The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa
What We Love
- The Essex is an all-in-one resort; everything you’ll need during the trip is on-site
- Hands-on culinary classes at the Cook Academy
- The 22,000-square-foot spa with a top-notch fitness center and indoor/outdoor pools
What To Know
- The $20 (plus six percent tax) per room, per night, resort fee includes seasonal activities
- The outdoor pool is open from about mid-May until Labor Day; Tennis Camp runs from the end of June through the end of August
- Register for cooking classes at least two days in advance
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Against a mountainscape of maples, the Essex is a snapshot of quintessential New England. Driving up to the porte cochere past lawns swinging hammocks, it’s obvious that the resort has the down-home comforts of a country inn — and a beautiful Colonial one at that.
Bed & Bath
The airy rooms have a rural New England look, with brightly colored walls, maple armoires and patchwork quilts. Recent renovations added some extra home comforts, including 300-thread-count linens, flat-screen televisions and iHome players. Traditional Rooms are a spacious 375 square feet, though those with a fireplace are worth the upgrade for romantic winter evenings.
It’s the resort’s expertly prepared meals and smart culinary classes that really set it apart. The resort built its reputation on the Cook Academy, a destination in itself. Offering a rotating roster of various courses, the school has students chop, braise and sear up a storm. Meanwhile, the Tavern has lovely patio seating along the property’s herb and vegetable gardens and Junction restaurant serves classic dishes made with locally grown ingredients prepared in an open kitchen. The sparkling spa is a timber and granite sanctuary for rejuvenation, with treatments like a mineral and orange blossom body scrub.
In the Area
The Essex packs a raft of activities onto 18 acres: cycling paths, flower gardens, a championship golf course, a fly-fishing pond, an outdoor adventure center (rope courses, climbing walls). The Essex also partners with hot air balloon operator, Above Reality, to offer guests hourlong rides departing 50 yards from the resort’s front door. Or venture off-property and visit the 30-plus producers along the Vermont Cheese Trail and the Shelburne Museum for its collection of folk art, circus figures, weathervanes and wild fowl decoys in 20 quirky, historic structures.
How to Get There
How could you go wrong in a beautiful spot surrounded by people preparing good food? The rooms are large and well-furnished. The grounds are beautiful and great for walking. It was fun to visit the goats and chickens. The garden also is a prime attraction. Spa service for those who want it is a fine perk. A bakery at check-in is brilliant. The fact that this place doubles as a hospitality training center makes it all the more appealing. On one day of our three-day stay, it seemed that wedding customers received priority over inn guests. More could be done to accommodate disabled guests. Our party rented three room -- one was a huge hit, one was perfectly fine and the third, in the main building, was a disappointment.
The culinary theme throughout the room was cute. Our room, with two queen beds, was a nice size. Bathroom amenities were good, Keurig much appreciated.
Ate breakfast in the restaurant our first morning. Eggs benedict yolks were cooked hard (as in, hard-boiled hard), companion received ham instead of bacon, coffee was watery. We survived but found it odd for a place that calls themselves a "culinary resort." Chose to drive into Burlington to eat at Skinny Pancake the next two days.
Our second night was pure hell. Our room overlooked a party room where we were treated to music and drunk people yelling all evening. When they all returned to their rooms hours later, lo and behold, it turns out they were all staying on our floor including the room that connected with ours. Imagine incessant beep beep beeping of room doors being opened and then slammed, women yelling in the hallways, people running up and down the hall, knowing that your alarm is set to ring early. There was zero soundproofing and I cannot for the life of me understand how or why they would block this room for us knowing we were not part of this party. I would have absolutely sacrificed room type and taken one king far away from the obnoxious action, or I would have appreciated advance notice so that we could have stayed elsewhere. We came for a relaxing weekend in Vermont and came away bleary eyed.
PS: also bizarre that the poor front desk agents double as baristas so you have to wait for them to make americanos and package muffins before you can check out.
Sent 3 nights in the one bedroom suite. Very nice, family had a great time. The gas fireplace was a nice feature. It would be nice if the TV had netflix for the kids. Staff including house keeping was friendly and very helpful. Great food, wine, beer. Will be back soon!