First-time guests will likely select The Woodstock Inn and Resort for its illustrious history, luxurious accommodations, and world-class spa - but they’ll soon find out that the best part of staying at the inn is actually its dedicated, hospitable, and extremely friendly employees who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve every guest.
While there are plenty of resorts around the world that include exceptional service as part of their packages, it nevertheless feels different at the Woodstock Inn. Whether guests opt to stay for a night or a week, it will quickly become apparent that the staff goes the extra mile on a routine basis not because it’s their duty, but because it’s their pleasure.
When you drive up to the Inn - which was built between 1967 and 1969 by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller - you’ll be greeted by a smiling valet ready to park your car and open the door to your new home away from home. Although this is a commonly used expression, you really will feel at home upon entering the inn - and not just because the recently renovated lobby was designed to look like an ornate living room. In all, $2.6 million has already been spent on upgrades to the front entrance, front lawn, lobby, and library. Soon, each of the 140 already aesthetically pleasing guest rooms will also receive a facelift (the work is slated to be complete by summer 2018), bringing the total expense of the Paul Duesing-helmed renovation to $6.5 million.
We stayed in one of the renovated rooms, which received plenty of sunlight and had a plush king-size bed and a Keurig coffee machine. The en suite bathroom was spacious enough to sleep in (not that we did). It featured both an extra-large stand-up shower and a separate tub, and was topped off with amenities like an oil-scented candle and bathrobes for two.
Of course, you can’t spend the whole trip in your room. Well, you could but we don’t recommend it especially with all the activities offered at the resort’s recently refreshed 42,000-square-foot Athletic Club, named New England’s best racquet and fitness facility in 2013 by the United States Professional Tennis Association. In addition, the site also features tennis lessons from USPTA-certified instructors, swimming, cardio equipment, a movement studio, free fitness and yoga classes, an indoor pool, and trails for year-round hiking and fat-tire mountain biking. Phew! Since it was summer, we had the option of riding around town on complimentary cruiser bikes, trying our hand at fly fishing, hitting the links at the lush 18-hole Woodstock Country Club (which was named one of the top 100 golf resorts by Golf Magazine), and visiting the highly acclaimed falconry center, which is part of the resort’s partnership with New England Falconry. In the winter, there’s obviously skiing, snowshoing, and tubing just down the road at the Suicide Six Ski Area, among other nearby locations. There’s also a 24-hour game room on the ground level of the Woodstock Inn, which houses pinball machines, shuffleboard, a pool table, a giant scrabble board, and some old-school video games, in addition to a few TVs hooked up to modern consoles.
With all these activities, you’ll need plenty of fuel, and the Woodstock Inn offers two on-site options. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests can drop into The Red Rooster, which was constructed eight years ago and features a wood-adorned bar and seating that surrounds a heavenly skylight and also expands onto an outdoor patio. We dined there on our first night and were blown away by the exceptional service, high-quality food, and excellent selection of wine, cocktails, and local brews.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal that began with The Green salad (baby greens, Riesling-poached pear, spring vegetables, goat cheese, and maple balsamic dressing), continued with an exceptional filet of beef (with chanterelle mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, garden greens, creamed corn, pomme macaire, and a cognac reduction) and butter-poached Maine lobster (with Sea Island crimson peas, parsnip puree, shaved fennel, and radish salad), and was capped with a chocolate sabayon topped with warm soft spice caramel and accompanied by vanilla bourbon ice cream. Each dish was perfectly prepared with care, and, as we were informed by our server, almost all of the vegetables, herbs, and produce came from the Inn’s Kelly Way Gardens just up the road. (A lot of exciting stuff is going on up there; so much so that we’ll be writing all about it in a separate article.) But we can’t close out this this section without mentioning the restaurant’s extremely friendly and attentive manager, Luis. Every single table was not only personally greeted and regularly checked into by Luis, but at times we also saw him fetching drinks from the bar for various tables and even helping to clean up a minor spill - and the Red Rooster wasn’t especially busy at the time! All par for the course at the Woodstock Inn.
The resort also has a second restaurant, Richardson’s Tavern, which opens for dinner and drinks at 5 p.m. We didn’t have a chance to sample the small plates and other bar bites, but were very pleased with the selection of wine, beer, and liquor; the extremely knowledgeable bartender. The antique furnishings were elegant but conveyed a relaxed atmosphere. Just across from the tavern’s entrance is a station offering complimentary coffee and tea daily, as well as an assortment of cakes, pastries, cookies, and other goodies.
Remember all that talk about a $6.5 million renovation? It’s worth mentioning that that particular figure doesn’t include the $11 million spent giving the spa a much-deserved makeover. As soon as you enter the 10,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility, you’ll immediately realize it was money well spent.
The first stop is the pristine and spotless changing area, where you’ll retrieve your plush bathrobe and slippers and securely stow your belongings in electronic lockers. Proceed down the hallway, stopping for a hot towel or glass of infused water, tea, or juice before beginning your relaxation in the coed common area that’s accented with plenty of natural light thanks to two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows. The weather can get cold in the Vermont mountains, but when it’s nice outside (which it was when we visited on a warm summer weekend), there’s also a private outdoor relaxation area complete with a shallow plunge pool, numerous lounge chairs, and native flora.
Feel like you need to burn off some energy before your spa treatment? The outdoor area connects via a side door to the beautiful main pool area, with re-entry allowed only for spa guests who are given a secret access code. On the other hand, if you just want to relax, there’s a steam room, and you can also catch some serious z’s in separate rooms created especially for snoozing.
Once it’s time for your appointment, you’ll be whisked away to the second level and into one of 10 comfy and cozy treatment rooms. We opted for a 50-minute deep tissue massage and couldn’t have been more pleased with the pleasant and skilled masseuse who bookended the experience with a bit of aromatherapy while working out each and every knot that probably accumulated thanks to endless hours spent sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen, and doing the typey typey thing. (Being a writer is practically manual labor, y’all!) After the allotted time goes by all too quickly, guests are given a summary of their trouble spots (in our case, it was basically every muscle in the human body), a small treat (lavender macarons that day), a glass of ice-cold water, and are invited to enjoy the spa facilities for as long as they’d like. Unfortunately, we were told we couldn’t move into the spa and become full-time residents. Maybe next time.
From the front door and front desk to the bars, restaurants, and spa, every employee of the Woodstock Inn and Resort makes it their personal mission to treat you like a valued guest, friend, and family member. They’ll honor any request, tell you all about the property and town, and even casually chat with you, if you’re so inclined. And in the most natural and honest way possible, every member of the staff will tell you that they hope to see you again soon. With hospitality like that, we can absolutely say it won’t be long until they get their wish.
Eating Around Town
Looking to get out for lunch and dinner? Here are two suggestions within walking distance that we had the pleasure to try:
Bentleys Restaurant - Great pub-style restaurant offering soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and a variety of appetizers - in addition to plenty of drinks, of course. We recommend the Elm Street Wrap with ham, turkey, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and cranberry mayo. (3 Elm St.)
Pi Brick Oven Trattoria - Perfect for a bite and a brew. We recommend The Vermonter, a pizza with bacon, apples, cheddar cheese, maple syrup, and barbecue sauce. (49 Central St.)