When I think of Vermont, I conjure up images of farms, fromage, fine mountain views and fabulous inns and B&Bs. While enjoying a recent ski vacation in the Mad River Valley, I was able to visit four lovely inns and B&Bs. They're an easy one-tank drive from Boston. Simply head north on I-93 to I-89, then connect to Route 2 then Route 100 into Waitsfield, and in three and a half hours or so (depending upon your initial location) you’ll find yourself in Mad River ski country and B&B heaven.
With so many inns and B&Bs in the region, these four were just the tip of the iceberg, or should I say the top of the snowbank. Time only allowed a tour of these four gems, listed here in order of my visits. Ok, I threw in a fifth inn, which I visited in June, 2009 for good measure, just because it's too fabulous to leave out.
Wilder Farm Inn: Decidedly Gen-X in atmosphere, the inn is an eclectic mix of antiques and funky, fun décor. It starts with double parlors, one decidedly Victorian while the other plum-colored and cozy, featuring a large fireplace to warm up beside after skiing. Guest rooms sport vivid color themes ranging from the lime green and black bath to the Heritage Room with a red, white, and blue stars and stripes theme. Fun additions include built-in dressers and a fabulous upholstered bench built into a former closet and decorated with piano pedals. A signature selling point here is the Stay and Clay Weekends. Innkeeper and co-owner Luke Iannuzzi also owns The Naked Potter studio (a name coined for the Raku unglazed or “naked” pottery he created in his studio), located in a distinctive timber-framed barn adjacent to the inn. Luke offers a number of Clay and Stay weekends where guests can try their own hand at the potter’s wheel. All the dishes, pitchers, mugs and vases here are creations of Luke’s, another perk of this inn.
Waitsfield Inn: Located in the heart of the village of Waitsfield, this circa 1825 inn is reminiscent of the rambling farmhouses of Vermont, but in this case the house was built as a parsonage. Guests are treated to a number of common rooms including the Great Room with original beams and a large fireplace surrounded by twinkling white lights on the mantle above. Guests love the inn’s bar, including the signature blueberry, raspberry and pineapple vodkas, steeped in-house, and the collection of shot glasses on display there. The Sweet Sensations Sweet Shop is an unusual find yet fitting with the historic feel of the inn. It’s filled with the sort of candies we all grew up with including candy necklaces, candy buttons, hot cinnamon gum and more. Guests are on the honor system to fill a bag and report their totals. Guest rooms easily accommodate families and well- behaved children of all ages are welcomed. Many guest rooms feature multiple beds; two offer lofts accessed through stairways within the rooms.
The Sugar Lodge at Sugarbush: Decidedly more lodge than B&B, this 24-room inn is located less than five minutes from Sugarbush Ski Resort. A welcoming common room, decorated in Woody Jackson prints (a local artist famed for his creation of the Ben & Jerry cows) features a fireplace and plenty of board games and puzzles for family fun. A wine and beer bar doubles as a breakfast bar where a continental breakfast is served each morning. The lodge features a number of rooms with two double beds, accommodating families with children of all ages. Two suites with full kitchens, living rooms with pullout couches, and king beds welcome larger travel parties. A designated stop on the Mad Bus and Sugarbush shuttle routes, the advantage of staying here is the proximity to Sugarbush, making it easy to be first on the lifts.
West Hill House: Located just a 9-iron drive away from the Sugar Bush golf course, this distinctive inn is an ideal venue for private weddings, functions and ski getaways. Featuring a wide range of common rooms, including a library, game and TV room with a large wide-screen TV along with an organ, guests have plenty of room to spread out here. Most of the guest rooms are accessed through various circular or straight stairways, and each one features a Jacuzzi tub (ranging from doubles to the “jac-cozy” rated as a one-and-a-half tub to singles). In-room fireplaces, sitting rooms, private decks and robes are among the many amenities offered here. In the summer a canopied deck overlooks the inn’s extensive gardens and serves as a second option for enjoying breakfast. The adjacent barn serves as a rustically elegant wedding and party room. A spa room was recently added to the barn so guests can return from skiing and enjoy a single or couple’s massage. The bottomless cookie jar, Twinings Tea caddy and, of course, Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Coffeemaker means guests never go hungry or thirsty. And for those who prefer spirits, the inn offers an extensive wine list available by the glass or bottle.
While I wasn't able to include a stop to the Inn at Round Barn Farm on this trip, it is another Waitsfield gem, totally befitting of a fab four distinction. The rambling farmhouse, distinctive rooms and the beautifully preserved historic round barn make the perfect venue for weddings, functions and more. With extensive grounds, gardens and surrounding hillsides, the setting is equally gorgeous in winter, spring, summer and fall. Don't miss their nighttime snowshoe dinners in the winter and cider pressing in the fall. Okay, so the fab four turned into five. So many wonderful inns in Mad River Valley and so little time; this is a destination begging for a return trip.
For More INNformation:
Wilder Farm Inn, 1460 Main Street, Route 100, Waitsfield, VT 03907, 800-496-8878
Waitsfield Inn, PO Box 969, Route 100, Waitsfield, VT 05673-0969, 800-758-3801
The Sugar Lodge at Sugarbush, 2197 Sugarbush (access Rd ), Warren, VT 05674, 800-982-3465
West Hill House, 1496 West Hill Road, Warren, VT 05674-9583, 800-209-1049
Inn at Round Barn Farm, 1661 East Warren Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673, 802-496-2276
For a complete list of inns and B&Bs in Waitsfield and Warren, visit www.BedandBreakfast.com.