As a native Vermonter, it always gives me the greatest of pleasure getting to experience hotels in a place that I know so well. Of all the resorts in the state, I think Basin Harbor offers something unique and transporting, that you do not find anywhere else. It is not for everyone–if you don’t like complete quiet save for the birds, sipping coffee as you watch the sailboats, twilight golf rounds or croquet on the lawn, Basin Harbor might not be your speed. But if you crave a wholesome escape, this is the place to go.
**Author’s note: Our most recent stay was in Sept 2020, so there were COVID-19 safety precautions. However, as the resort is very spread out and open air, the stay was very similar to our stay previously pre-COVID. The only big differences had to do with dining options being more limited.
Here are my top five reasons why you should plan a trip here next year:
1. You will travel back in time
The simple joys of life by the lake have transcended time–quite a lot of time since 1886. Basin Harbor has hosted generations of guests and the entire resort still embodies that simple charm of a bygone era. Relax on the lawns in an adirondack chair, just like over a century of guests have done before you or sip champagne in the main lodge in front of a roaring fire. Basin Harbor has a level of rustic, unfussy elegance that does not go out of style.
2. You can finally slow down
Here you feel off the grid, in a glorious way, where your main concerns are when to swim in the lake, what book to read on your back porch or if you want to play golf or swim in the pool that day. Take your golf cart to dinner at The Red Mill or at Ardelia’s and sit by the fire after for some s’mores. Let the kids run to beach or play on the playground–all is close by and so safe. There’s no need for big decisions or stress here. Just happy hours to enjoy connecting with your loved ones and yourself. It’s no wonder that families tend to return to Basin Harbor year after year.
3. You can fully immerse in Vermont nature
Guided kayak adventures, hikes in the breathtaking forested hills or narrated daily history tours aboard the EScape, there are so many ways to fully connect with Vermont’s unspoiled nature. Very few places in the world allow you to wake up the waves of the lake lapping on shore and the bird songs and chipmunks rising with the sun. The entire resort is created to honor this nature and it’s up to you how much you want to dive in.
4. Stay in a fully renovated lakeside cottage
As much as I enjoy being out in nature and disconnecting, I do crave a few comforts when it comes to my room. Choose one of the 74 cottages, each one a little different, to find the size, location and style to suit you. There are 45 guestrooms as well, typically with lower price points, but I do recommend the cottages if you are able as it’s a very special experience that you don’t find many other places.
Of my two stays at Basin Harbor, I opted for the renovated 2 bedroom cottages, Hearthstone on the South side and Sunset on the North side. Both had lovely sitting rooms and a little kitchenette area, along with spacious and well appointed bedrooms.
Outside of size, location is probably the key factor in determining which cottage is for you. Sunset was the furthest North and the furthest away from much of the resort, but it did give us a lot of quiet and solitude (and with a golf cart, you can access everything easily). However, Hearthstone had the convenience factor as it was walking distance to breakfast, the pool and firepit. Consult their handy map to take a look at cottages and locations.
5. Choose your own local adventure
Though I can very easily see how you would never have to leave the expansive 700 acres property, there are quite a few experiences worth a short drive. Take a wagon ride to see all the animals at Shelburne Farms or grab an ice cream cone in the quaint Vergennes. Admire the waterfall as you lunch at American Flatbread in Middlebury or have an open air dinner at Starry Night Café, one of my favorite restaurants in Vermont. If you travel in Fall, you can take advantage of all the autumnal offerings like pumpkin picking, apple orchards and the most colorful foliage (see all my fall recs for this area in this post here).
Important Note: Basin Harbor is a seasonal resort, open from May to October. They are currently closed for the season but it is recommended to book ahead as there are many repeat families. Summer is high season but I’ve stayed in both early May and late September and found them both to be lovely. You have the resort more to yourself and you can enjoy the fresh spring air or the cozy fall vibes on either end of the season. You can book your stay here.