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The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort & Spa
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Reviews (1,508)
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All reviewscooking classculinary resortchef's tableculinary instituteoutlet malltavern restaurantmain buildingthe outdoor hot tubsteam roomtennis courtscouples massagegrounds are lovelyroom was largefitness centergreat weekendcookiesburlington area
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988 - 993 of 1,508 reviews
Reviewed October 15, 2012

Resort was very pretty, clean, friendly, and very relaxing. Would recommend the resort !!!!! Food was wonderful and presentation was superior. Wish we had time to use use the spa. Only disappointing thing was the outdoor hot tub. Would have been nice to have it inside as outside it was very dirty from the leaves.

Room Tip: Rooms were very quiet.
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Karen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2012

My husband and I purchased a 2 day deal thru travelzoo, and after reading some of the recent postings we were quite concerned about what to expect. We were, in fact, very pleasantly surprised. Im not sure what some of the previous comments were about! We were able to use our two day deal at the peak leaf peeping season. Breakfast, which was included was delicious. We ordered the buffet, and were able to have belgian waffles and omlets made to order. The amuse hour was fun - watching the hors doeuvres being prepared while enjoying a drink. We had dinner one night in the Tavern - my only complaint was that my burger was well done instead of the medium rare I had ordered. I enjoyed a cooking demo in the lobby, and we both enjoyed hot cider and cookies in the afternoon.
Our room was beautifully decorated, and appeared to be recently redone, as did the halls. We did not get to use the indoor pool and hot tub, but they looked great. Everyone working at the hotel was helpful and courteous.
We will definitely return to this hotel when we are back in the Burlington area, hopefully in summer so we can enjoy the outdoor pool.

Room Tip: We were in the main building. Im not sure what the rooms are like in the other buildings. Maybe those are the rooms people were complaining about.
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank abcmpc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

My wife got us a 2-night deal (which included 2 breakfasts and one night at the “Amuse” happy hour) for $299 for a Sunday/Monday night. Reading the fine print, though, they add additional “gratuity” and “resort fee”, in addition to the taxes, so it was $363 when all was said and done ($182/night).

I find it unusual that we were forced to pay “gratuity” (a full 20%, mind you), rather than it being something that is earned by the staff, scaled by the quality of service. Another odd thing is that you are told not to tip for breakfast because your tip “is included in the package”. Not quite. What they mean to say is, “Don’t tip because we’re gonna sock you with a 20% charge upon checkout -- regardless of the quality of service or food.”

As for the “resort fee”, especially given what we were offered, it’s just a sneaky and tacky way of subsidizing higher rental costs. When I looked at what was offered to us for it (internet access, hot-tub, swimming pool … no campfire,… who plays tennis when it’s raining in mid October?) it’s all just standard stuff you will find included in the room price in other hotels. Essex should give their customers a list of what it’s for and then let them opt-out, if they want.

Being a culinary resort, honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed by the food and service. Let me give some specifics for each of the breakfast buffet, the Amuse happy hour, and the Tavern as well as the nightly hot cider:
1.) The breakfast buffet is not much different than what I’ve seen at a regular chain like a Marriott or Radisson, to be honest. Order off the buffet, though and that’ll smart. Nine dollar bowls of oatmeal …. Seriously? The first day, everything on the buffet was cold – very cold. I complained and got fresh hot French toast which was excellent, though. The next day we were told that they had lost power (the prior day) and so their heaters had been off, but, again, I tried the French toast, and, honestly, it wasn’t much warmer. So, order the fresh hot stuff. The Belgian waffles are quite good (though the maple syrup is cold), and the chef was quite fun to chat with.
2.) The Amuse happy hour was perhaps the biggest let down for two reasons. There was not enough interaction w/the chef, and, the appetizers, with the exception of the popcorn (for which you got one handful), were rationed: you get just one bite of each, about 4 in total. Mind you, these were not big appetizers, either. I looked around at the 12 other people at the “Amuse” happy hour, and didn’t see too many happy faces. I found I had better interactions with the morning chef, and it wasn’t even his advertised role to have an “interactive experience” with us.
3.) The Tavern didn’t score well with us. Prior to seating us, the hostess had wiped our table and my chair – with a VERY wet cloth. I’m not kidding – the table and chair were both really wet. Not wanting to get my dress clothes wet, I asked if she could wipe the table and chair dry, to which she rolled her eyes, but did it without apology. Essex take note: That is why gratuity should never be forced, especially 20%. My wife had the hanger steak salad which was tasty, though, came with a preponderance of lettuce.
4.) At night they had free cookies and hot (as advertised) cider in the main lounge area. Again, the cider was not hot (notice the trend?) and the peanut butter cookie I had was overly salty. Dunno what that 20% gratuity or the resort fee is going for, but it sure isn’t for *hot* cider.
As for the Spa effects, the hot tub was nice, though I like the ones with jets at more than one level – that is, more than just my lower back would enjoy the massaging feel of the jets. My wife has a massage and said it was good – just don’t forget that they stick you with the mandatory 20% gratuity upon checkout for any massages. So be sure you don't double-tip.

The room was nicely furnished and clean and the bed was fine. For the room, I have one suggestion to travelers and one minor caution. First, for the darkest room at night, bring duct tape to cover the green light on the smoke detector and place a towel under the door so light does not come in from the hallway. Second, the heating system cycles on for 3 minutes, then off for 1 minute… all night long. This was mentioned to the front staff the next morning that it should be fixed as it is not energy efficient and will wear out the motor starter. Hopefully, the system functions better in other rooms.

Bottom line: Look around – better deals are out there.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SKUBA7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

I travel very frequently and have the opportunity to stay in a lot of wonderful hotels, but my stay at The Essex ranks in the top three ever. We live just an hour away, but we wanted a parents-only getaway for the weekend. I picked up a great deal on a coupon website for the room, dinner, sparkling wine, and a spa discount. We had a fireplace suite with a whirlpool tub. Everything in the room was clean and orderly, with plenty of space for two. The fireplace is a gas stove tucked across from a cozy couch; great for snuggling up on a chilly October evening with a glass of bubbly. The stove operated on a timer, which was a bit loud, but understandably they don't want guests to leave the fire on indefinitely.

Our package included a split bottle of sparkling wine which was icy cold when we arrived. The whirlpool tub was huge, spotless, and worked perfectly. The directions posted on the wall were very much appreciated, as were the plush robes hung nearby. There was also an enclosed shower next to it for a quick rinse instead of a long soak. With a Keurig coffee maker, garbage disposal, dishwasher, range, and fridge, you could easily make this home base for an extended stay. And unlike many suites, there was a separate dining table, so no one had to huddle around a coffee table with room service meals.

Our room service breakfast was ready and delivered in 20 minutes. Everything was hot and tasty -- a great way to start the day. Our only food lament is that no desserts were listed in the menu for late-night snacking. We found a well-stocked case of treats in the lobby later, but nothing was listed in the room.

We also had the opportunity to have a couple of drinks in the Tavern, as well as dinner at Amuse. The tavern was relaxed, and the drinks were excellent. A big thumbs up for the Limon Mojito and our bartender cheerfully made a bloody mary spicier at our request. We were given complimentary chips with a little zing to munch on before dinner. Amuse was wonderful -- this was our second visit and if anything it topped our last dinner here. The trio of amuse bouche was carrot themed. Every course was excellently prepared and linger-worthy. More than once, we stopped and wondered about a unique flavor in a dish. We were both in love with the burrata accompanying the lasagna. It was also a pleasant surprise to see pavlova on the dessert menu -- you don't find it often. It was crunchy, yet chewy and altogether delicious.

Overall, this was the perfect relaxing getaway that we were hoping for. We're already talking about booking again soon!

Room Tip: Suite 260 is a spacious room with separate bedroom and few shared walls.
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank taragl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2012

For $350 a night I expected a lot more than an outdated room. We were told at checking that we were upgraded to a suite because of a high volume this weekend. Needless to say we were very excited. Then we entered the Manir section of the resort and noticed the stained carpet. After opening the door to our room I was wondering what rooms they had pictures of on their website because room 153 sure was not one of them. Oh we'll, we proceeded to the tavern to watch the game and have a bite to eat. Again we had high expectations since they are a culinary institute. The male bartender was beyond terrible. I felt so bad for the woman working with him as she had to do most of the work. The nachos sounded great but all the toppings were on the bottom and some chips had no salt while others were beyond salty. The soup of the day was a potato bacon with no chunks of potato. We think it may have been purveyed - not especially good but eatable. The last thing we tried was the s'mores cake. One word - yuck! I hate to give such a bad review but unfortunately nothing we tried was very good. The people sitting next to us said the meatballs were excellent, I wish I had tried those. The grounds of the hotel are beautiful but the rooms need major updating if they want to charge $350 a night. Sorry.

Room Tip: Don't pick room 153
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jody S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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