Europeans have known for years about Relais & Chateaux, an association of small inns and hotels where the pampering of guests and gour met experiences are the rule, but Americans are still discovering the ambience of the properties.
New England and eastern Canada are blessed with 10 of these inns, including the newest member, the Charlotte Inn on Martha's Vineyard.
With so many Europeans heading for New England, the association came up with a tour of the Northeast, which includes a Relais & Chateaux within a 3- to 4-hour drive of each other. .
Among the inns along the "La Route du Bonheur" (the road of happiness, a route modeled after one the French-based association created in Europe in the '60s) are Blantyre, a legendary Berkshires' cottage; the White Barn Inn, a luxurious small hotel, in Kennebunkport, Maine; and in West Dover, Vt., the Inn at Sawmill Farm. Just across the border in New York is one of the most elegant small inns in the country, the Point in Saranac Lake, once the Adirondack camp of William Rockefeller.