Slopes of Stowe

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is your iconic Vermont ski town. Think church steeples, lots of organic, locally-sourced restaurant ingredients, Volvos galore and a generally laid back, yet highly sophisticated, population. Dinner conversations revolve around why Obama has not demanded the public option (thus alienating the party base) and debate of whether this small town should cave and allow its first chain store to set up shop.

We stopped for hot apple cider and fresh donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where the intoxicating smell wafted into the parking lot. Across the street was the Cabot Annex Store, with free cheddar cheese samples galore, including an awesome spicy buffalo and horseradish.

The streets of Stowe were festively decorated, yet quiet in the early morning light. We walked past Shaw’s General Store, which dates from the 1890s, as well a handful of quaint New England inns and arts and crafts stores.

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Up the road, we checked into the Stowe Mountain Lodge, the only ski-in, ski-out hotel at the mountain. The ski valet took care of Charlotte’s equipment (warm boots are a must) and we took in the beautiful accommodation, completed just last year at a cost of $400 million. With the staff bowing to our every need, we felt like owned the place. (In fact, all Americans do. The ski resort is owned by AIG.)

The double story windows overlooked the slopes and a fire roared in the hearth. Exposed timber, birch and perfectly cut and fitted New England-y stonework abounded.

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After taking the Over Easy gondola, we tackled Mount Mansfield (the highest point in Vermont), where the slopes were in surprisingly good shape for this early in the season, per my expert guide. We tore down the well-groomed and fresh powder trails for most of the morning, before a hearty lunch and an afternoon at the quieter Spruce Peak, the smaller of Stowe’s two mountains.

Back at the lodge, we found a young staff falling over to assist us — yet largely (and somewhat sadly) failing miserably. Our room was not yet ready although it was past 3 p.m. and when we were finally brought upstairs by the bellhop, we were surprised to find it already occupied with other guests. A broken hairdryer we called about was not replaced and it took three separate calls to get coffee that had not been replaced by housekeeping.

With that said, it was a gorgeous space, with a gas-burning fireplace, comfy down comforters, a marble bathroom and an outdoor hot tub.

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We heated some red wine in our small kitchenette and mulled in some spices. Sitting in front of our fireplace watching the wind howling by, resting our weary feet on the coffee table, we dozed off.

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