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Girlfriend Getaway at Essex Culinary Resort & Spa

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend contributor

Bliss out with your girlfriends in Vermont

What do you look for in a girlfriend getaway? I look for a place to escape my routine. It must serve delicious adult beverages, offer a soothing spa and provide a peaceful setting for long walks and bike rides. And it has to be unique too, with its own personality.

I found all of that recently at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa. This 18-acre resort located between the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain near Burlington is overflowing with English-style flower gardens, hiking and biking trails, a full-service spa, award-winning restaurants and a really good wine list (a necessity on any girls’ trip if you didn’t already know that). The resort also offers tennis, golf and hot air ballooning, all good girlfriend fare.

grounds at The Essex Culinary Resort and Spa in VermontA truly original culinary experience

The heart of the Essex is its passion for rich culinary experiences – and that‘s what makes the resort truly original.

From the moment you enter, you’ll feel the essence of the resort’s existence. Greeted by French pastries in a glass case on your left and homemade cookies and tea beside reception, we didn’t know which way to look first. A few feet away you’ll find one of the resort’s teaching kitchens where you can take a cooking class. The Essex is actually the campus of the acclaimed New England Culinary Institute and their restaurants serve as working classrooms. Herbs and vegetables are grown on the resort, making all the dishes unbelievably fresh.

Whether you and your friends dine in their eateries or take a cooking class, your taste buds will be enlivened during your stay here.

Slicing and dicing with the girls

Chef SpineI’m not a great cook, but I’m good at following recipes and I was looking forward to my 3-hour cooking class with Chef Anthony Spine. A few minutes into the class, it was clear he believes the best way to learn is to dive in and create. He led us and four other very capable adults (they teach up to 10 people at a time) to make a divine 3-course spread. All the food was laid out on trays and he presented the recipes and told us to go for it, with his direction. Using homemade ingredients, we learned how to slice, dice, measure and make delicious cuisine.

The atmosphere was relaxed, non-pressuring and jovial as we sipped wine while we cooked. We happened to be in a great group of fun, interesting people, so the conversation flowed as smoothly as the food and wine. Chef Anthony watched us create his prescribed recipes: Gazpacho, Vermont Beef Tenderloin with Gremolata, Panzanella, Summer Vegetable Ragu and a sublime Summer Berry Trifle. We talked, laughed and learned some great cooking skills – and were sent home with all the recipes.

Now I truly have no excuse not to make a lovely meal for my own family. A taste of what I learned

Oregano Gremolata

Serves 4 drizzled over steak

culinary delightsIngredients:

  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic; crushed
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
  • 4 tablespoons oregano, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for an hour. Enjoy!

Now I lay me down to sleep

rooms at the EssexThe rooms at the Essex have whisks on the doors, adding to the culinary essence of the hotel. They’re cozy, decked out in a classic style with all the comforts you need including an electric fireplace, a Keurig coffee machine and an in-room audio system. The décor is reminiscent of Vermont’s native landscape (think woodsy and natural) and the linens and fabrics chosen are as cozy as they come. We were fortunate to be at the Essex during the night of a Super Moon, and the whole resort glistened in the moonlight.

Spa me, please!

The perfect girlfriend getaway at Essex easily includes a cooking class, a bike ride, a trip to the spa and a meal or two at one of the resort’s restaurants. The 22,000 square foot, two-story spa showcases treatments using ingredients like mandarin orange, fig, ginger, coffee and lemon. They also have a heated indoor pool and hot tub outside for relaxing pre and post treatment. Bliss.

fancy drinks at the TavernWhen you’re finished at the spa, head to the tavern for an evening of gastronomical delights. And just being together with your friends. Double bliss.

Just being with your friends. Isn’t that what a girlfriend getaway is all about? Just being together... Being able to sit back and feel good about life and share that with women you love and admire. Being able to escape into oblivion and feeling like you’re on top of the moon. Being able to take yourself outside your every day routine. Being able to learn about yourself. Being able to eat good food without guilt. Being able to let go with a good friend.

Essex Resort & Spa was just the place to do that.

If your travel curiosity's peaked, visit Essex Culinary Resort & Spa in Burlington, Vermont online, book a girls weekend or read TripAdvisor reviews. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you go, tell them GoGirlfriend sent you!

Tell us the ingredients in your best girlfriends getaway? We’ll see where we can find your combination. Drop a comment below or comment on GoGirlfriend’s Facebook or Twitter.

About Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink ~ @HollyChroniclesHolly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert with over 15 years’ experience increasing brand awareness and sales at leading publishing houses and media companies. She is the founder of TheCultureTripper.com and is a current contributor to This Girl Travels, Ciao Bambino, Family Vacation Critic, The Broad Side, BlogHer and Women & Hollywood.

Last year she edited Come Closer: How Tourism is Shaping the Future of Nations and associate produced the off-off-Broadway hit The Best of Everything and the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother.


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