A Very Unique Wedding and Romantic Getaway Destination in the Heart of the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Article: Norm Goldman
Art Work: Lily Azerad-Goldman
Okay-you are probably not the first and surely won't be the last to discover The Inn at the Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield, Vermont now that Bride & Groom, Business Travel Guide, Cooking Light, Historic Preservation, Modern Bride, Outside Traveler, Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure, Vermont Wedding Guide and many others have featured this gem of an inn. And when you combine dazzling views, privacy and an historical round barn that hosts incredible cultural attractions you have something that is not an easy combination to beat. Once you do, you may even have the urge to keep it a secret.
As we quickly discovered one beautiful June morning, this place is a world apart with its uncluttered landscape, serene ponds, flowing rivers, valleys, rolling hills, mountains, woods, greenery and wildlife. No wonder this pastoral splendor of the Mad River Valley is a source of pride, pleasure and inspiration for its residents and the primary reason why so many have been lured here to celebrate their weddings, anniversaries or other special occasions.
The four-season twelve -room Inn is located in the heart of the Mad River Valley- just a forty minute drive south of the Burlington International Airport and thirty minutes from the capital of Vermont, Montpelier. Set amongst two hundred and forty five acres of the Green Mountains, it is a perfect venue for romance and relaxation without the pretentiousness and stuffiness that is sometimes prevalent in some of the more luxurious New England inns and lodges.
What is more, as we immediately perceived, there is an absence of screeching traffic, billboards, pollution, jangling phones, red alerts, and news on the hour- the goodies of city life. Succinctly, it is the embodiment of tranquility and first-class healthy Vermont warmth where many stressed-out guests come to revitalize themselves within a wonderful rural environment.
History of the Inn
The history of the property dates back to 1810 when it commenced operations as a dairy farm with subsequent additions made to the buildings in 1825 and 1840. The unique round barn located adjacent to the inn was built in 1910 by Clem Joslyn and was used as a dairy barn until 1969. It is considered one of the Mad River Valley's unique historic resources, as there are only a few remaining round barns in Vermont, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is alleged that the idea of building a round barn emanated from the Shaker religious movement who built their barns round so that the devil couldn't catch you in the corners. Perhaps the Quakers were onto something!
After the farm and barn sat dormant for many years, Jack and Doreen Simko came on the scene in 1986 and purchased it from the Joslyns.
Realizing the potential and economic return of the barn, they renovated and converted it into a beautiful event venue as well as establishing the Green Mountain Cultural Center within its twelve-sided walls.
During our brief stay we had the pleasure of attending one of the Green Mountain Opera Festival events-now in its second year, and it was a pure delight to listen and watch some remarkable young international opera singers perform within a setting that has incredible acoustics! We certainly couldn't ask for anything more when we had beautiful music just steps away from our room!
In the past the barn has hosted concerts from the Adamant School, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, folk- concerts from Elizabeth Von Trapp, Annual Photography Exhibits, annual Art shows and the Taste of the Valley event which is known as the Mad River Valley's premier culinary event.
Jack and Doreen Simko no longer run the Inn as their daughter Anne Marie, who had been with her parents since the start, bought the management company from them and added a partner and her catering company, Cooking from the Heart in 1998. Since then Anne Marie bought out her partner in 2002 and enlisted Tim Piper as her business associate. There are now three distinct businesses operated by Anne Marie and Tim, the Inn, the catering business and the non-profit cultural center. You have to acknowledge this is a very unique synergetic combination!
And if you want a can do guy, go see Tim Piper, as we quickly learned. He was very gracious in filling us in with his encyclopedic knowledge pertaining to the Inn and the Mad River Valley.
As a former Director of Sales at the Sugarbush Resort, Tim brings with him thirty years of expert marketing and social skills as well as an abundance of enthusiasm that he has managed to proliferate among the Inn's terrific staff that provides impeccable service to their guests. As one guest remarked on an Internet site, the staff tickles your sense of humor, encourages you to let go, tempts you with warm cookies, and tells you all there is to know about the local area. That just about sums up what The Inn at the Round Barn Farm is all about!
The Inn together with the barn serves as a fantastic groovy wedding destination and it is obvious why scores of weddings are celebrated here throughout the year. Weather permitting, wedding ceremonies are frequently staged outside surrounded by the magnificence of the Green Mountains overlooking a serene pond with the barn's reflection as a backdrop. The reception that follows generally takes place in the three- level heated round barn that can accommodate up to two hundred guests.
The great advantage the Inn has over many other wedding destinations is that the barn can also serve as a back-up in the event of rain and thus there is no need to rent a costly tent. You also have in-house catering that is provided by the Inn's own Cooking from the Heart under the direction of its long time Chef Charlie Menard who has the experience and skills to put together a wide and varied menu. Cooking from the Heart is a founding member of the Vermont Association of Wedding Professionals and the Vermont Fresh Network- partnering with local farmers and purveyors.
When you take everything into consideration, what the Inn provides is a turn-key operation where couples don't have to worry about hiring a wedding coordinator. The Inn's staff works with local florists, musicians, photographers and wedding cake specialists and there even is an in-house Justice of the Peace who is available to perform marriage ceremonies.
The Inn's wedding coordinator, Stacey Misenko, who previously practiced law, can literally arrange everything from soup to nuts. As an example, if you are planning a winter wedding, Stacey can create the perfect ambiance setting up a moonlight snowshoe tour and for the rehearsal dinner she can have it set up in a cabin in the woods. In addition, Stacey and the Inn's staff can also take care of both pre-and post-ceremony activities in the Mad River Valley for your guests. Now you have to admit that this something unique!
During our brief stay we couldn't help notice how attentive Stacey and the Inn's courteous staff had been with a future bride and nervous groom who were about to celebrate their wedding. It appeared that whatever reservations or uncertainties the couple may have experienced melted away as the Inn's personnel took command and put everyone at ease, catering to their every whim-even making it seem like a lot of fun. And as for organization, we were very impressed when we visited the Inn's wedding war room, where the wedding crew meets every week and where we detected a blackboard filled with several important reminders such as the ordering from Burlington of seven kosher meals. We had to admit that the Inn's crew had everything down pat.
Many in-town romantic getaway destinations are often fraught with noise and traffic problems. Not so with The Inn at the Round Barn Farm that feels delightfully secluded even though it is not very far from where all of the activities take place in the Mad River Valley. However, it is not just the location that makes the Inn a stand out, it is also the overall romantic ambiance of the rooms as well as management's sense of style that have made it into a choice romantic destination.
The attention to detail is exemplified by the warm and cozy rooms that are individually decorated with original pine flooring, rich wallpapers and decorative accents. All rooms come with private baths, cozy bathrobes, self controlled heating and air conditioning, and stunning views. Six of the twelve rooms have gas fireplaces, telephones, and either a steam shower or oversized whirlpool tub.
If you are in the mood for some offbeat dining as we were, try the American Flatbread in Waitsfield that makes an unbelievable all natural pizza baked in a wood-fired oven. One word of caution, as the restaurant is only opened on Friday and Saturday evenings, you must arrive quite early otherwise you will have to wait in line to savor their delicious pizzas. Nevertheless, it is well worth the wait. The rest of the week the American Flatbread is a wholesale factory baking and exporting these pizzas all over the USA. The restaurant's affable owner George Shenk, whom we had the pleasure of meeting, never in his wildest dreams could have believed that one day he would be firing up over a thousand pizzas a day! Listening to George tell us about his thirty year overnight business success was quite a treat in itself.
The Inn at the Round Barn Farm
Address: 1661 East Warren Road, Waitsfield, Vermont, 05673
Tel: 802-496-2276: Fax: 802-496-8832
Information about the Mad River Valley
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