MANCHESTER VILLAGE, Vt. - It's easy to imagine a visit to the Wilburton Inn as a movie, the opening credits scrolling over a car ascending a winding road beneath arching trees toward a grand estate with sweeping views of the Battenkill River Valley.
Inside the stately three-floor Tudor mansion, built in the early 20th century, the plot unfolds amid meandering parlors, dining rooms, and guest rooms filled with a mishmash of antiques, Oriental carpets, carved mahogany moldings, lace curtains topped with decorative satin swags, crystal chandeliers, and a museum's worth of art, all populated with an interesting cast of characters which includes Jackson, the dog.
Of course, a vivid imagination isn't required to enjoy the Wilburton Inn's many charms. But it doesn't hurt.
Enter the innkeepers, stage left. Georgette Levis, called "Gorgeous" by her family, is the sister of the late playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Albert Levis, a Greek-born psychiatrist, is the author of "Conflict Analysis: The Formal Theory of Behavior." Together they manage the 23-acre B&B that includes the 11-bedroom mansion with a restaurant featuring new American cuisine, as well as four cottages, circa 1950, some with small kitchens, separate living rooms, and private decks. A fifth building, the Curry Reunion House, has five bedrooms with baths and looks like a Swiss chalet.
Arriving in the shoulder season between the leaf peepers and the skiers at nearby Stratton and Bromley mountains, I was the inn's lone guest. Checking in, I discovered the restaurant was closed for the week, as were many in the area. I also learned the innkeepers don't live on-site (cue horror movie music) but was reassured there is always staff on the property overnight (switch back to soothing Merchant Ivory production score).
I was graciously upgraded from third floor Room 11 to second floor Room 4, though I would have been happy in either accommodation. Room 4 is spacious, with a comfortable king-size four-post bed and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the valley. There's a chaise for lounging, an Oriental carpet on top of standard wall-to-wall, a boxy TV, and original art on wallpapered walls.
Overall, the architecture makes a better impression than the furnishings. The Levises have owned the property since 1987, and there's a decidedly '80s feel to the fabrics, carpeting, wallpaper, and curtains. Georgette confided, before learning I was there to write a review, that she's planning to upgrade the rooms.
The bathrooms, especially, could use some TLC. The bathroom in Room 4 is small and offers the basics: a tub-shower with sliding glass doors, sink, toilet, and floor tiles of dark wood. The towels are thin and white; the bath mat is gray.
At breakfast I was offered fresh baked breads, muffins, and an omelet of my choice. In warmer months the nearby Teleion Holon organic farm, run by the Levises' son, Oliver, and his wife, Bonnie, supplies much of the fresh vegetables used in the dining room. For dinner, I headed back to Manchester and found yummy Southwestern, Mexican, and Texas barbecue at Candeleros, housed in a charming, early-19th-century home.
Before the Levises purchased the property, the estate's previous incarnations were equally cinematic, the property having served as home to a wealthy banker from Cleveland, school for the children of European diplomats and artists who fled the Nazis, invitation-only club, corporate resort, and inn.
One reason Albert Levis developed the property was to promote his vision of the intersection of art and science through The Museum of the Creative Process.
"My idea was to create an ideal place to study, be creative, do art, all with the point of self-discovery," he said.
Indeed, as one exits the inn there's a vast lawn with swimming pool and tennis courts, and many of the sculptures that Levis has collected to elucidate his theories. Don't miss his tour of the Sculptural Trail, which begins at a reproduction of a giant Easter Island head outside the Sanctuary of Wisdom, where the exhibit "12 Panels of the Wizard of Oz" looks at the familiar story as a metaphor for resolving conflicts. According to Levis, the yellow brick road unites Dorothy's adventures into a totality with a beginning, middle, and end, much like my stay at the Wilburton Inn.
Necee Regis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.