Forty-one-year-old ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s enjoys a cult-like following of frozen-treat fans thanks to its creative and quirky flavors. Although the company owes its success mostly to eponymous founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, whose grand ice cream ambitions turned a small scoop shop into a global brand, there’s another hero in Ben & Jerry’s story that deserves at least some of the credit: the state of Vermont, where the South Burlington-based company has been churning out success one pint at a time since 1978.
The Green Mountain State is known for its small businesses, which produce not only handmade ice cream, but also fine cheese, craft beer and the state’s most famous export of all: pure maple syrup. In Vermont, purveyors of these and many other artisanal products find an entrepreneurial economy and a progressive culture that simultaneously fuel their creativity and build their bottom line.
The same ethos that makes Vermont fertile ground for artisans makes it an ideal destination for meeting groups that want to activate attendees’ innovative instincts. Happily, the state has many quality venues where meeting attendees can discover their inner Vermonters. And soon it will have another one, according to Choice Hotels International, which last week announced plans to open a new Cambria-branded hotel there in 2021.
Vermont’s first Cambria property will be located in Burlington, where it will occupy a historic structure built in 1934 that formerly housed the Greater Burlington YMCA. Along with 142 guest rooms, it will include a rooftop bar and restaurant (Burlington's first such lofty eatery) with views of nearby Lake Champlain, along with a fitness center and an unspecified amount of meeting space, all within walking distance of the University of Vermont and the UVM Medical Center, as well as Champlain College and the Church Street Marketplace, an outdoor, pedestrian-friendly shopping district.
“The Cambria Hotels brand excels at delivering a best-in-class experience, and developers notice its enduring success,” said Mark Shalala, vice president, franchise development, upscale brands, Choice Hotels. “We are thrilled to bring the first Cambria to the Green Mountain State. Burlington, a vibrant college town with a rich history, is the perfect place to start.”
Four More Vermont Venues to Consider
While they wait for Vermont’s first Cambria hotel to arrive in Burlington, groups should check out these four venues, which already are making the state as idyllic for meetings as it is for makers:
• Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain (Burlington). While its forthcoming Cambria is sure to be popular among visitors, another Burlington favorite is the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain, which was built in 1974 but completed a multimillion-dollar transformation in 2014. Located on the Burlington Greenway Bike Path that runs along Lake Champlain, the hotel has 258 guest rooms and over 16,000 square feet of meeting and event space, plus an indoor pool, a fitness center, and a signature restaurant and lounge that includes a scenic lakeside patio.
• The Lodge at Spruce Peak (Stowe). If you wanted a luxury ski experience, the best place to get one used to be in Colorado, Utah or Wyoming. No longer. Thanks to Spruce Peak in Stowe -- which recently completed a 10-year, $500 million redevelopment project encompassing its entire resort -- ski bunnies on the East Coast now have their own high-end place to frolic. Its centerpiece is the Lodge at Spruce Peak, formerly known as Stowe Mountain Lodge. Stowe’s only ski-in/ski-out hotel, it has 275 guest rooms and 55,000 square feet of meeting space, not to mention an all-seasons outdoor swimming pool with hot tubs, a spa, a game room, a fitness center with group fitness classes, a signature restaurant and access to Spruce Peak’s mountain golf course. Nearby, there’s also a new Village Center with restaurants, shopping and activities -- including a village green with lawn games and concerts in the summer and ice-skating in the winter.
• The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa (Manchester). Located at the foot of Mount Equinox, the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa dates back to 1769, when the property was a Revolutionary War-era pub known as Marsh Tavern. It first added an inn in 1780, when it was known as Munson’s Inn, and has changed hands, names and shapes numerous times since. Now part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, it has 199 guest rooms and 18,500 square feet of meeting space, as well as a spa, a year-round heated indoor pool, a fitness club with group exercise classes, a golf course and five restaurants -- including the historic Marsh Tavern. There’s even the Land Rover Experience Driving School, an 80-acre, purpose-built driving course where guests can develop expert driving skills while navigating the rough terrain of the Green Mountains.
• The Woodstock Inn & Resort (Woodstock). Located in the village of Woodstock -- which Condé Nast Traveler named as America’s most beautiful town in 2016 -- the Woodstock Inn & Resort began as a tavern in 1793 and first became a hotel in 1830. In 1967, however, it was razed and rebuilt by conservationist and third-generation Rockefeller Laurance Rockefeller and his wife, Mary, who established the modern-day hotel as an eco-friendly destination in 1969. Today, the Woodstock has 142 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as four restaurants, a 10,000-square-foot LEED-certified spa and a golf course.