Vermont Skiing and Inns
Other Vermont inns may have greenhouses, but none like this one. Those aren’t herbs and field greens out there; the glass walls cocoon Bob Aldrich’s collection of some 1,000 orchids, representing half as many species and hybrids, which he’s been cultivating for two decades. He moved them, gingerly, from New Jersey when he and Linda bought the inn seven years ago. “Probably 90 percent of our guests ask to see them,” says Bob, who graciously obliges with tours of the coziest little rain forest in the Green Mountains.
Way up in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, there’s a ski area big enough to have trained American Olympians, yet cozy enough to draw families. They know that Burke Mountain has the terrain and the variety to challenge skiers and snowboarders at every skill level.
Part of Burke’s allure is its two-tiered layout. A high-speed quad chairlift on the lower, gentler portion of the mountain delivers novices to a quartet of long, loping cruisers; ski here, and you’ll feel as though you’ve found a learner’s haven tucked away in a world of its own. But just a short slide from the top of that lower lift is a second quad that lofts the more advanced crowd to a summit with views of the entire Kingdom and beyond, into Quebec and New Hampshire’s White Mountains — and to a slew of zigzagging intermediate trails, daunting black-diamond runs, and some harrowing glades (Throbulator, anyone?).
If you can’t calculate the coziness factor of a 440-acre farm, you haven’t stayed at The Inn at Mountain View Farm, which occupies the core of hotel magnate Elmer Darling’s model dairy operation from the early 20th century. Although the original inhabitants are long gone, Darling’s imposing barns remain. (One houses a thriving nonprofit farm-animal sanctuary.) The present-day inn hosts guests in a rambling farmhouse and a tidy brick creamery that stand on a lofty byway scarcely 10 minutes from the slopes at Burke Mountain, and just steps from the 50-kilometer Kingdom Trails cross-country network.
The upstairs rooms in the creamery once housed workers who made butter and cheese, and who wouldn’t recognize today’s plush beds and cheerful colors. Lodgings here are the last word in quiet and seclusion. There are no phones or TVs in guest rooms, and the whole blissfully empty Northeast Kingdom seems to serve as insulation. The setting is so private and otherworldly that it’s a surprise to head downstairs in the morning and find that someone’s been making muffins, waffles, or omelets for your breakfast.
And that’s what cozy is all about.