Pulse : Getaway: Where the du Ponts Sleep
Wilmington is a weekday town. That’s when business types fill its hotel rooms and happy hours, and the fluorescent lights of its bank-building skyline burn until the wee hours. Come Saturday and Sunday, though, the credit-card capital sleeps, which makes the town an ideal last-minute getaway (and here, sleek restaurants accept Saturday dinner reservations on short notice).
As soon as I checked into the venerable Hotel du Pont, the concierge greeted me by name; staff in starched white aprons turned down the bed in my suite. This ornate circa-1913 hotel has hosted Duke Ellington and Elizabeth Taylor, but the rooms are totally 21st century, complete with wireless Internet access; there are frequent weekend deals, such as the Do Not Disturb, with a four-course dinner served in your room. I mapped out my own adventure: tea in the Lobby Lounge; dinner (a difficult choice between the pan-seared salmon with oyster fricassee and pork tenderloin on cheddar grits) in the lovingly restored, oak-paneled Green Room; an after-dinner drink in the Green Room Bar; gazing at the Andrew Wyeth paintings and more than 700 other originals in the hotel. I could even have caught a show at the DuPont Theatre. (The Lord of the Dance invades the stage this month from the 15th to the 17th.) In the morning, I dined again in the Green Room, where Sunday brunch is an indulgence, from the mimosas to the signature macaroons.
In fact, I never had to leave the hotel. But beyond the travertine stone walls is the nearby Grand Opera House, where trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and comedian Lewis Black perform this month, and ambitious restaurants National, with its mod white decor and Asian-fusion menu, and 821, known for its tasting menus. Or explore the DuPont Country Club, just 10 minutes away; Hotel du Pont guests have full access, including use of the three golf courses and tennis courts. Also nearby: Kuerner Farm, which inspired many of Andrew Wyeth’s works, and in-full-bloom Longwood Gardens. It’s a perfect getaway, until the suits and the traffic return on Monday.