This article originally appeared in trivago magazine.
I’m in The Essex hotel’s kitchen classroom for a Cook Academy class on the finer techniques of proper cooking. What’s on the three-course menu? A bowl of flavorful French onion soup with toasted bread and Gruyere cheese, a pan-roasted steak fillet with a demi-glace and mash potatoes, and for dessert, a luscious maple crème brûlée. After all, this is Vermont, and maple syrup is bound to be one of the ingredients.
With aprons donned, a glass of wine poured, and the ingredients set before us, the instruction begins. Throughout the next two-hours, Chef Adam shares tips on how to roast bones before you make a stock for a demi-glace, the importance of thoroughly drying meat before you season and pan roast, and how much salt really goes into the pot when boiling mash potatoes (half a cup of salt for one gallon of water). During this process, we get as hands-on as we like, slicing, stirring, and pan searing.
The Green Mountain state is full of unique hotel experiences. Besides cooking, you can go for a paddle in Lake Champlain, hear the von Trapp family’s Sound of Music story firsthand or even try an Aqua Solarium during a wellness retreat. If you crave more than ticking items off a bucket list, check out these four hotels that are all about the experience.
Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa
Located on a former campus for the New England Culinary Institute, The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa starts the culinary experience right at check-in at the Lobby Café. Select complimentary treats are available to sample, or you can order one of their tarts with bright fruits, airy cakes with velvety butter icing, a glass of wine or beer, or peruse the made in Vermont gift shop to fill up your shopping bag with some Lake Champlain handcrafted truffles and Vermont maple syrup.
In the main building are culinary-themed rooms. The first floor is garden themed, and room decor features fresh garden grown veggie art. On the second floor, swaths of blue blend the rooms baking theme together alongside wall art of baking ingredients and utensils. On the third floor, the culinary theme is spices. Beds are draped with red blankets along with images of herbs in art and decorative pillows.
Guests will enjoy the selection of in-room Green Mountain coffee, Keurig coffee makers, and the ease of saving their leftovers in the retro-style Igloo mini-fridges. Other amenities include iHome dock stations, room safes, flat screen televisions, electric fireplaces for those snowy nights, and hand-made Vermont soaps in the bathroom. If you’re traveling with a group or want to stay longer, there are suites and extended stay lodging rooms outside of the main complex.
“You will live, breathe and sleep all things culinary during a stay at The Essex,” said Keith McManis, Director of Sales & Marketing. “From cooking classes to wandering the gardens and sleeping amidst culinary decor, all five senses will be delighted.
It’slikely travelers will return home with new cooking skills, favorite dishes, and inspiration to start a mini-garden of their own.”
The Sound of Vermont
Nestled on 2,500 wooded acres in Stowe, the Trapp Family Lodge boasts forested vistas that reminded the von Trapp family of Austria. You might be familiar with some of the von Trapp story from The Sound of Music. What you might not know is that
Owned and managed by the von Trapp family, the lodge features Austrian-inspired architecture with touches of European furnishings and décor. Guests can choose main lodge rooms, a variety of one and two-bedroom suites, two and three-bedroom villas, and guest house chalets. Many feature mountain views and have a private or shared balcony. For on-site dining, the lodge’s restaurant serves European-style cuisine made with seasonal items, like Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein with breaded pork loin, spaetzle, garden dill creme Fraiche, cucumber salad, and lingonberry jam, Trapp pork loin and belly with chestnut puree, baby beets and carrots and honey-ginger jus, and spiced duck breast with toasted caraway honey, braised red cabbage and broccolini rapini.
The resort boasts a plethora of activities with summer concerts, carriage rides, hiking, and skiing on the resort’s trails. Lovers of the von Trapp story will want to join a von Trapp talk to learn more family stories and go on one of their many property tours like touring Maria’s Gardens, the lodge, and the von Trapp Brewery. There are also tours that require a little hike, such as walking to the pasture to meet the herd of Scottish Highland cattle, maple sugaring, and visiting the chapel that Wener von Trapp built. Tours almost always end with a member of the von Trapp family for photo opts and questions. Afterward, enjoy a pint at the Bierhall and savor the deep green forested mountain view of the Vermont countryside.