The Stowe Report

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h5peql39Last weekend, I schmmozed Stowe. It’s been quite a few years since I skied what many consider Vermont’s best. Truth is, the last time I visited I came for a hard-hat tour of the then little more than a hole in a ground Stowe Mountain Lodge, at the base of Spruce Peak. I used to love Spruce because it was off the radar screen for most skiers. My how things have changed.

The Stowe Mountain Lodges sets the standard for luxury lodging in New England and its restaurants, along with the fancy-schmancy food court in the adjoining Spruce Peak base lodge, set a new standard for on-mountain dining. New England has long lagged behind western resorts on both fronts. Stowe Mountain Lodge changes that. For a price.

For those who can afford to shell out $400 and up a night for a room—okay, a damn nice room, make that studio, with kitchenette, fireplace, seating area, and a bathroom alone larger than economy motel rooms—that’s steps from the lifts and has access to some pretty nifty facilities, this is the cat’s meow.

About those nifty facilities: the lodge comprises a full-service spa (see my post on that, here); a Cooper Wellness center, with every new-fangled and trendy piece of fitness equipment possible, along with a full slate of classes, and even a fully equipped Pilates studio (never done that, but it looks like a torture center); a huge outdoor, heated pool with heated deck; luxe shops; an adventure center that will arrange just about anything you want; and then there are the dining facilities.

Stowe Mountain Lodge’s restaurants are big on the farm-to-table movement, with most products served sourced locally. There’s Solstice, a casual fine-dining restaurant, the Hourglass lounge, and a lobby lounge, each with menu, as well as the Schuss take-out cafe. All are within steps of each other, on levels tiering up from the lobby . The spaces are open and soaring, walled with windows, and accented with fireplaces and artwork by Vermont artists and artisans. If you can’t swing staying here, treat yourself to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or simply pop in for some apres ski.

00377-aThe lodge is steps from the Spruce Peak lifts and the gondola connecting to Mt. Mansfield’s lifts. Also here is a new base lodge with a food court that gives new meaning to the concept in New England. Fresh-made soups, salads, sandwiches, grilled items, pastas, even a risotto of the day. I had lunch at the full-servvice restaurant at the gondola summit, but frankly, I’d opt for this next time. Far faster, and a far more intriguing menu (although I must admit the lobster and asparagus risotto was pretty lush, mmmm).

And the skiing? Let’s just say that despite wind-chilled temperatures that were well below zero, I kept at it until the spa called.