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Monday, April 15, 2024

Besties 2011: Winter Weekend Getaways

CRL does a deep-dive into two, close-to-home winter weekend getaways.

Windham Hill Inn, Vermont

A picture perfect Inn is nestled on a hill top in Vermont. The sunrises are magical, the food is fantastic and the ability to unwind is unparalleled. The beautiful destination? The Windham Hill Inn in West Townsend, Vermont.

The property extends over 160 acres with fantastic views of the West River valley everywhere you turn. My first impression driving onto the property was that it is delightfully secluded and Vermont-style elegant.

The Inn has 21 guest rooms each decorated to perfection, some with decks, a few with whirlpool tubs and most with fireplaces or gas stoves. We were in the Whitebarn Annex, which has large and airy rooms and exquisite bathrooms. Our room had a soaking tub with jets sitting under large windows providing even more fantastic views of the property.

They have thankfully left televisions out of the rooms, but the junkies can watch their shows in the comfort areas. The rooms do have CD players and the parlor provides an extensive collection of music that you can take to your room. Each room has a selection of books, as does the parlor.

If relaxation is something you wish after a strenuous day of skiing (downhill or cross country), you are in luck. Stratton, Mt. Snow and Bromley are very close by. Cross country tails extend over the acreage and these are the same trails that you can hike when the forecast will not cooperate with snow. During the warm weather months, there is a heated pool and tennis courts.

New York Magazine once said about the Inn, “The Windham Hill Inn is the kind of place you go when you want to retreat from the world.” I totally disagree; I came away feeling that this is a place to engage with the world – a world that most of us, in our crazy, fast paced-lives miss out on until we treat ourselves to peace, tranquility and quiet.

With respect to the food, Chef Graham Gill provides both delicious and creative fare. I attended a wine dinner one evening and even that meal was outstanding. Very often wine dinners can be more about the pairing than about the food itself. That was not the case here. While the wine manager did a great job pairing the Tablas Creek wines with the food, the food was absolutely the headliner. From the wild mushroom risotto to the honey and wildflower honey crème Brulee, each course was prepared and served perfectly.

Everyday, Chef Gill, with oversight of sister property’s renowned Chef John Cartright from The Whitebarn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, creates his menus with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. During warm weather months, the expertly designed and maintained vegetable garden is the source of much of the food. A tour of the garden is a must do in the summer.

Breakfast is included and again…creative and delicious. The choices include daily fare like steamed eggs in ramekins with locally smoked mozzarella and ratatouille to healthy and filling steel cut oatmeal and many fruits and homemade baked goods. A super way to start a winter Vermont day.

The entire operation, with its magnificent grounds, comfortably elegant rooms and restaurant are expertly managed by the high–energy, warm and very competent Innkeeper Katja Matthews. The Relais & Chateaux distinction does not come without her type of commitment and ability. ­­ Yes…the Inn and Katja are that good!

If Vermont is calling you for your “winter getaway”, the Windham Hill Inn is a must.

Windham Hill Inn is located in West Townsend, Vermont. For more information call 800.944.4080 or visit www.windhamhill.com. —Vikki Moran

Gore Mountain

For years, when those in our Region thought about a ski vacation, that often included packing up their gear, booking airline tickets and going west to Utah, Colorado or Wyoming. It was quick and easy to get there before – but no more with new airline regulations on baggage driving that cost and inconvenience way up. On top of this, it is expensive – very expensive. This is why many are now looking local and taking that weekend ski vacation within an hour or two of the area. There are many choices to pick from in NY, VT or NH or even Canada. But if you are looking for value and quality combined, think very local.

Gore Mountain (www.goremountain.com) in North Creek, NY, a mere one hour and 15 minutes (plus or minus) from most anywhere in the region and 20 minutes off the Northway-I87, has been the choice of many who are looking for great snow conditions, challenging slopes and terrain to meet the needs of any level skier. And – it is affordable – very affordable, as you can save even more with advance planning. Often overshadowed by the Vermont ski resorts, Gore served mostly a local market, but no more. With a 2,537 foot vertical (the sixth greatest in the Northeast including Canada) and more skiable acres covering four peaks, more than any other resort in New York State, Gore offers what everyone wants for a weekend ski vacation.

Skiers will find 102 alpine and glade trails, along with snowshoeing and cross-country trails if that is more to your liking. Eight lifts, including the well-known Northwoods gondola, a high-speed quad and high-speed triple lifts get you on the snow fast instead of standing in line. Gore has increased their terrain, yet again, over the summer with the newly-developed Burnt Ridge mountain area and has boosted their snowmaking capacity. There is an interconnect to the North Creek Ski Bowl, which makes for an even more exciting resort feel. What Gore didn’t do is hike their lift tickets as many mountains did – they raised their costs just $3.

People equate skiing with being expensive, and it can be. However, Gore has been very innovative in offering a terrific value to those who want to get away for the weekend or longer. You never have to pay full-price if you do your homework before. Pre-planning is the key – and you don’t need to do this months in advance. Gore offers frequent skier programs, snow sampler packages and special promotions though their sponsor, Coke. Price Chopper is offering the Ski-Any-Three package, including Gore, for an unbelievable $139. Gore and their sister mountain – Whiteface in Lake Placid – share programs and tickets can be used at either mountain. So if you want to try the best in both worlds – the vertical of Gore and the ultra-challenge of Whiteface – you can; they are only a little more than one hour apart. Be sure to check out the events page when you visit the website – there are always specials listed.

To round out a weekend visit, Gore has also partnered with over 90 local inns and hotels to provide the best in Adirondack lodging at very affordable prices. Many will offer mountain shuttle service, as well. Of particular note is the Friends Lake Inn (www.friendslake.com) in nearby Chestertown, only 15 minutes to Gore. This romantic and highly-acclaimed Inn features the finest in lodging and dining. Their 17 uniquely-appointed rooms, many featuring Jacuzzi tubs and other amenities, are simply beautiful and restful after a day on the slopes. Dining at the Inn is another truly elegant experience, featuring fine cuisine sourced locally and paired with the finest wines from their huge selection. The Friends Lake Inn is also a multiple winner in CRL’s “Best Of The Capital Region” issue.

Great prices. Great skiing. Great programs for individuals and families and fabulous winter wonderland surroundings make this an outstanding winter weekend getaway.

For more information visit www.goremountain.com —Danielle Pitanello

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