Fit, Fun, and Finally Relaxing – A Mother Daughter Trip to Litchfield Hills – A unique place to vacation
Every year, my mother tells us the story of how I was her birthday present. What sounds like a sweet story could have been tragic, so I am glad she remembers my birth fondly. Her doctor insisted I was underweight, but my mother’s intuition told her otherwise. I was close to ten pounds when her water broke. They prepped her for an emergency C-section, but the iodine wash sent her into allergic shock. She spent the next four days in the ICU. On April 23, her birthday, the nurses wheeled me in to meet her for the first time.
For our birthdays this year, we decided to give each other the experience of a girls’ spa trip. One of my best friends and her mother recommended Winvian Farm in Litchfield County. After a little research, it became clear why it was their “happy place.”
One of the property’s many wonderful features is its 18 private cottages—all designed by different architects—with names like Camping, Golf, Helicopter, Log Cabin, Treehouse, Woodlands, Maritime, and Stable. The Treehouse cottage sits 35 feet off the ground, while the Helicopter cottage is built in a fully restored 1968 Sikorsky Coast Guard helicopter, where you can enjoy happy hour in the cockpit.
We were flexible with our travel dates and chose a Sunday overnight stay, for which five cottages were available. Staff was easy to communicate with over email and asked about our allergies and preferences. Stable seemed like the natural fit for us: I am an equestrian and my mom adores a Ralph Lauren vibe. The drive up was quick and pretty—showcasing quintessential New England scenery along the way.
The Winvian entrance is marked with wooden gates that guard the sprawling 113-acre property. The Seth Bird House (c. 1775) is the main house on the property. It’s home to an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant and serves as common space for guests to relax with cocktails outside, or to play board games, pool, or shuffleboard.
Throughout the farm are nods to its first owners, Winthrop and Vivian (hence Winvian), who bought the property in 1948. Antique trinkets and vintage photos dot the walls and end tables, each with its own story. For years, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, and pheasants were raised on site. While the animals have vacated, guests can enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by nature. Guests can hike or horseback ride at a nearby barn.
After check in, we took a short drive to Stable cottage down the singular road around the property. The cottages are situated in clusters around, so you have neighboring cottages, but they’re not close enough to see one another while inside. Stable was within walking distance to the spa building where we had booked afternoon services.
An antique brass horse head post greeted us at the foot of the slate path and set the stage for the authentic decor inside. An open staircase led downstairs to the bedroom and bathroom, each on separate floors. Old drawings and photos of horses and riders adorned the walls, while equestrian relics like horse show ribbons, a black velvet helmet, and horse figurines served as meaningful decor.
The green herringbone tiled bathroom was the star—featuring heated floors, an enormous steam shower, and sunken tub with private views of the wooded backyard. The cottage was large enough that one could relax downstairs alone while traveling with friends, but still intimate for a couple’s stay.
My mom and I walked over to the spa for our massage and facial. We waited in the common area between services, which offered comfortable seating areas and more private spaces separated by beaded curtains — a unique design detail that added another layer of texture to the bright open space.
Back at the Seth Bird house, the hostess led us upstairs to a small room with five tables. It felt like being a guest at a dinner party. The prix-fixe menu offered three choices for each course, and the option of a dessert or cheese course for the finale. I started with their popular cocktail—The Vivian—made from cucumber, lime, rosemary gin, and ginger beer.
After cocktails, the chef sent an amuse bouche of terrine with whole grain mustard. Taking my allergy into consideration, gluten-free bread was served. My mom enjoyed a sald with smoked salmon and tater tots. For dinner, we chose steak and scallops. Dessert was a gluten-free deconstructed carrot cake.
After dinner, we had a chat with owner Maggie Smith, who was tending bar, and indulged us in some Winvian history. It felt like catching up with an old friend.
The next morning we enjoyed coffee in our room before heading into Litchfield to shop. My mom and I agreed—this was one of our favorite birthday presents ever.