An insider look at Okemo Valley’s historic country inns

Golden Stage Inn. Photo by Wallace Henry

REGION – For the last few years, the first weekend of December means that visitors and locals alike have a chance to tour a few of the region’s best country inns and sample a few tasty treats along the way. This year, the Inndulgence Tour showcased 11 inns from around the region, including: Echo Lake Inn in Plymouth, the Pettigrew Inn in Ludlow, Castle Hill Resort and Spa in Cavendish, Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville, Hartness House in Springfield, Grafton Inn, Blue Gentian Lodge in Londonderry, Seesaw’s Lodge in Peru, Colonial House Inn in Weston, and Inn at Weston.

Julie-Lynn Wood, owner of Golden Stage Inn in Cavendish and organizer of the Inndulgence Tour, says, “I love this event because it’s all about community. Innkeepers donate their time and services by cooking and baking and welcoming guests to their inns. As such, we have the opportunity to welcome our community members into our properties, and they bring the festivity and cheer of the season into our inns.”

Participants could purchase their maps ahead of time or at any of the inns and go at their own pace over Saturday and Sunday. Each inn offered a special holiday treat from a nostalgic ginger molasses cookie to a warm cup of butternut squash bisque as well as hot chocolate and spiced cider.

At Golden Stage Inn, Julie served decadent chocolate cake and a homemade hot chocolate as well as her bottomless cookie jars, which is an experience that guests can typically enjoy during their stay. Many of the rooms at Golden Stage were also open to visitors, and participants in the tour enjoyed the bee motif throughout the building. Golden Stage Inn also displayed jars of honey and other local products for sale.

At Blue Gentian Lodge, guests could enjoy a variety of cheesecakes while watching Scherenschnitte paper cutting demonstrations. Weston artist Betsy Johnson displayed her watercolor artwork at the Pettigrew Inn in Ludlow village. She was also present working on some new pieces and conversing with guests as they perused the rooms and tasted the warm spiced cider and the ginger molasses and vanilla orange cranberry cookies.

Guests along the Inndulgence Tour were also welcomed into the Hartness House in Springfield where they could explore the Christmas-festive public rooms, James and Lena Hartness guest rooms on the second floor, and down into the tunnels that led to a few of Hartness’s private rooms – now converted into a museum – and the turret telescope. The historic inn was once the home of former governor, inventor, astrologist, and amateur telescope enthusiast James Hartness and his family.

Blue Hubbard Honey Nut Squash and apple bisque. Photo by Wallace Henry

Castle Hill Resort and Spa is also the historic home of a former Vermont governor. Allen M. Fletcher was governor from 1912 to 1915 and his home in Cavendish does truly feel like stepping into a castle with high ceilings, a lavish oval dining room, and a cozy library where guests along the Inndulgence Tour could relax with a cup of Blue Hubbard Honey Nut Squash and apple bisque.

Echo Lake Inn in Plymouth may not be a former homestead of a Vermont governor, but the property has ties to President Calvin Coolidge who was born minutes away. Coolidge and many of his notable friends have frequented the inn and there is even a room named after him. Echo Lake Inn also served two warm soup options – a spicy turkey Andouille sausage gumbo and winter butternut squash apple bisque.

The Inn at Weathersfield was only open on Saturday, and they served a savory fritter with scallions, broccoli, and wild rice with a dollop of yogurt. Colonial House Inn served a breakfast frittata and cranberry-banana nut bread, and Inn at Weston served Italian meatballs. The Grafton Inn was open on Sunday, serving Grafton Village Cheese, cookies, and mulled cider.

Seesaw’s Lodge in Peru played host to two inn tours, including a historic inn tour out of Manchester. At the base of a few Vermont ski mountains, Seesaw’s Lodge hosts excellent snowy views. Each of the rooms in the main lodge is named after a type of local tree, which is the feature wood for the furniture in that room. The rooms also contain unique pieces, refurbished from the original lodge.

Guests had two days to explore the unique offerings of each of the 11 inns. For a little extra fun, nine of the inns had a designated letter on display that when unscrambled would generate a festive word. The scramble could then be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a gift certificate to the inn-restaurant of the winner’s choice. The Inndulgence Tour maps also included a second raffle for a chance to win a one-night stay at the inn of the winner’s choice.

While the final number of participants and profits are still coming together, Julie estimates that 125 people joined in on the tour this year. About $1,500 in proceeds will be donated to Springfield Supported Housing, a program that helps people in southern Windsor and northern Windham counties find permanent, affordable housing. Julie says, “Together, innkeepers and community members are able to raise a significant amount of money to donate to a local nonprofit organization that serves our very own communities. It’s holiday magic!”

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