White River Junction, Vt.
Heirloom pieces that confound as much as entertain.
If you visit a Relais & Châteaux–affiliated hotel in the Northeast, you may encounter these unusually intricate hand-cut wooden puzzles in the lobby or parlor. Relais & Châteaux and Stave Puzzles don’t have a commercial partnership, but they do share the same clientele—affluent families—and a belief in traditional artistry. I came across my first Stave puzzle during a rainy fall afternoon at the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore, Md., and I spent the following four hours putting it together. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the company, which has been manufacturing these special jigsaw puzzles since 1974. Sizes can vary from 100 to 1,000 pieces, but unlike typical puzzles the pieces come in strange, tricky shapes. Some may fit together but not solve the puzzle; others may offer one of several solutions. Steve Richardson, founder of the company and creator of these puzzles, calls himself “chief tormentor” for this reason. Each set is individually crafted—the artisan responsible signs the box—and can be personalized to have pieces in the shape of your name or even likeness. The cost for such detailed sets can be in the thousands, making these family treasures that can be passed on to future generations.
Traditional style puzzles start at $1,195, stavepuzzles.com