By MARYELLEN FILLO, email@example.com
The Hartford Courant
September 29, 2013
WOODSTOCK, VT. — It's that time of year when leaf peepers head for the hills to soak in the rich ombre of color Mother Nature faithfully delivers each autumn. But the eagerly anticipated palette is not the only reason to head out this season. There are other sights to be seen as you travel around New England, places rich in history and architecture and culture, places to see no matter the season.
And among those yearround landmarks is the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, VT.
As a fan of "old places," it was its history, not autumn hues that drew me to the stately Federal-style inn. Nestled in the lush Green Mountains, it majestically sits at the town green, postcard picture perfect and setting the tone in a town National Geographic once described as "One of America's Most Picturesque Villages". The American Architectural Society characterized Woodstock as "…perfect – if any town in any country can be."
I was not at all familiar with the charming Vermont town when I headed there, but was more than pleasantly surprised upon my arrival after a drive up I-91, then driving the last few miles along Route 4, which was a pleasant rural road into town. You can't miss the Woodstock Inn as you drive into the tony town that revolves around its classic town green. The inn's address? "14 The Green."
The inn is a grand old place that stirs the New England in your soul with its expansive yet welcoming front lawn, manicured gardens and oversized front porch, set smack dab in the middle of a quaint downtown that is very inviting. There is a Greek-Revival courthouse, Romanesque-style library and assorted mansions, historic buildings, storefronts, restaurants and galleries that give guests dozens of reasons to meander about.
And, oh those rooms. But first a little history lesson.
Rockefellers To The Rescue
The parcel has always housed an inn with the first one built in 1793 by Capt. Israel Richardson. Decades went by and a larger inn was built closer to the street. But the aging inn fell on hard times, and in 1968, philanthropist, conservationist and business mogul Laurance S. Rockefeller purchased the property. When it was determined the 1891 building could not be saved, Rockefeller built the new Woodstock Inn on the very spot where Richardson's original inn was located.
The result is a wonderful blend of country charm and contemporary amenities in a 142-room gem that goes above and beyond when it comes to hospitality. I was there on a beautiful sunny day so my first challenge was walking inside. The front lawn, with its white picket fence, gardens in bloom and clusters of Adirondack chairs strategically placed to look out onto the green, was so inviting I just wanted to dump the suitcase, and sit and soak in the ambiance.
Staff is knowledgeable and friendly and check-in was quick. Rooms are quaint, what you would expect in a traditional New England inn, with lots of dark woods, finely crafted architectural details and soft colors and prints. Rooms range from standard single rooms to suites that include fireplaces and porches. Marble bathrooms, organic bath products, pillow top mattresses and 600-thread- count sheets are among the standard amenities.
For those who must, there is Wi-Fi and cable television but if you can bear to unplug, even for one day, please do. The inn has a beautiful new spa that offers an array of services as well as indoor and outdoor pools. While there are many places to dine in Woodstock, the inn has it owns AAA Diamond Award winning The Red Rooster, a restaurant that like everything else at the inn, underscores the best of Vermont in its décor and service including a menu featuring local cheeses and fresh, local artisan and heirloom ingredients. Enjoy products from Cabot Cheese, Thomas Dairy, Maplebrook Farms, and Vermont Shephard. The inn also has its Richardson's Tavern for those who want more casual dining that includes patio seating, weather permitting. There are other amenities like live music that is regularly featured in the tavern, a well-stocked library and the daily Tea Time.
Also a popular wedding and conference venue, guests can also golf or skiing, as well as fish, hike or go canoeing and hunting.
But make some plans to poke around the town, for beyond fine dining and shopping, there is something more — the legacy of Laurence Rockefeller and his wife, Mary French Rockefeller.
In 1992 Rockefeller and his wife Mary donated their Woodstock summer home and farm to the National Park Service. The result is a the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, a short walk from the inn and well worth the stroll across the iron bridge over the Ottauquechee River to the preserve.
The park is dedicated to conservation efforts, efforts that began in the late 20th century when Mary Rockefeller's ancestors, George Perkins Marsh and Frederick Billings, began the quest to restore Vermont's stripped down forests, educate the public, and conserve natural resources. Today, the 550 acres include a working farm, forest center, gardens, greenhouse, dairy, farmhouse and the 1800s-era Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. All are open for tours and beyond being a tourist attraction, the effort is a gentle reminder that there would be no colorful foliage if there were no advocates to protect the land and its assets.
It was a lesson I was glad to be reminded of during this getaway.
The inn's director of sales and marketing W. Courtney Lowe, stressed the inn is a combination of the best New England has to offer when it comes to gracious hospitality, impeccable lodging and a commitment to respecting the environment.
It was all that and more for me, a reminder of what I like best about my corner of the nation.
WOODSTOCK INN & RESORT: For reservations visit http://www.woodstockinn.com or call (855) 319-1324.
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