A Family Inn in the Mountains
A Family Inn in the Mountains
Location. Location. Location. The Wilburton has it in spades. It’s winding drive off River Road skirts through art-filled grounds past breathtaking views to a majestic hilltop estate.
The inn is owned and operated by the Levis Family. We got to visit with Jetson, an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the inn’s official four-legged ambassador. His mother Melissa spoiled us with cake and tea and wonderful Wilburton stories.
A Summer Place
“This place is rich in history. Albert Gilbert, who built the inn was a railroad tycoon in Chicago where he was friends with Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln. They built neighboring hilltop mansions in Manchester. James Wilbur, the second owner of the Wilburton, owned the Royal Trust Bank in Chicago and paid for the first paved road in the state of Vermont! The Wilburton was a 500-acre gentleman’s farm and part of this glamorous turn of the century Manchester community.”
Archives at the Manchester Historical Society record the arrivals of famous visitors to a budding resort town. “They came to Manchester from New York and Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago, and established a summer colony whose social life included local residents and guests at the hotels. They entertained each other, attended events at the Music Hall, went to dinner and dances at the Equinox, went for drives, played croquet, lawn tennis, and golf.” (from Mary Hard Bort’s “Manchester: Memories of a Mountain Valley“)
Georgette and Albert.
“The Wilburton became an inn in the 1950s. My family completely changed its culture when they purchased it in 1987. My father bought the Wilburton on the spur of the moment. He and Mom came for dinner to celebrate his 50th birthday. When Dad told the maître d he thought it was spectacular, the maître d’ responded that it was for sale. Dad said, ‘I’ll buy it! And mom fell into the soup.” Melissa laughed. A European psychiatrist, author, and art collector, “Dad” is Dr. Albert Levis; innkeeper, father of four. He turns 80 this year, on July 18, and you can help him celebrate!
“Our family made the Wilburton a creative place, a joyful place, a place for family, and celebrations. As I sing in our Wilburton Inn theme song, “We didn’t buy it to run it like a Hyatt!”
“My mom valued creativity, kindness, and family above all.” Georgette passed away in 2014 but her personality and spirit remain an everyday part of the Wilburton experience. Guests remember her vivacity and her intelligence, and her general joie de vivre. “My parents were very comfortable with who they were. They weren’t cookie cutter people. As my aunt, playwright Wendy Wasserstein captured in her writing, my grandmother Lola Wasserstein was very iconoclastic and unique and so my mother always appreciated people with extraordinary character. I think people who like character love the Wilburton Inn.”
“When our father bought the inn he felt it would be a canvas where we would create; a place where everybody has room, and everyone is welcome. What’s incredible is that it is our canvas and there’s room for each of us to make our contribution. Our brother Oliver and his wife Bonnie created Earth Sky Time Farm in our childhood home in Manchester. They make the incredible hearth baked bread for breakfast each morning and cater farm nights for 100 guests every Wednesday night in summer. I contribute the theatrical theme parties, singalongs, goddess getaways, and pet-friendly events. Our brother Max just got his PdD and brings the academic retreats to the inn. Our sister Tajlei is writing the Broadway-bound musical of Green Acres and writes the murder mysteries for our November weekends. Our father gets the pleasure of having a family that’s cohesive and our guests get to experience an inn that is full of life!”
Room at the Inn
Wilburton guests are a diverse and loyal bunch. Many are “regulars” and come to stay for ski vacations, summer getaways, family reunions–long stays with favorite people. They come with dogs, and kids, and grandkids. Everyone feels welcome. “Our guests love the inn because it’s such a unique and authentic place. When we’re in peak season, it’s wonderful to see how many happy events are happening simultaneously.” Melissa toured us around the top campus. “In our Strawberry Hill Villa, a corporate retreat. In the Reunion House, a gathering of family and friends. We had a group of Harley Davidson bikers in another building, and then our Bed & Breakfast guests filling up the inn.”
The entire campus covers 30-acres, with the six free-standing vacation homes surrounding the historic mansion. “So while the Harley Davidson group is rockin’ out on their terrace, there’s plenty of space for the romantic couple to stroll and the kids to frolic in the pool.”
“People love to gather as families, to cook together, to relax together, to have really wonderful family-style vacations. Dad spotted this trend a decade ago, before Airbnb really took off, and installed kitchens and living rooms in all of the Wilburton vacation villas.”
Inspiration and Extras
Now, you can even rent the 11 bedroom mansion for your private vacation! “Over Presidents Day Weekend, a group of investment bankers took over the entire house. They played charades. They brought instruments & jammed on the grand piano. They hosted formal dinner parties in the Billiard Room catered by our chef.” The Wilburton homes sleep from 6 to 34 guests under one roof. You can fly into Boston, Albany, or Hartford, rent a van and bring everybody up. The inn’s culinary team can cater family-style meals or you can go it on your own in one of the gorgeous new kitchens.
Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 14th with a special menu from Chef Gary and a complimentary MOM-osa for your VIP! Plus, Sunday museum tours with Albert and soon — the return of Farm Nights. Best Wednesday night meal you’ll have all summer long. Totally organic, totally vegetarian, totally made with love! Plus, beautiful views, live bluegrass music and dancing to boot. “I get everyone to sing the Wilburton theme song with me! Farm Night always sells out, so be sure to make reservations,” she winks. “People come as groups and host their own dinner parties, or they come and meet friends, and make new friends.”
The Wilburton Inn is one of those special places that’s really good for your soul.
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