When driving to Vermont from the Capital Region this time of year, we’re most often on the hunt for yummy maple products, stellar leaf peeping, or some major fall finds at those famous outlets. But when was the last time it was history you craved? There is never a trip, whether long or short, into Vermont when I fail to learn something interesting about our Northeast neighbor.
If only walls could talk
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester is more than 200 years old and has many unique structures with six distinct architectural styles and histories. In 1769, The Marsh Tavern (now The Equinox) hosted Ira Allen, the younger brother of Ethan Allen. He was raising money for the American Revolution Regiment that was to become the famous Green Mountain Boys.
The stately columns that define the property date back to the late 1800s. L.C. Orvis owned what is now the North Wing of the resort, which serves now as the Chop House Restaurant. At the beginning of the automobile age, the brilliant and forward-thinking Orvis, as the inn’s owner, saw a need to create parking accommodations as he knew folks would now be traveling on wheels and not horses. The name Orvis lives on in high style just across the street, as a world-famous store specializing in fishing and outdoor sports equipment. The fly fishing ponds and training center are steps away from The Equinox Resort today and draw many fly fishing and hunting aficionados to the town.
The Guinness Family purchased the resort many years later and remodeled in the look of their Scotland homeland with tartan plaids on the floors and green velvet on the windows. The Scottish style remained until the newest multi-million dollar renovation.
The lonely suite
One of the most fascinating tidbits of history involves the Lincoln family. Mary Todd Lincoln and her two young sons traveled to Vermont and became enamored with Manchester. That trip was during the summer months of 1864. She lobbied her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, to join the following year’s vacation. With the trip reserved and planned, an exclusive suite was built to accommodate the President, his often-persnickety wife, and their children. A few months before the proposed trip, President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. So The Lincoln Suite was never enjoyed by the great man.
The President’s children later set up residency at the vacation home Hildene, very near The Equinox. You can visit and enjoy more of the Lincoln family’s history and take a guided tour with beautiful stories about the family’s lives after the assassination.
Worthy present day
Rather than rest on its past glory, The Equinox’s recent multi-million dollar renovation (completed in 2018) fuses modernity with its historic roots. The lobbies, guest rooms, and restaurants are stunning.
The Falcon Bar serves as a fun gathering spot for hotel guests in every season. The large French doors open to a massive deck with a large contemporary firepit. As the locals are eager to tell you, “Vermont can have all four seasons in one day,” and that was the case when I was visiting, so the firepit was a hit with us all.
The well-appointed and lovely spa offers a total escape. In addition to body treatments, there is a sizeable exercise facility, indoor lap pool, and an outdoor hot tub — all these within steps of the spa.
Hikes, falconry, a Land Rover off-road experience, archery, tennis and certainly golf can fill your days at The Equinox in exhilarating fashion.
Two restaurants, The Chop House and Marsh Tavern, serve the best cuts of beef or local hearty New England choices. Breakfast is served in a large and lovely open room with sweeping views – but don’t let that distract you from the best homemade cider donuts that have to be tried!
I am hard-pressed to think of another property with mountain views as grand as these — a trip to The Equinox for whatever reason in whatever season is delightful.