Rustic luxury and culinary magic…
The Inn at Weathersfield
All seasons are picturesque in Vermont, but there is something magical about the wintertime. With the trees glistening with ice and the ground covered with a fresh snowfall, it’s no wonder people convene upon the area for a winter retreat. Pulling up the long driveway to The Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville, Vermont, it’s easy to see why this has become a favorite winter getaway for many. Whether you stay one night or a few, you will return home with a renewed vigor.
Upon arrival at the Inn, my husband and I were warmly greeted by owners Jane and David Sandelman and Jason Tostrup, who also serves as the award-winning executive chef. Their commitment to excellence in hospitality was obvious as they greeted everyone who walked through their door as if they were the most important guest they have hosted.
We relaxed for a bit in our large, yet cozy room that had the most fantastic feather bed I have ever rested on. The rooms are beautifully appointed, but not at all fussy. Features include plush bathrobes, luxurious bedding, DVD players, Wi-Fi throughout the Inn, whirlpool baths and most have fireplaces.
Looking out the window over the 21 wooded acres, it is easy to see why people love coming here during any season. In the warmer months, you can tour local farms, go on a scenic hike, hit the antique stores along the back roads or just relax on the property with a good book. During the winter time, however, the property takes on a whole new atmosphere. Here, the chill in the air will force you to cozy up with your loved one – you can take a romantic sleigh ride on a nearby farm or relax in front of the fire. For those who crave adventure, you can go cross-country skiing, ice skating or even snowmobiling.
And, of course, during any season, you can enjoy the spectacular food. The Inn’s commitment is not only to hospitality, but also to local, sustainable farming, which inspires many innovative dishes. Chef Jason’s signature "Verterra" cuisine, which means "from Vermont’s earth", is celebrated each week with rotating menus. He works closely with many of Vermont’s best farms, ranchers, maple syrup providers, creameries and cheese producers. In fact, the owners’ commitment to sustainable cuisine has also been documented on a PBS show entitled "The Endless Feast" (episode 4).
I love staying at Inns that have restaurants. It’s a treat to just walk downstairs to the dining room, without having to worry about bundling up and driving somewhere. There are two choices here: Restaurant Verterra, which boasts a unique style of "casual luxury" (meaning you will have the best possible of ambiance, presentation and quality, without formality) and offers a full a la carte menu, as well as a chef’s grazing menu and Lucy’s Tavern, which offers more casual fare, like burgers, roast chicken and hearty soups. Parties of 6-12 people can also dine privately at ‘The Chef’s Table’ in the Wine Cellar, where the chef will create a custom tasting menu from 5-10 courses for your party.
Because we were guests of the owners, we were in for a treat. Chef Jason asked us something everyone longs to hear from a great chef, "How about I cook just for you tonight; you do not need to choose from the menu?" We didn’t have to think twice about that offer! Our seemingly endless feast in the Tavern began with a cast iron corn cake with spun corn soup to country fried Cavendish Farms Quail to buckwheat gnocchi, Vermont Lamb Chop and sausage – potato puree and much, much more. Believe it or not, despite all of this food, we couldn’t very well pass on dessert, which was Dorset-wild grape sorbet and Chocolate Marquise with Anjali Farms berries.
The regular menu choices for diners are as every bit as exciting, delicious and innovative as what we were served, and captures the best of Vermont. Each dish is seasonally inspired and paired with excellent wines.
After dinner we relaxed in front of the fire in the living room and enjoyed meeting other guests. The next morning we were raring to go exploring using the GPS that the Innkeepers provided. In the warmer months, they program it so you can tour local farms, in the colder months you can explore covered bridges or local cheesemakers.
If you are coming to the Inn for some R&R, to enjoy winter activities or just for the food, you won’t be disappointed. Room rates range from $149-$290 depending on the season.
The Inn at Weathersfield is located at 1342 Route 106, Perkinsville, Vermont. For more information call 802.263.9217 or visit www.weathersfieldinn.com.
Emerson Resort & Spa
During the cold winters of upstate New York, The Emerson Resort & Spa in the Catskills is the perfect, luxurious hideaway. This gracious two-story building is located in Mt. Tremper, within minutes of Woodstock and a 90-minute drive from the Capital Region. You really would never imagine that inside is a marvelous resort with a strong Asian flair, described as "Eastern inspired that transports guests back to the days of the Great Silk Road."
The lavish Inn has 26 large suites and five duplex loft suites, each with two bathrooms and private decks. The rooms, exquisitely appointed, are designed for relaxation. They have everything from 32-inch flat screens, fireplaces, jetted tubs and Swiss showers, even a 24 bottle in-room wine selection! You really could stay in your room, enjoy room service and still have a great vacation, but then you would miss out on the incredible dining and spa experience.
Also located on the property is The Lodge. Families and small groups will find its’ rustic elegance the perfect spot. Concealed among tall pines and shading maples, it is built in the traditional Adirondack style and offers 27 rooms and suites. It’s also ideal for those traveling with pets and outdoor enthusiasts who can return from hiking, fishing or skiing and relax in front of a fire in their room.
The main restaurant, The Phoenix, located in the Inn, offers modern American cuisine using the freshest of ingredients grown in the Hudson Valley. The menu choices are vast and Executive Chef Ross Fraser certainly knows how to make magic. Start with the Peach-Vanilla Bellini, which consists of peach puree, vanilla bean and sparkling wine. For an appetizer, try the House Cured Salmon Napoleon with lemon goat cheese, crispy gaufrette chips and chive oil followed by the Ponzu Glazed Striped Bass with sticky jasmine rice cake, cucumber-mint coulis, sake-butter bok choy and basil oil for your entrée. You won’t be disappointed!
The resort also has a Spa Café, offering lighter fare while relaxing at the Spa. You can enjoy made-to-order vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies, seasonal salads, soups and wraps. Outdoor seating is also available in the warmer months.
Speaking of the Spa – what a place to relax and forget! When you walk though the 17th century Rajasthani palace doors, you immediately feel a sense of calm and peace. The Spa features a wide variety of Eastern and Western treatment protocols, including Ayurvedic treatments (Indian meaning "science of life"), which utilizes individualized therapeutic measures relating to physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony. There is also a variety of other services including couple’s massages, shiatsu, nail services, waxing, warm mud wraps, pre-natal packages and more.
Try the Sub-Continent Soother, where you soak in coconut milk and cinnamon followed by a spiced lotion that lingers with you for hours. My next trip has to include the Abhyanga, a four-handed massage using warm oils poured on to your body and massaged into your skin. I may never be the same after that one!
There are many nearby attractions including Belleayre Mountain, where you can ski, snowboard or snowshoe. You can take in the eclectic charm of Woodstock or check out the antique stores in Saugerties. If you don’t want to leave the property, you can shop at the resort’s Country Store, which showcases creative and locally-inspired items and gifts from the surrounding Hudson Valley. And of course, you can’t leave without seeing the "World’s Largest Kaleidoscope", housed in the silo of a restored 19th century dairy barn. The silo is over 56 feet tall and has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the World’s Largest.
The Emerson Resort & Spa is the perfect spot to steal away to; it’s not too far, but just far enough. Rates at the Inn start at $319, the Lodge starts at $99.
The Emerson is located at 5340 Route 28 in Mount Tremper, NY. For more information call 877.688.2828 or visit www.emersonresort.com.