Photo Courtesy of Stowe Mountain ResortThis may come as a surprise to you, but January of 2013 is turning out to have some fairly unpredictable weather. But as low temperatures drive LA to near-panic and a bone-chilling, drizzly haze overtakes New York, the luxury ski resorts of the Northeast are happily open for business. Always an early-season go-to for East Coast snow bunnies, Stowe Mountain Resort opened in mid-November for 2012-2013, saw heavy snows in December, and currently has 300 acres open for skiing.
Weather hasn’t been any less fickle for Stowe, but thanks to a $4.7 million investment in snowmaking improvements, the resort doesn’t have to rely 100% on Mother Nature’s whims. And no matter what the conditions outdoors, Stowe Mountain Lodge is always ready to welcome guests with warmth and fabulous comfort.
As an all-seasons resort in a place that truly does get four distinct and dramatic seasons, Stowe Mountain Lodge is wonderfully adept at offering a great guest experience no matter what the weather conditions. The interior is mountain-rustic in aesthetic, but there’s nothing rustic about the actual construction. It’s up-to-date, cozily insulated, and well able to handle the elements. A blizzard or torrential downpour becomes mere entertainment; you can watch its fury from a full-length window, but not a single draft of chilly air will touch you. Studio accommodations and above have stone fireplaces, while the lobby has a fireplace as well as a piano, plus dozens of couches for guests to get cozy. And when the blizzard lets up, the ski-in/ski-out access gives you first dibs at fresh powder on Mount Mansfield.
When it’s clear outside there’s a near-endless array of activities, starting with 116 downhill ski trails (approximately 80 are open as of this post), plus a snowboarding halfpipe. For cross country skiers, the resort offers 22 miles of groomed terrain, plus an additional 25 miles of backcountry. Other winter offerings range from snowshoeing and ice climbing to dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Fishing is a popular activity year-round, and Stowe Mountain Lodge’s Alpine Concierge is able to help secure licenses and Orvis-certified guides for ice fishing or fly fishing in the warmer months.
The first mountain resort ever to earn Audubon International’s Sustainable Community award, Stowe Mountain Resort has held itself to high environmental standards for approximately 15 years. Some of its environmental practices are visible. For example, the eco-friendly paper products and low-carbon-emission trolley system. Others, such as the energy management system, are a part of the infrastructure. But the most powerful “green living” indicator here is the green space itself. Stowe Mountain Lodge and Spruce Peak at Stowe are encircled by 2,000 acres of protected land, and nature is always a focal point.
Whether green policies come into your equation or not, Solstice restaurant inside the Lodge scores points for its locally sourced, often organic seasonal cuisine. The entire state of Vermont is known for its farm-fresh products, and Solstice partners with the best local sources for everything from veggies to seafood to maple syrup. It goes without saying that, no matter what you order, you must start with a Vermont cheese platter. We also highly recommend the house-made foie gras Torchon and the hand-rolled gnocchi starters. Of the entrees, grilled prime steak is a specialty and always good, particularly with an “enhancement” like hand-picked lump crab or shaved black truffles on top.
The magic element that Stowe Mountain Resort really delivers is across-the-board friendliness, no matter whom the guests or what the extenuating circumstances. It consistently ranks on “best of” lists for family-friendly lodging, but it also does the lovers-hideaway vibe to perfection. Pets are treated as thoughtfully as humans, and drop-in guests with no reservations get the same attentive customer service as VIPs. It makes for a diverse crowd and a wonderfully cozy atmosphere, no matter what storms may rage outside.