Ski in a quintessential historic town
Considered the queen of Northeast ski resorts, Stowe Mountain Resort was created in the 1930s, when as part of the federal government’s public works projects, trails were hand-cut on Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield (4,395 feet), creating top-to-bottom, thrill-a-minute runs.
Despite its quaint reputation, Stowe is in the middle of an upgrade that has added snow-making capacity, high-speed lifts and condos. Meanwhile, its challenging slopes and authentic 200-year-old Vermont town setting—with the requisite white steepled church and old-fashioned general store—retain their popularity as one of the country’s most romantic and beautiful ski getaways.
There’s much here to keep beginners and intermediate skiers occupied, but Stowe’s mythically steep Front Four trails on the face of Mount Mansfield are the highlights of the show, for expert skiers only. Stowe is also home to the country’s first cross-country ski centre, the 2,400-acre resort of the Trapp Family Lodge, created in 1968 by the Austrian family of Sound of Music fame who settled here in 1942 after fleeing the Nazis. The quality of Tyrolean cosiness, old-world service and the promise of Wiener schnitzel and spaetzle in the noted restaurant make this chalet-style lodge one of the loveliest around. Maria Von Trapp, who died here in 1987, left her legacy in the hands of her son, the ever-youthful Johannes, and the occasional evening sing-alongs still keep the music alive.
The 68-room Topnotch Resort & Spa is the area’s most luxurious retreat, with a 35,000-square-foot spa, where you can relax with massage and spa treatments like the Vermont wildflower herbal wrap. Topnotch is also known for having one of the country’s best tennis centres, with an elite team of international tennis pros amid spectacular mountain views.
Families flock to Smugglers’ Notch Resort, a self-contained slope-side resort village. The 1,000-acre ‘Smuggs’ is famous for its family-friendly features, like lots of easy and intermediate runs and day-long ski and snowboard camps for kids. When the snow melts, the Smugglers’ Notch Scenic Drive lures sightseers with a route of vistas that begins in Stowe.
Among Vermont’s plethora of intimate B&Bs, the nine-room Stone Hill Inn in Stowe’s stands out. It combines a tucked-in-the-woods charm with modern amenities such as a double-sided fireplace that opens on to both the bedroom and a luxe bathroom equipped with two-person Jacuzzi and fluffy bathrobes.
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