The state’s lift on most of the COVID-19-related restrictions means a new appreciation for the rise in temperatures. This reality becomes more clear as traffic swells and many weekend warriors take the plunge from their homes’ safety nests into backyard exploration. You don’t have to travel past the state lines to discover a myriad of worthwhile day-trip forays.
Faced with choice overload, itinerary planning can spike the body’s stress hormones. Lower the tension to zero and reserve a weekend away at Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk or its sister property in Danbury, destinations unto themselves. Appropriately tagged, “an alternative to colossal and impersonal,” the boutique hotels have “chill out” as well as “cool” written all over them.
Pumped-up sleek facades, along with high-tech amenities, beguile the friendly old-fashioned service. Environmental responsibility, too, is branded in their name. Both sustainable, eco-friendly hotels strive for little or no, as in “Zero Degrees,” energy use.
No wonder these properties have won the coveted Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice award as well as Hotels.com’s Loved by Guests Award for multiple years in a row.
In addition, Lindsay Oppedisano, director of sales, says that from the start of the pandemic, the continued safety of staff and guests was the number one priority of the owners, the Greenwich Hospitality Group, a local company that owns and operates other upscale boutique-style hotels in the state and throughout the country.
“We followed restrictions and guidelines put in place by the CDC, but we also had our own policies and we are still constantly sanitizing throughout the hotel. Whenever guests are ready to travel again, we will be a safe place for them to enjoy a little getaway in Connecticut,” she explains.
For a “little getaway,” both properties are big on personality and charm, and the attentiveness to detail helps travelers feel like their best selves.
At the edge of the Norwalk River in the heart of the city, Hotel Zero Degrees generated rave reviews when it opened in 2013. The hotel boasts four floors that includes a lobby with a signature two-story glass entry atrium, 2,000 combined square feet of meeting space, two floors of 96 ample-sized guest rooms and a fourth floor rooftop lounge that piques curiosity and a closer look.
Local community interest is recognized in the showcase of paintings by artists from the Silvermine Guild of Artists in New Canaan. The interior décor and contemporary furnishings in the common areas and guest rooms are highlighted in multi-tones of gray combined with European-style design touches that lend a sense of sophistication and intimacy. Lean into the signature inlaid fabric guest room headboard and watch how quickly daily stressors can fade.
Before or after a relaxing night’s sleep, now that the mild weather is here, there is no better time to enjoy Skytop 353, the rooftop lounge that further delights the senses with billiards table, ping-pong, cornhole, TVs, lounge chairs and outdoor couches.
In the morning, travelers have the opportunity to get in a workout at the state-of-the-art fitness center. Day-trippers needn’t venture far to continue the cool vibe feeling with a visit to the South Norwalk Historic District (SoNo), a waterfront neighborhood that is meant for comfortable walking shoes. Strolling around, you won’t run out of things to see, buy, eat or drink — certainly not with 30 dining and drinking options. Check out one of the newest additions, the upscale SoNo Collection Mall. In addition, the Maritime Aquarium features over 30 fresh and saltwater exhibits that include a touch tank, a sensory delight for all ages.
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Following the success of the Norwalk location, Hotel Zero Degrees in Danbury opened in 2016. The four-story building includes three floors of 114 spacious, uniquely designed guest rooms curated with business as well as leisure travelers in mind, more than 3,500 square feet of event space and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Conveniently located off I-84 in the city’s west side, the property’s modern lodge exterior is designed to tap into the natural elements of the surrounding woodland reserve. Indoors, the common areas as well as guest rooms, are a design-lover’s odyssey with artistic touches that achieve the perfect balance of luxury and tranquility.
Before or after a night made for sweet dreams, reserve a table at Terra, the restaurant on-premises that is owned and operated by Z Hospitality Group. The group owns and operates six restaurants in lower Fairfield and Westchester Counties. Superb gastronomic surprises await as Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis crafts scrumptious northern Italian cuisine and seasonal specialties that are served in a floor-to-ceiling window backdrop.The wine list at Terra includes more than 100 labels, representative of the premiere regions of Italy and California. The Lawn, an outdoor area, features a fire pit, lawn games, seating area and plenty of fun.
Outside the hotel, the property inspires relaxing strolls — not to mention that the city of Danbury provides over 1,644 acres of open space for outdoor adventures.
On Fridays, from June 19 through October 30, meander around the CityCenter Danbury Farmers’ Market at the Danbury Railway Museum grounds. (At press time, the museum is still closed due to COVID-19).
In the area, the historic downtown walking tours are suspended until further notice. However, there is a Plan B. Head to Main Street, look for the special markers and follow a self-guided, The Museum in the Streets, tour.
Plus, shoppers have plenty of space to explore the Danbury Fair Mall. Downtown Ridgefield also offers a fine day full of shopping, dining and plenty of places to pause for a quick photo. In addition, golfers can tee off at Richter Park, a challenging Edward Ryder design 18-hole public golf course.
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Longed-for Long Weekends: Fairfield County, Norwalk and Danbury is co-written by Michelle Falcone of Easton, secretary on the Executive Committee for the Western Connecticut Tourism District (WCTD) and Stacy Lytwyn, Easton resident and CT guidebook author. It is the fourth article in a six-part series that examines some of the best weekend jaunts offered in each of the three WCTD regions.
For more weekend getaway ideas, including lodging, dining, attractions and so much more, check out WCTD’s website at https://www.ctvisit.com/listings/western-regional-tourism-district