Escape to Winvian Farms
Two hours north of New York City, in the northwest corner of Connecticut, you’ll find some of the most scenic countryside in New England. Arguably, autumn is the best time of the year to find yourself in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. There’s something about the brilliant russet, red, and yellow foliage that sets the stage for the quintessential New England weekend. Regrettably, I tend toward the “day late and dollar short” end of the spectrum, so it was not until a frigid and overcast afternoon in late November that I found myself headed toward Morris, Connecticut, for a stay at the storied Winvian Farm.
An impressively gated entrance announced that I had reached my destination. A long, tree-lined allée, undoubtedly much more dramatic in the greener seasons, led to a charming 1775 colonial manor that houses the main reception area as well as an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant and cozy tavern. While the house is a stunning example of colonial architecture, it’s the unique style of guest accommodation that distinguishes Winvian from the average luxury resort. Eighteen individually themed cottages dot the 113-acre property, spaced among the wooded grounds to ensure privacy.
Something for Everyone
Now, Winvian would have had me at “cottages,” but the reality is so much more. Each cottage is the epitome of wit and whimsy. For the aviation enthusiast, a 1968 Sikorsky Sea King helicopter stands in the center of a cottage, the rotor blades embedded in the ceiling. While the cockpit remains intact, the passenger/cargo compartment has been transformed into a living area where you can enjoy a cocktail from the wet bar while watching a movie on the flat-screen TV.
The largest and most luxurious cottage is the Charter Oak, which is, you guessed it, built around a massive white oak tree. Mullioned windows add charm to the living area, with comfortable armchairs and a leather sofa arranged in front of a cozy fireplace. Steps lead up to a king-sized bed and another fireplace, while the silo boasts a capacious bathroom complete with a jetted soaking tub.
There’s a themed cottage to satisfy every taste: the Artist, Beaver Lodge, the Log Cabin, the Library, the Treehouse, the Secret Society, and the Stable are just a few of the choices available. Always ready to take a walk on the wild side, I’d decided to let Reservations surprise me. They must be telepathic because the Connecticut Yankee couldn’t have been more suited to my taste.
While the cottage begged us to stay, my pal and I were feeling peckish, and the restaurant beckoned. We made ourselves presentable and headed up to the main house for what we expected would be an unforgettable meal. After an aperitif in the glass-enclosed solarium off the bar, we headed upstairs to a table set before a roaring fire.
While the entire meal was a marvel, the highlight for me was an appetizer of hand-rolled cavatelli with lamb ragu and parmesan. It literally brought tears to my eyes, and to this day, I find myself recalling it with longing. My pal, Lavell, a gourmand with exceptional knowledge of food and wine, waxed poetic about her grilled octopus, so tender and succulent that it dispelled any lingering guilt about consuming such an intelligent and sentient creature.
After a sound night’s sleep in the four-poster, we returned to the scene of the previous night’s dinner. Breakfast was served in front of yet another fireplace, and fluffy pancakes, fresh orange juice, and piping hot coffee set the tone for the day. With work calling, the unfortunate Lavell was forced to depart. I, being of a less industrious nature, availed myself of the spa.
Housed in a separate building boasting a glassed-in solarium, the environment begs the guest to take a lounge chair and bask peacefully in the sun sipping herbal tea. The list of services is lengthy, offering every manner of massage and facial service imaginable. Shamefully vain and ever hopeful, I opted for the Ultimate Facial, an 80-minute, $465 extravaganza. Snuggled under a heated blanket, I sighed with pleasure as one cream after another was applied. As a masque dried on my face, was treated to a hand and arm massage. Eighty minutes later, surely having exhausted the supply of creams, ointments, and unguents, I was pleased to see that my skin was glowing. I looked as fresh and pink as an infant.
Commitment to Satisfaction
While relaxing, dining, and enjoying sybaritic spa treatments should be sufficient to keep even the most demanding guest content, Winvian Farm also offers a range of activities to entertain the more energetic. Depending on the season, you can take a ride on one of the bikes that come with each cottage, go for a hike, or try your hand at fly fishing. Painting classes, spirit and wine tastings, axe-throwing, boating, horseback riding, and tubing on the Farmington River are also options.
Whatever the season, Winvian Farm offers a luxurious respite from the travails of life. When the daily grind has gotten you down, escape to the Litchfield Hills for an experience that’s sure to restore body and soul.