Surrounded by Green Mountain National Forest, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa is best known for providing a luxurious escape that is synonymous with the outdoors. Located in the town of Manchester, Vermont, this is the perfect setting for an autumnal escape that’ll allow you to indulge in tranquil spa days, woodland adventures, and rounds of golf on award-winning greens.
Established in 1769, the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa began its story as The Marsh Tavern, also known as Marsh House. During the American Revolution, Marsh House was one of the first properties to be expropriated after William Marsh declared allegiance to the British. The Equinox, as we know it today, is a compilation of 17 structures that were previously inns, homesteads, and hotels. Its famed columns were added when the property was owned by Martin Vanderlip in 1839 and remain the most noticeable attribute. After passing through a number of owners over two centuries, all of those structures exemplify different American architectural styles. It’s only natural that a hotel as historic as the country itself would host a number of luminaries such as Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Lincoln family.
In 1972, the hotel closed and several years were spent carefully planning its restoration and eventual reopening. During the restoration, architectural gems were found such as an old passageway that connects two different wings, and an antique scale in full working order. The scale is on display and free to use in the hotel spa. The Equinox reopened in the 1980s and has become a destination for weddings, relaxing nature getaways, and golf excursions.
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa has 195 guest rooms that range from Vermont rustic to modern luxury decor, and it features an 18-hole championship golf course, heated indoor swimming pool, and spa and fitness center.
We took the scenic drive up north in a sleek 2021 Jaguar F Pace that features active road noise cancellation that meant during the duration of our trip we heard nothing but the gentle hum of the engine. We were welcomed to our suite at the Orvis Inn section of the resort, which is a generous medium between the Historic 1811 House and the more modern Mountain View suites. With sitting rooms, fireplaces, and the option of one or two bedrooms, these suites left us feeling as though we had rented our own luxe cabin in the mountains. Despite the resort being quite large, the Orvis suite evoked the feeling of hygge.
Sitting on a sprawling 914 acres of land surrounded by mountains, The Equinox lives up to its name and features an impressively manicured golf course. The facility has been named one of the Top 75 Courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and one of the Top 3 Golf Courses in Vermont by Golfweek. Whether expert or a novice, there are plenty of options for you to enjoy the greens as the resort offers golf instruction, membership packages, and stay-and-play options. While the namesake of the resort is its famed golf course, there are plenty of activities for families and couples to indulge in as well. The spa features a heated indoor pool, an outdoor hot tub, a tennis court, a gym, and fitness classes.
We decided to embark on their Land Rover Experience, which is exactly what you might think it is. The resort assigned us our own Land Rover that we drove on an off-road adventure. Through creeks, dirt roads, hilly landscapes, and steep inclines, this was one of the highlights of our trip though not for the faint of heart. There are also plenty of other outdoorsy activities such as kayaking, fly fishing, disc golf, falconry school, and hiking trails. Finally, there are also laid-back activities such as movie nights for families, cooking smores at the resort’s fire pits, and live music nights.
On our first night, we dined at The Marsh Tavern, which is one of five restaurants within the resort and an ode to the resort’s earliest beginnings. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and aperitifs in the late afternoons. Coincidentally, during our dinner, one couple was hosting a rehearsal dinner for their wedding that was being held at the hotel. The tavern’s menu features traditional New England dishes like Dutch Pot Pie and Seared Atlantic Cod.
The next day, we took a short walk from the resort and landed at a rustic lunch spot called The Copper Grouse. Inside you’ll find a fully stocked bar flanked by leather bound Chesterfield booths and wood paneled walls, complemented by bold, patterned wallpaper. Outside, there is an open-air dining patio that is perfect for people-watching and dining al-fresco. The lunch menu had offerings of notable Northern sandwiches such as a triple decker BLT with avocado, Pastrami Reuben, and a perfectly cooked Copper Grouse Burger (we suggest adding the egg). Here you’ll find a flavorful lunch that is sure to set you up for the day’s adventure.
After lunch, we paid a visit to Hildene, the historic estate of Robert Lincoln, the only one of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s children to live to maturity. After visiting the Equinox with his mother, as a child Robert fell in love with the region and eventually built this ancestral home on what is now 412 acres of land surrounded by the Taconic Mountains, Green Mountains, and Battenkill river. The estate has 14 historic buildings that include the home, formal garden, observatory, and historic carriage barn.
Inside the carriage barn we found a preserved first-class pullman car that showcases the unique woodwork, stained glass, and velvet decor of the era. The land also functions as a campus for environmental and agricultural education for high school students and includes a teaching greenhouse, composting facility, animal barn, vegetable gardens, apple orchard, and a 600-foot floating wetland boardwalk. In the museum store you’re welcome to buy fresh goat milk, cheese, and honey that is produced on-site. Last, but surely not least, the estate is commonly used as a wedding location because of its picturesque scenery, architectural preservation, and generous amounts of space.
Upon walking through Manchester we could tell that luxury is not simply a lifestyle, it’s a gurantee. Beyond its spired colonial churches, small country stores, and comforting main street, is an underbelly packed with sophistication. It turns out that many of the people who vacation and live in Manchester are transplants from New York, New Jersey, and beyond which explains some of the influences found within the town’s walls. We swayed through the streets that were all literally lined with marble, a quality not found even in Manhattan’s illustrious Upper East Side.
Located inside the historic town library, in the heart of Machester is The Silver Fork, a family-owned restaurant helmed by award-winning chef Mark French and his wife Melody, who acts as the in-house mixologist and sommelier. Before opening The Silver Fork, the Frenches lived in Puerto Rico where they operated another restaurant called Mark’s at the Melia for 13 years. After having a successful run, they decided to move back to the states. Mark’s brother notified them of a quaint restaurant space that was newly available in Vermont. It turned out that the quaint space was the remodeled and landmarked Mark Skinner Library, established in 1897. The couple snatched the space up and have been in operation since 2011. They’ve also been crowned the Best Spot for a Date Night by Tripadvisor’s 2021 Best of Best awards.
Mark’s experiences learning under an award-winning chef in Germany, and living in Puerto Rico, have allowed him to create an eclectic Latin-European-inspired menu that is not normally found in New England. Due to his imaginative nature, and the use of fresh, local produce, the menu at The Silver Fork changes often. However, Mark isn’t the only visionary, as Melody is equally skilled at crafting playful cocktails to complement the dishes featured on the menu. Our dinner here was the most memorable of the entire trip.
New England isn’t only known for its lush mountain and outdoorsy activities, but rather it has a growing community of craft beer makers and distilleries. At The Crooked Ram, we indulged in local farmhouse dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. Recently named Esquire’s Best Bar in America, The Crooked Ram offers an extensive menu of both local and imported beers as well as an eclectic array of wine accompanied by a carefully organized charcuterie board. Chef Nevin Taylor whips up luxurious dishes like butter-poached swordfish and king crab meat accompanied with béarnaise sauce. No need to worry if you’re not a beer and wine connoisseur as hosts are ready to help you select the perfect drink to accompany a sumptuously prepared dinner.
Perfect for an autumnal getaway there’s nothing better than playing a round of golf, enjoying an off-road adventure, or indulging in a long hike surrounded by the warm colors of turning trees along Green Mountain National Forest. The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa is a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with no limit of activities and food to enjoy.