Hampshire Hills readies for season

MILFORD – Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, 50 Emerson Rd., marked the beginning of spring by planting colorful pansies at their entrance to their grounds. It’s a tradition at the club which dates back 48 years.

Owner Rick Holder participated in the activities and compared the planting the spring pansies to swallows returning to Capistrano.

This year, grounds superintendent Dan Catharine used special containers which would a;low the grounds crew to easily bring all the pansies into the potting area at night for any night that drops below 29 degrees. When it’s temperature-safe, the pansies will be in soil in a permanent planting.

In addition to marking the beginning of spring, Hampshire Hills is also readying for a season as the club, restaurant and salon await good news that the entire facility might be able to open to full capacity. Currently, Holder said that vaccinating the staff has been going “pretty well.”

“Several of our staff members have had their first and are awaiting their second,” he said. “They’re excited and I don’t think we’ve ever been more excited than we are about people coming back. They’re showing so much confidence and we did have a lot of members who stayed throughout and we’re following all the protocols.”

With more space than any club in New England – 77 acres to be exact – Hampshire Hills has the luxury to accommodate social distancing and still pamper its members.

Holder said that between the dome and the tennis courts, the club has been able to spread its equipment out so that members can work out and know they are safe.

“We’ve worked really hard to and particularly, over the past three years, we upgraded so many things and invested heavily just as they shut us down,” he said. “We’re hanging in there and our members are coming back.”

The dining facilities have done very well over the last year, Holder said, due to the fact that table spacing wasn’t a problem.

“Some places, the tables are six feet apart,” he said. “In our place, if you want to sit fifteen, twenty, twenty-five feet apart, you’ve got it. We can even put Plexiglass partitions, so you can have those if you want them.”

And on March 25, their outdoor dining on the deck officially opened for the season.

“Indoors or outdoors, you have plenty of space,” Holder said. As for the tradition of pansies, he added, “This year, our goal is to make Hampshire Hills more beautiful than ever. We’re beautifying our campus with shrubs and flowers like you’ve never seen.”

Hampshire Hills member Helen Lockwood of Milford noted, “The pansies made me feel like there is a light at the end of this long tunnel.”

For more information about Hampshire Hills’ athletic club, The Hills Restaurant or The Salon, visit hampshirehills.com or call (603) 673-7123.