My family and I just spent a few days at a very unique resort in Vermont called the Essex Culinary Resort & Spa. What is unique about it is not the fact that it’s a located in a serene, beautiful of the state and offers a plethora of neither activities nor the fact that the grounds itself are breath taking and quite immaculate. What’s unique is that the entire resort is based around cooking. As soon as you walk through the door, you are presented with homemade desserts and that is the just the tip of the iceberg with the serious culinary reality behind 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 and a camp for kids and two award-winning restaurants, which use local ingredients.
Getting to Essex Culinary Resort & Spa
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. We took the 95 to the 91 to the 89 and drove about 6 miles until we got to the resort in Essex.
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 decor was reminiscent of Vermont’s natural core. Their rooms range from studios to mini suites to spa suites to deluxe one-bedroom suites to premier 1 and 2 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’s Activities
The resort offers a plethora of choices of activity for adults and children alike on the grounds, from swimming (there’s an outdoor and indoor pool, with jacuzzi), bicycles, basketball, frisbee, a life-sized checkers board, and tennis, as well as off site activities like horseback riding, boating and hot air ballooning. There is a spa on site, as well as a fitness center and outlet shops and a cinema across the street. The resort is also accessible to Mount Stowe, Ben & Jerry’s Ice-Cream Factory Tour and more in the area.
Where to Eat
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 using 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 home made french toast withVermont’s finest syrups, eggs and granola; for dinner, local greens, Vermont mozzarella, buffalo wings, trout and steak. My husband and I also really enjoyed their Vermont beer and cocktails, particularly the blueberry mohito with freshly picked berries.
The resort offers cooking lessons for adults and week-long cooking camps for kids in the summertime. I took a three-hour class along side 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. I happened to be in a group of fun, interesting people so it made for a great night. There were was a couple vacationing without their kids for the weekend, and a pair of girls who were just getting away for some fun. We talked, laughed and learned some great cooking skills together. It was a valuable experience and one that I shall treasure for a long time. As a souvenir, I brought home a course certificate and the apron I helped produce our meal in.
I highly recommend a visit to Vermont’s Essex Culinary Resort & Spa with the kids. At the end of the 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. For more information or to book, visit www.essexresortspa.com.
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary stay to facilitate this review and others. As always, all opinions are my own.