The image of Julie Andrews circling around an alpine meadow in the middle of the Austrian Alps is one of the most iconic scenes in an iconic film. And part of what makes The Sound of Music so rightly famous is the fact that its story is based on a real one.
What happened to Maria after she and the Captain and the singing children fled the Nazis? That is a long and complex story, but it does end happily. The von Trapps ultimately headed for another exquisitely beautiful mountainside in Stowe, Vermont where they turned what had once been a dairy farm into a resort property that boasts the Trapp Family Lodge.
This gem of a resort isn’t just a place for Sound of Music superfans to stay (although you should leave satisfied if your goal is to learn more about the von Trapp family). With numerous family-friendly activities and Austrian inspiration in everything from the decor to the beer that’s brewed on the property, Trapp Family Lodge offers the best kind of luxury for families: that of genuine warmth and care.
Comfort and Beauty Are Bywords at Trapp Family Lodge
Trapp Family Lodge prides itself on an old-school, European sense of hospitality, which is evident from the minute guests walk in the door.
Our Superior Room had two queen beds and plenty of space for all of our ski stuff. Nothing about the room was fancy, but it had the kind of amenities that families like including a small refrigerator, an armchair that would have been perfect for bedtime stories if my kids were younger, and a large flat-screen TV. Photos of the von Trapp family hung on the walls and the windows overlooked the sweeping view of the valley that the Lodge is famous for.
Although it was quiet and spacious, I had no real desire to hang out in our room. That’s because numerous public spaces in the building have clearly been designed to encourage people to gather. Comfortable chairs are placed facing each other in front of fireplaces. There are many large tables to sit around and play a game or do a puzzle.
My 12-year-old son Teddy had brought along a mystery box challenge – this is a subscription game with a box full of clues that you examine carefully to determine the outcome of a fictional crime. He and my husband Matt spent several hours in the Lodge’s library, where they had plenty of room to spread out and consider all the possibilities.
Nearby a couple played chess. Background music was provided in the lounge next door, courtesy of the pianist who plays there most nights of the week. I admired the religious artifacts placed around the room as a reminder of Maria’s piety and marveled at how warm and cozy we were as the snow fell outside.
And perhaps one of my favorite things about the Lodge is that in homage to Maria and her love of her garden, you will find flowers and plants everywhere. Displays range from elegant flower arrangements…
…to sweet old-fashioned bouquets tucked into small vases.
During our March visit the onsite florist was clearly looking ahead to spring with cheerful tulips and sweetly fragrant hyacinths that brought a smile to my face every time their perfume wafted by my nose.
The contrast between the silvery winter world outside the windows and the brilliant flowers within highlighted the beauty of each.
Trapp Family Lodge Offers Activities for All
As part of the Lodge’s turndown service, each evening of our stay we received a copy of the activities for the next day. These include everything from guided hikes on the Lodge’s 2500-acre property to group Nordic ski lessons to woodworking to pastry baking.
My husband and I enjoyed the Saturday evening wine tasting in the Lodge’s Wine Cellar. The sommelier Michael Keene had five merlots from around the world for us to try, along with an explanatory note that talked about the virtues of the grape and listed the names of the wines and their vintages.
A large cheese board accompanied the wines and made the tasting feel even more like a party. We loved the chance to chat with the other guests (and quickly learned that several of them lived just a few towns over from us) and to try a few new wines.
We also enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Michael, who was both friendly and knowledgeable and offered guidance and opinions about his favorite varietals. It made me feel confident later that evening when I ordered a bottle of French chardonnay from the extensive list in the Lodge’s main dining room that what I drank would be both delicious and a good value.
On Sunday morning, I woke up with a long, gentle yoga class in the Lodge’s Fitness Center across the road from the main building. My view out the window as I stretched was of a snowy meadow that reached down to a stand of creamy birch trees. It was completely blissful. I followed this with a one-hour Snowshoe Sugar Maple Tour that started behind the Outdoor Center next to the Lodge.
Then it was time to relax in the solarium with one of the newspapers that the Lodge staff thoughtfully sets out for guests before Matt picked me up for an afternoon of downhill skiing.
I’ll admit that after my snowshoe tour, I was tempted to let my family spend the entire day bombing down the mountain without me while I cross-country skied in the peaceful woods behind the Lodge. Only the fact that it was my last chance to downhill ski for the 2018 season sent me scurrying for my alpine skis.
My teen boys were primarily interested in skiing hard all day and crashing at night, but when they were younger I’m sure they would have loved some of the activities aimed at kids including s’more making, the rock climbing class on the Fitness Center’s indoor climbing wall, and the child-friendly movie showings of classics like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
Europe or Vermont? Trapp Family Lodge Has Unique Dining Options
There are two main emphases of all the food that is served at Trapp’s various resort restaurants. One is paying homage to Austrian dishes both directly and indirectly. The other is to use as much fresh, local food as possible (a number of things are harvested right on the property).
Just down the hill from the main lodge, the resort’s Bierhall serves the Austrian-style beers that have been brewed on the property since 2010 along with a slew of Austrian specialties from pretzels with a beer cheese dipping sauce to a platter of brat-, knack- and bauernwurst that come atop a bed of saurkraut mashed potatoes and braised cabbage.
The main dining room at Trapp Family Lodge offers a more formal dining experience, but has the same friendly service. The menu here also has an Austrian influence. We enjoyed carmelized onion and garlic soup topped with gruyere popovers, wiener schnitzel that was topped with fresh eggs harvested from the Lodge’s chickens, and local quail stuffed with currants. The waiter was a little surprised when my 12-year-old son ordered this last dish but Teddy ate every bite.
My entire family also loved hanging out in the Lodge’s Lounge, where most evenings there is live music. If you want a less formal dining experience in the main Lodge building, this is the place to get it. One afternoon in between skiing and dinner, we sat down by the fireplace and enjoyed an Austrian-inspired charcuterie board that included not only cheeses and meats but pickled vegetables and caramel jam
And if you need a quick breakfast, a sandwich, soup or afternoon pastry – I highly recommend the apple strudel – be sure to stop by the Austrian Tea and Tap Room, which is just down the road from the main Lodge. In addition to coffee, you can also sample von Trapp lagers here.
We ate our breakfasts in the main dining room of the lodge, discovering that this key meal for any skiing family is as special and well executed as the dinners. Options include a generous buffet, every component of which is delicious and an a la carte menu. If you choose the latter route, I highly recommend the oatmeal pancakes, which were hearty enough to get me through and entire day of hard skiing.
Perhaps the most magical thing about Trapp Family Lodge is the way that it connects guests to the von Trapp family without seeming commercialized or campy. The family’s presence is strongly felt, whether that’s from the numerous photographs and movie posters that decorate the hallways or the lovely mural of Maria’s garden that greets arriving guests.
And those views! If anything could make me run, twirl and sing that the hills are alive it definitely would definitely be the splendid vista that awaited every time I stepped outside.
It was the kind of place that worked its way into my heart and mind and has stayed in the days since left, leaving me with only one wish: to return, soon and often.
More information about Trapp Family Lodge
- Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available right on property in the winter (there’s a full rental shop if you don’t have your own equipment). If you are planning to downhill ski, the Lodge is only about a ten-minute drive from the base area at Stowe Mountain Resort. On Saturdays the resort offers a shuttle that will take you there.
- If you prefer beer to wine, tours of the brewery are available several days a week and include a flight of beers for tasting.
- The Lodge has many amenities that we didn’t take advantage of simply because our ski days were long. In the Fitness Center you’ll find a climbing wall, a gorgeous indoor pool and an outdoor hot tub that overlooks the mountains. Parents should note that children under the age of 16 are not allowed in the pool between 6 and 9 at night and that there is a lap swim from 7 to 8:45 in the morning. I’d recommend getting back from your skiing early enough to take a dip in the afternoon if that’s a priority.
- The Real Maria, a film about the family’s story, is shown every day at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. And if you want to learn even more about the von Trapp family’s story, you can take one of the History Tours of the property (held inside the Lodge in the winter and both inside and outside during the warmer months).
Additional All Mountain Mama posts about Trapp Family Lodge
- Fine Dining for Families at Trapp Family Lodge
- Trapp Family Lodge: Home for the Holidays
- Music in the Meadow at Trapp Family Lodge
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.