Before the weather seriously dips into unspeakable temperatures, we took it upon ourselves to take a little weekend away to Stowe, Vermont to take in the peak time where the leaves change for fall. Now earlier this year, avid readers of Athleisure Mag know that we spent a weekend in Woodstock Vermont in March right after a snowstorm and we took in snow sports as well as learning about the area.
With this previous knowledge, we knew we wanted to enjoy hikes, the cuisine of the area and a number of the luxurious amenities offered at our host, Stowe Mountain Lodge a part of Destination Hotels. In addition, we partnered with GMC 2019 Canyon Denali and took it to make the journey for a classic fall weekend. When you’re taking a road trip, being able to have access to OnStar, access to GPS (perfect when you realize you need to re-route due to traffic) and of course being able to listen to SiriusXM radio or connecting your phone to not only charge in the vehicle but to play your own music - hands free - this is the luxury truck you want to be in.
We talked with a few people to find out more about this property. From a culinary perspective, we enjoyed a curated 4 course meal via Stowe Mountain's Chefs Table at Solstice with a wine pairing. In addition, we enjoyed a number of meals that focused on a handcrafted cocktail menu as well as beer flights from breweries that are local to the region.
Our Solstice Chefs Table menu incorporated aspects of what we had yet to eat at the restaurant (to highlight new ingredients), ingredients that we were interested in trying or staying away from as well as our chef's creativity. The dinner along with its pairing was perfection and we circled back to Executive Chef Sean Blomgren to find out about our meal as well as the ability to book a Chefs Table experience as a guest.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We enjoyed our Chefs Table dinner which had a phenomenal wine pairing along with 4 courses. Is it typical that guests get to have an impact on items that could appear on their personalized menu?
EXECUTIVE CHEF SEAN BLOMGREN: That's the whole point. We want to know about the guest’s preferences as best we can. It is that information that helps us create a truly customized experience. If you tell us that you really like steak, that helps me to create an awesome steak course. Even during the meal we are able to adapt to feedback and collaborate on where the meal is headed. I still make sure that there are a few surprises mixed in!
AM: Where did you train, where did you work previously to this restaurant and how long have you been here?
EC SB: I have been here just over a year now. Previously, I was in Telluride, Colorado, Washington DC, Charleston, Aspen, and Boston working at some of the top hotels and resorts in the country. Culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Boston.
AM: What is your culinary style and what do you enjoy about making great meals at Stowe Mountain Lodge?
EC SB: I try and use the amazing bounty that Vermont has to offer. I also like taking something familiar to most people and adding something new or changing it a bit. The flavors of Asia play a big part in a lot of my cooking, but the French training is always at the core.
AM: Seasonality and sustainability are so important in the culinary world, how is this achieved and created at the restaurants at the resort?
EC SB: We have 4 very distinct seasons here in Stowe and that allows us to be able to change the menu often to highlight what is at its peak. Some of the classics remain year-round, but there are so many great producers around here that we try to focus on by always evolving.
People come to Stowe for a number of reasons and the fact that there are 4 distinct seasons and the backdrop is Stowe Mountain, guests can really enjoy a number of activities. Earlier this year when we were in Vermont, we went Snowshoe Walking - so this time, we knew we wanted to go hiking and take in a classic fall day in Vermont. Our walk was conducted by Tyler Royer, Director of Recreation at Stowe Mountain Lodge.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Can you tell us about the outdoor/recreational program? We enjoyed hiking with Tyler and learning about the area - what is his background and how did he come to the resort?
SPRUCE PEAK OUTFITTERS: Spruce Peak Outfitters is the focused point for Stowe Mountain Lodge guests and club members who are looking to explore all the activities and adventures the Stowe area has to offer. Our experienced guides organize and lead various seasonal activities to enhance and personalize every guest experience. We offer outings that range from hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding to ice-climbing, kayaking, brewery tours, art classes, and more. For guests looking to find their own adventures in Stowe, we act as an informational resource and are more than welcome to provide our local guidance, knowledge, or advice.
Tyler Royer is the Destination & Conference Services Manager here at Stowe Mountain Lodge and manages our team here at Spruce Peak Outfitters. He has been an integral part of the Stowe Mountain Lodge family for more than 6 years. He is a born and bred Vermonter, although he obtained his Corporate Communications degree at the College of Charleston in South Carolina in 2007. Tyler has spent a portion of his career in New York City where he worked organizing corporate team-building, training, and group development events and activities. He has since returned to the Stowe Mountain Lodge to pursue his passion for group and recreational services within the close-knit and caring community of Stowe, VT.
AM: How are hikes created for individuals or groups that are interested in participating?
SPO: Each season Spruce Peak Outfitters publishes a schedule of hikes and other activities (including fly-fishing, rock climbing, boat tours, etc.) that goes out to guests and groups here at the Lodge. Guests interested in these excursions then reach out to our team to book their spot on the outing. We offer hikes ranging from easy to difficult with a variety of features along the way. Each hike is unique and has a different focus based entirely on the interests of our guests. We may focus on historical aspects of the area, foliage or seasonal changes, waterfalls, or scenic views and overlooks. Outside of the set schedule we also offer entirely customizable hikes based on guest requests or specific interests.
AM: Tyler shared a story about how skiing has a birthplace of sports in a way - can you expound on this?
SPO: Stowe is widely considered the birthplace and Capital of skiing on the East Coast. In the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps cut the first purposefully-created ski trail in Vermont known as the Bruce Trail in the Ranch Camp Valley at the base of Mt. Mansfield. Remnants from this camp can still be found today in the Stowe Cross-Country Center. Local lore tells a story of two men; Craig Burt, the owner of the Ranch Camp Valley land and a prominent Nordic skier in the area, and Austrian-native Sepp Ruschp, a famous Alpine skier and instructor who saw the potential that Mt. Mansfield and Stowe had for the sport. Both men argued for their style of skiing and a competition from the peak of Mansfield to downtown Stowe ensued. Each man competed in his preferred style of skiing, and Sepp Ruschp won the race – fueling the development of alpine skiing we see in Stowe today. Stowe remains a mecca for both Nordic and Alpine skiing to this day.
AM: What are key things that one must keep in mind when taking a hike in Vermont - in terms of a checklist of sorts of things to have on hand, what to wear, pack and to stay mindful of!
SPO: We recommend always planning ahead and being prepared for every outdoor activity found here in Vermont. Bring a buddy or tell someone your plans ahead of time. Bring a map, water, food, extra layers, sturdy footwear, rain/snow gear, and a first aid kit. More difficult trails may require a headlamp or trekking poles to help you along the trail. The weather in the Green Mountains is not entirely predictable so always bring extra layers to add or shed along the trail!
With a number of activities available on site and nearby - as well as a number of places to eat, we wanted to find out additional information about this resort which really caters to any guest that is taking time here.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about Stowe Mountain Lodge - who is drawn to this resort during the year?
STOWE MOUNTAIN LODGE: Stowe Mountain Lodge at Spruce Peak is for everyone – Families, friends, couples someone looking for a solo adventure.
AM: What is the busiest time of year at Stowe?
SML: Stowe Mountain Lodge is thepremier slopeside resort in the East, so as you can imagine winter is definitely the busiest time of year. Having said that, we are a four season resort with two golf courses and the Spruce Peak Outfitters that creates daily adventures year round.
AM: What kinds of services are offered at Stowe's spa?
SML: The Spa at Spruce Peak offers a wide variety of treatments from our one-of-a-kind “Live Like a Local” series to the typical massage or facial.
AM: We enjoyed staying in our room which was a 1 bedroom suite - what are the offerings in the rooms and what are special amenities that are offered to guests?
SML: Our suites (1,2 &3 bedrooms) of fer guests a full kitchen, fireplace and balcony where guests can look out at the mountain views.
Our Studios offer a kitchenette, fireplace and balcony.
Our Classic rooms are more of a typical hotel guestroom.
Our Front Four units offer a private lobby with check in and departure as well as a private concierge. There’s a meeting room as well as a continental breakfast.
The rooms have a full living room, kitchen, fireplace and balcony.
You can see all of our accommodations at Stowe Mountain Lodge here.
AM: Can you share the different rooms available in terms of being a guest, being able to own one of the rooms (and how this also allows owners to rent them out etc)?
SML: All of the rooms at SML are available for purchase. Owners have the option of joining our rental pool where we maintain the room and they enjoy special benefits of being in our rental program.
PHOTO CREDITS | Stowe Mountain Lodge courtesy of Stowe Mountain Lodge and GMC Denali shot by Athleisure Mag