Hotel Review: Topnotch Resort in Stowe
The New York Times published a print version of this article on February 16, 2014.
Current high-season weekend rates start at $325; off-season rates from $175.
Since its 2010 purchase of Topnotch, MetWest Terra Hospitality has spent $15 million refurbishing the onetime ski club built in 1953. The resort reopened its doors last June with a 7,000-square-foot expansion that includes two new restaurants and redesigned guest rooms. “Our previous look was classic ski lodge — cozy but fussy in terms of décor,” said the head concierge, Carol Crawford. “The new space is open and has a friendlier vibe.” The hotel has 68 rooms (some pet-friendly) and sits on 120 acres with tennis and equestrian centers and a Nordic Barn, a jumping-off point for alpine activities. A modern, white-walled lobby with minimalist décor, which feels a bit out of place in the Green Mountains, opens to the property’s lawn, where in winter you’ll encounter families braving the cold to roast s’mores over numerous fire pits.
Topnotch is halfway between Stowe’s main street and Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. It is 40 miles from Burlington, which has the nearest airport — and is a three-hour drive from Boston.
At 315 square feet and with 13-foot ceilings, our Executive King Room, the least expensive option, felt spacious but at first seemed bland for a mountain retreat, with its sparse furnishings and cream-colored walls. But thoughtful details — white window shutters, wrought-iron handles on closet doors, and a flannel blanket secured to the wooden headboard — subtly spruced up an otherwise monochrome room. A modern wooden desk and an armchair were nice additions, and the bed was comfortable, though softer pillows would have been appreciated.
A hallway containing two closets (robes and iron in one; a Keurig coffee maker, safe and fridge in the other) led to a small but tastefully appointed bathroom with countertops of Vermont marble and great-smelling June Jacobs products, which are preservative- and paraben-free.
In addition to free Wi-Fi and parking, Topnotch offers a roomy fitness center with flat-screen-fitted cardio machines, a weight room, yoga and boot camp classes and personal training. There is also tennis (indoor courts from $53 an hour) and seasonal horseback riding, as well as skiing and snowshoeing from the Nordic Barn. Topnotch is on a five-mile recreation path trailing a winding river — suitable for year-round outings — and close to Smuggler’s Notch State Park. Guests can unwind with a spa treatment or make use of the indoor pool, sauna, steam room and shower, which are comparable to what’s behind closed doors in the spa.
The hotel’s main restaurant, Flannel, offers a limited room service menu from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., but on a balmy day we opted for an al fresco breakfast on Flannel’s patio: locally roasted Brave Coffee ($3); blueberry pancakes with fresh maple syrup ($11); and the Witch, a pita stuffed with sausage, fried egg, onions and Vermont Cheddar ($12). The Roost, Topnotch’s bar-restaurant, is perfect for sipping a Vermont lager from the comfort of a cushy sofa. TV screens, fireplaces and games give it a casual, child-friendly feeling.
Although quaint Stowe has scores of charming accommodations, Topnotch earns its name with relaxed luxury alongside resort amenities.
Topnotch Resort, 4000 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vt.; 802-253-8585; topnotchresort.com.