Honeymoon among the Treetops; Host a Wedding Party Weekend in a Yurt
A wedding in Vermont always involves the natural world, even if that’s only a stunning view out the ski resort window. Many couples are looking for a more intimate experience of the woods and mountains, though few dream of sleeping off the reception in a sleeping bag on the ground.
Luckily, there are a surprising number of overnight options up and down the north and central Green Mountains that strike a balance between wilderness and convenience. Small cabins, yurts, and treehouses provide the natural beauty and privacy of outdoor camping without all the gear and exposure to weather. A few places even provide breakfast.
“It is winter camping, but it is comfortable,” explained Beth Whiting, co-owner of Maple Wind Farm in Huntington. Two yurts in a quiet corner of the working farm’s 140-acre property are available to rent between November and April. The 24-foot diameter circular tents are deep in the backcountry bordering Camel’s Hump State Park, yet just a five- to 10-minute ski or walk from the car.
Travel writers have given this accommodation niche a new name in recent years: glamorous camping or “glamping.” The Fodor’s guidebooks may have the most succinct definition: “glamping brings the comfort of a hotel to the great outdoors.” The word is now being applied to all kinds of unique lodging around the world, including glass igloos in Finland, safari tents in Costa Rica, and tepees in Wyoming.
In this region, unique and rustic structures with at least some of the basic hotel amenities are nothing particularly new.
For decades, one of the hardest won winter berths in the state has been at the Stone Hut on Mount Mansfield. The 78-year-old warming hut is located near the intersection of Stowe Mountain Resort’s Upper Lift Line trail and the Toll Road. Civilian Conservation Corps crews built the little stone house while cutting some of the original ski trails. With a mixed reservation system that involves a lottery and first-come, first-serve phone calls, it takes advanced planning and luck to score an overnight spot on top of the mountain.
Easier to get are nights at the other cottages and cabins the parks department rents during the spring, summer, and fall. The one-room buildings are found at 14 different state parks around the state. In central Vermont, there are cabins at Little River State Park in Waterbury and Gifford Woods State Park in Killington and cottages at Camp Plymouth State Park in Ludlow.
Several hotels also offer small studio and one-bedroom cabins on their properties. Stowe Cabins in the Woods in Waterbury and Sterling Ridge Resort in Jeffersonville each have “honeymoon” cabins with large beds and fancy tubs. Grunberg Haus Bed & Breakfast Inn and Cabins in Duxbury has three small cabins in the forest above the main house specifically for couples looking for a romantic, woodsy retreat.
Two of the most unusual places to stay are literally built into the canopy of the forest. At the Tiny Fern Forest Treehouse in Lincoln and the two–story Moose Meadow Lodge treehouse in Duxbury, your bedroom is the treetop.
“It really feels like you are out in nature, yet it’s so luxurious,” said Willie Docto, one half of the couple that owns and operates the Moose Meadow bed and breakfast. “We all as kids loved the idea of playing or living in a treehouse. Now you can actually do that in very comfortable surroundings, which makes it even more magical.”
His partner, Greg Trulson, compares the newly constructed 450 square-foot suite to a “private nest that you can look out of and people can’t look into.” Since it opened in June 2013, Trulson, a justice of the peace, has already officiated two weddings on the treehouse’s wrap-around deck, which looks out onto a stocked trout pond.
At 95 square-feet, the Tiny Fern Forest Treehouse lives up to its name. Since 2009, couples have flocked to the perch, which owner Louella Bryant compares to “a bear’s den, but 30 feet up in the trees.”
“It seems like it has been incredibly romantic,” Bryant said. The treehouse, built by Bryant’s husband and son, has been the site of engagements, pre-wedding overnights, and honeymoon stays. Her husband, Harrison Reynolds, attributes its popularity to a primitive feeling of security that comes from a position of height. “It goes back to Swiss Family Robinson,” she said. Bryant’s theory is that the room in the air with its seating area and loft bed creates a space that allows closeness as well as separation. “We want to be together without stepping on each other’s toes,” she said.
Whether yurt, stone house, cabin, or treehouse, these locales will all seem luxurious to the frequent backpacker. However, if your soon-to-be other half is going to want the finer things, like flush toilets or an indoor range, it is worth drilling down into the details, some of which are listed on page 42. Fodor’s aside, one person’s hotel is another person’s hovel.
While their glamour quotients do differ, each of these “glamping” opportunities provides a large measure of comfort. And all bring you in close proximity to the landscape that makes the state so special.
“It’s for people who want an outdoor adventure,” said Whiting, summarizing the goal nicely. At the same time, “they can still have a nice, quiet, cozy getaway.”
Moose Meadow Lodge Treehouse, Duxbury
Queen bed; electricity; heated; coffee machine; breakfast in main lodge included; linens and towels provided; indoor bathroom in lodge, outdoor shower and composting toilet on site coming in summer 2014.
$425/night (plus tax, price includes use of lodge kitchen and common space)
Reserve at moosemeadowlodge.com or 802-244-5378.
Tiny Fern Forest Treehouse, Lincoln
Single bed and queen futon; electricity; heated; small refrigerator; linens and towels provided; indoor bathroom in main house, outdoor shower and hot tub; breakfast is often a special amenity for honeymooners.
$149/night, double occupancy (includes tax)
Reserve at airbnb.com.
Maple Wind Farm Yurts, Huntington
Seasonal (late Nov-April)
Bunkbeds, singles and doubles, sleep up to 10 people; electricity; woodstove heat; indoor kitchen; bring sleeping bag; composting toilet.
$145/night (plus tax)
Reserve at maplewindfarm.com or 802-434-7257.
The Stone Hut, Mt. Mansfield
Seasonal (late Nov-April)
Bunk beds, singles and full, sleep up to 12 people; NO electricity; woodstove heat; NO cooking facilities; bring sleeping bag; bathrooms and water at nearby Ski Patrol Building.
$195/night (includes tax)
Reserve by mailing in request form between Sept. 15 and Nov. 1 for coming winter. The slots are filled by lottery. Any dates leftover are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis starting Nov. 20.
For more information, visit vtstateparks.com or 802-253-4014 (prior to Nov. 1).
Other Vermont State Park Cabins and Cottages, various
Seasonal (generally May-Oct)
Cabins, bunk beds and futon or sleeper couch, sleep up to four; electricity, outdoor fire ring for cooking; bathrooms and showers within walking distance. Cottages, one- to three-bedrooms, sleep four to six; electricity, heat; indoor kitchen and bathroom with shower. For both, bring cookware, linens and towels.
Cabins, $48/night ($46 for VT residents); Cottages, $70-88/night
Reserve at vtstateparks.com or 888-409-7579, dates are available starting 11 months prior.
Stowe Cabins in the Woods, Waterbury
Cabins of varying sizes, one- to two-bedrooms, and degrees of seclusion; electricity; heat and air conditioning; indoor kitchen; linens and towels provided; indoor bathroom.
Price varies by size and time of year; one-bedroom with king and whirlpool tub, $169-239/night (plus tax).
Check availability at stowecabins.com; reserve, 802-244-8533.
Sterling Ridge Resort, Jeffersonville
Cabins of varying sizes, studios to 7 bedrooms, and degrees of seclusion; electricity, heated; indoor kitchen; linens and towels provided; indoor bathrooms.
Price varies by size and time of year; one-bedroom cabin with king bed and Jacuzzi, from $165/night during off-season to $275/night on holidays (plus tax).
Reserve at sterlingridgeresort.com or 800-347-8266.
Grunberg Haus Bed & Breakfast, Duxbury
Seasonal (late May - October)
Queen bed; electricity; woodstove heat; microwave and refrigerator; breakfast in main building included; linens and towels provided; indoor bathroom and shower.
$155/night; $185/night during foliage season
Reserve at grunberghaus.com or 800-800-7760.