Stowe Mountain Lodge
Stowe Mountain Lodge far exceeded my long wait and lofty expectations for slopeside digs. From the moment we arrived at the massive alpine lodge, we were treated like skiing royalty. Valet parked our car, while bellmen whisked our skis and boots off to the alpine concierge to be kept (and carried out to the ski racks for first tracks).
The Lodge’s immense lobby invited us to linger by the fire on leather couches, amid copper tables, indigenous stone and birch trees. Our spacious suite was stylishly appointed with bamboo headboard and 600 thread count sheets, a slate bathroom, and a huge deck with views of Stowe’s snowy trails.
We dined at the Lodge’s cozy Hourglass, named for an off-piste ski run at Stowe. The culinary treats at the Lodge are on par with the exceptional décor, with artisanal Vermont cheeses and native beef. Solstice Dining Room offers more formal fare and a knock out wine list, while the Hourglass has casual après ski. After the best cheeseburger in ski country, I was ready to dream of the next day’s skiing on my pillow - there is an international pillow menu for real fussy princesses.
Stowe’s Four Runner Quad opens at 7:30 am, insanely early but you have no excuse when staying on the mountain. To ease you into first tracks, the ski valet hands you your heated ski boots, and delivers your skis to the plaza (you do have to BYOB: buckle your own boots), and you walk 100 steps to ride the Over Easy Gondola to Mt. Mansfield, just beyond the beautiful centerpiece ice rink at Spruce Camp.
Our first few laps on fresh powder down classic trails like Liftline, Lord, Nosedive, and Hayride were heavenly. There was a strong contingent of Stowe locals getting their 10 by 10 (10 runs by 10 am). At 8:30 we moved to the gondola for more fresh corduroy on Gondolier and Perry Merrill. For lunch, the historic Cliff House atop Mansfield serves fine food, with fabulous views – as it has for decades. I recommend the Vermont cheese fondue. Another lesser known option, The Cottage, serves chef created cuisine in the beautiful Golf Clubhouse, remove your ski boots and relax if you are spent from Stowe’s skiing.
Stowe’s tag line “same place, new base” is true. Stowe’s terrain is still amazing with challenging runs like Chin Clip and the famous Front Four. But Stowe’s brand new base village has transformed the Spruce Peak side with high-speed lifts, a Spruce Camp Base Lodge, with an ice rink and outdoor fireplaces. The anchor Stowe Mountain Lodge and Spa are in a league unparalleled in the East, into the Deer Valley/Beaver Creek caliber.
Back at the luxurious lodge, our boots were dried by the ski valet while we soaked in the gorgeous outdoor pool and hot tubs - part of the three-story Spa and Wellness Center. If that doesn't cure your ski boot feet, try the relaxation foot massage at the Spa. You have no reason to leave Stowe’s base village anymore, but if you wish to visit the village of Stowe for retail therapy or restaurants, there’s a free shuttle or a Mercedes demo at your disposal. It’s easy to get used to these on mountain luxuries, hard to leave though.
What makes Stowe the most romantic ski spot in New England? Is it the charming New England town, the farmhouse boutiques, and restaurants along the animated Mountain Road, the wonderful lodges offering guests a reprieve of old fashioned fireplace Vermont hospitality? Or is it the skiing at this legendary, original ski mountain?
Perhaps I am biased, my husband and I had our first ski date at this classic Vermont ski mountain (nearly two decades ago), but I cannot imagine a more idyllic setting for a romantic weekend, without kids or cares – a kind of “rekindle our love affair” destination.
As we drove into Stowe on Friday, the twinkling white lights down Main Street mesmerized us. Freshly fallen snow draped the classy inns and craft shops; the fabled church glowed with a wintry welcome.
Driving up the Mountain Road, we passed so many inviting lodges, chic boutiques with baubles (note to self: stop there later) and enticing cafes and pubs. We continued on, towards the top – Topnotch that is.
One of the closest resorts to Stowe Ski Resort, Topnotch is posh but perfectly cozy. Three doormen welcomed us, but it was the massive moose in the alpine lobby that really made me feel like I had arrived at these 4 diamond digs.
Our Overlook unit was spacious and opulent – gas fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom, a luxurious four-poster bed and a Jacuzzi for two. We toasted our good fortune and glimpsed Stowe’s torchlight parade and fireworks from our hillside haven.
We wandered down the hill to find Trattoria La Festa, where we were transported from Stowe to Tuscany for the evening. Owner Antonio Devito told us he is as passionate about food as he is skiing (he skis 130 days a season). Our consummate Italian host made sure we dined in flickering candlelight, savoring an earthy red wine from the cellar, shared antipasto, captivating cuisine, and heavenly Tiramisu. Trattoria La Festa puts the “Rome” in romantic food.
Saturday morning we enjoyed an early but elegant breakfast at Maxwell’s before heading to Stowe’s ski trails. We made early morning tracks together down Lord to well-named Sunrise. I can see how skiing at Stowe is inspirational, just you and your loved one carving the crystal cord along the twisty, tourney trails.
Stowe has plenty of spectacular scenes to propose or profess your love amongst shimmering white birch, against the backdrop of 4,395’ Mt Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. You can even ski your sweetie to the Mountain Chapel, along the scenic Toll Road trail.
We stopped at the Octagon at the top of the Four Runner Quad, a panoramic place to de-glaze while you gaze into your lover’s goggle eyes over a steamy hot chocolate or gourmet coffee.
Then we headed for the Gondola, and I found Perry Merrill to be the perfectly pitched and therefore romantic ski run, and Gondolier under the bright red Stowe gondola cars. Of course, my better half preferred the serious steeps of the renowned Front Four, particularly the crazy pitches of Starr and Goat with our hearts thumping in tandem.
Even our lunch at Stowe was romantic, riding the picturesque Gondola to the Cliff House, where we had wait serviced dining looking up at Mansfield’s chilly cliffs and out over the sweeping Vermont valley. Add a bubbling pot of cheesy fondue, and you have yourself a Swiss-like setting in New England.
What better romantic après ski than a spa treatment? We all need to be kneaded. The Spa at Topnotch is top shelf; named among the best 10 spas in the US. With over 140 tantalizing treatments, we decided to go with the most native niceties. While my loved one was massaged with Vermont river rocks, I was scrubbed with Vermont maple sugar and steeped in wildflower wraps.
The Spa’s fantastic indoor pool with cascading waterfall is worth wading for too – though we opted for the Jacuzzi tub for two in our room.
Concierge Jack was on call, happy to suggest additional romantic amusements. He said it would be his absolute pleasure to cue up a horse drawn sleigh, a dog sled through the Vermont woods, a couple’s massage at The Spa, or reserve the best table of the house. We dined that night at Topnotch’s four-diamond Maxwell’s, it was elegant and extremely delicious. Stowe rivals Aspen when it comes to epicurean talents found in one ski town.
Topnotch’s Mountain Romance package maps out a pretty sweet weekend if you need coaching with Cupid details, including breakfast and dinner at Maxell’s, spa treatments, champagne and chocolates, candles and massage oils (ooh la la) delivered to your room. To complete our romantic interlude, we walked hand in hand along the winter wonderland of downtown Stowe's snowy sidewalks, downright dreamy.
The towering Church Steeple is the place to seal the deal, which is just what we did 17 years before. Now I think Stowe should be an anniversary event. Never did stop for that bauble – so we must go back next year.
Whether you are looking to pop the question, rekindle a rusty relationship or just celebrate Valentine’s Day in a sparkling snowy setting – Stowe is romance central for skiers.
Field Guide is a clever, playful lodge with 30 renovated rooms and suites, each unique with unusual modern décor – anything but an old New England Inn. Everything at Field Guide is fun, alpine whimsy if you will from the white deer heads guarding the gas fireplaces to faux fur throws, bright orange club chairs, and blanched wood floors. Field Guide is modern, eclectic, even eccentric. Guest can expect the unexpected, including a loaned iPad to take to your room for the length your stay – ideal for browsing Stowe’s best restaurant menus, a Fodor #1 ski town for foodies. Another delightful surprise is Field Guide's picnic basket delivered discretely to your suite each morning, filled with fruit, steel cut oatmeal, freshly baked muffins - you never know what, or who delivered it for that matter. In fact, you could enjoy breakfast in bed – and skip the first chair at Stowe, who would know?!
Lark Hotels has a reputation for selecting interesting properties in the most prime locations, Camden and Kennebunkport Maine, Newport Rhode Island, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Nashville, Napa, and now Stowe. Their signature design of each setting makes it intriguing and incomparable, yet you can anticipate the most modern amenities, stylish European bath fixtures, high tech gadgets like blue tooth radios, charging stations, LED smart TVs, gas fireplaces and of course Wi-Fi.
What we love about Stowe’s Lark Hotel is that it’s right in the heart of Stowe’s Mountain Road. You can walk to AJ’s Ski & Sport, bistros like Bench and Doc Ponds. Field Guide will have its own on-site restaurant too called Picnic. It’s a long stroll on sidewalks to quaint Stowe Village, just head toward the towering church steeple, where you can shop Main Street’s classic Shaw’s General Store among a dozen other cutesy Vermont craft shops.
Check out Field Guide on a ski trip to Stowe. Field Guide has a 2.5-acre campus of hotel rooms, cottages, and suites in various buildings. Rates range from $130 to $400+ a night, which is pretty reasonable for Stowe lodging. If you ask for the ultimate Lark Suite, keep in mind it's on the fourth floor, no elevator, but the views from this spacious two room penthouse of Stowe village are phenomenal.