The Fan House works its charms. Words from our guests:
I don't know if you remember, but a lovely young couple won a weekend at The Fan House through an NPR contest two years ago. They came, they put their bags down, they went for a hike, and under a setting sun, by a still lake, they got engaged!
That's US. We're happily married now. And for our first Christmas we are giving each other days. Days to spend together catching up and enjoying. (We both have side swiping schedules.) I want to take my husband back to The Fan House and to dinner at the Barnard Inn-where young kids in love can dine with Kong-sized German Shepards.
The anniversary of our first stay there is April 14, 15. (Friday and Saturday.) What do I need to do to reserve the Fireplace Suite for that weekend in 2006?
I hope this finds you blissfully preparing for a wonderful holiday.
BAKED APPLES AND WRAP-AROUND BATH SHEETS: WEEKEND AT THE FAN HOUSE, VERMONT
By Suna Kanga
"Hotels can be so faceless. During our travels we have stayed at some of the best, often enjoying luxury all the way. While we shall never forget that stretch limo pickup, pampering at spas, great meals and goodnight gifts, there is rarely a face we can put to the experience. B&Bs are more personalized and it is your host or hostess you remember when you recall a memorable stay.
"In New Zealand, our host had taken us for a midnight walk in the forest. In Paris, we fondly remember the landlady who taught us how to drink coffee from a huge bowl and babysat our children. In Connecticut's Thompson village, where we booked several rooms during our daughter's wedding, we think fondly of the generous proprietress who gave us the run of her large home and huge breakfasts. People help to make a lasting impression. "
"Our recent stay at the Fan House, a bed and breakfast in Barnard, Vermont, is yet another gem of a memory. A telephone call to my friend Sara Widness during a visit to the U.S. reveals that she had left the urban thicket of New York for a secret pocket of enchantment in Vermont. When I first met Sara, she was juggling several accounts for her PR firm in Manhattan. Then 9/11 happened, she changed direction, moved to her vacation home in Vermont and transformed The Fan House into a charming B&B. "Come and visit this beautiful region," she says. "
"It is difficult to imagine the business woman switching roles from a promoter of luxury properties around the world to innkeeper and owner of a B&B where she now applies her expertise. The thought of two nights in a New England home amidst the wilderness of Vermont sounds heavenly. Before long, we arrive at Sara's doorstep - an 1840s restored home just 12 miles from the historic ski and summer resort Woodstock. From Boston, it takes us just three hours to reach her village, Barnard. "
"Sara, sporting a sunny smile and bright apron, welcomes us into the heart of her home - a Victorian kitchen with polished floors, antique wood stove, bowls of fresh fruit and colourful kitchen paraphernalia. Baking aromas waft around the spacious kitchen and there are trays of croissants ready for the oven. "
"Although modest on the outside, the interior is a setting of understated, world-class charm! The dining room and living room are decorated with artworks and heirloom tapestries from her travels around the world. A corner nook lined with books serves as a library. The fireplace and classical music add warmth to the warm scene. The three elegant, air-conditioned bedrooms with en suite baths offer plush, high thread count linens, down comforters, Turkish wrap-around bath sheets and Bulgari toiletries. Travel & Leisure magazine had noted that the new Fan House "with pine floors, brushed steel bedsteads and Provencal fabrics" was one of the Best Places to Stay. "
"This house is a replica of the one-time dwelling of author Sinclair Lewis - now the exclusive Twin Farms resort just up the road," she says. "Another interesting person who once lived here was Vermont artist Wm. B. Hoyt whose paintings now command five figures. A few years ago, some of his paintings fell out of the barn that was razed and these now hang in our bed and breakfast."
"For us, visitors from faraway bustling Singapore, this is a different world and just the place to enjoy nature and to renew energies in a cozy atmosphere of Americana. The B&B is a three-minute walk to Silver Lake in summer and the general store is just around the corner. At nearby Barnard Inn Restaurant, one of central Vermont's best restaurants, chef/owners Ruth and Will serve handcrafted cuisine with fine wines in the dining rooms and hearty pub fare at Max's tavern. "
"Fan House's style and high standards come from passion, dedication and hard work, all of which are evident in good measure. We are full of admiration for Sara! Having vacationed in the area for several years, she offers guests a wealth of information in a concierge-style service which is a great asset when exploring a new region. "
"While autumn, the "leaf peeping" season, is a good time to visit this atmospheric region, Vermont is a year-round destination for summer activities, skiing and world-weary folk. Depending on the season, she can help guests organize golfing, fishing in trout streams and lakes, boating, cross-country or downhill (alpine) skiing at Killington Ski Resort. Not far is Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire) and at Lake Champlain one can view a fine collection of early Americana and Impressionist paintings at the Shelburne Museum. "
"Breakfast with the other guests gives us an opportunity to discuss options for the day. The colourful table setting and the fragrance of fresh coffee, promote good cheer as we sit down to a lavish breakfast of baked apples filled with honey and raisins, fresh quiche, hot oatmeal, croissant with local preserves and fresh fruit. Conversation spans the joys of travel and the experiences of guests living in different parts of the country. A couple notes they are on a return visit to Fan House "because we enjoyed the hospitality of the gracious hostess."
"Just minutes away from Barnard is Woodstock, a historic holiday town. We spend a morning here, at America's birthplace of the ecological and conservation moment where George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings and the famous couple, Mary and Laurance Rockefeller established the Woodstock Foundation 38 years ago. Today, the Billings Farm & Museum established to preserve the legacy of Frederick Billings, Mary's grandfather, welcomes nearly a million visitors a year. It is also fascinating to tour the family mansion decorated with prized artworks for a peek into the past lifestyle of the rich and famous. "
"After two rejuvenating days, we bid goodbye to the Fan House and Vermont. Sara's eyes sparkle as she reveals plans for a second B&B. Amazing how life presents new opportunities when one is receptive to change. The taste of her feathery cheese soufflé lingers as we drive away... "
"Dear Sara, The conversations and company were wonderful. I was happy to afford you the opportunity to mix it up with us, and grateful, on my part, for stimulating dialogue. Fan House is calming and welcoming, in no small part to your careful design sense. Thanks for making the stay so lovely."
- Linda, June 2011
"We absolutely loved the Fan House B&B in Barnard! It was one of the most lovely places we've ever stayed in, and it made our stay very special. "
"Dear Sara, We made it home last night. How strange to be in the rolling hills of Vermont and only hours later in LA! Thanks very much; you place is neat. But, your friends were even neater. Sorry I couldn't talk more with Jack-is he up? The Sugarbush place was neat as well-a real hands-on factory. I will return."
- More later Tom
"Dear Sara, Just a brief note to say that we had a delightful time at the Fan House.
You were a very gracious hostess. We hope to see you again sometime. Have a great winter."
- Best regards, Laurie and Joe
"Susan and I enjoyed our stay very much. I made a brief post on my blog, here: http://wideruin.blogspot.com/2006/10/fan-house.html
While returning to Massachusetts, we discussed how nice it might be to return to The Fan House when there is snow on the ground and we can snowshoe.
- best regards, Peter
"Great! Actually, my dad is a diabetic so the savories will be better than the sweets for him. I'll send the check but being a holiday weekend, it won't go out until Tuesday. I told my parents that staying in your home will be the highlight of their trip. It was best part of our trip! Hopefully we will get back up to see you in the next couple of years."
- Take care, Cyndi
"Sara, We're back on the home front in one piece. John ended up driving the entire journey on Sunday. Stopping at a motel would have been such a let down after the delight of Fan House so we opted for home instead. It took a couple of days for me to recover from sitting so long in a car but I feel agile again. I had a chat with your Katie. She seemed pleased that we were so smitten with the trip. I must tell you one more time how much we loved our stay with you. Fan House is such wonderful place but you are the leavening that makes the experience so special. No one could possibly fill your shoes as a hostess. Thank you for your warmth, your caring, your generous hospitality and for making us feel like instant members of your family! Your daughters are so blessed to have you for a mom! We'll be back for sure.
Have a great California episode. The contrast between the Bel Aire Hotel and Fan House is staggering. I'll take Fan House any day but I guess we need variety in this man's world so we can truly appreciate what we love best
We'll stay in touch I hope. And we'll see you in Akron in April."
- Hugs, Betty and John
"Dear Sara, We were thinking of you recently and remembering our delightful stay at the Fan House last November. So we thought we'd drop you quick line to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. We have fond memories of your beautiful home and your wonderful breakfasts - in fact, thanks to you pancakes and maple syrup have become the celebratory breakfast of choice in our part of London!"
- All best wishes, Deborah and Paul
"HI Sara, I had intended to send you an email recommending that you eat the cheese! Just before leaving you, I thought not to forget the cheese but then, naturally, I did. I was so looking forward to tasting real Vermont cheddar that had been aged 57 months (or something to that effect). In California we get cheddar that's been aged 5 minutes. Please eat the cheese if you haven't done so already - it's our gift to you. Next time we visit Vermont and the Fan House, we'll celebrate with its replacement. We loved our stay with you and especially thank you for inviting us to meet your friends at your dinner party. What a wonderful group you are - I can see why you love living where you do."
- Best, Ellen
"Dear Sara, I've been meaning to write you. I had such a wonderful, relaxing time at your Inn. The place itself is charming and comfortable, but your company (meaning you!) made all the difference. I really enjoyed getting to know you a bit and appreciated your making me feel at home. I need to tell you, too, that although all the food was delicious, the best breakfast was the bacon and eggs, peaches, homemade blueberry muffins and fresh coffee - fabulous. What kind of eggs were they? Shirred? Anyway, the whole experience was a delight, even meeting the other guests. Although I won't be up again anytime soon, I'll enjoy thinking about and planning time for my next visit. Hope you are enjoying the last of summer before it fades entirely."
- Best, Susan
"Hi Sara, I wanted to thank you for the wonderful stay at the Fan House. Tony and I really enjoyed our room and the daily delicious breakfasts (and heavenly coffee)! We can't wait to make your cheese soufflé at home, so could you please email us the recipe. I'm sure I will not be able to replicate it to your perfection, so we will have to make another trip to the Fan House in the future."
"Sara, Thanks for another great stay in your home! We look forward to next summer."
- Gary, Vivian and Lucy.
"Dear Sara, What a great visit we had with you this past weekend! We wanted to thank you again for your wonderful hospitality and delicious breakfasts. All three of us agreed that we wished we could have stayed longer. Coming back to Palm Springs we were greeted by 114 degree heat. It was quite a shock. Let us know if you are planning a trip to California or to Italy; we would be happy to give you hospitality."
- Take care, Loving greetings, Caterina, Allegra and Monireh
"We had a wonderful time at the Fan House. Thank you for welcoming all of us and making us feel at home from the minute we stepped through the door"
- Warm wishes, Mimi
"Something in your graciousness to strangers is a rare gift. You go well beyond the perfunctory warmth of a practiced hotelier. You have a way of making people feel enjoyed that will serve you well. It's a pleasure to watch you open the door on a well-visited weekend. I think we both had a sneaky wish that the two of us could head up the stairs to our room. The house is magical in its comfy grandeur and it's only right that its bedrooms confer a mythical deep and restorative sleep. Don't be surprised if I or we appear at our doorstep some evening with our toothbrushes."
- Love Margaret and David, Fan House dinner guests
"Thank you so much for everything. Your inn is beautiful and you are a great host."
- Julie and Mark
Thanks for a lovely stay. Your home is enchanting.
- Betty Lou and Joe
Missed you, The Fan House and especially "our room" as soon as we went around the corner on Rt. 12. Thank you for a special visit to The Fan House. We enjoyed every minute. You added a very joyous spirit to our stay at the Fan House. You are a very gracious, generous hostess and we love you for this attribute among others. Now home and wishing we were back in Barnard. Lucky you!"
- Love, Joe and Fran
"Warm, heartfelt thanks for a truly wonderful stay.
Your simple, beautiful home is very special and so are you.
All the best to you always."
- Mimi and Jerry
"A belated thank you note for a perfect weekend. you have a magnificent place and I will let friends know when they talk about vacations. But it's your personality and generosity and spirit and laughter and love that really makes it work. The fireplace is mezmerizing and inspirational. I wrote 6,000 words in two days. Need to get there more often! "
- Jim, Staten Island, New York
"Thanks so much for having us as your guests. The four of us all enjoyed our stay immensely, and look foward both to recommending and returning to The Fan House."
- Sara, Boston, MA
"Perhaps we can keep in touch, and maybe if there is still some good snow up there in the end of February we'll make a trip up. I know for certain that we are planning another fall trip up North and would love to make arrangements to stay at The Fan House again.
- Alexander, Connecticut
What a ride we had. Vermont>New Hampshire>Massachusetts>Pennsylvania. We
drove 3500 miles in 16 days. Absent the fine details, let me just say we
did catch the brilliant leaves in NH, especially along 112 and in the
Franconia State Park. We visited the Robert Frost House nearby, so
satisfied even that interest.
Nothing along our great and glorious way could trump the Fan House Inn for
hospitality, so generous was your welcome, your presence, your
accommodations. Ann and I are novices concerning the B&B experience, and
yet I cannot imagine a more gracious home away from home. Thanks to your
attentive reservation that we sought at the last minute, we greatly enjoyed
as well our evening of fine dining. Mostly, though, you just being you made
all the difference. Always a pleasure to find someone who's found her
calling from life and so willing to share it with others. We will be back.
Keep us posted on that farm house for sell. Ya never know when we may tire
of the drought here and want for cooler climate. No "mud season" could
possibly detract from the grand view that is Vermont. So I make the poem
below (and attached, to preserve the format)."
( click here to read poem. )
- Lar W., Homewood, Alabama
"How are you? Staying at the Fan House was such a memorable wrap-up to my US visit. I enjoyed your lovely house and your wonderful company. What I learned most from you is how to have a fulfilling life living on your own. The pictures have come out so well and I am sending you the first one. It seems to take forever on my computer. I will send you the others one by one. My return journey was exhausting with an 8 hour transit in London. Besides it was so hot back in Madras. It took me a week to recover from the jet lag. My younger son kept me company for a few days after I returned and then went back to his law school. Satish is back in Lebanon after his visit to Brazil and spending some time with his father. Do keep in touch and if you should come this way please visit us in Madras.
-With love Javanthi