If you’re looking for a unique family trip in the northeast this season, head to Vermont’s Essex Culinary Resort & Spa. What is unique about it is not the fact that it’s a located in a serene, beautiful part of the state and offers a plethora of activities, nor the fact that the grounds themselves are breathtaking and quite immaculate. It’s that the theme and essence of the resort is cooking.
As soon as you walk through the door, you are presented with homemade desserts. That is the just the tip of the iceberg given the serious culinary focus of the resort’s mission. There are other touches like whisks on the doors to the rooms, daily tastings in the restaurants, cooking classes for adults, a camp for kids and two award-winning restaurants that use local ingredients.
Our room was very cozy and spacious, with a small sitting area and fireplace, flat-screen TV, free WIFI, a Keurig coffee machine, fine linens, and an in-home audio system. The interior design is reminiscent of Vermont’s natural core. Guest rooms range from studios, mini-suites and spa suites to deluxe one-bedroom suites and premier one- and two-bedroom suites for extended stays. As you can see in the photo, my children were very comfortable and were able to make themselves right at home.
The resort offers a plethora of activity choices for adults and children alike, from swimming (there are outdoor and indoor pools with jacuzzis), bicycles and basketball to Frisbee, a life-sized checkerboard and tennis. Offsite activities include horseback riding, boating and hot-air ballooning. There is a spa and fitness center,as well as outlet shops and a cinema across the street. The resort is also convenient to Mount Stowe, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour and more.
The resort offers two award-wining restaurants, Junction and Tavern, offering seasonal menus using fresh and local ingredients. The Junction is the more family-friendly of the two, offering traditional pub fare with ingredients from local farms and gardens. We were surprised by the high quality and diversity of the food, as well as the amount of healthy options.
For breakfast, we ate homemade french toast with Vermont’s finest syrups, eggs and granola; for dinner, local greens, Vermont mozzarella, buffalo wings, trout and steak. My husband and I also really enjoyed the Vermont beers and cocktails, particularly the mojito with freshly picked blueberries.
The resort offers cooking lessons for adults and weeklong cooking camps for kids in a program called Cook Academy.
While my husband looked after the kids, I took a three-hour class alongside five other people from around the world and learned how to make a four-course meal, including salad, gazpacho, steak and dessert. We used homegrown Vermont ingredients and learned how to slice, dice, measure and make impeccable food. At the end of the lesson, we sat down to eat what we’d made with a big glass of wine. As a souvenir, I brought home a course certificate and the apron I wore while I helped produce our meal.
Essex also runs weeklong, hands-on kids’ cooking classes that reinforce academic and social skills during the summer and on school breaks (call to get exact dates). Their menus are designed for young foodies and curious cooks with sophisticated but fun, kid-friendly recipes. Kids pick seasonal herbs and vegetables from the resort’s gardens.
The drive from our home in New York took about 4.5 hours with a few stops, and the closer we got, the more rural and beautiful the scenery became. You can also fly into Burlington International Airport.
I highly recommend a visit to Essex Culinary Resort & Spa with the kids. At the end of our few days, we were refreshed and reacquainted with the value of good, wholesome food. The resort offers all kinds of packages, from spa getaways to five-night stays.
We can help! Our family-friendly hotel review of Essex Culinary Resort & Spa has more information about why this property works so well for families. Use the Check Availability button to reach out for Best Available Rates, and one of our Family Vacation Consultants will follow up with you to advise about any additional questions you may have regarding a stay here.
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Editor’s Note: Holly was provided with a media stay to facilitate this review and others. As always, all opinions are her own. Photos by Holly Rosen Fink except where noted.
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