Stowe, Vermontby david daly on 02/03/12
The Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards ranked the Stowe Mountain Lodge among the Top 10 Resorts in the US this year, beating out all Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons resorts in the country.
But at $685 per night during ski season weekends, I did not think I would have the opportunity to experience the Stowe Mountain Lodge for myself. Fortunately, this new luxury slopeside property does take advantage of flash sale sites to sells rooms months in advance of ski season, so I was delighted to scoop up a studio room for a weekend in January on sniqueaway.com for just $299 per night!
There is perception among many that east coast skiing cannot compare to skiing out west. But if there is one place that can give the Rockies a run for their money, it is Stowe. Located in northern Vermont, Stowe offers a massive network of ski runs on Vermonts highest peak, Mount Mansfield. When the southern Vermont resorts are struggling with natural snow droughts, Stowe often looks like a winter wonderland with an abundance of fresh powder thanks to its unique microclimate and high altitude. The two main lifts, the gondola and Fourrunner high speed quad, provide top to bottom runs of over 2,000 vertical feet that seem to go on forever! Rimrock and Chin Strap are quintessential New England ski runs that twist and turn with unexpected dips and powder stashes. The world famous front four runs: Star, Liftline, National, and Goat offer some of the steepest and longest lift served runs on the east coast that can challenge even the most seasoned skier. And best of all, crowds are almost nonexistent- perhaps due to the $92 weekend lift ticket, but also due to the lack of slopeside lodging options which delays most visitors from enjoying the early morning runs. Thankfully, guests at the Lodge can hop on the Fourrunner Quad starting at 7:30am and indulge in several first track runs.
The Lodge takes slopeside luxury to a new level. An enormous lobby with 30 foot windows and birch trees provides a panoramic view of the ski slopes. An award winning restaurant, Solstice, actually draws visitors from outside the hotel who value the locally sourced 5-star cuisine. The guest rooms are decked out in hand-made Simon Pearce finishings and accessories and feature a stone fireplace and enormous marble bathroom. And then there is the spa and heated outdoor pool and hot tubs to help ease the ski muscles. Our visit coincided with the Stowe Winter Rendezvous which is an annual LGBT ski gathering. One of the highlights of the weeklong celebration was a drag show at the beautiful Spruce Peak Performing Arts center at the base of Stowe staring Varla Jean Merman:
The adorable town of Stowe deserves as much recognition at the mountain. The town resembles a mountainous version of Nantucket with extremely strict restrictions on business signage and development to ensure that every square inch of town oozes Vermont charm. Even the gas station offers homemade soups and a pleasant lack of any neon signs. The Stowe Mercantile offers samples of Vermont-made jams, cheeses, and crackers and the Vermont Ski Museum next door has an impressive collection of old gondola cabins and chairlifts that have long been retired from service. The Von Trapp Family Lodge (still operated by relatives of the famous singing family from The Sound Of Music) infuses the area with an Austrian flare that is apparent at many of the local inns and restaurants. If you own a brightly colored ski sweater adorned with snowflakes or other winter sparkle that you have been reluctant to wear at home, rest assured that it will fit right in at Stowe.
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