Hotel plans unveiled

MANCHESTER - A presentation at the site of a proposed hotel and spa was held on Tuesday morning to provide information on the design of the hotel, its work with the community, and to finally unveil the name of the hotel - Aeolus Mountain Spa.

"We realized that we needed to build something more than what we already had," said Alp Basdogan, of Vermont Turquoise Hospitality, LLC, "I saw the land was available, I got it, and I am very happy."

Basdogan, who is also the owner of Depot 62, a local furniture store and restaurant, is a partner with Suzanne Tremblay, also of Vermont Turquoise Hospitality, LLC on the hotel. She is originally from Quebec.

"This project gave me an opportunity do something with hospitality that was beyond [what was done before]... a new living style that was more sustainable," Tremblay said. "It's to get people to realize that nature is important, and that they should stop and take the time to appreciate what they have got."

The building will feature four distinct parts; the 80 rooms will be arranged to allow for two courtyards at the top and bottom of the H-shaped hotel, there will be a wing dedicated to the spa facility, and one wing for the restaurant, galleries, and workshop areas, according to architect Patrick Kane.

The galleries and workshop areas will include rugs that are handmade by Basdogan, who has plans to teach a workshop on how to weave as well as naturally dye rugs.

The spa area will be fashioned in traditional Hamman Spa style.

"You slowly relax in low heat, sitting in an environment surrounded by marble... you slowly heat yourself up with warm water," Tremblay said. "It will be a traditional Turkish Spa."

The roof above the spas will be domed, which serves a purpose in both the traditional styling as well as a tie to local aesthetics. "It's a vernacular form regarding agricultural silos, but common to Turkish spas," said architect Patrick Kane.

The building will also be made of local materials, including local stone, slate, and wood that will be left untreated so that it may age naturally. "It is definitely a collage of vernacular building types," Kane said.

The roof of the building will remain flat and will be ballasted, which will aid in keeping the building warmer in the winter. The flat roof will also help keep the sizing down, as it will not add any additional height to the building.

In addition to the main hotel building, there will also be two barns on the property; one is the original, still-standing barn, and another will be build to the side of the current barn. They will serve as storage, and to provide access to another feature of the hotel.

The barns will store a few older convertibles, from the 1950s through 1970s, that a guest may take, along with a picnic basket and one of Basdogan's hand-made rugs, to a destination.

"We don't want our guests to just stay at the hotel, we want them to go out and explore Southern Vermont," said Tremblay.

In terms of greenspace, they intend to leave a lot of what is there as it is. The meadow will remain, and the farm will continue to produce food that will also be used in the restaurant. There will be a number of fruit trees on the property, and 30 of them have already been planted by Basdogan.

Engineer Frank Parent was on hand to explain that the facility would be using town water, but they have a plan in place to assist in upgrading the water mains.

"It's a win-win situation," Parent said. "We need their water, they need repairs done."

In keeping with the local, yet worldly, theme, Trembley explained that they are trying to keep everything as close as possible.

"If you want to provide something that is green, local, and sustainable, you have to take in the products that surround you... out goal is to have 75 percent of our products coming from within 250 miles," said Tremblay.

In an effort to not only be sustainable but also encourage sustainability, they are planning to include electric car charging stations at the hotel, as well as becoming a bike-friendly destination.

The application is scheduled to go before the Natural Resources Board for an Act 250 hearing on Sept. 25, with a site visit starting at 9 a.m. The hearing will be held at the Manchester Town hall, following the site visit.

While they have received all local permitting, the approval by the Manchester DRB had been appealed by Carol Dupont, a land owner in the vicinity of the parcel. The appeal is to be handled by the Environmental Court; however, they have put their appeal process on hold in anticipation of the Act 250 application.


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