After a day of skiing (the first one of the season) in southern Vermont, we drove over the covered bridge at the entrance of the Hermitage Inn’s property in West Dover. We collapsed into chairs by the fireplace in our room in the former historic New England farmhouse as the gas flames clicked on and waning sunlight streamed through the windows.
A hot shower later and we were heading to a private wine tasting in the cellar to graze on charcuterie and sample the property’s Wine Spectator Award of Excellence–winning wine program. A winter day doesn’t get much better than this.
The Hermitage Inn, which dates to the early 1800s, was bought and renovated in 2021 by Scituate-turned-Vermont residents Mary Lou Ricci and Tim Hall. The inn sits at the base of a private ski area called the Hermitage Club, which used to own the inn until it went bankrupt a few years ago, and Ricci and Hall, former insurance company owners and second homeowners in Vermont, bought and renovated the property. This is their first busy season in full swing.
The 112-acre property sits five minutes south of the popular ski resort Mount Snow. The building has been an inn since 1962, says Ricci, and longtime owner Jim McGovern, who owned the inn from 1971 into the 2000s, used to run a wine program there that earned a distinguished Wine Spectator Grand Award in 1982.
The Hermitage has fourteen guest rooms—three snug rooms in the main building above the tavern, seven slightly more spacious rooms in the Coldbrook wing, and four rooms in the Carriage House, which can also be rented out as one whole four-bedroom house. The rooms, all newly decorated in the past year or so, are calming and inviting, with lots of light and neutral colors rather than the heavy fabrics and dark, stuffy feel of some historic New England inns. All rooms have gas fireplaces and walk-in showers, and lux touches like Frette linens, Nespresso machines, Dyson hair dryers, and LectroFan white-noise machines. The Carriage House rooms have whirlpool tubs, too.
The inn’s food and beverage program was developed in partnership with James Beard Award–winning Boston chef Michael Schlow. The tavern has a bar and is open daily for dinner and serves a continental breakfast for inn guests. The dining room, which features a crackling wood-burning fireplace, is transitioning to a prix fixe dinner menu, served Thursday through Sunday, heavy on the seasonal and local ingredients. During busy winter weekends, they’ll open up both dining areas, which flow easily into each other, for lunch, primarily catering to guests skiing at the Hermitage Club.
Choosing our impeccably cooked dinner samplings—butternut squash soup, day boat scallops with cauliflower, short rib with polenta, and maple cake for dessert—was the biggest challenge of the day after seeing other menu highlights like salt cod brandade, Maine mussels, and chicken and black truffle pot pie.
For the winter months the Hermitage is hosting a special Alpine dining initiative. In one of two heated outdoor gondolas, outfitted with crystal chandeliers, pillows, and throws, parties of up to four can have the ultimate après-ski experience complete with fondue, champagne, petite sandwiches, sausages, and more. The gondolas also have Swiss-themed lunch and dinner menus, and they’re available for both hotel guests and the public to book.
Ricci and Hall have begun building up McGovern’s original wine program at the Hermitage Inn. The robust wine cellar is stocked with vintages from all over the world, though they specialize in Italian and Californian producers. Discover the wine program through a private tasting with the sommelier, or with their monthly wine cellar dinner series.
Other hotel amenities include a sauna, an outdoor hot tub, which we loved taking advantage of after a long day in the cold, and outdoor fire pits that blaze all year round. One of the final renovations to the property, says Ricci, will be adding a heated outdoor pool next year. They’re expanding the spa program, too, offering massages on-site from one of three massage therapists.
And there’s much more to do in the winter than just warming up—an outdoor ice rink is open to any hotel or restaurant guests, and the property has about two miles of walking trails that are great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing when it’s snowy. Plus, Vermont’s VAST snowmobile trail has a convenient stop right by the property (Ricci and Hall are both avid snowmobilers).
While ski season is the busiest at the Hermitage, foliage season and summertime are ramping up in popularity, too, and the inn has no shortage of warmer weather activities. The inn stocks the pond with trout for fly-fishing each summer, and this summer had archery on-site. They also own a fleet of kayaks and paddleboards and can give guests a lift to one of the many nearby lakes or ponds for a day of watersports. When the weather cools, the inn provides proximity to leaf peeping and hiking trails, and that’s when the apple and pear trees in the inn’s orchard ripen.
Ricci and her team spent a lot of energy and resources renovating the property—and it’s paid off. They’ve added a fitness center in what used to be a storage building, opened and expanded the floor plan of the common areas, replaced the dining room’s gas fireplace with a wood-burning one, and redone the hotel’s interior design, which now strikes the perfect balance between chic and cozy.
Some of the other top attractions around West Dover include the Snow Republic Brewery and Two Tannery Road, a fine-dining restaurant in an eighteenth-century house. But with all of the Hermitage Inn’s recent additions and more and more visitors coming to check out the inn from all over the country, it’s becoming an attractive destination all its own.