Decisions, decisions. Did we want to have breakfast in bed (maybe the lemon-soufflé pancakes with fresh local berries) or go to the Main House and mingle with the other guests? Did we want to order a picnic—perhaps some lobster and Champagne to take along on our hike? Did we want the Meadowsweet Body Polish or the Honey Bliss treatment in the spa?
Such is the life at Twin Farms, a Relais & Châteaux property that was once the country home of Nobel Prize-winning writer Sinclair Lewis and journalist Dorothy Thompson. Indeed, as we nibbled on canapés and sipped cocktails by a blazing fire in the Barn Cottage before dinner, we felt as if we were the houseguests of a very wealthy friend rather than visitors at a hotel. Local pride in Vermont is visible everywhere: furnishings by Charles Shackleton, Simon Pearce glassware, intricate Stave wooden jigsaw puzzles in the game room, and, of course, the local cheeses and produce in those very canapés.
Throughout the property, a phenomenal art collection is on display including a wonderful Deborah Butterfield horse sculpture, works by Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and the like, along with a wide range of primitive folk art. There are 10 suites in the Main House, Lodge, and Farmhouse, with 10 additional themed cabins tucked away in the woods: Perch, located above a stream, is decorated with antique fish decoys and carvings; The Aviary is a sleek, modern affair with a two-story glass façade; Meadow Cottage, appropriately sited at the top of a meadow, boasts Moroccan décor complete with a tented ceiling. We stayed in the Farmhouse at Copper Hill, which has four suites and a communal downstairs lounge area (making it perfect for a larger family gathering). Our suite had two fireplaces, both already set with kindling and firewood. A raised hearth in the bedroom brought the fire to the perfect level for drifting off to sleep. We took advantage of the hot tub on the deck, settled back with a bottle of wine from our amply stocked welcome basket, and contemplated the most amazingly bright stars either of us had ever seen.
Explore: You can be as lazy or active as you like: Visit the games room for backgammon, chess, checkers, etc., or walk across the iron bridge to the Pub with its fully stocked bar, Wurlitzer juke box, pool table, darts, TV with DVD collection—even a Steinway baby grand. Below is a fully equipped gym and spa. The Japanese Furo is an Asian-style bath with separate tubs for men and women. There are biking and hiking trails, you can try your hand at fly-fishing, or play tennis or lawn games like croquet and bocce. Copper Pond and Silver Lake are great for swimming, canoeing, or simply drinking in the views. Nearby Woodstock is filled with art galleries and antique stores.
Dine: When guests are asked to fill out an online concierge form beforehand, detailing their food and beverage preferences, you know that dining here will be an experience. There is no dinner menu; but a farm-to-table tasting of five courses, each paired with the perfect wine (the wine cellar has more than 20,000 bottles) by Chef Nathan Rich and Sommelier David Morris and served in the vaulted-ceilinged dining room with huge stone fireplaces at each end. Each and every course is a complex concoction of tastes and textures: Meyer-lemon-and-butter-poached Atlantic cod with a wild watercress sauce, white truffle froth, and cherry-bomb radish or a juniper-berry-rubbed duck breast with roasted pumpkin risotto, local grana cheese, toasted cardamom, and a carrot reduction. For dessert? Warm apple galette and smoked vanilla spheres with matsutake ice cream, rye streusel, sage marshmallow, and Granny Smith apple purée. Expect a similar gastronomic adventure at lunch with another fixed menu with wine pairings; breakfast is à la carte.
Royalton Turnpike, Barnard, VT (802) 234-9999; www.twinfarms.com
Distance from White Plains: 4 hours Details: 20 accommodations include 10 cottages, six suites, and four bedrooms in the main house; prices range from $1,450 to $3,650/night, all inclusive: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, all beverages, wine, spirits. Guests have unlimited use of all the on-site recreational facilities. Rooms are stocked with seasonal snacks, Kona coffee, and tea, along with a handcrafted Stave jigsaw puzzle to take home as a memento of your visit to Vermont.
Insider’s Tip: Ask the staff to pack a gourmet box lunch for the ride home. Or stop in at the nearly 200-year-old Barnard General Store and stock up on Vermont staples like cheeses and syrup or a treat at the soda fountain/ice-cream bar.