I was born in the wrong era, I think as we drive
up to the century old stone Castle perched on a hillside in Vermont. I can
imagine arriving by horse drawn carriage under the Porte Cochère of this grand
mansion. Well, we may be a century late, but discovering this 1905 Castle is a
had passed The Castle
on previous ski trips to Okemo Mountain in central Vermont, about three and a
half hours from Portland. I had admired the twinkling lights from each window
that lit up the elaborate stone architecture, but I could only dream what
grandeur lies within. The magnificent grey stone palace looked like the private
hideaway for some well to do magnates, presumably too posh for a ski weekend.
When we learned that The Castle offers winter lodging packages, we eagerly added
our names to the historical guest list and ventured within the Castle doors.
Castle was originally built for Vermont’s republican Governor Alan M. Fletcher
who served from 1912-1915; construction by European craftsmen spanned five
years. If we had been the Governor’s guests in the heyday, we would have joined
his notoriously lavish parties, staying in one of the 10 gorgeous upstairs
guestrooms for perhaps a month. Instead we were treated like modern royalty for
a weekend, beginning with a warm welcome in the grand Foyer.
The Castle interior is rich with elegant carved wood paneling, velvet drapes,
original furnishings, and ornate plaster ceilings. A handsome Library affords
floor to ceiling windows viewing Okemo’s snow-covered trails, where we planned
to ski the next day.
original imported wallpaper lines the grand staircase. Suites on the second and
third floor of the Castle feature lush canopy beds, deep wingback chairs, and
rather splendid bathrooms (two have whirlpool tubs). The 1905 elevator, still in
working condition, is evidence that the Governor spared no expense to create the
most luxurious country “cottage” for his fortunate friends, this was the first
home in Vermont to showcase such modern appliances and fixtures.
Of course, had I visited the Castle during
those decadent days, downhill skiing would not have been an option, nor the
Aveda Concept Spa, for that matter. The original Carriage House, also on the
National Registry, has been thoughtfully transformed into a serene day spa with
every treatment imaginable. Within the Victorian Carriage House guests can
workout on the finest fitness equipment, be pampered in the beauty salon, or
feel kneaded by the expert massage staff.
no surprise that The Castle Hill Resort and Spa is an ultimate location for
magnificent wedding celebrations. I would preface that by saying the Castle
would be a fairy tale setting for the “will you marry me?” moment. How could the
princess say no to her prince at the Castle?
Our skiers’ breakfast the following morning was absolutely elegant, with
candlelight. Served in the original Oval dining room was a beautiful buffet of
fresh fruit, homemade granola, white-chocolate cranberry scones and scrumptious
After a day carving Okemo’s
ego-pleasing terrain, we were ready to return to some bubbly time, Champagne
after (not before) the outdoor hot tub and heated pool at the Castle Hill Spa.
Fellow Castle guests shared with us tales of their day’s adventures in Vermont;
cross-country skiing, sleigh rides and even snowmobiling can be arranged
locally. A shuttle transports guests from the Castle to the alpine and Nordic
skiing at Okemo (3 miles away), or to the delightful downtown of Ludlow for
was “to die for” in the formal mahogany enclave, seated by the toasty fireplace.
Four extravagant Chef’s courses were served to us on polished silver, china and
crystal. With a prix-fixe menu in the $50 league, the lodging package including
dinner offers good value. The tinkling keys, as Tom serenaded at the grand
piano, capped off our epicurean evening. Life is good – as you revive a time of
castles and no cares.
It was difficult to leave this fantastically historic haven, and re-enter the
world of high-speed this and worldwide that. Taking comfort that The Castle has
been perfectly preserved thus far; we already long for another retreat to this
grand Vermont resort.
Castle lodging packages include Champagne and
Belgium chocolates in your room, a four-course dinner and breakfast at the
Castle, and use of the Spa facilities, prices start at $159 per person, double
occupancy for two nights midweek this winter.
Modern real estate in the way of condominiums has been added to the Castle Hill
property; Resort Homes dot the hillside behind the stone centerpiece building.
These new townhouses are graciously decked out inside, and spacious for
families. Guests and owners of these Resort Homes have access to the Spa and the
If you are in search of a stately stay in the Green Mountains of Vermont, or looking for
the perfect place to pop the question this Valentine’s, treat yourself to a trip
back in time to The Castle.