The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa

By on October 11, 2011

By Michele McIntyre-

Fall in Vermont is breathtakingly beautiful. I visited with two girlfriends in mid-October for a girlfriend getaway spa hopping weekend at the tail end of peak foliage season.

Just a short drive from our weekend home base in Stowe, Vermont, The Essex Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa is located on 18 acres between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain near Burlington.

The Essex-VermontThe Essex is a 120-room resort and spa featuring world-class cuisine in Butler’s Restaurant for formal dining and in The Tavern for more casual fare. The resort also offers cooking classes, tennis, golf, hot air ballooning, and an Orvis-endorsed fishing lodge.

Essex Resort PoolThe 22,000 square foot, two-story Spa at The Essex opened in June of 2009. Featuring 10 treatment rooms, a 25-yard indoor pool, an outdoor hot tub, and a Technogym equipped fitness center, The Spa at The Essex also includes men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam rooms, redwood saunas, and private lounges.

Essex Resort Spa Waiting RoomThe spa is decorated in soothing tones of light gold and sage with warm wood accents. The facility offers a full-service salon for hair styling, make-up, manicures, and specialty relaxation pedicures.

On the first floor, a fireplace gathering lounge is where guests wait to be called for their treatments. The trend in spas seems to be utilizing natural light while bringing the outdoors in and The Spa at The Essex is no exception. Large windows look out over the wooded area behind the resort. Many of the common areas feature gorgeous light wood flooring.

When it’s time for your treatment, your therapist will lead you up the grand spiral staircase to the second floor. You’ll pass through a co-ed social relaxation lounge with another stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings and windows with a wooded view. The entire warmth filled space is clean and bright, light and airy. Couples wanting to enjoy treatments together have the run of the couple’s treatment suite with a private soaking tub for two and a private shower.

The motto at the spa is Recipe for Relaxation; the treatment menu showcases culinary ingredients like mandarin orange in the Mineral Mimosa Body Treatment. Ingredients like lemon, lime, ginger, olive, fig and coffee hail from the kitchen but make an appearance in the spa treatments.

After your treatment, your therapist will deliver you to a quiet men’s or women’s relaxation lounge. This softly lit transition space is meant to help you ease gradually and gently back into the world. Here you’ll find plush blankets on thickly padded lounge chairs that beg to be napped in. Before you close your eyes to drift off to sleep, look upwards; a Mathmos Space Projector projects a relaxing moving image on the ceiling.

Essex Resort RoomA great girlfriend spa getaway usually follows a simple formula: gourmet meals – prepared by someone else, spa treatments, wine or cocktails, lots of shopping and some time for just relaxing and hanging out. At The Essex, you can have your meals prepared for you in the fun pub atmosphere of The Tavern or at the fine dining establishment Butler’s Restaurant. For a really fun and unique twist on the girlfriend getaway spa weekend, try a culinary class at The Essex. The unique Chef in Training Program is a hands-on and interactive three-course dining experience taught by New England Culinary Institute chef instructors.

Chef Kerri Bouffard

Chef Kerri Bouffard

Chef Kerri Bouffard led us through a Harvest Time Menu of roasted Caribbean squash soup garnished with lemon mint Vermont goat cheese, maple & apple braised chicken served with fluffy buttery potatoes and apple upside down cake with Vermont ice cream. The evening began in the resort’s demonstration kitchen where Chef Kerri served an appetizer platter of locally sourced Vermont cheeses while the nine students gathered and became acquainted. When a friendly server passed around cocktail menus and wine lists then took our drink orders, I knew it wasn’t going to be an ordinary classroom experience.

Then it was down to business. Under the expert guidance of our instructor, our class chopped, diced, stirred, sautéed, braised and baked. We learned new techniques and perfected old ones; like the correct way to cut an onion without tears, and gourmet ingredient guidance. When we finished our preparations, we sat down and savored our creations. We walked away with recipes to create the dishes at home and the memories of a fabulously fun and entertaining evening.

Our 2-hour Chef in Training experience was $110.00 per person plus a 19% service charge and 9% tax. Rates depend on the menu offerings, which change seasonally and vary throughout the month. If rich dishes made with lots of butter aren’t your thing, try the Spa Cuisine culinary class for lighter menu offerings.

The Essex Resort & Spa
70 Essex Way, Essex (Burlington), VT 05452
Tel (802) 878-1100
For reservations call 1-800-727-4295

Michele McIntyre is a freelance spa, travel & wellness writer who is happiest when lying face up on a treatment table or writing about her spa and travel experiences.  She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son.  She is a regular contributor to Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and is a National Spa Examiner for  Michele’s adventures have been featured on a variety of websites including a stint as a guest spa blogger on Tripology and as a storyteller on TripAtlas.

Michele McIntyre

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa