Winter vacations needn’t cost the earth. There’s a popular idea that taking a
skiing break, or just generally hanging out in snowy regions, is a vacation
option only for those with money to burn. But that’s not true: it’s possible to
enjoy a great winter holiday close to home for a reasonable price.
One of the hotels that have been most successful at providing
this sort of vacation in recent years is the Mountaineer Inn in Stowe, Vermont.
Stowe is one of the most beautiful skiing villages in the United States –
friendly and homely, it doesn’t have the feel of an industrial-level vacation
spot that larger resorts such as Aspen sometimes do. Sitting on the lower
slopes of the 1339m Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, it’s a great
center for skiing, snowboarding, hiking and all kinds of outdoor sports.
Because of its relatively low elevation and relative closeness to the sea, it
doesn’t have the same virtually all-year snow coverage of ski resorts in the
Rockies. So if you’re intent on hitting the slopes, you need to visit during
the winter or early spring. That said, there’s plenty to do in the summer and
fall, too: the area surround Mt. Mansfield is a hiker’s paradise, containing
such classic routes as the Long Trail, which stretches northwards to the
Canadian border and southwards to meet up with the Appalachian trail as it
winds its way up the eastern flank of the continent.
A break at the Mountaineer Inn will allow you to enjoy all these
natural wonders and fantastic activities in comfortable, good-value
surroundings. The hotel offers a choice between basic, standard and family
rooms, all of which are comfortably furnished and more than adequate as a base
from which to explore the surrounding area. The hotel’s restaurant serves
excellent, freshly prepared local food in a pleasant atmosphere.
But maybe the best thing about the Mountaineer Inn is its
proximity to the village of Stowe which is just a few minutes away by
trolleybus. As well as being a great center for outdoor activities, Stowe is
also one of the towns at the center of the Vermont antiques trade – a form of
commerce for which the state has become famous in the past few years. The
pastime of ‘antiquing’ (as it’s known) maybe a little less intense and
physically draining as an afternoon on the piste, but it can be very rewarding
to hunt for great pieces in the cozy atmosphere of Stowe. Be warned, however,
that you’re very unlikely to pick up anything remotely approaching a bargain –
all the dealers around here know their business inside out, so although you can
be assured of the quality of the antiques on offer, you won’t find many of them
going for a song!
One of the most popular times to visit Stowe is the fall. Guests
at the Mountaineer Inn are in a particularly good position to appreciate this
time of year, as the hotel is set in several acres of wooded grounds, bordered
on one side by a trout stream. The colors of the autumnal foliage are as
stunning here as anywhere else in New England, and simply have to be seen to be
believed. Fall is also the time of year when a number of events of distinctly
European flavor take place in Stowe. First, every September, there’s the
‘British Invasion’ – an annual motor show of UK marques such as Jaguar and
Aston Martin that’s been voted one of the top ten events within an easy drive
of the Boston metropolitan area. A little later, in October, there’s a
German-style Oktoberfest when the beer flow freely and men in leather shorts
roam the streets. This is a village that seems to have something different
going on for every season!
If you want to indulge in some non-winter sports, fishing,
riding, golf and tennis are all available within easy reach of the Mountaineer
Inn, and the friendly hotel staff will do their best to help you locate the
pastime you’re most interested in. If you’d like to get out and explore nature
by yourself, but you’re not an experienced outdoors person, there are several
guiding and excursion companies in Stowe village that will happily organize a
day in the wild backwoods or on the hills for you.
The Stowe are has a very great deal going for it as a vacation
destination. Within easy reach of the major eastern cities, it’s a year-round
destination that has something to offer young and old alike. For many families
it’s within easy driving distance, so there’s no stressful messing around in
airports with kids. Best of all, Stowe is full of great hotels like the
Mountaineer Inn where fantastic Vermont hospitality is on offer at great