Saratoga Hats Off Weekend began on a perfect sunny day. I’ve been traveling to Saratoga during opening weekend for the last few years and I love the festivities. An organized trip over the Whitney Race or Travers Stakes are popular for high stakes sports betting, but the vibe that Saratoga permeates the first opening weekend is incomparable. There is something electrifying about it: the hats, the music, the art, the energy, the spectators…I could go on and on, but it truly feels like Mardi Gras hit the town in spectacular form.

Part of the Via Mondo experience is the accommodations. After scouting several town Inns and hotels, The Inn at Saratoga was a top pick. The staff is outstanding and extremely knowledgeable. Voted “Best Inn” by Capital Region Magazine in 2008, the rooms are uniquely decorated with vintage ceramic pieces and with solid wood bed frames making it a Saratogian special with activities just a few minutes away.

As part of your check-in process, guests received a goodie bag with all things Saratoga including a Trolley pass good for three days, race ticket and booklet, a list of events for each day, bedding tips, polo rules and information, a wine list and of course, some snacks to enjoy throughout the weekend.

After check-in and a quick drink at the Inn’s bar, we head to Saratoga winery, which is a unique experience when it comes to wine tasting. The artistic iron glass holders laid out the wine selection. As we sit around a table, the group shared their favorite wines. Following our mouth watering wine tour, we head to the polo match. An elaborate picnic dinner with sushi, fresh vegetables, cheese, cured meats and a variety of fruits paired with a delectable crisp white wine was sure bliss! Turning over the divots is a half-time favorite and a fun pass-time. Seen in Pretty Women by Julia Roberts, we too took up the century old past time. The evening was still young and back in town, the music and festivities were buzzing with live music. The high energy and pulse of the town was sensational.

The next morning, a stroll to the racehorse barracks and a morning of yoga in Toga (Saratoga) prepared us for a day at the racetrack. With our sundresses and big brim hats, we’re off to the races. No lucky winners for me, but others won big! To celebrate, we dined at Chianti’s. An Italian restaurant, which I personally love. I visited several restaurants in the area, but I truly enjoyed the atmosphere, style and of course, the food at Chianti’s. It was divine! Our 3-course dinner was served by our most trusted staff overseen by the owner and nothing was spared. Another night of music and dancing was just around the corner and to be honest, I could use it after our scrumptious cuisine. On our last day, some ventured around town for a bit of shopping, while others visited the area museums and local events. It was a fun-filled weekend with tasty foods, yummy wines, great music, fun games, beautiful horses and peaceful mornings. Try your luck, stay the weekend next year! Dates and prices now available!