HOTEL REVIEW: TWIN FARMS

Is anyone else’s favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas? Visiting Twin Farms last week reminded me of the quintessential Vermont resort in that movie. Full of rustic charm and piled high with snow, this Relais Chateaux property is the ideal winter retreat. Secluded among 300 acres of meadow and forest in Barnard, VT, the property allows only its guests to enjoy the extraordinary dining and amenities, offering a truly intimate and private experience. 

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THE HISTORY

The original hotel building was the home of Sinclair Lewis and his wife, Dorothy Thompson, who bought the property in 1928. The story goes that Dorothy required Sinclair to purchase two neighboring farms for her as a wedding present, hence the name “Twin Farms.” Restored by a group of owners in the early 1990s, Twin Farms opened its doors to guests in 1993 and has been wowing luxury vacationers ever since.

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THE ROOMS

The hotel boasts 20 unique rooms – 10 suites and 10 cottages. Six suites reside in the original house and lodge, while another 4 suites sit just across the dirt road in a newly developed building, The Farmhouse at Copper Hill. Those suites share a communal hot tub and living area and make the perfect retreat for a larger group or family.  The 10 cottages are spread throughout the property on a 1 mile loop from the main building, each with its own carport, wood-burning fireplace, sitting area, and King-sized bed. Each cottage is decorated with a bespoke theme and offers differing amenities from private hot tubs to floor-to-ceiling windows. The resort has a residence perfect for each visitor and the staff takes care to match potential guests with the room that best matches their preferences. IMG_1097IMG_1099IMG_1101IMG_1115IMG_1112IMG_1109

DINING

Though the rates are steep, they are all inclusive of meals and beverages. And if you’ve visited a Relais Chateaux property before, you’ll know that the cuisine is not to be missed! I was fortunate enough to enjoy a lunch in the on-site dining room and we were treated to an unbelievable three course menu complete with perfectly-selected wines. While there are no set meal times at the hotel, there are meal windows: 7-10 for breakfast, 12:30-1:30 for lunch and 6-8:30 for dinner. Guests can also request meals in their room or cottage. Prior to dinner, cocktails and canapés are served in the living room by the fire and after dinner (or any time really), you can head to the on-site “pub” for a night cap. 

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ACTIVITIES

In the winter, the hotel offers a variety of outdoor activities, including: skiing on its private 6-trail ski hill, sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating. For those averse to the cold, you can enjoy the state-of-the-art fitness center or book a treatment with the spa. Fitness classes are also offered regularly. In the summertime, guests can kayak, SUP and canoe on the on-site pond, hike along groomed trails, bike, fly-fish, or play tennis. 

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Several times a year, the property also hosts a Murder Mystery Weekend where all guests participate. They even hire professional actors to amp up the fun!

Travel Advisor Perks: By booking this property with ATLAS + VALISE, an affiliate of Travel Edge and member of Virtuoso, guests will be treated to an exclusive welcome amenity, early check-in/late check-out and upgrade on arrival (all subject to availability).

Looking for the quintessential New England getaway this winter? Contact us today to book an escape to Twin Farms.

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COMPLETE GUIDE TO WOODSTOCK, VERMONT

Located in southern Vermont in Windsor County, Woodstock is an archetypal New England town, complete with covered bridges, 19th century homes and an authentic pastoral feel. As such, this destination has consistently been ranked one of the most beautiful small towns in America.

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GETTING THERE

If you have a car, Woodstock is a fairly easy drive from major Northeastern cities. From Boston, you can make it there in 2.5 hours, while the trip from NYC will take about 4.5 hours, depending on traffic.

Amtrak also operates trains north to White River Junction, VT which is only a 20 minute drive to Woodstock. The scenery is beautiful but the trip is a bit long from NYC and departure times are limited. For the quickest route, Cape Air runs daily trips from Boston and NYC (Westchester) into Lebanon, NH, which is only a 30 minute drive to Woodstock. The airport in Lebanon is quite small, but it does have rental cars on premises. If you arrive in Woodstock by train or plane, I definitely recommend renting a car to drive around the area.

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WHERE TO STAY

My favorite place to stay is the Woodstock Inn & Resort, which is conveniently located on “the Green” (Woodstock’s main square), just a few minutes from the center of town. Check-out my full review of the Inn here.

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For a less expensive option, The Shire Hotel at the other end of town offers spacious and modern accommodations. And for those looking for more of a homey experience, there are plenty of B&Bs in Woodstock to choose from.

WHERE TO DINE

1. The Red Rooster – The main restaurant in the Woodstock Inn is one of the top places to dine in Woodstock, featuring craft cocktails and farm-fresh cuisine. I always recommend dining here for lunch or dinner (or both!).

2. The Mill at Simon Pearce – Located in nearby Quechee, Vermont, diners can visit the Simon Pearce glassblowing workshop and purchase one-of-a-kind glassware in the shop before and after dinner. The restaurant itself offers beautiful views of the Quechee Gorge and the menu features innovative American cuisine with fresh local ingredients. This is a more upscale dining experience and is perfect for a celebratory or romantic dinner.

3. The Prince & The Pauper – Featuring regional cuisine, The Prince & The Pauper is located in the center of town within an easy walking distance from any of the aforementioned accommodations. The cozy atmosphere is perfect for an intimate dinner on a chilly evening.

4. Cloudland Farm – On Fridays and Saturdays, Cloudland Farm opens its doors for dinner, with a delicious prix-fixe menu in a rustic setting. img_4763

5. The Mountain Creamery – Comfort food at its best. The Mountain Creamery is a Woodstock-favorite. I love their grilled cheese, tuna melts, soups and of course, homemade ice cream.

6. The White Cottage Snack Bar – Just a few minutes outside of town, this summertime favorite is perfect for a post-dinner ice cream cone (ok so I like ice cream).

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WHERE TO SHOP

There are so many cute little shops to pop in and out of while strolling along the streets of Woodstock, but here are my top recommendations for local goods:

1. Farmhouse Pottery – Founded 4 years ago by a local Woodstock couple, the Farmhouse Pottery workshop and store is just a short drive from the center of town. Visitors can watch the potters at their craft, while browsing the shop for one of a kind pieces. I may have gone a little overboard with my purchases last trip, but every item is just so beautiful and unique!  The owners have a distinct design aesthetic that I absolutely love and can’t wait to showcase in my own kitchen.

2. Simon Pearce – While Simon Pearce now operates retail locations in many major cities, I still love to visit the flagship location in Quechee, VT. The shop features gorgeous handblown glass items handcrafted downstairs by the Simon Pearce team. Visitors can also tour the workshop and watch the glassblowers in action. Simon’s son, Andrew Pearce, also sells his handmade wooden bowls in the shop.

3. Yankee Bookshop – Yankee Bookshop is Vermont’s oldest continuously operated bookshop, serving Woodstock since 1935. While I tend to read on my kindle more often than not, I still love browsing a small bookshop and flipping through the new releases or staff favorites. And I never walk out of here empty handed.

4. F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store – Located just off the main thoroughfare in the town of Woodstock, Gillingham’s General Store is a nostalgic step back in time. The shop was first opened in 1886 by Frank Henry Gillingham, and is still to this day, family-owned and operated. True to its name, Gillingham’s is chock full of everything you could want, from food and wine, to cooking utensils, children’s toys and hardware items. But, the most important purchase for any trip to Gillingham’s is a large jug of Vermont’s own Grade A maple syrup! img_53275. Woodstock Farmer’s Market – The name evokes a Saturday pop-up of local farmers, but in reality the Woodstock Farmer’s Market is a boutique grocery store with a permanent structure. They offer both a wide selection of prepared foods, as well as a fairly size-able grocery and produce section, with a focus on local products.

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WHAT TO DO

If you’re staying at the Woodstock Inn (or frankly, even if you’re not), definitely check out the Activities page of their website for a complete list of area attractions. Below, I’ve also highlighted a couple of my favorite Woodstock experiences.

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1. Hiking Mount Tom – Woodstock is definitely an outdoorsy community and so there are plenty of nearby hiking trails to explore. My favorite is to hike to the top of Mount Tom. There are several trails that lead through this nature preserve and a few that head to the top. The trails are challenging but not overly strenuous and once at the top, you will have beautiful views of the valley below including a great bird’s eye view of the town.

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2. Hitting the slopes – If you’re visiting Woodstock in the wintertime, there are a couple of options for skiing in the area. The closest mountain is Suicide Six, which is operated by the Woodstock Inn and boasts as one of the oldest ski resorts in the country. For larger mountains, Killington Ski Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort are each about a 30 minute (give or take) drive from Woodstock.

3. Visiting farm animals at Billings Farm & Museum – A favorite for kids of all ages, Billings is a live dairy farm offering families the opportunity to learn about life on a working farm, visit with farm animals and watch farmhands milk the Billings cows. The farm also offers a bunch of special events so definitely check the calendar before your visit.

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4. Learning to bake at King Arthur Flour – About a 30 minute drive from Woodstock, sits the town of Hanover, NH (home to Dartmouth College), and just outside of Hanover, is the home of King Arthur Flour. The mecca for any avid baker, King Arthur Flour’s Vermont location includes a cafe (with fresh baked bread and pastries – yum), a store complete with every mix or utensil a baker could dream of, and a baker’s school featuring daily classes. The classes fill up quickly, so definitely book in advance!

I hope you’ll have the chance to visit Woodstock, Vermont soon. This truly is an amazing town with tons of quintessential New England experiences on offer!

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HOTEL REVIEW: WOODSTOCK INN & RESORT

Woodstock, Vermont is the quintessential New England town and one of my absolute favorite places to visit, especially in Autumn when the trees light up in bright hues of red, orange and yellow. Given that I have family in the area, I typically don’t have the opportunity to stay at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, but I was incredibly lucky this year to have won a three-night stay at the hotel in a raffle fundraiser!

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About the Inn

The original Woodstock Inn was built in 1892 in response to the tourism boom of the mid-19th century. Located in the heart of Woodstock Village, the Inn quickly became a popular vacation destination for affluent travelers looking to escape city life for a week or two, particularly during the winter season.

In 1967, Laurance Rockefeller, a Woodstock resident and owner of RockResorts, purchased the original hotel, planning to completely rebuild the facilities; and in 1969, the Inn reopened as the resort we know today. Since then, the Inn has been extended on four separate occasions and just recently completed a beautiful renovation to the lobby and main shared areas to maintain a modern yet traditional design.

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The Rooms

The current Inn has 142 rooms and suites, each carefully designed to reflect Vermont’s signature style of rustic comfort. The rooms feature large-frame wood beamed beds with plush comforters, mountains of white pillows and hand-dyed blankets. The furnishings brilliantly blend modern elegance with Laurance Rockefeller’s historic vision.

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Amenities

One of my favorite places to sit at the Inn is in the main lobby in front of the huge fireplace. Especially on a chilly fall day, this is the perfect place to warm up.

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My second favorite place to sit is in the Conservatory enjoying the complimentary afternoon tea and cookies (served daily at 4 pm).

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Just across from the Conservatory, the Inn has one of the best Gift Shops you’ll find in any hotel, featuring iconic local artists such as Simon Pearce, Andrew Pearce and Farmhouse Pottery.

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Finally, the Inn has two game rooms – one on the lower level catered towards kids which features a pool table, a giant scrabble board, pinball machines and shuffleboard. The ‘adult’ game room (or Library) on the main floor is situated to the right of the lobby and includes tables with puzzles, backgammon and chess.

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The Spa at The Woodstock Inn

Do not miss the spa! Every time I visit Woodstock with my family, we take a group outing to the spa at the Inn. The 10,000 square foot LEED-certified facility is state of the art, with fully outfitted locker rooms (including steam rooms and showers), a gorgeous lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows (third favorite place to sit!), an outdoor seating area with a jacuzzi and pool access, and 10 treatment rooms. The spa therapists are top-notch and you’ll leave your treatment feeling perfectly relaxed. You can also order food and drinks in the lounge area – I recommend having a mini bottle of prosecco post-treatment.

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Dining: The Red Rooster

The Red Rooster, which is the main restaurant at the Inn, offers some of the best dining Woodstock has to offer. As a hotel guest, you can dine here for breakfast with a full buffet on weekdays (including an omelet station) and a choice of breakfast menu or buffet on weekends. On my recent trip, I had the most delicious fluffy blueberry pancakes!

I also definitely recommend making a reservation here for lunch or dinner, which features delicious craft cocktails and farm fresh cuisine.

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Activities

There are so many activities available to guests of the Woodstock Inn! Beyond afternoon tea, the game rooms, and the spa, the Inn also has a beautiful outdoor pool, as well as access to the tennis courts, fitness classes, and golf course located next door at the Woodstock Athletic Club and the Woodstock Country Club. One of the newer activities, is the Inn’s falconry program, which allows guests to get up close and personal with these beautiful birds. Resort guests also receive complimentary admission to Billings Farm and the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park.

And finally, the town of Woodstock offers plentiful outdoor activities such as hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter – not to mention the great shopping and restaurants only a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Planning a stay at the Woodstock Inn? Check out my full guide to Woodstock, Vermont!

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