The Round Barn Inn
1661 East Warren Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673
Phone: (802) 496-2276
“Waitsfield is a lot like Brigadoon,” Tim Piper says to me over breakfast at the Round Barn Inn. “Once you find your way here, you may never want to leave again.”
Located within the Mad River Valley, the little town of Waitsfield may only be a 30 minute drive from Burlington, VT, but it feels like it is truly hidden away within the hills of Vermont. Along the route into, and in almost any direction you drive, farms dot the landscape, while within the town proper, shops and inns look almost unchanged from a by-gone era.
As Tim explains, taking the Brigadoon concept even further, the farms in the area have mostly been preserved thanks to a co-operative that has kept the Mad River untouched by major developers.
It really is a beautiful place to visit, filled with incredibly friendly people, and there is really no better place to stay in Waitsfield than the Round Barn Inn. Among the hills, and vistas, it is a gem worth admiring.
Featuring ponds, gardens, and a number of trails, the stunning property has 12 cozy suites in a 19th century farmhouse that feels like a home away from home. Each guest room offers distinctive country accents amid perfect luxury, contemporary charms, and furnishings that draw on the history of the area. Some of the rooms also include modern amenities like gas fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and plush, oversized beds.
Innkeepers AnneMarie DeFreest and Tim keep this stunning property ticking like clockwork, and while the 12 cozy guest rooms at the inn are utterly charming, the property’s distinctive round barn is definitely the focus. Built in 1910 and serving as a working cow barn until 1969, the round barn was restored over two years starting in 1988 and now serves as the inn’s event hall.
Throughout the year the Round Barn hosts cultural and corporate events, in addition to numerous weddings. In fact, even late in the year the Round Barn Inn hosts a number of weddings for couples looking for a beautiful space that looks like it might have been lifted from a postcard.
There is also no missing the meals at the Round Barn Inn. Executive Chef Charlie Menard oversees the kitchens for events, while chef Nancy Peck whips up the most amazing daily breakfasts (and afternoon treats) served in the beautiful dining room. As a founding member of the Vermont Fresh Network, you can also expect produce, dairy and meats from local farms. And with the addition of five acres of land next to the property, they have also started growing some of their own organic vegetables right on the property.
While I could escape to Waitsfield at almost any time of year just to get away from the city, the area is packed with activities, whether you arrive in Summer, Spring, Winter or Fall. As the leaves change and Fall takes over in the hills, the colours are incredible, and the area is a culinary dream for “foodies”, with a number of places where you can sample cheese, chocolate, wine, cider, and of course, ice cream (the Ben & Jerry’s factory is a very short drive from the Round Barn Inn).
With winter now on the hills however, there is no better time to visit Waitsfield and the Mad River. There are ski hills in almost every direction, including the notable Sugarbush, plus cross country skiing trails, and snowshoeing on the Round Barn property itself.
If something a little slower is more for you, or for the culturally minded, the Mad River has a very active artistic community, with a number of shops offering paintings, photography, pottery, glass works, woodworking, and a number of festivals devoted to the art throughout the year. The Vermont Festival of the Arts celebrates the state’s broad artistic community, and the 2008 festival runs for the entire month of August.
Music lovers will also want to take note of the annual Green Mountain Opera Festival which calls the Round Barn its home, and will run from June 1-22, 2008.
Visiting Waitsfield does come with at least one warning, although it may not be such a bad thing. According to Tim, the area is so well-loved by the people who vacation there, the Round Barn Inn has put together their 12-step “warning” guide on the stages people go through when they decide to move to the Mad River Valley.
Whether you decide to move there, or only visit once every few seasons, the Round Barn Inn is a charming, and disarming vacation spot and the Mad River Valley is an outdoor enthusiasts dream come true, preserved for the ages.
For more on the Round Barn Inn visit them on the web at www.theroundbarn.com.
» Vermont Festival of the Arts: www.vermontartfest.com
» Green Mountain Opera Festival: www.greenmountainoperafestival.com
» Ben & Jerry’s Factor Tour: www.benjerry.com/scoop_shops/factory_tour/
» Cabot Cheese: www.cabotcheese.com
» Boyden Valley Winery: www.boydenvalley.com
» Cold Hollow Cider Mill: www.coldhollow.com
» Vermont Historic Sites: www.historicvermont.org/sites/