I'm riding my bike on the bucolic backroads of Vermont when a Mercedes (or BMW, Audi, or Jaguar) with out-of-state plates slows, and the driver's window rolls down. I know what is coming. Befuddled travelers in this offbeat corner invariably want directions to Twin Farms. The luxury resort, with an unmarked gate on a barely marked back road, is easy to miss, but that would be a shame, because it is arguably the best small resort in the nation.
Despite having just 20 accommodations, Twin Farms offers a larger-than-life guest experience, and it is the only all-inclusive awarded the highest possible Forbes (formerly Mobil) five-star rating—for each of the past 20 years. It has repeatedly won Best Small Resort U.S. in Cigar Aficionado, and its 26,000-bottle cellar received Wine Spectator's Best Award of Excellence.
A Relais & Chateaux property on a 300-acre estate once owned by Sinclair Lewis and his journalist wife Dorothy Thompson, Twin Farms takes a unique menu-free approach. Stellar cuisine is customized for each guest, with carefully selected wine pairings. Produce comes from the chef's garden or from neighboring farmers, who also raise grass-fed pastured beef and heirloom pork and poultry for the kitchen. Every guest fills out a detailed questionnaire for the meals, which accommodate every taste and need, including fine vegan, gluten-free or kosher meals. Since rates (starting at $1,450 per couple per night) include everything but spa treatments, any meal can be room service. Elaborate picnic lunches can be delivered throughout the vast property, perhaps at one of the picnic tables along the resort's private hiking trail network or on the shore of its lake, which is popular for fly-fishing, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding. Complete with after-dinner s'mores at the outdoor fire pit, it is like year-round summer camp, but for adults (children are only welcome during designated family weeks). Fine single-malt Scotch is offered in the freestanding Bridgehouse Pub, along with billiards and live entertainment.
There is a Japanese-style bathhouse, a furo, set in the trees, and a new yoga pavilion with scheduled and private classes. The downhill ski area uses a special "snowmobile limo" to whisk skiers to the top. An all-season trail system offers mountain biking, hiking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing—equipment included. A mostly downhill bike ride into the charming town of Woodstock is made easier with a lift back. About the only things you can pay for here besides rooms are reserve wines and spa treatments or personal training.
With the exception of six hotel-style suites, lodging is in themed cottages (which are more like homes). The multimillion dollar art collection includes original Jasper Johns or Roy Lichtenstein works that might hang on your wall. Cottages all have fireplaces and cigar-friendly screened porches. Some offer hot tubs, decks and giant soaking baths. Several are dog friendly. A four-bedroom house accommodates groups.
And if you're worried about finding your way, chauffeured airport transfers to and from nearby airports are part of the price.