MANCHESTER, Vt. — Nestled among the Green Mountains and the Taconic Range in southwestern Vermont you'll find the town of Manchester, the sort of place Robert Frost and Norman Rockwell would have featured in their works, what with its white, spired churches, country stores, and covered bridges. Of course, like many historic towns that have evolved over time, Manchester also has a sophisticated side that includes farm-driven restaurants, hip shops, and hotels like the recently opened, 87-room Taconic.
Set along Main Street in what was formerly The Village Country Inn, this Kimpton Hotels property aims to bridge the gap between the grand inns of Vermont's past and today's boutique lodging. The hotel's exterior consists of a white clapboard main house with federal-style, black-trimmed windows and a grand, wrap-around front porch (next to three standalone cottages), while the (Peter) Nimitz Design Group interior sports a more modern look. In addition to a spacious living room centered around a big stone fireplace with cozy seating in colorful combinations of caramel, taupe, and chocolate plaid, you'll find a grand ballroom (perfect for weddings) and a sky-blue library that includes a long wooden table and chairs for private dinners.
The main house has guestrooms and suites, and each of the three cottages can sleep three. True to boutique hotel form, all rooms have been decorated in soothing earth tones, like sage, white, and wheat, and have oak furniture, Frette linens, and Atelier Bloem amenities (from parent company Malin + Goetz ). Health buffs will appreciate the fact that every room comes with a yoga mat, trek map, and a locally-made, wooden walking stick (there are small ones for children available). The fitness center stays open 24-hours a day and there is an outdoor lap pool, along with bicycles to borrow. Additionally, the hotel offers complimentary morning coffee and a nightly wine hour hosted by the manager.
In keeping with the recent hotel trend of integrating properties with their surroundings, artwork in each guestroom comes from the local historical society. The mini bar contains Vermont craft beer, and the hotel's gift shop sells handcrafted items and accessories, many made locally.
In terms of dining, The Copper Grouse restaurant adjacent to the hotel welcomes all Taconic guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Newly open under the helm of Chef Adam Raftery, the 110-seat tavern and bar (with addition seating on the outdoor terrace in warm weather), celebrates the culinary treasures of Vermont — the produce, cheeses, game, and meats. A recent winter dinner menu offers the sort of hearty, soul-warming fare you'd expect during this time of year, such as Grafton cheddar ale soup, a cider-brined half chicken with potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and the Copper Burger complete with applewood smoked bacon, Grafton cheddar, caramelized onions, and hand-cut fries. Kid-friendly options include such favorites as chicken noodle soup and macaroni and cheese.
Because it's sugaring season, Taconic is teaming up with The Copper Grouse to offer a "Sweet Slumber Package," April 8-10 for $365 per night. The package includes breakfast at The Copper Grouse and visit to nearby Mountain Valley Maple Farm to tour the farm and sugar shack and learn about the history of sugaring and Vermont's syrup grading system. Guests then return to The Copper Grouse, where Raftery will explain ways to incorporate maple syrup into savory dishes while guests eat some more and enjoy craft cocktails. They'll also receive a jar of The Copper Grouse's maple butter.
For the alpine inclined, the Taconic's location could not be better. It's less than eight miles by car to both the Stratton Mountain and the Bromely Mountain ski areas. If cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is more your thing, you can traverse the open grasslands of the Manchester Country Club. For skaters, Riley Rink At Hunter Park has public skating and skates to rent.
Non-athletes need not worry about lack of options. Manchester brims with myriad activities, especially shopping. The town has dozens of designer outlets, ranging from Coach Outlet and Eileen Fisher Company Store to Marimekko's Home Goods Outlet and Vineyard Vines Outlet. Art lovers will find a year-round roster of art, music, and performing art events at the Southern Vermont Arts Center, which also has an outdoor sculpture garden that's stunning even during winter. Both kids and adults will enjoy visiting Hildene, the Georgian Revival Mansion that Abraham Lincoln's oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, built in 1905. It's open daily, year-round, and each admission ticket includes a tour of the home and a chance to hear the 1,000-pipe Aeolian organ, and see a 1903 Pullman Palace Car Sunbeam.
Victoria Riccardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.