Bed Check: Traditions at the Glen hotel in Upstate N.Y.


Traditions at the Glen is IBM’s former retreat in Johnson City, N.Y. (Andrea Sachs/The Washington Post)
March 2, 2012

After a full day’s drive from Washington to Upstate New York, I wasn’t going to place many demands on my hotel beyond food, bed and more cable channels than I have fingers and toes. I was tired and had no desire to make friends with the property. But then I met Traditions at the Glen. Together, we made memories.

Remember, T@G? Lounging by the fire, supping late night on cookies and tea, and greeting the new day with waffles and Himalayan salts? Good times.

My fond experiences rested on the shoulders of earlier guests, specifically ones dressed in pocket-protected short-sleeve shirts and dark ties. In 1919, Eliot Spalding, then-treasurer of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Co., built the Johnson City property as a private residence. (The brick facade patterned with bulging chunks of rock was his lasting beauty mark.) A few years later, the Kalurah Shriners bought the site as a clubhouse for their new nine-hole golf course. IBM, based in the village of Endicott, took over in 1935, creating a company retreat that freely mixed ball-thwacking and business. The property, called the Homestead, featured a hotel for visiting bigwigs, a country club and two courses, one for the gilded elites and another for the working brass. (The company also bought the glen, a 200-acre wooded area in the nearby town of Union. A conservation center now cares for most of the land.)

“From what I hear, you couldn’t even step on the grass if you weren’t an IBM member,” said the best friend-friendly front desk employee.

In one photo adorning the lobby, Thomas J. Watson, then the chief of IBM, hits the first shot of the season dressed in the dapper CEO uniform of pinstripe suit, wingtips and French cuffs. No silly socks for this exec.

Based on the black-and-white images hanging beside the spiral staircase, pre-Facebook computer geeks knew how to party. During major conventions and celebrations of the 100 Percent Club (salesfolk who had attained a perfect score), the company built a tent city to house thousands of employees and their guests. Metropolitan Opera singers and a capella choirs performed. Fireworks lit up the sky with such ad-copy aphorisms as “Think” and “Welcome One Hundred Percenters.”

The firm’s picnic days at the Homestead ended in 1994, when a local development company took over and opened up the lodging to the 99 percenters. Gone are the sparklers, the tenors and the tents, replaced by starry skies (the hotel sits on a hill outside town), sing-songy staff members and pillowy-soft beds. (The golf courses stayed but merged into one.)

After engaging in or inspecting Traditions’ amenities (I see you, cookie, and I hear you, fitness center), I fell back into my old hotel habits: guilt-free slothfulness.

I holed up in my spacious room with the comfortingly common decor, including a desk with a potted faux orchid that would never droop. A settee provided the perfect angle for watching the flat-screen TV and blindly grabbing the hot beverage resting on the night table. I barely had to budge for the rest of the evening: With the proper momentum, I could swing my body onto the bed like a flying squirrel.

In the morning, I grazed on the continental breakfast in the Tavern restaurant, a USDA-approved spread of fresh fruit, breads, cereal, DIY waffles and juices. For an extra kick of energy, I wandered downstairs to the Spa at Traditions to feast on some ions.

In addition to the customary services involving hair, nails and muscles, the spa offers the Salt Sanctuary, a cave built of Himalayan salt. The glowing tangerine-colored mineral juggles around ions, boosting moods and, according to eyewitness accounts, clearing up sinuses and healing ear infections.

The homeopathic cocoon was occupied, so I had to resort to Secret Plan B: scraping a bit of salt off a slab sold in the gift shop. Removing the crystal flakes from my thumbnail, I made a promise to myself that I would not make salt-pinching a tradition. Next time, I’d book an appointment.

Traditions at the Glen

4101 Watson Blvd.

Johnson City, N.Y.

607-797-2381

www.traditionsresort.com

Rates from $155 a night.

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