Two weeks ago The Husband and I embarked for The Essex in Vermont not knowing what to expect. Neither of us has traveled to New England nor stayed at a culinary resort. It really was an anniversary adventure. At least as adventurous as we wanted it to be.
Pulling into The Essex we were excited.
Besides renting a house at the beach every year we never stay at anything but standard hotels. This made the pleasant surprise of being upgraded upon check in even more exciting!
We ended up in a suite that was honestly, more room than we needed.
There was a large sectional couch, dining area and a cute little kitchenette.
Why yes that is a Keurig you see! Complete with coffee and TEA. I was one happy camper.
The bedroom was the size of your average hotel room complete with a dresser and chair that The Husband was apparently very excited about.
The bathroom was quite large with a soaking tub and stand up shower.
Overall we were quite pleased with the room even though it seemed a bit outdated and old fashioned. *cough* See the corded phone in bathroom photo above.
However, I’m not one to complain. We already had, what I considered, a great deal from Jetsetter and now we were upgraded to basically a mini apartment for the next 4 days.
There were 2 things on our must do list during our stay:
- Cooking class (my choice)
- Tennis lesson (his choice)
We inquired about both when checking in only to discover the tennis courts wouldn’t be open for another few weeks and all the cooking classes I wanted to take were booked.
This is when I warn you to call ahead and inquire about things a few weeks before your trip!
All was not lost though. We are go-with-the-flow type of people so we grabbed 2 spots in an Italian Basics class and replaced tennis with golf. Well, The Husband did. I’m not a golfer but I will use any excuse to hit the spa. Now I had one.
In the 4 days we were there, we were able to take advantage of almost everything The Essex had to offer.
Golf at The Links at Lang Farm
The Husband was ecstatic to get in a round at this executive course across the street. He was able to reserve a tee time at the front desk, hop in a golf cart and go.
The greens fee including the cart and clubs was $50 for hotel guests. The course was beautiful and well maintained.
According to The Husband, the staff over there was really nice and he loved that they didn’t pair him up. He’s such a loner sometimes.
The Spa at The Essex
While the Husband golfed, I enjoyed a massage at the spa. Thankfully, the facility is quite large so I was able to make an appointment within 24 hours.
The staff was nice but not overly friendly. Is it just me or is there some level of snootiness at every spa? It’s not overt but it’s there, just under the surface. I don’t know, maybe it is me after all.
Regardless, attached to the spa is a 25-yard indoor lap pool,
and an oversized outdoor hot tub.
Both were amazing and as you can see completely underutilized. I was the only one there for a good hour!
The spa’s relaxation lounge was spotless, roomy and had not only a sauna but a steam room, which I spent more time if than I probably should have.
It was glorious.
We ended up visiting at The Tavern twice during our stay. It had great atmosphere, friendly staff and a fun menu.
It was our choice for dinner the first night and we went back one other evening for appetizers and drinks. I’m trying to remember why I don’t have photos of the food we ordered. Then I found this picture of The Husband at the bar.
I do remember getting shrimp tacos and fish and chips, both of which were very tasty. They also had a quinoa burger on the menu that got my attention but I never had a chance to try it.
The other restaurant on the property is called Amuse.
It’s the more upscale option at the resort but it was honestly my least favorite meal of the entire trip. I ordered a salmon dish that was dry and overcooked. The Husband’s filet mignon was tasty but pretty standard. We shared a Vermont cheese plate for an appetizer which was good (I mean it’s CHEESE) but again not too impressive. Even our waiter was just OK, nice but not really friendly.
Our third culinary experience at The Essex was an Italian Basics class. Let me be completely honest, this was the ONLY class I had no interest in taking. Not only did I grow up with an Italian mother, I rarely eat pasta anymore. I’m not anti-pasta per se, I actually love it. I just choose to limit it for dietary reasons. That being said, I had my heart set on taking a cooking class with The Husband and I wasn’t going to let a few carbs get in my way.
Our menu for the class was a variety of pastas and sauces.
We were split into 2 groups but got a chance to touch each menu item in some way. The instructors were friendly, helpful and very informative. As a 20-year home cook, I learned more in this class than I expected. We had a great time bonding with the other students over a glass of wine and a ball of dough, and seeing this made the $149 price tag completely worth it.
Yes, that’s MY husband making homemade pasta. Since we’ve come home he cooked me a complete gnocchi dinner from scratch with a fresh tomato basil sauce.
Let me say this again: Best $149 I ever spent!
This one class gave my non-cooking husband enough confidence to cook me a meal for Mother’s Day. It may sounds simple to some of you but from my perspective it was a complete miracle.
I really can’t say enough good things about this class. If I had a chance to take another one I would have. The best part: After 2 hours of hands-on lessons you get to eat your hard work.
Northern Lights Rock and Ice
This was a completely unexpected part of our trip and the resort. I completely missed it on The Essex website, but right on the property is an adventure center.
At first I had no idea what they meant by “Adventure Center” I thought it was just a rock wall climbing place. Boy was I wrong! It was a complete confidence building obstacle course!
We did the Taste of Northern Lights Package for $85, which included all their challenges and took 2-3 hours. I was a little nervous at first as the owner/manager didn’t seem very personable over the phone, but all my fears were put to rest after meeting our “tour guide.” He was friendly, supportive and funny!
He also took photos and videos during the challenges making it really easy for me share our experience with you. I put together this cheesy video in honor of our 12th anniversary adventure.
We really enjoyed our time at Northern Lights. I’d completely recommend it as a fun excursion if you are visiting the area.
As I said earlier, we were expecting to get a little tennis in during our stay but were a few weeks too early for the season. I’m not sure what steps the resort takes to prepare the courts, but they were in need of a little TLC.
The Husband said they should be resurfaced.
He’d know better than I as, like golf, I’m not very tennis experienced — although I’ll actually attempt tennis.
We really enjoyed our time at The Essex. As you can tell by the closed outdoor pool,
we were a little pre-season, but I loved how uncrowded it was in early May. We even joked a few times that we felt like the only guests there.
Overall it was a nice, quiet, crowd-free vacation. Pretty much exactly what we were looking for on our anniversary getaway.
I can honestly say I’d love to go back to The Essex but in reality I’m looking to visit so many different locations I doubt it will happen anytime in the near future.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s anniversary trip so we can experience something totally new.
Suggestions welcome, but remember, The Husband doesn’t fly.
For more information about The Essex, click here to visit their website.