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In 1928, author Sinclair Lewis purchased a generous 300-acre plot of land for his wife, Dorothy Thompson, near Barnard, Vermont. Picture rolling hills, forests of pine, twisting dirt roads—quintessential Vermont countryside. When they were planning where to settle, Thompson told her husband she wanted to live somewhere with "delicious air"—and I can attest that this goal was certainly met. Lewis and Thompson's former residence is now home to a privately-owned Relais & Chateaux property, and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner, Twin Farms—one of the most exquisite properties I've ever traveled to.
As a local Vermonter, it's not often that I travel within my own state for luxury experiences. When home, I want to stick around my house in front of the fire, and when I travel, I'm usually looking for off-the-beaten-path luxury in far off places like La Paz, Mexico, or Tromso, Norway. However, when I heard that Twin Farms was one of the only five-star, all-inclusive resorts in Vermont—and that the award-winning restaurant doesn't have a dinner menu—my interest was piqued. I checked out the website and noticed that some of the private cottages were themed after different travel destinations. Was it possible that I could get my fill of Vermont homeyness, world travel, and a luxury experience all at the same time?
I arrived to the property on a snowy, deep-blue evening in mid-November. Twin Farms had the feel of a quiet, European resort town blanketed in a fresh layer of snow. At night, the property twinkles with lights along the roads between cottages and the main house. Upon arrival, I was shown right to the on-site pub, which I learned is ideal for cozying up next to a crackling fire, hot toddy in hand. It didn't take long for me to notice that, while the operation feels luxurious, intimate, and elegant—you can tell it was founded by glamorous literaries—there's no air of stuffiness or exclusivity. On the contrary, the resort, and its talented staff, exudes warmth (even in below-freezing temperatures).
Here's what made my stay one of the best travel experiences I've ever had.
Dine From a Tailor-Made Dinner Menu
Ahead of my stay at the Farms, I received an email from the concierge. I needed to fill out a survey detailing any dietary restrictions or allergies (no surprise there; many luxury properties do this). But Twin Farms takes it further—guests are encouraged to indicate if there is a certain type of food or specific dish that they love. Truffles happened to be in season during my stay, so I wrote that I'm a big fan. I'll let you guess what type of risotto I had for dinner my second night.
Dinner every night is served in the main dining room and is always five courses, paired with three wines. The resort's sommelier comes around to each table to describe the wine and chat with guests about the pairing. If guests prefer to have a more intimate meal, they can have dinner delivered to their door.
Simply put, it couldn't be easier. For those who love to ski, you'll be in serious luck, as the resort has its very own ski mountain. The main house also provides snowshoes and a range of sizes of snow boots for those who want to tromp around outside.
In the summertime, there are tennis courts, kayaks, and plenty of hiking and biking trails.
During my stay, I chose to ride a fat bike (a trail bike with really big tires), which was a blast, and quite a workout thanks to the property's hilly terrain.
Stay in New England—or Morocco, or Scandinavia...
As I mentioned earlier, each of the 10 cottages on the property are themed—mostly after a different travel destination. I stayed in Barn Cottage, which features a sleek yet woodsy Scandinavian-inspired design.
My favorite thing about Barn Cottage was the cozy, wood-accented bathtub, as well as the loft overlooking the main living room. The ceiling of the cottage was high, mimicking a traditional Norwegian farm building, and the fireplace was right at the foot of my bed, elevating all those hygge vibes.
The cottage that stood out most to me was Meadow Cottage, which, from the outside, looks like a typical Vermont cabin. But step inside, and guests are greeted by a burst of color; the entire space is decorated like a traditional Moroccan riad.
The bedroom suite has stunning ceilings that imitate the look of cloth draped over a—the entire room is essentially a work of art.
For those who would prefer a different type of accommodation, there are several options in addition to the private cottages: the Farmhouse at Copper Hill, the Lodge, and the Main House.
Soak in a Japanese Hot Spring After Visiting the Pub
The on-site pub is located in a building overlooking the property's very own covered bridge (it's very Vermont-y). But my favorite part of the entire resort? The Japanese-style bathhouse, which is best visited after a day spent outside in the cold followed by a craft cocktail in the pub. An easy walk from the main house and all of the cottages and facilities, the bathhouse looks like a little cottage from the outside. But step inside (there are both men's and women's entrances) and you're transported to a Japanese ryokan.
The spacious bath has hanging, wooden divider walls, as well as a main shared space with dreamy, sweeping windows (nearly floor-to-ceiling) that open up into a forest. In the winter, you can open the windows to let fresh, freezing Vermont air in, which creates a wonderful steam effect.
The Staff Goes Above and Beyond
I'm of the opinion that a hotel is only ever as good as its staff. When I checked into the front desk at Twin Farms, I was greeted by four very cheery experience coordinators. One of them, Jimmy, took me on a quick property tour, and relayed the property's long history. He also explained that the resort uses a special three-digit phone number that all guests can dial from any phone for anything one could possibly require (midnight snack, help to tend to the fire, a nightcap down at the pub, etc.).
The day that I arrived happened to be a special anniversary for my boyfriend Ben and I, so I asked if there was any way the staff could help me surprise him with some champagne. Moments before Ben's arrival, two staff members came to my cottage with a luscious, fresh bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne—along with a lunch tailored to our liking. (There was a surprise dessert, too.)
As I chatted with the staff before leaving the wintry paradise, they shared that there is an 80 percent guest return—folks come back, from near and far, year after year, season after season, to explore the wilderness of Vermont in style and luxury. And now, I know why.
Rooms starting from $1,500; cottages starting from $3,000.