While I was in Vermont for week-long stays at Green Mountain and New Life Hiking Spa, I realized I wasn't far from the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vermont, known as the prettiest small town in America. I remembered it had opened a $10 million spa in the Fall of 2010 so I sped over there one afternoon and found the most beautiful spa in New England. And I am not kidding.
Photos just can't do it justice, because the beauty is in both its grand sense of space, with light pouring in and views of the sky, and the care taken in the smallest of details.
Vermont is know for its fine craftsmen and their work is everywhere in this spa -- local furniture, hand-woven curtains, and blown glass lighting fixtures from Simon Pearce, the luxury glassware maker whose workshop is just down the road. I was even transfixed by the sun on the tiles in the floor in the locker room, which is unusual, I can assure you.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort feels like a historic inn, but in fact was built in 1969 by Laurance Rockefeller and Mary Billings, whose father owned the great mansion on the top of the hill. (People think of Woodstock as a Rockefeller town, but in fact it's a Billings town, as you'll learn if you take the tour of the mansion, which you should). The existing inn was so close to the road that they decided it would be better to tear it down and rebuild, with a green in front that insulates guests from road traffic.
The former spa was just a few rooms in the golf club, off property. So this 10,000 square-foot LEED-certified spa (that means it's super-green) is a massive improvement and much more convenient for guests of the 142-room inn. For one, you don't have to drive to get to the spa.
You wait for your treatment in the Great Room (see photo), which looks out onto one of the spa's best features: an outdoor courtyard with a soaking tub, sauna and that has radiant heating in the flooring that will make it comfortable even in winter.
I had a very nice 50-minute Body Melt Back Therapy, basically a full body massage which paid special attention to the back with the use of Naturopathica's Arnica Muscle Gel and hot towels. The gel itself contains arnica, which alleviates muscle soreness, willow bark extract, which helps exfoliate the skin, and menthol, which gives a cooling effect that felt delicious with the hot towels. The therapist had strong hands and gave a good massage. I just wish the towels had been a little hotter.
I didn't stay over, but I had a quick look at some rooms and they are gorgeous. Woodstock Inn & Resort is the place to stay if you want to explore the town. I toured the mansion at Marsh-Billings National Park, which includes the lavish "summer home" that is just as the Laurance Rockefeller and Mary Billings left it. I stopped into FH Gillingham & Sons General Store and bought an 1940s style oil cloth for my kitchen. Alas, I didn't have time for the Billings Farm & Musuem or Simon Pearce Restaurant at the Mill in nearby Quechee. Next time.
Summer is a good time to go because it's absolutely gorgeous and you're not competing with the fall foliage and ski crowd. This area is known for great cross-country skiing (40 miles of groomed trails) and 23 downhill trails at nearby "Suicide Six." But don't worry. It's just a drop of 650 vertical feet. For a real downhill challenge, try Killington, not far away.
Photo by The Woodstock Inn & Spa