and the Woodstock Inn & Resort
Ladies’ Home Journal named Woodstock, Vermont as the prettiest small town in the USA, and National Geographic concurred, and described it as one of the ten most beautiful small towns in the USA. The American Architectural Society went one step further and stated: "it is perfect – if any town in any country can be."
All of these accolades led me to ask – what is so unique about this quintessential Vermont town, where the population is less than thirty five hundred? And, if all these kudos checked out, wouldn’t it be wonderful to celebrate a wedding here or experience a romantic getaway?
As my artist wife Lily and I strolled down Woodstock’s main street, my better half pointed out to me that the town is an artist’s dream, located in a valley between two of its guardian angels, Mt. Tom and Mt. Peg. Where the winding Ottauquechee River meanders through the middle of the town. You could almost sense Norman Rockwell’s presence, perhaps giving a few drawing tips to Lily!
You won’t find any tacky tee shirt shops, billboards, high-rise buildings, overhead electricity wires, traffic lights, and fast-food outlets. What you will notice are historic 18th and 19th century New England Colonial homes clustered around the town’s famous village green, quaint family owned specialty shops, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, old world wrought iron lamp posts, quiet streets shaded with beautiful trees, and in season, folks sitting on benches outside of store shops decorated with flower baskets.
In fact, most of the village’s downtown buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Moreover, it is the only town in the USA that has five bells that were cast at the Massachusetts foundry once owned by Paul Revere. One of them is owned by the Woodstock Inn & Resort and is located in front of the Inn’s putting green in the rear of their property.
It is also home to the first National Park in Vermont- the five hundred and fifty acre Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, and the only national park to focus on conservation history and the evolving nature of land stewardship in the United States.
The park’s site was at one time the home of George Perkins Marsh, who in 1864 authored one of the first books pertaining to man’s impact on the environment, Man and Nature.
Frederick Billings subsequently purchased Marsh’s property in 1869, and due to Marsh’s influence reforested Woodstock’s Mount Tom. The project was one of the first examples of a planned and scientifically managed forest in the United States. In 1992 Mary French Rockefeller, who was the granddaughter of Frederick Billing and inheritor of the property, together with her husband, conservationist Laurance S. Rockefeller gifted their estate’s residential and forest lands to the people of the United States.
It is with all of this in mind, that we understand the town’s strict adherence to the principles of responsible conservation, where a determined effort exists integrating ecological, cultural and recreational values with the economic and community development of the town.
Romantic Getaway & Wedding Destination
One prime example, where there is a blending of the above principles, is the charming "Triple A Four Diamond" Woodstock Inn & Resort located on the beautiful and historic Village Green.
Laurance S. Rockefeller purchased the property in 1968, and with the 1891 building unsalvageable, built the present Inn on the very spot where an original inn had existed in 1792.
The resort is a première stop for that long sought after romantic weekend, the picture perfect wedding reception or the popular phenomena – "the weddingmoon", where couples not only celebrate their wedding at a particular venue but also honeymoon there. Readers of Condé Nast Traveler have chosen the Inn six times as one of the top Resorts in the world.
How can you not enjoy a world of natural beauty, green spaces, scenic trails and the most essential ingredient, privacy? Where classic books line rustic painted bookshelves, patchwork quilts adorn the beds, Vermont artwork grace the walls, and wood burning in-room fireplaces provide warmth and comfort to many of the rooms.
The inn’s low- rise buildings comprise 142 rooms resembling a quaint Vermont bed and breakfast. In fact, few modern comforts are denied to its guests, where you will find plush robes, air-conditioning, telephones and color televisions.
The Resort’s golf course, the Woodstock Country Club, was built in 1895, making it the oldest course in Vermont, and was redesigned in the early 1960s’ by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Just a short ride from the Inn is their downhill ski area – Suicide Six – site of America’s first ski tow. Also, a few miles away are the inn’s health and fitness center.
It is little wonder that the Inn has been a favored destination among celebrities, Danny DeVito, Michael Fox, President and Lady Bird Johnston, Ted Turner, Donald Trump, Susan Lucci, Henry Kissinger, Fran Descner, Laurence S. Rockefeller, to name a few.
The Inn also prides itself as being very adaptable when it comes to weddings. They strive to make this important event as hassle free and enjoyable as possible for everyone.
A few years ago there was a wedding around Christmas, where the decorations consisted of several Christmas trees all with white lights, candles everywhere and no other source of light. White Poinsettias surrounded the trees, the chairs were covered with white satin covers, and the ceremony was performed in front of the trees. Now that is what I call an imaginative wedding reception!
Another plus of the inn is its close proximity to churches of various denominations. You can celebrate a religious ceremony, and within minutes the wedding party can jaunt over to the Inn and enjoy its recreation and dining facilities.
One of the challenges faced by many a bride and groom is juggling guests and keeping them entertained, particularly if it involves several days. This can be somewhat tricky, and here is where the experienced staff of the Inn comes in very handy.
Arrangements can be made for fly fishing, mountain biking, hiking, golf, tennis, spa services, downhill or cross country skiing, tours of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park and Farm, trail rides, chef for a day with the inn’s culinary staff, canoeing, kayaking, aerobics, yoga, tai chi, racquetball, squash, indoor workouts with the state of the art Cybex equipment, and lap swimming.
There is even a large putting green behind the Inn next to an outdoor pool. If pampering is on the agenda, the bridal party and family can even enjoy a full or half day of the Inn’s choice of spa packages.
If you wish to check out the hidden jewels of Woodstock, be sure to ask for a tour with one of the town’s most illustrious citizens, Vermont natural historian and raconteur, Kevin Dann. This very interesting chap conducts several tours, including a romantic one, where he recounts the many tales and legends associated with the town. Lily and I were even fortunate in having Kevin recite and sing one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s beautiful poems, A Psalm Of Life.
With all of the above activities to choose from, you can well appreciate why newly weds decide to stay put, once their wedding celebrations are over.
As for dining, you needn’t be too concerned; meals are served in the Dining Room and the Eagle Café. The New American and Regional cuisine is offered in the Inn’s Triple A Four Diamond dining facilities that boast an extensive international wine list.
One parting remark, although the inn is part of the Rockefeller collection of properties, it is not snooty or self-conscious, thanks to the unpretentiousness of its warm and qualified staff.