One of the benefits of living through a NYC Winter is the close proximity in which the city is to a huge number of awesome ski resorts.
If you’ve got a spare week up your sleeve - it’s easy enough to jump on a JetBlue flight and in a few hours, arrive at world class ski resorts like Jackson Hole, Breckenridge, Colorado, Aspen, Vail or Lake Tahoe.
If it’s just for the weekend, then grabbing a car rental and blagging a snow covered city break is just as easy. In as little as 2 hours, you can be swooshing down snow covered (even if it is man made) mountains like The Catskills, The Poconos, and Hunter Mountain.
We had 5 days over the Christmas break to hit the slopes so decided to head further North. We’d heard great things about Vermont and after half a day of googling and comparing, it seemed Stowe Mountain Resort was the way to go.
Getting to Vermont
Stowe is about a 5-hour drive North of NYC or a 50 minute flight with JetBlue. To maximize our time on the slopes (and fear of driving on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car) we opted for the flight option, flying from JFK to Vermont’s tiny airport, Burlington. Although the flight was only 50 minutes we did need to make allowances for the USD$75.00, 45 minute taxi ride from Burlington airport into Stowe. Still, a much easier option for two Aussies who’ve never driven in America before let a lone with icy, snowy roads to boot.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort is made up of two separate mountains, Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. We spent all four days playing on Spruce Peak.
Spruce is super family friendly and with a nursery slope and two green runs accessible from the main lodge it’s a great place to learn to ski or snowboard.
As a skier of 15 years, I decided this was the place to learn the graceful art of snowboarding…. after two days on the nursery slopes, I can assure you, I was not graceful in any sense of the word.
Learning how to Ski or Snowboard
Lessons are best bought as part of the USD $165 package the mountain offers. This will get you 2 x 90 minute lessons + a days lift pass and ends up being one of the most cost effect ways of learning how to ski or snowboard whilst also having full access to the mountain. Otherwise a daily lift pass will set you back about USD$95.
The instructors are really friendly and the classes are small which means the much needed individual attention when you’re learning, is a given. Although, get stuck in a class with me and that might not be the case. Snowboarding it seems, just isn’t my forte, not even after 12hrs practice.
If you're a more apt skier or snowboarder, Spruce’s mountain offers more than 59% Blue (intermediate) runs and 25% black (super experienced) runs - add that up with the green runs available and Spruce has over 116 runs, mountain wide. With over 14 lifts including 2 gondolas, this mountain can cater to all levels.
We stayed at the cutest B&B I think I’ve ever stayed in. Owned and run by Chantal and Shawn, The Auberge de Stowe is exactly as its website describes;
“a classic New England Inn, eclectic, individual, and unique…offering travellers clean, basic, comfortable and affordable accommodation.”
Located at the entrance to Stowe, it’s the perfect place to stay if you like comfy, homely and unique. Shawn and Chantal are the perfect hosts, making us feel so welcome we almost felt part of the family. Full of information, these two have been part of the Stowe community for over 14years. With a huge amount of local knowledge, a laid back charm you won’t find in the city and an open and honest nature, it’s Chantel and Shawn who really make The Auberge de Stowe a very special place.
Nothing was too much trouble for them. They shared local knowledge of where to eat and shop, explained how to catch the mountain shuttle each morning (conveniently the shuttle stops right across the road from the B&B). In the mornings they made us yummy breakfasts; eggs, tea cake, croissants, fruit, coffee, tea and OJ, a great breakfast to fuel us for a day full of skiing - all this for USD$100 per night.
When you’re not skiing
The village Stowe is full of amazing restaurants for dining and cute boutique shops for those off - slope days. One of our favourites and a total must is Yoshi Sushi. A very popular new Japanese restaurant located halfway up Mountain Road (one of the main roads through Stowe). They don’t take bookings so get there early if it’s the busy season. The local mountain shuttle will drop you off and Yoshi Sushi has it’s own bus that will take you home again when you’re done. It’s a great atmosphere, the food is amazing and the service is really friendly.
If shopping or eating isn’t your thing – Stowe is also home to The Trappe Family Lodge (Yup! That Trappe Family) a mountain resort featuring Austrian inspired architecture and European-style accommodation.
During the Nazi reign, the von Trappe family left Austria and ended up in Vermont. In 1950 they opened a ski lodge, which is currently run by Sam von Trappe. If you don’t fancy a sleep over, the lodge has daily history tours that explain the story of the von Trappes, how they came to America and how ‘The Sound of Music’ came about.
If the hills being alive doesn’t interest you? Not to worry, there is so much more to do in Vermont – There’s The Ben and Jerry Ice cream tour for instance or mountain biking, cross country skiing, spa weekends, hiking, Gondola rides, Alpine sliding, rock climbing, or road tripping - the list goes on. Vermont really is an all seasons destination.
If you’re looking for a town full of friendly, laid back people, with a mountain covered in snow suitable for all levels of skiing or snowboarding, with restaurants that rival some of Manhattans best, with a huge amount of accommodation choices, then Stowe Vermont is the place for you. We’ve already booked our next trip. We’ve also planned to visit in the summer – a time when Vermont is apparently at it’s most beautiful.
About The Conscious Traveller
Belinda Gurd is a freelance writer living between Australia, New York and UK. In the never-ending search for the meaning of life, Belle’s travels have seen her work in a children’s hospital in Cambodia, receive blessings from the monks of Bhutan, trek to Everest Base Camp in search of enlightenment, sit in stillness for a week in Bali and take up Kundalini yoga in New York.