Published: February 12th 2012February 12th 2012
One of the best kept secrets in New England is the Equinox Resort and Spa located in Manchester Village in Southern Vermont. The resort has a long history dating back to 1769. The original building on site was the Marsh Tavern which is still part of the existing building complex. The Council of Safety headed up by Ethan Allen’s brother met here to raise money for the “Green Mountain Boys” during the American Revolution. It has also hosted four presidents and Mary Todd Lincoln as some of its prestigious guests.
The property has changed hands several times over the last two hundred plus years and is now part of the illustrious Starwood Luxury Collection managed by HEI Properties. A major renovation of the property was just completed in November 2011 and the results are spectacular.
I have stayed here four times over the last five years and always loved the old world country charm of the place, however, the furniture was worn, the windows leaked cold air in the winter, and the décor while quaint was dated. I am happy to report the renovations addressed these major issues by updating the rooms to a contemporary
look while still maintaining the New England charm of the place.
The service is friendly and attentive with the staff usually knowing your name after your first encounter. Three restaurants grace the property to tempt your palate with gourmet cheese and chocolates, pub grub and choice steaks and continental fare, and two bars quench your thirst with a variety of craft beer, over 30 wines by the glass, more by the bottle and top shelf whiskies, cognacs and martinis.
The rooms in the main hotel vary in size and come equipped with either one king or two queen beds with the deluxe rooms having the largest size at over 300 square feet. The rooms are spread out over four floors and are serviced by an elevator. Our deluxe room was located on the main floor on a corner that overlooked the courtyard and Mount Equinox and the spa building. We had five windows that let in plenty of sunshine during the day, two leather sofa chairs, a computer desk, nightstand, chest of drawers, an armoire and large screen TV. The clock radio also had an ipod docking station. The bathroom consisted of a separate
sink/dressing area with magnifying makeup mirror and hair dryer and the bathroom was equipped with a tub. The room was decorated in earth tones and the bed with high thread count linens and several different size pillows was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept on.
The rooms in the Orvis Inn section are mostly 1 and 2 Bedroom Suites with separate living room and full kitchens decorated in the same earth tones. There are also a few king bed lock-off rooms on the small side. The townhouses are the only rooms that have not been updated. The upper floor has a 1 Bedroom Suite and there are 2 separate king rooms with private bath located on the first floor. These can either be used as separate lock-off rooms, or in conjunction with the 1 Bedroom Suite to make a 3 Bedroom/3 Bath condo.
The full service spa is located in a separate building a short stroll from the main property. There is a large indoor heated pool with comfortable lounge chairs, an outdoor heated Jacuzzi, an aerobics room hosting daily fitness classes, a full gym with treadmills, bikes, elliptical gliders and
weights and a lovely relaxation area with self-service tea, flavored waters and comfortable seating next to a fireplace. There are several therapists and treatment rooms offering skin care, massage therapy, vichy showers, nail and hair care. There is also a small boutique offering workout clothes and skin care products. I had a facial, body scrub and skin rejuvenation therapy and a deep tissue massage. All were professionally executed and good quality treatments.
There is a separate meeting facility with several break out rooms located just off the main building area. Daily complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate and newspapers are available next to the library fireplace room; a great place to sit and relax in the morning.
The Marsh Tavern is a typical New England style tavern with a wooden bar and oak tables and chairs. American style cuisine featuring soups, salads, chicken, steak and fish are on offer. The pub grub is also delicious with soups, sandwiches salads and my favorite charcuterie and sausage sample plates. A bread basket with Vermont Maple spread, jalapeno jelly and fresh butter round out the offerings.
The Falcon Bar is outfitted in a high top
oak bar with two tone leather bar stools, tables and chairs and specializes in Vermont cheese plates and artisanal chocolates accompanied by glasses (6 or 9 oz. pours)or bottles of wine. Martinis, whiskies and cognacs are also available. An outdoor deck provides a fire pit and heat lamps during the winter months and cool summer nights. Live entertainment is usually featured on weekend evenings. Unfortunately, they do not offer a wine flight and accompanying cheese sampler plate which I think would be a great menu option.
The Chop House is the newest restaurant addition, featuring the finest cuts of steak in a cozy dining room warmed by a natural hearth fireplace. The Colonnade serves a country style breakfast during peak seasons in a Grand Old Fashioned Dining Room. During warmer months, the Dormy Grill at the Equinox Golf Club offers an additional on-site restaurant.
The resort has on-site hiking trails, cross country trails, a falconry school and a 4-wheel driving school. Within a 10 minute drive, there is downhill skiing and mountain coaster rides at Bromley Mountain, outlet shopping in Manchester Center, a local Vermont winery next door and several award winning restaurants
serving local and ethnic cuisines. The hotel offers several different packages to take advantage of all the area has to offer. One of their best packages is the Cloud 999 that charges $333.00 per night per room for 3-nights and includes $999.00 worth of spa credits per room (good for 5 to 8 treatments in total) offered mid-week in the off-season. Taxes and the daily $25.00 resort fee are extra. The resort fee covers complimentary valet or self-service parking, complimentary daily coffee and tea, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, hotel staff gratuities, complimentary local area on-demand shuttle, and complimentary wi-fi in the rooms and throughout the resort.
Overall, the Equinox Resort makes for a great getaway for friends, romance and family quality time. You can choose to do as much or as little as you want and return refreshed and relaxed. The resort is easily reached from New York City, Albany or Burlington. Go to www.tonitours.net
for booking information.