Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
It is just after sunset when we arrive at the Little River Inn, perched on a lovely curve on the Mendocino coast with a commanding view of the ocean. Little River Inn is one of the oldest lodgings on this dramatic stretch of the Northern California coastline, family-owned for 80 years. Over the years, it has expanded, upgraded and modernized in delightful ways to be a true luxury resort with the charm of an inn and ideal for everything from a romantic getaway to a family adventure to a destination wedding.
The original house that is the nucleus of the inn was built in 1857 by Silas Coombs, and has remained in the family ever since. Grandfather Ole Hervilla, clearly a pioneer in turning Mendocino’s economy from lumbering to tourism, turned the original building into an inn in 1939, which is now run by its fifth generation innkeeper, Cally Dym.
Set on 225 wooded acres, the old Coombs home is now surrounded by 65 ocean view rooms in townhouse-style units where you have your own entrance and your own balcony and luxurious amenities like Jacuzzis, steam showers, private hot tubs, gas and wood-burning fireplaces, superior quality bedding and linens. There is also a lovely dining room in the original building and a legendary Ole’s Whale Watch bar.
The Little River Inn is distinguished by having a nine-hole golf course – the only golf course on the Mendocino coast (Ole actually built it himself in 1957 after being dissuaded by the cost of hiring golf architects); two tennis courts with lights for night play, and a day-spa.
Dining in the inn’s restaurant is sublime. The garden has been opened for outside seating (actually it is a tent) as an accommodation for COVID but has proved extremely popular – we sit among twinkle lights at the base of redwood trees.
The sophisticated menu offers a host of delightful preparations, marvelous flavors and gorgeous presentation. Sarah indulges in the Spicy Lobster Tagliolini prepared with lobster meat, lobster-tomato broth, yuzu caviar and house-made Tagliolini pasta (one of the “small plate” offerings that is sufficient for a main course); mushroom agnolotti prepared with “black pearl” oyster mushrooms, ricotta, parmesan with a black truffle cream and pecorino tartufo. Eric savors the Cioppino, prepared with Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, local rock fish, simmered in a tomato-fennel broth; and I delight in good ol’ Ole’s cheese Burger with flourishes of grilled onions, tomato, mayo, pickes, Pain de Mei bun, prepared with perfection.
These are the creations of Chef de Cuisine Jason Azevedo who has largely taken over from five-star chef Marc Dym, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and was named Executive Chef at Little River Inn in 2006 after Marc and Cally (the fifth-generation Innkeeper) were married. Azevedo brings a modern twist to classic American-regional cuisine and have garnered Little River Inn high Zagat ratings.
Schedule a tee time at Little River Inn’s Audubon-certified 5,458-yard, nine-hole golf course. Tucked among redwoods and pine trees, it offers majestic views of the Pacific and some “unexpected” challenges.
I love the colorful back story that once again features Ole Hervilla, who turns out to have been a major visionary for Mendocino’s tourism: After watching Arnold Palmer play on television, in the 1950s, he got the idea to build a golf course at the inn because it would be a draw for guests. Locals were skeptical that anybody would want to play golf on the coast (tell that to Pebble Beach). Working with his own contractors (after getting cost estimates from golf architects), he opened his course in 1957.
There is also a driving range, putting green, two lighted tennis courts (available free to guests; they even supply the racquet) and fully stocked Golf and Tennis Pro Shop (call 707-937-5667 to reserve a tee time).
Little River Inn’s Spa offers a full array of services including customized massages and facials (open daily, 10 am-5 pm).
All of this – the setting, accommodations, dining, amenities – makes Little River Inn prime for destination weddings from elopements to grand affairs of 200, reunions, as well as events and functions, with four different venues.
The inn is especially welcoming to families and offers Family Discovery and Family Adventure packages, and children under 16 stay free. Pet-friendly units are also available (check out the Water Dog package). Other packages include Stargazing, Romance, there are also special offerings for festivals and seasonal promotions.
Little River Inn is perfectly positioned to take advantage of all the attractions in Mendocino, Fort Bragg. You can stroll down its private trail down to Van Damme State Beach where there are 10 miles of hiking trails, a Pygmy forest, beach and tidepools.
And so, after lingering over coffee sitting in rocking chairs on our balcony, reveling in the view to the Pacific Ocean, we set out to thoroughly explore Mendocino.
Little River Inn, 7901 N Highway 1, Little River, CA, United States, 95456, 888-INN-LOVE, 707-937-5942 www.littleriverinn.com.
To get to Mendocino, you drive through Anderson Valley with its picturesque vineyards, wineries, and farms, take a twisty road that winds around hills, and go through the Navarro Redwood Forest (a magical experience) and finally, along the Pacific coast. You are already feeling the calm sweep over you by the time you reach Brewery Gulch Inn, set on a hillside with a sweeping view of a cove and the ocean. And then you fully exhale and feel all stress and worldly concerns slip away. Time seems to slow down.
Brewery Gulch Inn
With Mendocino itself just around the bend, we head directly to the Brewery Gulch Inn, a marvelously quiet, intimate inn (just 10 rooms) which sits just above the coastal highway, nestled amid trees and lush landscaping.
We arrive just in time for the 5:30-6:30 pm wine hour – a delightful tasting that accompanies a delicious artfully prepared light dinner. There are many modifications due to COVID-consciousness – so many actually being very pleasant adaptations that have become popular with guests. So, instead of serving the inn’s signature dinner as a buffet, we are given our own bento box, accessed with our room key (late arrivals will find it in their room).
We can sit in the Great Room – a combination living room and dining room (with well spaced tables) set around a fireplace, that opens out to the outdoor patio, or we can sit outside on the patio or lawn. We opt for the outdoors, bathing in the golden light of the setting sun as it falls into the ocean, watching waves hit against rocks in the intriguingly named Smuggler’s Cove, and hummingbirds chase each other. The feeling of well-being – pure contentment – washes over us. It is perfection.
Each day, Executive Chef Stephen Smith prepares artful, imaginative dinner selections that are a feast for the eyes as well as the palette, featuring organic produce accompanied by local wines and beers (included in the stay).
This evening’s menu features Pina Colada prawns; creamy green chili and parmesan cheese polenta; chilled black bean and corn salad; chocolate-raspberry truffle tart. The menu changes daily: the night before we arrived, dinner consisted of Cajun chicken fingers with Creole remoulade and pickled zucchini; maple-whipped sweet potatoes; orange chiffon cake with cream cheese frosting and crème Anglaise. On another night: crispy duck breast with rosemary Dijon & cranberry-ginger gastrique, blue corn polenta crackers, fennel-smoked tomato stuffing, House-pickled vegetables and Gran Marnier chocolate mousse.
Every detail is carefully arranged: the dinner is served in “Mendo-style” bento boxes created by local woodworker, John Myers, from the same eco-salvaged redwood used to construct the Inn. The boxes are labeled with the name of each room (ours is Osprey and is decorated with Osprey images) so that guests can be sure the box prepared for their room will accommodate their dietary restrictions. “We are hoping the portability provided by these boxes will make it easier for you to dine outside, in our Great Room, or in the privacy of your room.”
(If you arrive after the concierge leaves, the bento box is sent into the room. They ask that you inform them by 10 am if you won’t be dining at the inn for the evening, to avoid food waste.)
Every possible guest comfort is integrated into the experience. The Great room is loaded with games (even the furniture becomes a game board) and a huge selection of DVDs (just help yourself); there are bird books and a spotter scope on the patio; fresh coffee, fresh fruit and fruit-infused iced water set out, as well as a refrigerator that we guests can use – and the sweet, patient help of the concierge.
The interior design, furnishings and art are exquisite. And the ambiance and services are also very in tune with the environment – there are several EV charging stations (you are asked to reserve time).
The effect is to be a place of serenity and peace.
We loved the personal notes from Guy Pacurar, Proprietor, Sarah Rowe, Guest Services and Manager, Laura Hockett in advance of our stay that ask about dietary restrictions, and offer driving directions with suggestions of places to stop along the route and activities to pre-book.
The inn’s website offers marvelous suggestions of what to do in the area, especially what might be pre-booked. Under Pre-Arrival Concierge, there are various services and activities, including massages, wine tours and tastings such as in Anderson Valley, horseback rides, chocolates, wines, restaurant reservations, that the inn can arrange for you prior to your arrival.
In the morning, there we find muffins and coffee laid out and we enjoy a marvelous cooked-to-order breakfast in the Great Room (we could also have asked it to be served in our guest room). I have a delectable salmon scramble.
Considering what is included in the experience – the wine tasting, light dinner accompanied by local wines and beers, lavish cooked-to-order breakfast from a seasonal menu (in the Great Room or served in your guest room), WiFi – this is an intimate inn (just 10 rooms) which provides the experience of a luxury hotel that is also a value proposition.
It is no wonder Brewery Gulch Inn consistently merits awards and accolades: named to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2021 Readers’ Choice for Best Hotels-Northern California, its seventh time on Conde Nast Travelers’ list of best lodging properties in the US; Travel & Leisure’s Top 15 Resorts in California (2021) and a six-time winner of Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Lodging Awards.
In the morning, aided by the suggestions of Brewery Gulch’s concierge (Glass Beach, Noyo Harbor for lunch, Headlands Coastal Trail for a hike), we head out to explore. First stop, the famous, historic Skunk Train and its novel “railbike” experience in Fort Bragg, just 20 minutes up the coastal road.
Brewery Gulch Inn, 9401 North Highway One, Mendocino, CA, 95460, 800-578-4454, brewerygulchinn.com.
There are subtle things. Little surprises. Like shortly after our arrival at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort, I peek outside to see the horse-drawn sleigh gliding across the field. It is a signature experience at the inn, a class Vermont scene, but when you see it, you are overwhelmed.
It’s a place that organically brings people together. The low ceilings, the cozy sitting areas (I estimate probably one for each family grouping can be found), fire places, the fire pit with a supply of s’mores.
Even getting there along the narrow winding Vermont country roads to Chittenden, brings you through a Currier & Ives landscape.
Mountain Top Inn & Resort has all the charm, the warmth, the cozy, intimate hospitality of a country inn, and all the luxury, amenities, activities and quality dining of a resort. It is both small and big in the ways you want.
It’s the sort of place that you instantly feel at home, exquisitely at peace. You don’t want to leave. Even the memory of having been there, fills you with longing to return.
The setting is breathtaking – 350 acres surrounded by open fields, a 740-acre lake and mountains beyond, and the Green Mountain National Forest. Indeed, Mountain Top’s name comes from the fact that at nearly 1,800 ft in altitude, the inn may well be the highest non-alpine resort in Vermont.
It is no wonder Mountain Top is so popular for weddings (elopements too!) – it exudes romance (two weddings were scheduled during the holidays). But any family gathering is special here.
I take note of the many, many cozy sitting areas – almost as many as there might have been families staying. The low ceilings and soft lighting, the fire in the fireplace, much more of a living room than a lobby, more of a den than a lounge.
We are here at the holidays and the inn has decorated Christmas trees and lights, fires going in the fireplaces; there is hot coffee, tea and hot chocolate set up in the afternoon.
Mountain Top Inn offers 32 rooms in the main lodge (classic, luxury and luxury suite), four king-bedroom cabins and more than 20 guest houses, each individually decorated, affording stunning views of the Vermont Countryside.
Our Lago Vista Suite is breathtaking – a kind of Colonial Spanish feel with a gas-operated double-sided fireplace separating the sleeping area from a living room area with plush easy chairs, a flat-screen TV, kitchenette. A stunning bathroom done with decorative terra cotta tile. All incredibly warm, like a big blanket enveloping you. And the view! Windows all across the wall out to the open field and the reservoir and mountains beyond. The bedding is so plush, it is a struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
Other suites are notable: The High Meadow Suite, popular as a bridal suite, has 8 windows with views to the lake and mountains, a luxurious bathroom, double-sided fireplace visible from the living room and bedroom, a large kitchenette.
Of these, Ike’s View, on the southern corner of the second floor, is particularly noteworthy. Rich in history, it is named for President Dwight Eisenhower who stayed at the inn during a fly fishing expedition in 1955. Ike’s View can be combined with the adjoining suite, Mamie’s Retreat, to create an expansive two-bedroom/two bath wing with living room, kitchenette and fireplace. Presidential, indeed.
During the holidays, the guests are provided their own s’mores kit (and each evening, a tray of s’mores fixings are left by the fire pit).
The resort also features four newly built luxuriously appointed cabins, which are open-plan, king accommodation living space -inviting and cozy, a perfect mountain retreat for two. Each with its own unique design, and within easy access to all resort amenities. The cabins are located across a quiet country road from the Main Lodge and adjacent Event Barn.
Accommodations also include hearty Vermont buffet breakfast – complete with eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurts and cereals, breads and pastries, fresh juices and coffee.
The Main Lodge rooms and suites are not pet-friendly, but some of the inn’s luxury cabins and guest houses are (and some of the snowshoeing trails also are pet-friendly).
The inn on this winter day we arrive after a five-hour drive is fairly isolated and we are content to enjoy dinner in its traditional mountain lodge atmosphere. We opt to dine in the nicely appointed Tavern at a table right in front of the fireplace (there is also a dining room, and you can order from either menu). In warmer seasons, you can also dine on the outdoor terrace. In or out, you still have gorgeous views of the mountains, lake and meadow.
The menu and preparations are superb – artfully crafted selections featuring locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. The tavern has an extensive selection of locally crafted Vermont brews on tap. (Reservations are recommended, especially during the holidays, 802-483-2311).
The inn also can prepare picnic lunches – which would be really a good idea for a day cross-country skiing or snowshoeing or hiking.
The Baked Brie, featuring 12 Blythedale Farms Brie in a puff pastry, orange marmalade, blackberry jam, and grilled baguette, was out of this world.
The truffle fries, prepared with Parmesan cheese and truffle aioli was superb.
The Grilled Caesar was prepared with grilled Romaine hearts, capers, croutons, Parmigiano-Reggiano, roasted garlic and house-made Caesar dressing.
The French Onion soup, with Spanish onion, red onion shallots, croutons and baked Swiss cheese, was perfect.
We also enjoyed perfectly prepared burger and short ribs.
The restaurant did a fantastic job of accommodating our gluten free requests and promptly provided delicious gluten free rolls for both dinner and breakfast. The restaurant will also accommodate special dietary needs, including vegetarian, with advance notice.
The dining room serves breakfast and dinner; a children’s menu is available.
During the holidays, there is live music playing.
Staying in one of the guest houses? Special arrangements can be made for one of the chefs to prepare a private dinner in the home. (Advance notice required, pricing based on items chosen.)
So Much to Do!
Inn guests have access to daily afternoon refreshments in the Main Lodge lobby, use of the hot tub, sauna and fitness room, free WiFi, as well as access to seasonal activities. In winter, these include a access to the inn’s 60 km cross-country ski trail network (rentals, lessons available), snowshoe trails, ice skating rink (a small, cleared area on the meadow that is flooded; skate rentals available, $10). Warm weather activities include heated outdoor pool, tennis court, lake-front beach where there are kayks, canoes, paddleboards for guests, disc golf.
We get to enjoy the hot tub on evening – you can see the stars from the outdoor hot tub. When the mist would dissipate, it would open up to a view if the sky. It’s a 15-second walk from the hotel Tavern (wear shoes). It takes a minute to adjust to the temperature of the hot tub (very hot! then it’s perfect). You can call ahead and request that they fire up the tub for you.
With 350 private acres perched at the top of a quiet mountain road, a 740 acre lake, miles of trails, expansive meadows, the Green Mountain National Forest and a full host of activities, there is no shortage of things to do right at the resort.
Nordic Skiing at Mountain Top has been a favorite past-time since 1964, with 60 km of trails plus the meadows, offering varied terrain and sweeping views. Through over 50 years of continuous operation, Olympic Athletes, Vermonters and XC Skiers from all over the country have come to Mountain Top. You can get Nordic ski lesson; learn to ski package; rent equipment. Trails are open 8 am to 4 pm.
Snowshoeing: Whether you’ve been doing it for years, or this is your first try, snowshoeing (one of the easiest new sports to acquire, you just walk) is a wonderful way to explore the woods and meadows and get that cardio going! The team at the Activities Center will provide a trail map and the inn’s chefs can pack you a lunch. There are pet-friendly trails. There are twilight group snowshoeing tours (lamps provided).
Horse drawn sleigh rides, the quintessential Vermont thing to do, are offered mid-December through March (weather permitting); reservations are required for the 30-minute tours; private rides and packages are available (maximum 9 adults & children per ride; $40 adult/ $20/child call 802-483-6089). A Sleigh Ride & Dinner Package (includes sleigh ride, 3-course dinner for two & taxes , can be scheduled ( $150, gratuity & alcohol not included).
Snowmobiling: Hit the VAST trails or tour Mountain Top’s property. You can take a guided 30 minute Snowmobile Tour through the meadows and along some of the trails at the Mountain Top Resort, or stop by for a bite to eat (or overnight stay) as you journey along the VAST Trail System –the Inn is located right on the trail ($60 pp as a driver; $15 as passenger for 30 minutes).
Spa & Salon: Mountain Top’s spa is located on the ground level of The Mountain Top Barn adjacent to the pool and hot tub. With features such as barn board wall paneling, hammered copper pedicure basins, a spacious cedar sauna, custom soapstone sinks, rich leather and wood furniture and views to the mountains and lake – the spa & salon is a perfect example of ‘rustic luxe’ design in a wholly relaxing space. The Spa offers several signature treatments; services include a wide variety of massages, scrubs and wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures and professional hair and make-up for wedding parties. The spa & salon operates seasonal hours – please contact us for a current schedule (Available for special events upon request). (For reservations, call 802.483.2311 ext 404 or spa@Mountain Topinn.com).
The fitness center is equipped with state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bicycles and a cable weight system and take a dip in the hot tub, or relax in our sauna, after your workout. (Guests under 18 yrs must be accompanied by an adult; open 7:30am – 9pm).
Warm weather activities include:
Activities available for guests at no charge include tennis (you can borrow a racket; the court is available on first-come, first-serve basis); Disc Golf on the inn’snewly designed 9-hole disc golf course which takes advantage of the open meadow space, adjacent woods, spectacular views and finishes just a few steps from the Mountain Top Tavern and terrace (discs can be borrowed from the front desk, and discs and greens fees are included in your stay); heated outdoor swimming pool open (weather permitting) from June into September; the pool-side hot tub is open year-round; 40 miles of hiking trails; sand volleyball.
Private Beach: Less than ¾ mile walk down a private lane from the main lodge, Mountain Top’s exclusive beach is situated on a quiet cove within a 740 acre lake. Available spring through late fall, you can enjoy boating, swim or simply relax on lounge chairs. Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are available (no charge for guests; lifejackets provided). A beach towel is available from the front desk. You can arrange to take a picnic lunch. (Available spring through late fall.
Guided hour-long pontoon boat rides touring the entire lake are offered daily (weather permitting, through October; reservations are required).
Equestrian Center: Mountain Top Inn is the only Vermont resort, and one of only a handful of properties in New England, to offer a full equestrian program, accommodating neophytes and experienced riders. The Equestrian Center is open May through October.
Children’s Adventure Camp is open July through August 14, for children 6-13 years old; the program is offered 9:30 to 3 pm weekdays (minimum 3 children). (802-483-6089).
Fishing: Go fishing for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch and Sunfish on the 740 acre lake: you can rent a small fishing boat with electric trolling motor, seating up to four people.
Clay Bird Shooting: Lessons are offered daily by our experienced staff from spring through fall (weather permitting). For safety reasons, we have a maximum allotment of six people per time slot. The minimum age to participate is 15 years old and reservations are required. ($40 per person for 20 shots with instruction).
Golf: Mountain Top Inn & Resort, has several challenging yet fun courses near-by (including Rutland Country Club, Green Mountain National Golf Course, Killington Golf Course and Neshobe Golf Club – all of which are accessible to the public).
Destination Weddings, Elopements, Retreats
For all the reasons – the setting, ambiance, facilities and activities, it is easy to see why Mountain Top is a favorite wedding destination.
Mountain Top Inn can accommodate up to 250 guests in the events Barn and the majority do tend to stay on property –it makes for less travel for guests and everything being pretty much within walking distance and gives family and friends that much more opportunity to be together and share experiences.
The inn also has more intimate spaces on property such as the beach pavilion for rehearsal dinners and events of fewer than 100 guests (where the barn can feel a bit large) and for even more intimate events (an elopement, or corporate dinner) the larger guest houses are ideal.
The houses make for a great option for the weddings because family groups can stay together in one house and have common living space to share amongst themselves. As well as bridal parties or just groups of friends who want to stay together and not have to head back to separate accommodations at night. They can hang out in their pj’s! (With the spa, the inn is also ideal for bachelorette getaways.)
The popular wedding ceremony site in the spring, summer, fall is the knoll up above the lodge (an amazing view). And in winter it’s the terrace outside the tavern (with a similar, but not as high altitude) view. For both, the ‘weather’ ceremony location is the loft in the barn which has lovely floor to ceiling windows that still provide that view. In the warmer months, weddings are also held at the houses and on the beach.
Overcome with the romantic ambiance and want to elope?
The Mountain Top Inn & Resort is the ideal setting for an elopement or intimate wedding. The inn has a dedicated staff of wedding coordinators. And because some elopements are planned with limited lead-time, or are truly a surprise, the inn has a special package which includes many of the elements the couple will need, or can be customized.
The Mountain Top Elopement Package includes two nights lodging; three course candlelit dinner for two; full breakfast each morning; scenic pontoon boat ride (summer) or horse-drawn sleigh ride (winter); one hour massage for both; Champagne and Truffles; bouquet and boutonniere; petite wedding cake ($1550 in classic lodge room; $1775 in luxury lodge room; $1975 for a suite; $200 more for peak dates and holidays).
The Inn is also ideal for corporate retreats, functions and events – having a place that brings people together in a close setting, plus has many activities to engage, dining and meeting venues. Mid-week November through April is when availability is the best. Various venues are used for meeting space including the yoga studio, the barn loft, the beach pavilion (in summer), living areas in larger guest houses for smaller meetings. The barn can seat upwards of 250 for larger conferences and functions.
Hometown Connection: A Distinguished History
The Mountain Top Inn has a marvelous history, and as it turns out, a connection to our Long Island home town.
As we were driving up the country lanes that lead to the Mountain Top Inn, I spotted a library named for Frederic Duclos Barstow, and recognized the name from our Great Neck, Long Island community: he was the son of William S. Barstow (1866-1942) and Frangoise Duclos Barslow (1876-1958) – he was the first mayor of Kings Point and his mansion is now the Merchant Marine Museum on the grounds of the US Merchant Marine Academy. Barstow, who was an important electrical engineer and a partner of Thomas Edison, made a fortune establishing utility companies (including the one in Chittenden) and even electrifying the Brooklyn Bridge. Their only child, Frederic Duclos Barstow, born in 1895, was exposed to poison gas during War War I, and suffered lung damage and from shell shock. He moved to Chittenden, Vermont, believing the clean air would be more healthful to him, but died in 1931, at the age of 35. The Barstows built the Barstow Memorial School in his memory.
William Barstow purchased a farmhouse in Chittenden on his son’s property to serve as a hunting camp (what is now Fox Creek Inn on Dam Road). Here he entertained such notable figures as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
In 1939, Francoise Barstow bought the Henry Long Turnip farm, dating from the 1870s, which overlooked the Chittenden Reservoir, renovating the barn as an additional place to entertain her many friends – this is the property that became Mountain Top Inn.
Throughout the ensuing years, improvements and additions to the original barn building were made to accommodate the growing number of visiting friends and family – eventually evolving into a full service Inn & Tavern. While Barstow, an associate of Thomas Edison, was a forward thinker, the couple maintained the integrity of property’s Yankee origins and protected the beauty and ecology of its natural surroundings. Barstow died in 1942.
In 1945, William and Margery Wolfe purchased the Mountain Top Inn. They continued improvements to the property and in 1955 put the Inn on the map when they hosted President Eisenhower and his entourage during a fishing expedition. Photos of the expedition are still displayed in the Main Lodge Lobby. Ike’s View, a luxury room in the Main Lodge in which the President stayed, is named for him and the adjoining room is named for his wife, Mamie’s Retreat.
In 1964, realizing the natural terrain was ideal for winter sports, the Wolfes began to develop a cross country ski center and trail system. Today, one of the oldest in the country, the resort boasts 60 kilometers of trails.
A fire in 1977 destroyed most of the original Inn’s structure. Undeterred, the Wolfes rebuilt the Inn using traditional post and beam construction. Large Douglas fir beams span the lobby and lend warmth and charm to the Main Lodge. Rows of windows and a signature glass “silo” staircase offers the perfect vantage point for stunning views.
This is what accounts for the feeling you get of the Mountain Top Inn, that is both old and new – it is the faithful preservation of the traditional inn, with the modern amenities and materials.
With an appreciation and love for the property and its history, in the early 2000s a small group of investors purchased the Mountain Top Inn & Resort and have carefully nurtured its evolution from small country inn to a premier Mountain Lodge and destination resort.
Winter Family Wonderland package is available for non-holiday periods, and includes three nights accommodation; Vermont country breakfast each morning; horse-drawn sleigh ride for your group; one hour “family” cross country ski lesson with rentals (must be 6 years of age or older to take this lesson; one parent must participate); trail passes; use of resort facilities; tax and resort charge ($1260 for quad occupancy in classic lodge room, $1620 for luxury room; two-bedroom guest houses also available at $1670).
Mountain Top Inn & Resort is also located a short distance (about 20-30 minutes drive) to Killington Mountain for downhill skiing; the inn provides shuttle transportation (8:30 am, returning 4:30 pm); reserve in advance.
Mountain Top Inn & Resort, 195 Mountain Top Road, Chittenden, Vermont 05737, 802-483-2311, www.MountainTopInn.com.
Imagine the pressure on innkeepers wanting to build new in the historic village universally known as “Quintessential New England” with its amazing array of stunning architecture from the 1800s, including the classic Woodstock Inn that graces the village center just across from the green; with its covered wood bridges, classic New England white steepled churches and homes that proudly display dates from the 1800s.
Family owned and operated, the On the River Inn succeeds in stellar fashion, seamlessly integrating the charm of a traditional Vermont inn with lovely vintage and traditional touches while embracing the best of modern design and amenities – large open floor plan, high ceilings, full-length windows from which natural light streams in.
Indeed, it was deservedly named by Conde Nast Traveler in 2015 as one of the Top Hotels to Open and “the place to visit”. The inn is conveniently located two miles from the picture book village of Woodstock on six acres fronting the Ottauquechee River, so you have easy access to lovely shops, galleries, restaurants without the bustle.
The Inn on the River is selected as our hub for the Discovery Bicycle Tours weekend biking trip (see story). This caps an exceptionally designed program – I mean, you’re in Vermont – in Woodstock, no less – but that is not enough to make a fantastic bike trip. I really appreciate this as I take note of how they have structured the itinerary – the choice of roads (this is a shared-road,, not a bike trail experience) and routes that has to be within the realm of do-ability, as well as stunningly scenic (what you imagine Vermont to be), with decent road conditions (I am amazed at the roads that are unpaved dirt and gravel. But the choice of accommodations is what really caps off the whole Vermont experience. (800-257-2226. 802-457-3553, discoverybicycletours.com)
The low-rise inn is laid out so that each room has view of expansive lawn that stretches to the Ottauquechee River; a balcony (or patio) with rocking chairs, firepits and gazebo (just waiting for a wedding).
The low-rise inn sprawls out horizontally yet is intimate. It may well be feng shui but there is such a sense of peacefulness when you walk in, which also reflects the very welcoming staff.
It offers a stunning lap-size indoor pool with gorgeous blue and white tiles, kept to a perfect temperature for swimming, with adjacent hot tub, and dry sauna and fitness center. There is also an expansive library; games and entertainment lounge and toddler play room.
Quirky Vermont antiques and vintage pieces make you smile with their whimsy when you come upon them in the hallways– an old TV, a telephone, Henke ski boots, US Post Office metal mail box door serve as room #s. The hallways are bathed in natural light that streams through full-length windows – a modern touch – which also contributes to the feeling of well-being.
The restaurant, bar and spacious lounge with fireplace is laid out in an open-floor plan though the room doesn’t feel large because of intimate sitting areas with plush leather chairs and sofas, that make it feel cozy.
The 506 Bistro serves a seasonal menu emphasizing Vermont specialties like Yankee Pot Roast, a organic burger (outstanding) sourced from a nearby farm, fresh strawberry shortcake with Vermont berries. The menu for our group is very varied so there are fish selections (grilled salmon), pasta, meet selections, vegetarian options (ratatouille) and Caesar salad with ahi tuna.
The antique bar and the furnishings of the “kitchen,” where each morning we help ourselves to a buffet breakfast, just add to the pleasant ambiance.
The inn serves a complimentary country breakfast, has coffee/tea out all day (as well as coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator in the room), free WiFi and parking.
Construction is top quality; the furnishings in neutral brown, beige and white. The bedroom is spacious with a king-sized bed, pull out sofa, lounge chair, flat-screen TV; the bathroom is marble with a warming rack.
“We work with a set of principles which we firmly believe customers recognize and appreciate: Maintain international hotel standards, incorporate a beautiful design which reflects the destination, create a feeling of home and ensure that the clients understand from the moment they arrive that the property is family owned. The attention to detail, the emphasis on creating a home away from home, warm hospitality and personalized service have always been our guiding principles.”
Besides being so near Woodstock, nearby attractions include the Billings Farm and Museum, Killington, the Longtail Brewery, King Arthurs Flour.