BARNARD, Vt. — The math was simple, and I needed it to work in my favor.
My luxe room at Twin Farms resort in this very small Vermont town was $2,000 a night. Check-in was at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Check-out was at noon on Monday. I would be staying a total of 20 hours.
That meant I was paying $100 an hour to stay at the resort that Travel + Leisure recently ranked top in the Northeast, number five in the United States, and 15 in the world.
The place is so exclusive that a few days after my stay, locals spotted a helicopter with the Trump name at Twin Farms. Both The New York Times and Vanity Fair reported that first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, presidential adviser Jared Kushner, planned a short jaunt to Vermont.
I suspect that if Jared and Ivanka were staying at Twin Farms, they probably weren’t concerned about the nightly rate. She could cover the cost simply by selling 50 bottles of her eau de parfum spray. If I wanted to stay more than one night, I’d need to start selling blood or signing up for paid clinical trials.
My $2,000 rate was all-inclusive. I could finish off the entire contents of the minibar, plus all the snacks, and ask for more. I could get pie-eyed at the resort’s bars, eat multiple gourmet courses at dinner, breakfast, and lunch, then pair them all with wine, or a flight of whiskey. Well, maybe not breakfast whiskey. It’s important to show a little restraint at a classy joint like Twin Farms.
If I was paying $100 an hour, I wanted make sure the experience was on par with the price tag. The hotel did not know I was a travel writer. I paid the full rate and I was treated no differently from the pecunious guests surrounding me.
I had my choice of summer activities such as tennis, kayaking, canoeing, morning meditation, cycling, hiking, or an essential picnic of cold poached Maine lobster with lemons, tamari grilled quail, and ginger apple slaw. I could ask for an outdoor fire at different locations around the property, or I could use the fireplace in my room. I was slightly miffed that spa services were not included in the rate.
Because I come from an extraordinarily thrifty (that’s a kind way to say miserly) old Yankee family, and my last name is not Trump, I instinctively pinched my pennies until they were black and blue. The first order of business was bringing my husband, Alex, with me on the three-hour drive from Boston to Barnard. With two people the rate came down to $50 a person per hour.
Also, if I over indulged, I would have someone to drag me back to the room.
Rooms at Twin Farms start at $1,500. You can stay in the studio cottage for $3,000 a night or the chalet for $3,600 a night. But, seriously folks, if you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can’t afford it. Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that.
I opted for a room at the Lodge. It was newly redecorated in tasteful neutrals and soft blues, with lots of birds. Perhaps birds are a secret symbol for wealth. It was $1,700 for a night, but after taxes came to more than $2,000. That’s when I knew I needed to be savvy about my time.
Even before we arrived, I was asked to fill out a form to indicate our food likes and dislikes, along with the kinds of activities we wanted to try. I said we were interested in pretty much everything that you can do in the summer. I also requested a charcuterie board and fruit plate in the room upon our arrival.
We showed up 30 minutes early and were given a tour of the property in a BMW 750i X. I was told we could borrow the $100,000 car free of charge to take a leisurely drive in the countryside. I had visions of hitting a pothole and needing a second mortgage to cover the repair bill. There would be no $100,000 drive in the countryside.
Other things I learned on the tour: Nobel prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis bought the property for journalist Dorothy Thompson in 1928; Twin Farms sits on 300 acres; it used to have a chairlift; it was purchased by a Hawaiian man with a very waspy sounding name in 1974; children are not allowed (except during two family weeks), but dogs are welcome in some cabins; there is a helipad, and the helipad is regularly used.
After devouring the charcuterie platter, a bag of fancy potato chips, and another bag of fancy crackers (don’t judge, it was a long drive), Alex and I began our afternoon activities. While I took pictures, Alex played cornhole. We went on a quick hike. We played tennis. Unfortunately there was no time for croquet.
We went kayaking on the pond and then explored the boathouse, which was stocked with fishing poles, fly fishing vests, and nets. The refrigerator held worms, but it also held a wide variety of beverages and chocolate bars. Nearby was sunscreen, insect repellent, and anything you wanted for an afternoon of frolicking on the pond. Who knew chocolate bars and Italian soda were essential for swimming in a pond?
The resort was predicting needs I didn’t even know I had! Chocolate for water sports was a master stroke. But how on earth did they figure out I would be craving a tiny jar filled with chocolate nib cookies before bed? Or that I required ginger and maple chocolates with turndown service? They even knew that a petite bouquet of white flowers with my room service breakfast would make me smile.
More importantly, they knew I would need a wine pairing with each of the six gourmet courses that chef Nathan Rich prepared for dinner. Listing them all, with ingredients and wine pairings, would take about 1,000 more words, so I’ll give you a couple of highlights: Squash blossom and goat cheese, porcelet rib chops, lemon poppy seed ice cream with huckleberry compote, and a walnut sponge. I didn’t ask about the sponge, I just ate it.
After the aforementioned gluttony, we stumbled back to our room and made a fire. The logs and kindling were already artfully arranged, all we needed to do was strike a match. I was tempted to call the front desk for some kittens to snooze in front of the fire.
I almost didn’t want to sleep, unless the price of sleep is $100 an hour. Has anyone done a study on the monetary value of sleep?
The following morning I decided to put Twin Farms through its paces. I called with the claim that I had forgotten my razor and shaving cream. Someone showed up at the door a few minutes later with two cans, one men’s, one women’s, and a pair of razors. Was the attentive staff trying to tell me I also needed to shave my legs?
Guests are asked to place their room service breakfast orders the night before. Instead, I called the kitchen in the morning and ordered breakfast. They didn’t flinch and less than 30 minutes later, my frittata arrived.
Knowing the meter was quickly running out on my stay, I went to the gym (small, but effective), visited the Japanese Furo, which is a fancy pants way to say 104-degree heated soaking pool, and went on a hike to the beaver pond. Relaxing at that pace can be a lot of work.
As the clock ticked down, I came to the conclusion that I was not only paying $100 an hour for the lodging and amenities, I was paying to be a part of an alternate universe. One where I could drive around in a $100,000 car, sip gin and tonic while sampling a selection of Vermont cheeses, and experience complimentary same-day laundry service, all on a whim at no additional charge. This was very different from my normal days of cleaning the litter box and eating bags of turkey jerky from CVS while sweating on my walk to the subway.
On the drive home, while I ate the tomato, mozzarella, and pesto sandwich from my Twin Farms boxed lunch, I tried to tally up the hourly rate. Was it worth $2,000 to spend a day on the greener side of the pasture? My very practical husband gave a resolute “No.” But a few days later he started getting sentimental about the dining experience. His resolve was melting like the lemon poppy seed ice cream.
For me it wasn’t about how much I consumed, but the feeling it provided. I could now say that, at least 20 hours, I lived a life where my only concerns were how long it would take the bartender to mix my cocktail or if there would be a wait for the tennis court. Is that worth the steep price tag? You can buy a lot of cat litter and turkey jerky for $2,000. But look at it this way: That $2,000 bought me a year’s worth of cocktail party stories and memories to get me through all those sweaty walks to the subway. In the end, shouldn’t vacation be about creating memories, not a cost-benefit analysis of a night in the country?Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.