Vermont is the New England state that we have visited the least. I don’t know why that is, because every time we visit we have a wonderful time.
Last summer was no exception. We were invited to Quechee, Vt. to attend a Media Tour at the Quechee Club, Vermont’s leading four-season Club community. The purpose of the trip was to showcase a $5 Million renovation at Quechee Lakes, a 5,200-acre community nestled in the hills of Vermont, and the chance to play two of the top rated golf courses in Vermont.
General manager, Tim Lewis, and his staff met us when we arrived. “We are quite sure that you will enjoy your three days here,” said Lewis which was a true understatement.
Quechee Club has hosted the New England Open for many years, and we have written the results often, but had never covered the tournament or seen the town. The late Geoffrey Cornish, a Massachusetts native considered one of the best course architects in the country, designed the two courses. In 2012, Cornish’s partner, Brian Silva, completely renovated the courses.
The courses are named the Lakeland and Highland, and they couldn’t be more different. The Lakeland course plays around the man-mad Lake Pinneo and has many holes that run along the Ottauquechee River (thus the name of the town). That river created the Queechee Gorge, a must-see just a mile from the property.
Lakeland is a links-style layout that measures 6,671 from the tips. There are five sets of tees, but there are seven choices as they so smartly made two sets of combo tees (combining the blue and white and the green and gold). Strategy is necessary when playing around the pond and along the river. Our favorite hole was the par 3 eighth over the river.
The Highland course is the Big Boy. It winds up the mountain (you see the skiing area right next to the fairway), and then back down the mountain to the amazing last hole that plays over 600 yards from the tournament tee. The par 3’s are very tough, especially 12 and 17 that play over a huge ravine.
The views from many of the holes are spectacular. The greens are large and most fairways are tree-lined.
We were fortunate to play the first day with T.J. Anthoine, the new head golf professional at the Quechee Club who had just come from Brae Burn C.C. in West Newton, Mass. “Isn’t this the most beautiful place,” said Anthoine as we trekked along the babbling river.
The golf courses were excellent and certainly a highlight for this long-time golf travel writer, but the property, the quaint town, the historic hotel we stayed in and the excellent shops and restaurants in the bucolic towns of Quechee and neighboring Woodstock made for a truly memorable trip.
We stayed at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm, about a half-mile from Quechee Lakes. The inn adjoins a working farm and the rooms were quaint and charming with fireplaces in most rooms. We stayed in the “Julia Child” room as that was her preference on her many trips to Quechee. The included breakfast each morning was hearty, and included homemade pastries.
Our first dinner was at the famous Simon Pearce restaurant. The food was outstanding and we even got a tour of the glass blowing shop right below the restaurant. The second evening we ventured to the next town, Woodstock, where we ate at the famous Woodstock Inn.
Quechee Lakes is a combination of elegant homes and spacious condominiums nestled in the woods and hillsides of Quechee. In 1970 the Quechee Lakes Landowner’s Assn. was formed. It continues to grow and the common grounds include a huge clubhouse, patio courtyard, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a full-service fitness center, aerobics room, squash court, locker rooms, sauna and massage room.
There are also two restaurants on property, and new platform tennis courts have been built. The huge golf shop sits on the hill overlooking the property and the two courses.
The Quechee Club welcomes renters as guests of the owners of Quechee properties. Rental guests have access to all of the The Quechee Club facilities at an appropriate fee for each amenity. “We find that many people who come up to rent for a few days decide to purchase a property in Quechee Lakes,” said Alicia Baker, marketing coordinator for the property.
Strolling through the quaint town and taking a hike down to the gorge are two highlights of a visit to the charming Vermont town. It is very active in the summer, but it is truly a year-round destination as the alpine skiing, snow shoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and sledding would attest. Many of the major ski slopes (Okemo, Killington, Stratton and Stowe) are a short distance from Quechee. Dartmouth College is a short drive from the town. With all of the hardwood trees surrounding the town, one can imagine the beautiful fall foliage.
The Quechee Club is definitely worth the trip. We will definitely be back as there are many wonderful things that we did not have the time to see. You can find out more about the property at www.QuecheeClub.com or calling 802-295-3956