|photography courtesy of Topnotch Resort and Spa|
HEAD NORTHEAST: Nestled in the Green Mountains of north-central Vermont, quaint Stowe is a quiet contrast to overcrowded, touristy ski towns. Many of the locals consider Stowe the Sedona of the Northeast. They claim the area is one of three “vortexes” in the country, a place whose energy attracts artistic visionaries from all over the world. After you taste the imaginative dishes from the local chefs and shop the 50 plus art galleries, craft shops, and furniture dealers, you’ll no doubt see what they mean. PEACE AND LOVE: The best place to rest your head is the Topnotch Resort and Spa (800-451-8686; www.topnotchresort.com), a five-minute drive from Stowe. It sits beneath the snowcapped peaks of Mount Mansfield and is cradled by 120 acres of forest. The recently renovated resort houses 68 guest rooms and suites appointed in a charming European country manor style (read: cozy beds draped in quilts, yellow toile chairs, oversized oak armoires). We recommend the two-room Champlain Suite, complete with master bedroom and bath, fireplace, living room, and kitchen. Even Fido can enjoy his stay, as dogs are not only allowed, but pampered. On your way out to the ski valley, take advantage of the freshly baked pastries and hot tea in the lobby’s adjoining cozy living room. NEAT EATS: The resort’s signature restaurant, Norma’s, serves up a seasonal menu of country cuisine with a hint of elegance and fun. Chef Brian Tomlinson experiments with traditional New England recipes and organic foods to create eclectic dishes such as blue hubbard squash bisque, grilled escolar with corn and red pepper relish and baby arugula, and duck cassoulet with garlic and Toulouse sausages, bacon, tomato, and white beans. Request a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and dine with a breathtaking view of the mountains. For an in-town dining experience, don’t miss the traditional Austrian fare at the Austrian Tea Room in the Trapp Family Lounge (800-826-7000; www.trappfamily.com). Munch on bratwursts, braunschweiger on rye, and Käse Krainer (coarsely ground beef and pork with Swiss cheese) between runs on Mount Mansfield for the ultimate European experience. SPA-RIFFIC: The 35,000-square-foot European-style spa (complete with spa manager with English accent) is a Zen escape after a day of shopping, skiing, or tennis. The crackling fireplaces, plethora of warm teas, steam room, whirlpool, and plush oversized robes send you straight into relaxation orbit as you wait for your treatments. Choose from traditional services such as the Maple Sugar Body Scrub, Aroma Mountain Massage, or the Beijing Foot Treatment. If you’re tired of the tried-and-true, go more offbeat with Chakra Balancing, Reiki, or Maternity Vizualization. And, heck, while you’re there, indulge in Botox, Restylane, or a chemical peel. Your friends will assume your vacation treated you well. Guests at Topnotch have unlimited use of the sauna and steam rooms, heated outdoor pool, indoor pool, and fitness center. SNOW BUSINESS: Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, is located two miles from Topnotch’s front door. Purchase lift tickets at the front desk and store your skis at the lockable racks on-site. The luxury shuttle takes you to and from the 47-trail mountain. For nature lovers, fly-fish on the famous Lamoille and Winooski rivers or hike the Long Trail. Risk takers can navigate with maps in hand, and wilderness rookies can arrange a guided day with the front desk. Also enjoy a walk or bike ride on the Stowe Recreation Path, snowmobiling, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.
|photography courtesy of Topnotch Resort and Spa|
Shopping Vermont Style
Take a day off from the outdoors, trade your fleece for fur, and grab your credit card. Stowe has some serious shopping. First, make your way down Mountain Road, where you’ll find hidden gems such as the Cotswold Furniture Makers (132 Mountain Rd.; 888-253-3738), filled with handmade rugs, hand-blown glass, raku pottery, and artwork. All furniture pieces are built by hand. Pick up the Vermonteer gift basket for your foodie friends from gourmet shop Harvest Market (1031 Mountain Rd.; 802-253-3800). The charming basket is filled to the brim with maple syrup and locally made cheeses, jams, pretzels, and dips. At Stowe Craft Gallery and Interior Design Center (55 Mountain Rd.; 877-456-8388) you could set aside a full day to browse the fine art, glass, jewelry, and pottery. Don’t leave without checking out their specialty, handmade kaleidoscopes. Next, park the SUV at Stowe Village. Satiate your sweet tooth at Laughing Moon Chocolates (Depot St.; 802-253-9591) with handmade truffles, sauces, and signature bars. Owner and chocolatier Leigh Williams has been creating artisan chocolates for 14 years. At old-fashioned country store Stowe Mercantile (Depot Building; 866-454-3482), you’ll find everything that can possibly be made from the Vermont state tree—syrup, cookies, popcorn, and barbecue sauce.
Topnotch Resort and Spa
4000 Mountain Road
In low-season November, nightly rates begin at $325.
How to get there:
Unfortunately, DFW offers no direct flights to Burlington, Vermont. Take the one-stop Delta flight through Cincinnati for the most hassle-free layover (avoid Atlanta and NYC’s bustling airports and
oftentimes delayed flights). Ethan Allen Car Service provides transportation for the 45-minute scenic jaunt to the resort.