Historic Highland Lodge now taking reservations as a year-round Bed & Breakfast! Please like their page at https://www.facebook.com/highlandlodge/
Change is afoot at the venerable Highland Lodge, a landmark property in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Under new ownership, Highland Lodge is now welcoming guests as a year-round Bed & Breakfast that champions local craft foods and spirits, the arts community and the incomparable outdoor culture of the surrounding area.
Highland Lodge has been welcoming guests in search of the quintessential Vermont experience for generations. Perched on a hill above stunning Caspian Lake, the 136-acre property is the perfect basecamp for adventure in every season. Skiers are on the doorstep of the phenomenal Greensboro Nordic trail system and summer guests enjoy the lake from its private, sandy beachfront. Highland Lodge is also just a short distance from local attractions such as the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Sterling College, Circus Smirkus, Highland Center for the Arts and Hill Farmstead Brewery.
David and Wilhelmina Smith, whose family has owned the lodge since the 1954, have sold the 136-acre property to Highland Lodge 2016, LLC, led by CEO and Event Curator, Heidi Lauren Duke. Ms. Duke will restore the lodge to a classic bed and breakfast inn, making some small changes that respect the lodge’s many traditions while bringing in some modern amenities.
The Smiths were determined to find the right people to fill their shoes before they handed over their beloved gem. “The lodge is so important to us that we had to wait for the right owner,” said the Smiths. “We found her in Heidi Lauren and her team, who have impressed us with their hard work and respect for our land and community. Heidi Lauren will bring the right kind of youthful energy to the place, which is just what it needs.”
Having directed and performed in projects at such venues as New York’s Cartier Mansion, France’s Avignon Opera House, and Washington’s Kennedy Center, Ms. Duke has been working closely with the Smiths during an intensive six-month transition period. “Thanks to their wonderful stewardship, Highland Lodge is a Vermont treasure,” said Ms. Duke. “I look forward to hearing more from loyal guests and the community about what they love most about the lodge as we work to make this the destination of choice in this gorgeous part of Vermont.”
In addition to Ms. Duke, the new owners of Highland comprise three Vermont families who treasure their visits to Highland Lodge and are committed to its long-term future. Together they exemplify the loyalty that the lodge engenders among its patrons. The owners include Peter and Ashley Milliken of Norwich, Vermont; Tim Briglin and Laurel Mackin of Thetford, Vermont; and James Bandler and Rebecca Holcombe of Norwich, Vermont. “Highland Lodge is one of Vermont’s treasures,” said Peter Milliken. “It is an honor for us to play a role in its next chapter.”
As she plans to welcome her first guests, Duke is also focused on making Highland a gathering place for locals. “Highland Lodge has a rich tradition of hosting community events,” said Duke. “I’m excited to build on that tradition by offering a place where for people look forward to coming, whether it be for a special celebration or a moment to catch up with friends.” Among her top priorities is the installation of a new bar and lounge area. The bar will feature locally-made beer and spirits and, together with a refurbished dining room, will be open to the public year-round for weddings, pop-up diners and special events. The Lodge is also resuming its full breakfast service to guests.
The sale of the Highland Lodge was partially financed with a loan from Community National Bank, working in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. A majority women-owned company and a much-needed outlet for local produce and goods, Highland Lodge 2016, LLC was an excellent candidate for financing.
Highland Lodge 2016, LLC has also engaged Tim Piper of Inn Partners, Inc., to assist with business planning and help support its success in its first year.
“Inn Partners is very confident that Highland Lodge has all the components of a successful business venture,” Tim Piper says. “In an area currently lacking in quality lodging options, we have the right mix of a dedicated, intelligent and talented CEO, a strong investor group, and an iconic lodge located in a rapidly-growing tourist destination.”