There are many perks to working in the hotel industry. Being around really hospitable and intelligent people (killer combo…they are fun, nice AND smart). Never running out of shampoo or conditioner due to the vast amount of bottles collected from past hotel stays. The normalcy of hugging colleagues vs. shaking hands (come on, let’s hug it out!). Meeting so many different people from all over the world. Having the ability to help friends and family experience travel when they may not have otherwise been able to. And, my personal favorite and the most obvious is the travel itself. Whether for work or for pleasure, my job in the hotel business has not only allowed me to see many different cities and countries, but it has also allowed me to stay at some very unique and amazing hotels. And most recently, I had the pleasure of having my annual team summit at The Equinox Resort & Spa in Manchester Village, Vermont. Why Vermont, you ask? Well, about half of my team is in Boston and half are in Chicago. Vermont is halfway between the two cities. Okay, no it isn’t. Not even close. In fact, I found this allegedly useful website call MeetWays where you can find halfway points and technically, the halfway point between Chicago and Boston is Southern Tier Expy in Randolph, NY. And, I digress.
Let’s get back on track, shall we? Vermont boasts the only Luxury Collection (one of Starwood’s highest end luxury brands) hotel in my portfolio of 90 hotels. It’s their least busy season, otherwise known as mud season, which means the price was right. It’s a three-hour drive from Boston and a two-hour flight from Chicago into Albany, NY so ease of travel was on our side. And come on, it’s an incredible resort that sits at the bottom of Mount Equinox in a town of 600 in Bennington County (ahem, Bennington IS my maiden name after all). Need I say more?
Having first settled in 1761, Manchester Village is an incredibly quaint town with so much to offer. Having everything from hiking to fly-fishing, outlet shopping to eating incredibly delicious local food, it truly has something for everyone. It’s a great destination for a girls getaway, a family reunion, a team-building retreat or even a solo weekend trip. And given I love to take advantage of the perks of my job, I decided to head to The Equinox a few days before my work meeting and get some R&R in with Rick. I have captured the highlights of the week below.
My advice to you: Put this hotel and traveling to Vermont on your bucket list and start planning! I promise you will not regret it.
The below are all views within the first 12 hours of arriving. Mount Equinox, gorgeous flowers and the hotel’s famous apple cider donuts baked daily, served warm. The trees and pond during my hike (the hiking path is in the backyard of the hotel, roughly 100-150 feet from the main resort). And one of my favorite things at The Equinox Hotel was the fire pit in the courtyard of the hotel. Enjoying a glass of vino while Rick enjoys a cigar, the heat of the fire is on your face but the chill of early Spring weather is in the air. AHHH!! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Balance. This is what happens when you go to Vermont for the weekend.
The food. Oh, the food. It’s fresh, delicious, organic and local. There truly isn’t a bad restaurant in the Manchester area. Why? Well, as the locals told us, “the bad ones don’t make it…” We went to Marsh Tavern, Mio Bistrot, Ponce Bistrot, Northshire Bookstore Cafe to name a few. We would recommend all of them!
And again, the hotel is perfect for a team offsite retreat. During the day we were forging through workshops and education sessions. And we always left time to connect together as a team. We kicked off our week with a wine tasting at Honora Winery and Tasting Room, located next door to the hotel. We tried eight wines that were paired with food along the way. Delish!
There are two very unique activities that we had the pleasure of being treated to during our week together. The first was the Land Rover Driving School. Talk about team-building and a great ‘do you trust your colleague?’ exercise. There are driving courses in the midst of acres and acres of land where we took three vehicles out and testing our driving skills. You learn about the vehicles (they don’t call them cars) and you quickly realize Land Rovers and Range Rovers are not for the city. It was scary, fun, and exciting all at the same time. A must-do if you are in Manchester. Besides, there are only five of these schools in the world so when else will you have this opportunity?
The second activity we did was falconry at The British School of Falconry. Very different than driving school, but equally as fun and unique! You definitely gain a new appreciation for the intelligence of birds 🙂 And, yes, I felt like Katniss in The Hunger Games.