Getaway to Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont

Dubbed the Ski capital of the East, Stowe is a charming resort town in the Green Mountains about 40 minutes southwest of Burlington, Vermont. The ski hill that shares its name is the main draw during the winter months, attracting powder hounds from the surrounding states of Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Canadians, too, from Quebec and eastern Ontario.

Originally a farming and logging town, Stowe has been a resort town since the mid-19th century, thanks to its natural beauty and the draw of Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in the area. During the Great Depression (1929–1939), President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to employ young men while contributing to infrastructure projects that benefited the American people.

Circumstances collided, and the CCC cut the first purpose-built ski trail on Mt Mansfield in 1934. It wasn’t long before lifts were installed — the first cost a mere 10 cents a ride! — a ski club was established, and the rest is history. Today, the hill is operated by Vail Resorts and is part of their Epic Pass offering.

A giant in the east with 13 lifts that serve 116 runs and 1.9 km of skiable terrain, the ski resort is supported by the easy-going ski town, which has an overabundance of hotels, motels, and restaurants that offer weary skiers, snowboarders, and outdoor enthusiasts a place to lay their heads.

On a recent trip to Stowe, we were hosted at the Topnotch Resort and Spa. Located a couple of minutes down the road from the base of the ski hill, the hotel offers high-end amenities while maintaining an auberge feel. After a day of outdoor sports, guests can relax in the outdoor jacuzzi and swap adventure stories.

Staying at Topnotch does not mean you have to be a downhill enthusiast. The resort has an equestrian centre, and its partner offers charming horse-drawn sleigh rides during the winter. Next door is the Tennis Academy, which offers indoor tennis and pickleball court rentals, plus lessons for all ages.

We took a pickleball lesson with Cole, a USPTA/PTR certified coach, whose enthusiasm and friendly demeanour made the experience so much fun. Anyone who thinks pickleball is old-person tennis is oh so wrong. Cole took no prisoners, but we left with smiles on our faces and a new appreciation for this sport that is exploding in popularity.

During the summer season, Topnotch’s Tennis Academy offers six additional outdoor clay courts in addition to its four indoor courts. Tennis Magazine ranked it one of the top 10 Tennis Resorts in the U.S., which might give you the sense that it’s an old-stuffy country club, but that’s the furthest from the truth. The staff is approachable and friendly, and the academy has the laid-back vibe you’d expect in a ski town.

The spa at Topnotch continues that approachable, easy feeling. It offers 30 treatment rooms and separate male/female relaxation rooms adjoining the locker rooms where guests can get cosy by the fireplace, read, or order food from the on-site restaurant. You can request the kind of massage you are looking for. I took advantage of a sports-like therapeutic massage, and my therapist was able to work out kinks I didn’t even know I had. The spa also offers pre- and post-ski stretching on request and has a full schedule of yoga, Pilates, and even water aerobics classes, in addition to a full gym.

The 60-foot indoor pool is accessible from the spa locker room. Hotel guests also have full access to it and an adjoining steam room. The rooms at Topnotch are modern and well-appointed, offering either one king-size bed or two doubles. The resort also offers 15 chalets that accommodate anywhere from two to seven guests. Each rental has a kitchen and living area, and guests have full access to the resort’s facilities. The chalets are perfect for families and a great option for an intimate friend’s getaway, like a stagette.

Vermont is home to the legendary ice cream company Ben & Jerry and the global headquarters of Burton Snowboards, which began in the 1970s by the late Jake Burton Carpenter, the Godfather of snowboarding. Vermont also has excellent craft breweries — more per capita than any other U.S. state. You can join a Stowe Tasting Tour or do as we did and sample pints of award-winning beer on a self-guided pub crawl, but watch out; some of the double IPAs really pack a punch.

Both skiers and non-skiers alike will enjoy the Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum located in a charming heritage building in downtown Stowe. The picturesque main street is dotted with boutiques, galleries, watering holes and a couple of cafes. We stopped in at Stowe Public House, a small gathering spot with an adjoining craft beer shop with an incredible selection of local and out-of-state craft beer.

Back at Topnotch, dine at the cosy, window-enclosed Roost restaurant. From Poke bowls to burgers, short ribs, and grilled salmon, the menu has something for everyone, and the views are simply beautiful. Cap off the night by stargazing from an Adirondack chair next to the outdoor firepit — the perfect end to the day and a great stay.

For more information on Topnotch Resort and Spa, visit

Photos: Courtesy Topnotch Resort & Spa