WESTON, Vt. -- We had booked one of the more modest rooms at the Inn at Weston, but when we arrived, owner-innkeeper Bob Aldrich had a surprise.
"We've upgraded your room" he told us. "No one was using it, so you might as well enjoy it."
As Aldrich showed us the way, he paused in the parlor, where two walls were lined with books. "Feel free to grab a book if you didn't bring one," he said. "It's OK to take it with you if you don't finish it. Just mail it back when you're done." He opened a cabinet door to reveal a stash of videotapes, and pointed out a big pile of CDs.
Sure enough, our room was equipped with a 27-inch TV, CD player, and VCR.
"It's the simplest to operate that I could find," Bob assured us. Since taking over the inn in 2001, he, a former cardiologist, and his wife, Linda, a former nurse, seem to have anticipated their guests' every need.
Our room occupied the first floor of a carriage house that had been added on to the original 1848 farmhouse. The electronics occupied one corner of a desk, leaving room to set up a computer. But we doubt anyone ever has the urge to work. Not when they can sink into two armchairs situated for TV watching or reading in front of the gas-burning stove, and later retire to a king-size featherbed with Anichini luxury linens.
If that weren't enough, the bathroom shower stall converts into a steam sauna and the whirlpool tub has ample room for two. The space was full of romantic vibes. As we learned from the guest book, our room had been enjoyed by a couple on the first weekend getaway of a "new relationship," another who had eloped, several honeymooners, a couple who had traveled from Florida for a civil union ceremony, and others celebrating first, fourth, 10th, 25th, and 36th anniversaries.
The inn sits midway between Stratton and Okemo ski areas, but we were too early in the season for more than a man-made base. So we lingered over breakfast in the dining room. Innkeeper Scott Hendricks, who works with the Aldriches, served sliced fruits, blueberry muffins, and buttermilk pancakes with fruit compote and Canadian bacon. At nearby tables, a father and grade-school-age son planned their day, a young woman laughed about putting too much bubble bath in her Jacuzzi, and a two-generation family group compared notes on their rooms.
After breakfast, Bob Aldrich took us on a tour of his orchid greenhouse. The lush greenery, exotic blooms, and warm, humid air were the perfect antidote to a gray day. Aldrich started with one plant, and his collection just sort of grew. "Anyone with a collector's mentality will understand," he told us. He answered questions and gave us tips on the best orchids to try on our east-facing windowsill.
Afterward, we strolled across the street to The Vermont Country Store, where we discovered all kinds of gadgets (squirtless grapefruit knives, lambswool dusters, cleaning brushes for the teakettle spout) that we couldn't do without. The store also lays out a smorgasbord of salsas, dips, spreads, crackers, cheese, and cookies for shoppers to sample.
But we were saving our appetite for dinner back at the inn. Executive chef Michael Kennedy gears his New American menu to the season. We started with imaginative, well-balanced salads that sound more complicated than they really were: grilled root vegetables on cellophane noodles with buffalo mozzarella for one of us, and mesclun salad with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, and pear slices for the other. Our pork loin chop and Long Island duckling entrees were intense and meaty -- just right for the season. Their accompaniments (spinach and a mash of maple-rosemary sweet potatoes with the pork, intensely dark forbidden rice and punchy grilled asparagus with the duck) provided smart contrasts of flavor and texture.
We were digging into a chocolate tart with raspberry coulis and an apple turnover with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce when a nervous young man at a nearby table pulled a ring from his pocket and popped the question. His surprised girlfriend put it on her finger, jumped up, and gave him an effusive hug. (That was a "yes.")
At another table, the family group we had seen at breakfast gathered for a wedding supper. The bride and groom had just been married in front of the fireplace in the cozy pub, with their parents as witnesses. Scott, a Roman Catholic priest who recently left active ministry, performed the ceremony. Bob, an amateur photographer, captured it all on film.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon are freelance writers in Cambridge.