By Johnnyjet.com correspondents Georgie Jet and Highroad Cam and Baci too!
At 4,395 feet, Stowe’s Mount Mansfield wins the honor as the highest point in Vermont. It seems only natural and fitting that, as of four years ago, the Stowe Mountain Resort has elevated its stature to a level worthy of this great New England mountain. That is when the centerpiece of the resort, the Stowe Mountain Lodge, was completed and put a stamp on its metamorphosis.
It sits at Mansfield’s base and is, upon close inspection, “a perfect fit”, like the glass slipper on the lovely Cinderella’s foot. Many people agree – the lodge is big, magnificent, and luxurious yet feels cozy and intimate – all while never losing sense of its relationship with the natural world outside and the people who appreciate it.
In late March, we along with our chocolate Labrador “Baci,” had the privilege of staying at the dog-friendly Stowe Mountain Lodge for two days and are still bathing in the afterglow. The lodge has its own restaurant, bar, spa and wellness center, pool, adjacent golf course, dog-sitting service, and mountain views making a vacationer’s life quite easy. Did I mention the “Over Easy” lodge-to-slope shuttle gondola, or the ski and ski boot valet service? Sweet! Easy to get up and go! The lobby’s cathedral ceiling, rainforest green marble, birch columns, large fieldstone fireplace and windows, and interior accented with sky blue and tiger lily orange pillows bring the outdoors inside and make sitting as comfy as in your own living room. Plus, the best part about it, like at home, Baci was there with us.
After a late arrival, we made use of the dog-care service (booked in advance with in-room sitters for $12 per hour) and ate out at “The Matterhorn”, a casual bar/restaurant about a mile down the road – good food and right on the river. Sushi, martinis, and pizza are their specialties.
Following a restful sleep in the fresh mountain air (with Baci on her complimentary dog bed), we awoke in our beautiful room, had coffee and granola on the balcony, and prepared ourselves for a day of skiing – in 75 degree weather! That’s right, the late March heat wave, which sort of summed up an unusual Northeast winter, was on.
It did not bother us though. We love spring skiing, and the next two days would affirm our love. The deep blue sky, warm sun, soft snow, festive atmosphere, and the sounds of “The Thaw”, are things to be cherished. We had a blast skiing and even brought Baci, via the gondola, to the summit. She liked the ride and did not appear to be afraid. At the top, she ran around the snow (her favorite pastime) while we absorbed the expansive winter/spring vistas of Stowe’s magnificent valley sprawled between the Green and Worcester Mountain ranges. It was a glimpse of Utopia.
If you wanted to eat up top you could – at the “Cliff House” restaurant. We decided, after skiing a very long run off the FourRunner Quad, to have a burger and beer near the bottom of the mountain at the “Midway Bar and Café” and were quite happy.
Late in the afternoon, we returned to the lodge and took a swim in the Olympic size outdoor pool and soaked in one of the hot tubs while gazing at the white yet slowly greening ski trails. Then, as I read in a chaise lounge in the spa’s “sanctuary”, Georgie Jet had a massage (that she raved about later). That wet snow really works the muscles!
The spa and wellness center is first class and should not be missed – and that includes the gigantic “rain shower”, steam room, sauna, and mosaic stone hot tub. The spa can also be used by non-guests of the lodge for $40 a day (without a treatment).
That night, we went to the classic New England town of Stowe, about ten minutes away, to “Fridas Taqueria” for some fresh and innovative Mexican food. They make the guacamole tableside and it is the best we have had in the state – fantastic. And the margaritas are, well uh – buenisimas! Georgie Jet had the fish taco with chayote squash and I had the chicken enchilada served with green pobleno chili sauce. Viva Frida’s!
Baci tagged (and wagged) along too, because it was warm enough to eat on the dog-friendly deck. The Stowe Mountain Lodge also has the dog-friendly “Solstice Terrace” in the summer where dogs are served drinks and treats as well as their owners – “beer, bones, and biscuits”! (or was it “burgers, beers, and biscuits”?) As general manager Richard McLennan told us – Stowe is a doggone dog-friendly town! After returning from Fridas we enjoyed a nightcap in the lodge’s “Hourglass” bar and then took our weary and wobbly legs to bed.
The next morning we ate at the Stowe Mountain Lodge restaurant “Solstice” for breakfast and loved it. They focus on farm-to-table seasonal cuisine, or if I could coin a phrase – Vermont style cuisine. We had local farm eggs in an omelet with Fat Toad Farm chevre, and French toast with the treasured maple syrup – liquid gold! (who could use any other?) Our delicious breakfast was in a bright, spacious, and modern room that had an almost open-air feeling and views of Spruce Peak. We were so comfortable; it was hard to motivate ourselves to get skiing again.
But thanks to a second cup of coffee, and the “Over Easy” shuttle gondola we did get to another “bluebird” day of skiing – spectacular! It was becoming one of those landmark weekends to remember, and also, strangely, a little like skiing at the beach. Skiing at the beach – that’s a good combo – like Mt. Mansfield and the Stowe Mountain Lodge (or Bogie and Bacall). And by the way, we have skied a lot of mountains in Vermont and, when speaking of lifts and terrain, Stowe is hard to beat (there are some who might challenge this statement – after all, skiing can become a very personal and emotional experience).
The Stowe Mountain Lodge and the Stowe Mountain Resort bring to mind some of Europe’s great resorts in the Alps. There is a measure of sophistication and functionality that is very intelligent, while service and comfort are never overlooked. Mount Mansfield has its match in this lodge. A vacation here in Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Lodge is recommended highly by me, Georgie Jet, and by the looks of all of her smiles, Baci too! She loved her dog-sitters, especially the alpine concierge Jim Carey, who is famous for owning the Labrador retriever Catie, who was groomed to be the mascot and greeter for Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
Like Catie, Baci loved the social lobby life, but we could never leave her. We will just have to bring her back. There is so much to do. Ski, hike (with dog), swim, golf, get a massage, eat, drink, and go to town. There is also the Spruce Performing Arts Center a stone’s throw away from the lodge. Become “one” with the Green Mountains and let your love affair begin. The two days here have strengthened Vermont’s hold on our hearts which it captured years ago.
Please stay with us three as we venture south about an hour away to a cozy B & B in Waitsfield, VT, The Inn at Lareau Farm, in the next installment of “Travels with Baci”, a Johnnyjet.com travel adventure.
Sponsored by Stowe Mountain Resort and Stowe Mountain Lodge
I could get used to that pool!