Luxury is certainly something that varies a bit for each of us, but allow me to share my definition of it on a family ski trip. For me, it is getting up in the morning, putting on my ski clothes, and then, without once setting foot outside or picking up any gear, walking to a comfortable room where my ski boots have been warmed for me. I slide my feet into the softened and deliciously warm interiors while my kids do the same then step out the back door where my skis are waiting on a rack. I walk a few feet more to the lifts and my ski day has begun.
Please note, this post–among many other posts by All Mountain Mamas–was created and shared before the COVID-19 pandemic and some content may no longer apply. Please always stay updated on Vermont’s travel and gathering guidelines before planning a trip during the 2020-21 season.
If a hotel offered no other amenity than a Ski Valet service like this I’d be sold, but happily this is only one of the pleasures that Stowe Mountain Lodge has to offer. From the lobby with its large fireplaces and comfy sofas to the full-service onsite spa, to the hotel’s location mere steps from the slopes of Mount Mansfield, this is the perfect place for a high-end family ski vacation.
I was lucky enough to spend two complimentary January nights at Stowe Mountain Lodge with my family. It wasn’t our first visit; we had enjoyed the hotel’s myriad pleasures before in summer. But a stay during several bitterly cold days really showed us just how comfortable the hotel is.
Our Timberline Studio room overlooked the face of Mount Mansfield where at night we watched the lights of snowcats as they moved along the trails, grooming them for the next day. We loved warming up in front of the gas fireplace after spending the day in the cold.
Although the room wasn’t especially large, it was very comfortable with a king-sized bed and queen sleeper sofa. A fully equipped kitchen is tucked the entryway, stocked with dishes from Vermont’s own Bennington Pottery or Simon Pearce. Locally produced and sustainably sourced materials are actually found throughout the hotel from the paintings on the walls to the maple used to make the headboards to the green marble in the bathrooms.
You’ll need to ask the hotel staff to make up the sleeper sofa as a bed for you, as the rooms don’t have extra bedding. We did this on our way to dinner on our first night and the next evening the staff prepared the bed without being asked, making sure to set things up just so.
And our room wasn’t the only comfortable spot. We also all loved hanging out in the lobby, which although it is large has a very cozy feel to it. It was a lot of fun to warm ourselves by the fire, play a few board games, and sip a local microbrew or two.
Dining at the hotel is exceptional, with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced food in both its restaurants. On this visit we chose to have dinner in the Hourglass Lounge. Hourglass also has a standout children’s menu that’s a real value. I love that the hotel encourages kids to order real food – my 8-year-old lover of sliders and chicken fingers instead sampled a sirloin steak that was just his size.
We also enjoyed breakfast at the more formal (though by no means fancy) Solstice Restaurant where the portions of everything from the poached eggs on corned beef hash to the fruit cup are generous enough to fuel the hungriest skiing family.
After our summer stay, my boys had really been looking forward to swimming in the hotel’s beautiful heated outdoor pool, which is open year round and has access from the inside during the cold months. Sadly, it was too cold – 30 below zero with the wind chill – during out stay for them to safely take a dip. But we could all tell that the steamy water would make a great place to unwind after a day on the mountain.
And you won’t lack for things to do at Stowe Mountain Lodge, even if you don’t swim. You really can’t beat the hotel’s location – slopeside to the trails of Spruce Peak and a quick gondola ride across the street to ski Mount Mansfield. Staying here will add hours to your ski days as it’s so close and easy to get on the trails. Visit during a winter holiday period or weekend and there will be a list of activities for every member of the family, including daily hot chocolate and s’mores served slopeside and fun for the kids like laser tag or sing-alongs. And the spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge offers services for every member of your family, from kids to grownups.
Other than the ski valet service, we didn’t avail ourselves of the Alpine Concierge during out stay, but guests planning a stay at the lodge can arrange for everything from lift tickets to lessons to babysitting online before they arrive. Don’t feel like driving? The hotel has a fleet of Mercedes at your service and they will be happy to arrange a ride into Stowe’s lively downtown area, about six miles down the road. Service is at a premium here, and whether you need a postcard mailed or your skis returned to the rental shop, the staff will help you with a smile.
I’m not saying that any of this comes cheap; Stowe Mountain Lodge is expensive with rooms for a family of four starting at around $300 per night. But there are ways to find discounted rooms, especially midweek and later in the season – check online for the best rates. Bring your own food and you’ll save even more while still enjoying the comfort and luxury of this world-class hotel. But don’t skimp on the Ski Valet. I promise you, it’s worth it.
Mara Gorman may live at sea level now, but she’s a native New Englander and mountain aficionado who grew up skiing in Vermont. She spends as many days each winter as she can chasing her two teen boys through glades and across mogul fields and regularly journeys far and wide to get on the slopes. Mara blogs about her family’s many travel adventures at The Mother of all Trips. She is also the author of The Family Traveler’s Handbook and an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in various USA Today print publications as well as on websites such as BBC Travel. When there’s no snow, Mara and her family can be found hiking, biking and eating around the United States and Europe.