The Bikes Are Back!

Happy spring Hotel Vermonters! To most in the Northeast, spring symbolizes new life and a rejuvenation of the landscape as browns and grays turn to greens, yellows, pinks, whites, and the earth becomes alive.  For us here at Hotel Vermont, the longer days and warmer weather means we are swapping out the snowshoes for bicycles.

New last year, we upgraded our bike fleet to custom Budnitz Bicycles. Keeping with Budnitz Bicycles’ mission of creating the lightest, fastest, most elegant city bicycles in the world, each bike was custom built for Hotel Vermont right at Budnitz Bicycles headquarters on Pine Street according to the company’s exacting standards for beauty, speed and comfort.

Serial entrepreneur Paul Budnitz dreamed up Budnitz Bicycles to satisfy his personal desire for a beautiful, high-end city bicycle that he could use in the Big Apple. Launched in 2011, the company hand builds each made-to-order bicycle with grease-free carbon belt drives, high-tech internally geared hubs. Frame color, components and accessories are all customized according to client desires and riding styles.

Hotel Vermont is one of just a handful of hotels to partner with Budnitz Bicycles. Handcrafted in Burlington, each of our six steel bicycles is decked out with the hotel’s logo, custom colors, and design and can only be found on property. Hotel Vermont’s fleet can we seen around town in accents of orange, blue and green.

Recently renovated and repaved, we recommend a pedal the Burlington Bike Path, which runs eight miles from Oakledge Park to the Winooski River and through major parks and facilities along the waterfront of Lake Champlain. Another favorite is to zip over to the Saturday morning Burlington Farmer’s Market. Test your stamina on the way to South End Arts District or quench your thirst with our Pine Street Bike & Brew Tour. Head to Church Street Marketplace. Or order a picnic lunch to go from Juniper and enjoy it along the shores of the lake or in the quad of University of Vermont’s campus. With so many options, Burlington is truly a bikers dream!

 

Instagram Scavenger Hunt

Live the Hotel Vermont life during your stay with our #hotelvtlife Instagram Scavenger Hunt. Post pictures of the destinations, yourself or your travel companions at the destinations below using the hashtag #hotelvtlife and  @hotelvermont and win prizes along the way!

See contest restrictions below.

 Rules of the Hunt:

–       Complete 3 photos and receive a delicious Vermont treat (limit to one per room).

–       Complete 5 items and win a $10 gift card to Hotel Vermont that you can use on your current stay or at Juniper AND be entered into seasonal Instagram “best-of” contest to win a free night at Hotel Vermont. Full disclosure, the winners will be chosen by the staff so make your pictures count!

–       Read complete restrictions below. You must be a guest of the hotel to win.

 Picture requirements are five of the following:

–       A Vermont famous craft beer

–       Some type of Vermont dairy product

–       An Adirondack or Lake Champlain beauty shot

–       A favorite Hotel Vermont detail

–       Best thing you ate

–       Champ

–       Little Italy

–       The original Hotel Vermont

–       Street mural or local art

–       Lone Rock Point

When you are finished, please stop by the Front Desk to redeem your prizes! Happy hunting!

Read the full restrictions on our website here.

Ice Fishing in Vermont

While this year’s temperatures have been a bit above average, that hasn’t stopped fishing enthusiasts from getting out on the water. John Abair, our Event Coordinator and Fishing Concierge, tells us about ice fishing in Vermont. John is more than happy to share his knowledge and love of fishing with interested parties and can be reached at john@hotelvt.com. 
When the bite of winter is first felt in Vermont, many Vermonters can be found on the slopes, or snowshoeing through the woods; though, there is but one thing on the mind of the die hard anglers. Where’s the ice?
During the heart of the cold Vermont winter, anglers target a huge variety of fish species through the ice; these include yellow and white perch, pumpkinseed sunfish, crappie, northern pike, trout, salmon, burbot, and a host of other species. Lake Champlain contains over 80 species of fish! Ray’s Seafood, the only local fish processing facility, buys nearly 1 million dollars worth of perch and other panfish every year. Much of which is caught by ice anglers.
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Ice fishermen (and women) use either a motorized or hand powered auger to drill 4 to 12 inch holes; where they will either jig (using a small fishing pole) or set tip-ups (or traps).  Once the traps are set, a flag will spring up when something has taken the bait. Anglers are allowed to have up to 15 lines out at one time while fishing on Lake Champlain (8 on most other bodies of water), allowing for even greater potential to catch fish. So if find yourself in Vermont during the middle our longest season and want to try the sport, stop by one of the local bait shops for a fishing license and intel on where the safe ice is, and what’s biting!

Maple and More

This month guest blogger Todd Comen writes about the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier, Vermont. Todd holds a PhD from the University of Vermont and is a professor at Johnson State College. In his free time, he runs Bonafide Tours & Adventures, which we have partnered with this spring to take guests on a uniquely Vermont maple experience. The package will be released through the hotel’s website in a few weeks, but in the meantime read Todd’s take on the brothers Morse and their maple production.

The sweet smell of spring fills the air in Vermont when finally the sap begins to flow to the tops of the birch, beech, and maple trees.  Vermonters make time to celebrate spring by venturing out of their winter burrows to visit a Vermont Sugar house at the end of March.  Those who do get out enjoy the sweetest of flavors of maple sugar on snow, and, if they go to the right sugarhouse, they’ll be treated to the sweet taste of hot dogs or eggs boiled in maple water.

Two generous, friendly, and humble sugar makers I know are Burr and Elliott Morse, two brothers who have been sugaring on the Morse family farm as the seventh generation of sugar makers for as long as they can remember.  Burr and Elliott have a whole flock of followers, as well as long time employees, newcomers, and a host of grandchildren coming up as if breaking through the deep winter snow.  Among the long-time employees is Audrey who can tell stories of long ago when her father operated the saw mill below the old Wrightsville Dam or when a young Gerald Pease, now in the heavenly barn for dairy farmers, would bark like a dog for one of those hot dogs boiled up so sweet to accompany his sugar on snow, which always, at Morse Farm, has the required dill pickle, and a generous helping of traditional plain, yet tasty doughnuts, from the famous Wayside Restaurant.

So get on out to a sugar house near you this spring, or find your way to Morse Farm Sugar house on the County Road only two miles outside of Montpelier.  You are bound to have a really Sweet Experience!

Candles with Cassie

Happy Holidays Hotel Vermonters! This are getting cozy around here; from Christmas Tree to indoor activities, we are getting in the spirit!

Cassie, our Activities Coordinator, who during the summer months takes people biking, kayaking, paddle boarding and running has set up shop inside until the snow sticks. She has put together a holiday activities schedule to rival any elf’s. One of her more popular activities is candle making. Cassie explains how to make these mason jar candles at home:

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Beeswax are simple, yet elegant, timeless, but still trending, and a classic must have.  Hotel Vermont uses all natural beeswax with a simple cotton wick combined into a small jelly jar to create a simplistic work of art.

Materials:

4 oz. jelly jar, jelly jar lid, 3” wick, wick holder, crock pot or double boiler, natural beeswax pellets, ladle, tablespoon, newspaper or other disposable table covering

Process:

Begin by melting the beeswax pellets in your crockpot or double boiler.  The wax doesn’t burn at crock pot temperatures, so there is no need to worry about burning raw wax, crank it up!  While the wax is melting into its liquid state, begin to prepare your jelly jars by placing a wick in the center of the jar, and pressing the top of the wick into the wick holder.  This will allow your hands to focus on pouring hot wax, rather than holding the wick in the center of the jar.  Once the wax has melted, and your wick is in place, hold a tablespoon on the edge of the jar opposite of yourself.  Continue by placing a ladle of hot wax onto the spoon, and pouring into the jar towards yourself.  The spoon makes a great drip catcher, and will make your candle nice a neat, after all, ladling is never pretty.  Fill your jelly jar just until the liquid sits about a half inch from the rim.

Once your jar is filled to the perfect amount, let your candle cool in a room temperature space.  If too cold, the candle will shrink away from the edges of the jar and possibly crack.  If too hot, the candle will remain in its liquid state longer.  If your candle does crack or shrink, simply put a fresh layer of hot wax over the entire top of the candle to fill in any gaps or splits.  Once your candle is full and has had time to set into its solid form, light and enjoy!

Make this candle your own by adding pine needles, pieces of a cinnamon stick, cranberries or other delightfully smelly things while the wax is still hot and in its liquid form.

Tagging Along on the Hotel Vermont Craft Brew Tour

Tori Carton does marketing for Hotel Vermont. When not joining in on Hotel Vermont activities she can be found traveling, running with her dog, and riding her bicycle around Burlington.

Last week, I ditched the office and headed out on the trail with Matt Canning, our resident Beer Concierge, and some of our guests in search of Vermont’s best beers.

As our Beer Concierge, Matt stays up to date on the Vermont beer scene. He routinely recommends new beers and breweries to stop by, answers questions about where to find limited release brews, and of course, which store has the last stash of Heady Topper.

Our guests have loved being able to use Matt as a resource for craft beer insights, so when he suggested that we should start our own tour it seemed like a no-brainer; guests get a guided tour through Vermont’s craft beer trail, and best of all we drive!

So, bright and somewhat early, we set off for my first Hotel Vermont Craft Brew Tour. Sporting a limited edition Hen of Wood hat and an armful of growlers, Matt rolled up in a twelve-passenger van to take us to our first destination: Hill Farmstead.

Hill Farmstead, called by some the best brewery in the world (and by some I mean most Vermonters, beer geeks, and more officially RateBeer, the world’s largest and most popular beer rating website), is tucked away about an hour and a half from Burlington on Hill Road in Greensboro. Twisting around the back roads of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and far outside of cell phone service, we pulled into the field that serves as the parking lot. We ambled into the building that contains their front of the house tap room and brewery, and waited in line with a mix of locals and other beer enthusiasts from around New England.

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Hill Farmstead allows their guests to sample while in line – four two-ounce tastes for $5 – so that you are ready to choose your bottles or growler fills when you get to the counter. They had eight beers to choose from on draft while we were there, including Edward (an American pale ale), Susan (American IPA), James (a hopped American black ale), Everett (American porter), Abner (double IPA), Citra (single hopped American pale ale), Society & Solitude (American double IPA), and Dorothy (hopped American farmstead dry ale). In homage to the more than 200 years of Hill heritage in Greensboro, many of their beers are named after the ancestors of head brewer Shaun Hill and the Hill family.

We filled up on Susan, Abner, and James and grabbed some bottles of Dorothy and Everett and hit the old dirt road in search of a good place to eat lunch. We camped out on the scenic Lake Caspian, about a 10-minute drive away, and enjoyed Vermont apples, turkey sandwiches, potato salad made that morning by Chef Doug at Juniper. Reds, oranges and light yellows spread across the lake as foliage approached its peak in the Northeast Kingdom.

We then cruised down Route 100 to Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville. They have expanded their offerings in the last few months to include an outdoor patio and kitchen and delicious eats by the same folks as Mad Taco in Waitsfield.

We met with Allen Van Anda, one of the owners and head brewers, who gave us a tour of the facilities. Coming from years of experience at Trapp Brewery and inspired by lesser-known European beers, Allen and his partner Jamie Griffith have created one of Vermont’s favorite new breweries by focusing on drinkable, honest beer.

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Lost Nation has become popular among locals for their tasty, low percentage beers including their Gose, Petit Ardennes, Saison Lamoille, Rustic Ale, and Vermont Lager. We grabbed some pints and settled at a picnic table under the covered outdoor patio. We usually have a Lost Nation beer on tap at Juniper, so if can’t make it up to Morrisville feel free to stop in for a taste!

Our last destination of the day was the beer mecca of Waterbury. Home to a number of craft beer bars, a few brewpubs, the Alchemist Brewery, and the Waterbury Craft Beer Cellar, Waterbury is essentially a beer nerd’s heaven.

hotel vermont beer tour prohibition pighotel vermont beer tour craft beer cellar

We all piled into Prohibition Pig, another Waterbury staple, for some eats, 6 oz. tastes of Pro Pig’s own creations, and more regional libations including beers from Zero Gravity, Dunham, Allagash, Du de Ciel, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. We found similar beers on Blackback Pub’s 22 taps and The Reservoir’s impressive 38-tap line up.

I was a little beered out by this point, but Matt and our guests were still going strong on discussing different strains of hops and yeast. With one last stop at the Waterbury Craft Beer Cellar, we topped off the day with purchases of some even more elusive beers, including the Maine Beer Company’s Lunch and Heady Topper. With our beer booty safely packed in the van, we called it a day and continued our way back to Burlington.

The Hotel Vermont Brew Tour runs on Wednesdays and includes transportation, lunch, and a post-tour snack at Juniper. It can be booked online through our website.

Fall Foliage Tour

Welcome to fall in Vermont! Bright colors, warm days, and cozy nights make autumn one of our favorite Vermont seasons and with the first day of Autumn on Monday, we thought a foliage drive might be in order. We have put together an itinerary for a classic Vermont foliage tour with a twists. Please note this is a suggested itinerary. If you have something you think we missed – let us know!

This foliage route takes you on Route 100 through Stowe, across Smuggler’s Notch, down through Jeffersonville and back to Burlington with some stops along the way.

8:00 am: Breakfast at Juniper

Grab pastries at the bar or fuel up with our hearty and classic breakfasts.

9:00 am: On the Road with a Coffee Stop

Take Exit 9 to Middlesex for a coffee and snack stop at Red Hen Bakery. Red Hen Bakery supplies not only the bread at Hotel Vermont, but many restaurants in the greater Burlington area. Their cinnamon buns are killer.

10:00 am: Waterbury Reservoir

Jump on to Route 100 to Waterbury Reservoir. Completed in 1938, the Waterbury Dam serves to control three rivers that converge in Waterbury. The man-made reservoir is a popular spot for boating, fishing and swimming in the summer and has easy walking trails for exploration.

11:00 am: Stowe Activities

Route 100 from Waterbury to Stowe is home to many of Vermont’s most iconic businesses. Make a sweet stop at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory where you can grab a scoop of your favorite flavor, visit the Flavor Graveyard and take a tour of the facilities.

Just a way down the road, you can also visit the Cabot Cheese Store. Taste over fifteen different cheddars and grab some cheesy apparel for yourself.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill also calls Route 100 home. No fall tour would be complete without locally pressed cider and fresh out of the oven cider donuts.

12:30 pm: Lunch

We recommend two options for lunch. The Apple Core at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a great place to grab a sandwich and relax. Be warned the sandwiches are huge (and delicious!) and can most likely feed two people. With a unique flair, they offer all sandwiches on white or sweet potato wheat bread.

 A second option takes a little bit of navigating but is more than worth it. Not just for beer enthusiast (although we definitely recommend sampling some of their hoppy creations) Lost Nation Brewing in Morrisville is a local brewing company that offers lunch and dinner to those who make the trek. They are open 11:30am – 9 pm Wednesday – Sunday and offer growlers to go.

 2:00 pm: Through the Notch

Continue on Route 15 through Smuggler’s Notch. Separating Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, from Spruce and Sterling Peak, the notch is open for transport spring – fall and closes access in the winter. Two ski resorts, Stowe Mountain and Smuggler’s Notch, are on either side of the notch. Adventure seekers can use the road to ski or snowshoe to either resort in the winter.

Smugglers Notch derives its name from activities precipitated by a request of President Thomas Jefferson to prevent American involvement in the Napoleonic. The Embargo Act of 1807 forbade American trade with Great Britain and Canada. But proximity to Montreal made it a convenient trading partner, and the Act caused great hardship for Vermonters, many of whom continued the illegal trade with Canada, carrying goods and herding livestock through the Notch. Fugitive slaves also used the Notch as an escape route to Canada. The route was improved to accommodate automobile traffic in 1922 thus providing a route for liquor to be brought in from Canada during the Prohibition years.

3:30 pm: Back to Burlington

Follow Route 15 back into Burlington. Want more foliage tours?  There are some beautiful drives through the Lake Champlain Islands.

*If you need directions or a map please stop by the Front Desk upon check in.