Center, Robbinsville. 609-426-8777.
Nicholas Biddle graduated from Princeton University in 1801 at the age
of 15, and went on to become the nation’s most powerful early 19th
century banker. At his imposing Greek Revival home, built in 1797 on
the Delaware River in Andalusia, two miles northeast of Philadelphia,
he entertained the likes of President John Quincy Adams, Daniel
Webster, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Joseph Bonaparte, the former
king of Spain. (The current Mr. James Biddle graduated from Princeton,
Class of 1953.)
Now a historic national landmark, the Biddle Mansion is celebrating
the opening of its new shop with "Arts at Andalusia," a two-day
holiday shopping event, Saturday and Sunday, October 23 and 24, from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring designers and vendors from New York,
Washington, the Main Line, and Bucks County.
"It’s more like a high-end sample sale," says David Atkinson, director
of marketing and special events at the mansion. The idea for the event
was sparked in Atkinson’s mind after he went to Italy to help redesign
a pattern of china for the house. He wanted to have it produced in the
U.S. and turned to Ann Marie Murray, who hires retired china painters
from Europe for her Bucks County studio. Atkinson then helped Murray
with her booth at the New York Gift Show, and connected with a group
of designers and vendors who wanted to put together an event. He
offered up the Biddle House.
In addition to Murray, "Arts at Andalusia" will feature the work of
Susy Chen, who lives in Dayton and designs fabric handbags with
leather trim and decorative pillows (she is also exhibiting in
Princeton at the YWCA Crafters’ Marketplace, Saturday and Sunday,
November 20 and 21); Illy Grove, who sells sterling silver necklaces,
handmade jewelry, handbags, and custom paper; Nuko International,
owned by a Freehold housewife who employs more than 200 workers in
Turkey who create exclusive colorful Turkish table linens and home
furnishings; Savoir Vivre International, owned by a Parisian
expatriate who now works out of New York and carries French wine
accessories, damask tablecloths, silverware, mirrors, picture frames,
and leather handbags; Edward Russell Decorative Accessories, purveyors
of porcelain dog plates and lamps from England; and Village Mews,
vendors of Swarovski crystal jewelry, Baltic amber necklaces, Asian
freshwater cultured pearl necklaces, stoles, and throws and silk
pillows from India.
Atkinson hopes visitors will make a day of it. "The gardens are at
their fall peak, and the house has a mile-long waterfront on the
Delaware," he says. The grounds, carefully maintained in the 19th
century tradition, include Biddle’s romantic out-buildings – a Gothic
grotto; a temple-like billiard room; and the Graperies, where hothouse
grapes were raised, now a modern-day rose garden. Boxes lunches will
be available (reservations required) and tours of "the Big House,"
which boasts American Empire and European furnishings, much of it
originally owned by Nicholas Biddle, will be given on the hour.
Arts at Andalusia, the Biddle Mansion, 1237 State Road, Andalusia,
Pennsylvania. Saturday and Sunday, October 23 and 24, 11 a.m. to 4
p.m. Gourmet boxed lunch, $25 (reservations required). 215-245-5479.
House tours, $10. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Andulusia
Foundation. Directions: 95 south, exit at Academy Road. Immediately
bear right onto Linden Avenue. At bottom of hill at traffic light,
turn left on State Road. Proceed 2.3 miles to Andalusia entrances –
first gate on right marked "Andalusia Enter" or second gate on right
marked "Andalusia Exit." Turn right on driveway and proceed to parking
Corrections or additions?
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