Culinary Resort Nestled in Verdant Countryside
Nestled between the wooded shores of Lake Champlain and the foothills of the Green Mountains, The Essex Resort & Spa's grounds sprawl over 18 snow-swept acres. The AAA Four Diamond resort's culinary school teaches guests to craft French haute cuisine and exquisite appetizers, and the onsite spa soothes fingers cramped after days of rolling sushi.
After dropping their bags at the feet of the quilt-topped bed in a classic New England–style traditional room, those eager to sharpen their kitchen skills are encouraged to sit in on a cooking class for two at the Essex's Cook Academy, in which seasoned chefs lead green cooks in hands-on culinary coursework. Dexterous digits learn to disassemble and reassemble sushi and dumplings with military precision, or prepare French haute cuisine with classic elegance. Cook Academy sources local Vermont ingredients whenever possible. An afternoon of slicing, dicing, whisking, and bananas fostering might leave muscles feeling like a sirloin tenderized by Leon Spinks. Massage therapists at the Spa at the Essex ease tightly wound muscles with medium-pressure strokes designed to promote full-body relaxation. The spa megaplex teems with steam rooms and saunas, and a 25-yard indoor lap pool glimmers steps from an oversize outdoor hot tub veiled in mist.
The Essex’s eminent chefs showcase their cooking abilities at two onsite restaurants. Dinners at Amuse begin with a complimentary themed trio of liquid, foam, and solid sustenance, preparing palates for an inventive meal that springs from either a prix fixe chef’s-table experience or from the mercurial seasonal menu. Those seated at the chef’s table can take in the sights and sounds of a working top-notch kitchen as their locally sourced suppers are simmered and stirred in front of them. The culinary luminaries at The Tavern bake their CVs into upscale pub fare such as duck-confit potato skins in a red-onion marmalade.
Lake Champlain: Kayaking, Swimming, and Beaches
Nearby Burlington is home to a handful of renowned breweries and the boutique shops of the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian mall. Situated about 20 miles from the Essex, the ski resort at Bolton Valley boasts 71 trails—12 of which are open for night skiing—spread across 165 acres of rugged terrain on the edge of Mount Mansfield State Forest.