Given the fact that the Inn at Weston located in Weston, Vermont has continuously received rave reviews from such publications as The Discerning Traveler, Trip Advisor, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, as well as its many guests, you know you're not taking a big chance using it as a romantic getaway or a wedding destination. Nonetheless, we were still pleasantly surprised to discover just how tasteful and romantic, sophisticated yet accessible it is.
The Inn's delightful owners, Bob and Linda Aldrich, who are pros when it comes to hospitality, originally came from New Jersey, where Bob had been a cardiologist, and Linda a nurse. After devoting several years of their lives to healthcare, they confessed that medicine had become ugly – too may lawyers, HMOs, CEOs, more interested in the bottom line rather than providing compassionate care to patients.
Since they were B&B enthusiasts, they decided to pursue their dream of one day becoming innkeepers. In fact, several years before they purchased the inn, they enrolled in a course with Oates and Bredfelt – a consulting firm offering seminars in how to buy and operate a bed & breakfast or country inn. In 2001 they took the plunge and left their respective professions. After they checked out nine inns in fours days, they came across The Inn at Weston.
At the time it was not for sale, however, as they drove up to the inn's parking lot trying to decide which one would knock on the door, the owner appeared and asked if he could be of any help. The rest is history.
When I questioned them about missing their professions, they remarked that they did, however, being an innkeeper is akin to medicine; guests come to the inn stressed and leave relaxed because of the bucolic environment – not Valium!
Perfect wedding destination
From our perspective, the Inn at Weston's greatest treasure is its magnificent grounds, the scene of many nuptials and afternoon summer naps. This was quite apparent when we stepped onto the deck of our balcony to our room located in the Carriage House. We noticed the inn's stunning back lawn with its romantic gazebo and outdoor deck.
As we meandered about, we saw how the grounds were truly a work of art with its abundance of leafy greenery and wildflowers stretching as far as the eye can see, against the backdrop of the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Aldrich's mentioned there is no problem in fitting 175 guests into the garden area in an appropriate tent, or if you prefer having an indoor wedding, the dinning room nicely accommodates 60.
There isn't a bad guest room in the house. All thirteen are difficult to leave once you settle in, with their comfortable at home feeling that includes air conditioning, telephones, private bathrooms, luxurious plush linens and Ralph Lauren comforters, European toiletries, fresh flowers, Lindt chocolate truffles and Saratoga Sparkling Water. Some of the more luxurious rooms come with Jacuzzis and fireplaces. Every morning guests are treated in the dinning room to a breakfast served with aplomb that includes fruit, homemade granola, even oatmeal.
What makes this inn a perfect wedding destination is that the Aldrich's provide turnkey wedding packages. Bob offers his excellent photography services (trust me on this one, I noticed some of his exquisite photographs on the walls of the inn) and Linda, her efficient wedding coordinating services pertaining to floral arrangements, music, hairdressers, (who come to the inn), an officiating officer or if you prefer, you can solemnize your marriage in one of two beautiful and historic non-denominational churches that are very close by: the Church on the Hill and the Old Parish Church.
The inn has its own in-house chef so a wide range of options are provided. Incidentally, the inn has received the prestigious Wine Spectator Award and several positive compliments from various publications regarding the impeccability of its cuisine.
Keeping guests occupied
There is no lack of leisure choices. For starters, it didn't take us long to discover the greenhouse located a few feet from our room. The Inn at Weston can boast of having its own greenhouse where it grows one of the largest collections of orchids in the northeastern part of the USA. Bob is always eager to discuss orchid growing. Once you get him going, he will tell you about his 600 plants plus of unique species, hybrids, and mericlones. We noticed that some of the plants were quite huge while others were tiny. A few were potted; others mounted on bark, tree ferns or tree branches simulating the manner in which they grow and thrive in nature. As a unique touch, the Aldrich's put an orchid in each room – to remember the inn. They also place the orchids in the common areas and dinning room. (Once there was a small wedding in the greenhouse – quite unique!).
The town of Weston has a few attractive restored buildings, particularly surrounding its leafy oval Town Green. The Weston Playhouse advertises itself as a world class theater in the heart of Vermont. The origins of its first professional production dates back to 1937, but the theater burned in 1962. It was resurrected with its Greek Revival façade fully restored.
Then there is The Farrar-Mansur House with its adjacent mill, built by Oliver Farrar in 1797 as a home and tavern. Both museums are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They contain quite a collection of furniture, items made of brass, copper, silver and tin, American paintings, clocks, pre-industrial and cooking artifacts.
The mill was initially a sawmill that provided structural components for many of Weston's homes. Later it became a grist mill and in the 19th century, it was one of many mills producing an assortment of household items, farm tools and lumber.
Check out the Vermont Country Store where people line up early in the morning before the doors open. You will find interesting "goodies" of food choices, small home appliances, an apothecary and apparel. Another must see is the Whales of Vermont Gallery, owned and operated by a hippie left over from the 60s. Wick Ahrens is a character, as we found out after spending time with him discussing his sculptures of whales. Wick has been sculpting whales for over 35 years. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States.
One site to experience is the tranquility of the Weston Priory, run by a community of Benedictine monks. After spending a few hours walking through the woods surrounding the priory, Lily and I admitted that the magnificent splendor of nature softened our souls as we seemed to have entered into a state of ultimate bliss. The priory contains several gardens, livestock and an art store, including pottery and other ceramics made by the monks.
In the summer the Aldrich's arrange all kinds of activities such as golf at Windham, Okemo, Stratton, Equinox and Tater Hill. Other possibilities are tennis, hiking, swimming, biking, picknicking (the inn will prepare a picnic lunch), canoeing, horseback riding and Alpine sliding. There is also the nearby Kinhaven Music School with its weekly concerts.
During the winter months (yes you can get married at the inn in winter), there is top drawer skiing nearby at Okemo, Stratton, Magic and Bromley. The inn provides ski packages in conjunction with these resorts. Whether a wedding destination, honeymoon or a luxurious romantic getaway, the fabulous setting and superb facilities will provide an unforgettable stay. You most certainly will depart being refreshed, revitalized and oh, so very spoiled that you will try to figure out a way to prolong your stay or retreat to it again and again!
For more information, see the The Inn of the Weston's website.
Read more about Norm and Lily Goldman here.