by Kimberly Liu
Think family resorts in Stowe and you may think Trapp Family Lodge or the commanding Stowe Mountain Lodge. However, if you’re the type that likes feeling like you’ve been transported to another place on your family vacation, along with a little extra pampering too, Topnotch Resort is the perfect place for you and your family. Tucked away on a wooded 120 acres at the base of Mt. Mansfield, just a few minutes from fabulous skiing and mountain activities at Stowe Mountain Resort, sits the unassuming Topnotch, a hidden gem combining both a family-friendly environment and luxury amenities you would expect at a fine alpine resort.
Of particular appeal for families is the range of room configurations among the resort’s 68 hotel rooms and suites as well as the 30 separate two- and three-bedroom resort homes. It’s easy to find a room set-up suiting your crew’s needs, and the convenience of a kitchen in select suites and resort homes could save you a bundle on meals and snacks taken at restaurants. And what might not jump out to the casual observer of the resort’s exterior (but is well remembered by those who have overnighted within), are the stunning views that are so magnificently showcased in the hotel’s main areas as well as accommodations.
While the hotel vibe is serene, the decor is not overly fussy (dubbed “where rustic meets luxury”), and there’s more than plenty to keep kids busy and happy both at the resort and conveniently nearby. Perhaps most remarkable, though, is the welcoming and attentive nature of the staff. At Topnotch, from the moment you arrive, you’ll feel you are a part of the Topnotch family, and that there is always someone waiting ready to assist you and make your stay more pleasurable.
Situated between Stowe Mountain Ski Resort and the quaint Stowe Village, a quintessential New England town even your kids will enjoy exploring, Topnotch puts you smack in the center of activity in this “recreation capital of the East.” And although many families flock to Stowe in winter for the world-class skiing, it’s truly a four-season destination. In addition to the typical winter family activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and sleigh rides, families visiting in the off-season can enjoy hiking and biking, canoeing and kayaking, geocaching, horseback riding, mini-golf, swimming, tennis and more.
Whenever you chose to visit Topnotch, it will be hard not to relax, enjoy and drift away from your everyday concerns. By the time you’re ready to go home, you’re sure to be attached to your surroundings and likely to already be planning your return.
Our Editor Loves
- Family suites and resort homes
- Year round activities
- Just for Kids activities
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Deluxe and Executive Rooms
There are 68 residences in the hotel including Deluxe and Executive rooms and Junior, Garden, Governor's, and Champlain Suites, all featuring attractive country decor with an upscale twist. In every room you'll find lots of special touches like plush bathrobes (kids bathrobes may be purchased in the hotel boutique), Vermont Spring bottled water, a mini refrigerator, and ample size closets with shelves and cubbies, as well as modern conveniences such as complimentary Wi-Fi, a full-size ironing board and iron, and a personal safe. Select rooms offer gas fireplaces, too. You can request a coffee maker, but really there's no need, as coffee is offered in the lobby each morning.
Although not overly spacious or luxurious, the bathrooms are up-to-date and well-outfitted, featuring marble countertops, deep tubs, and a hair dryer. A rollaway, Pack 'n Play, or crib may be requested, but keep in mind that the maximum occupancy in deluxe rooms is four persons. Pets are allowed in select rooms on the first floor. Although there are a limited number, mountain-view rooms may be requested at no additional charge.
In the various suites ranging in space from 650 square feet to 1,050 square feet, you'll find a variety of room configurations and amenities including sitting and living areas, flat-screen TVs, additional bedding such as day- and Murphy-beds, two bathrooms, and gas fireplaces. The suites also feature the best mountain views. In the larger suites, the bedroom is truly separate from the living room, but the smaller suites with an open sitting area are quite spacious and the sitting area still feels separate. Guests staying in a Governor's Suite enjoy the added convenience of a dining table with six chairs and a kitchenette. If you're traveling with family friends or a larger multi-generational family, treat yourselves to one of only a few larger adjoining suites that will allow the kids to play together without leaving your secure area.
The exquisitely decorated resort homes sport two or three bedrooms and baths with full living rooms and kitchens and some with garages. All bedrooms have a deck and Jacuzzi. These homes are perfect for a larger family on an extended vacation and quite unique to the area. Rollaways are not permitted in resort homes.
Extra Perks for Kids
Nickelodeon is available on all TV's, and Wii, Nintendo and PlayStation 2 are available in the Game Room. DVD players for all rooms and a limited supply of movies are available free of charge through the Front Desk.
Stayed during Columbus Day weekend/foliage season and the cost was three times the going rate. I expected a fabulous room and was disappointed to find a average two double room. Service was good, food at Flannel was delicious and property is pretty.
The hotel is conveniently located near Stowe and restaurants on the way. It's also close to Smuggler's Notch. Kind of centrally located between the two. The first night we got there about dinner time and were going to grab dinner at Flannel, but it hadn't opened yet. The people waiting to enter were dressed up. It definitely appears to be a dress up restaurant, not come as you are. Not a big deal. After driving we didn't want to go to the effort to get dressed up. Rooster appeared to be more bar food. It's true what people said about being able to hear people talking in other rooms, but muffled. Not a big deal for us because we weren't around during the day. At night though, the people in the room above us were up walking around at 1 or 2am and the floor creaks quite a bit/woke us up. This happened on two nights. Otherwise the room was spacious with very comfortable beds and scenic views.
Spa and Pools
If you're familiar with Topnotch, you may have dreamt about a getaway on your own to enjoy their luxurious spa, but if you've got kids in tow and not a prayer of some alone time, no worries, there's plenty to do where you'll still be able to absorb the relaxing spa atmosphere! In addition to top rankings for their services for women, the spa has also been rated one of the top 10 in the country for teens, with some services available for those under age 16 as well; there is a convenient downstairs locker area including a kid-friendly steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi. Children 12 and under are also allowed in the area when accompanied by an adult.
Throughout the year, families particularly enjoy the indoor heated swimming pool and soaking in the unique hot tub with a cascading hydro-massage waterfall. Or taking a dip in the outdoor pool and hot tub for a panoramic view of the scenic surroundings along with the fresh mountain air. Although in winter apres ski is a popular time for hitting the outdoor hot tub, for older children, a late evening dip may be even more memorable. In summer, enjoy the additional, larger outdoor pool.
In winter, many families stay at Topnotch for the proximity to Stowe Mountain Resort, where all level of skiers and riders can easily find enjoyable ski-terrain and families can take advantage of the world-class ski school and convenient and upscale Stowe Mountain Base Lodge, Spruce Camp. Conveniently, ski and snowboard rentals are available on-property at the Nordic Barn. Popular outdoor winter activities at the resort include cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and carriage and sleigh rides. And even more outdoor activities are found nearby, including mountain tours, dog sledding, ice climbing, ice fishing, sledding, and snowmobiling. And when you're freezing and exhausted from the chilly outdoor activities, return to the resort to curl up fireside in the lodge-like lounge and enjoy apres ski with complimentary tea and cookies in the Butter Tub.
The fun doesn't end when the snow melts at Topnotch; the choices for outdoor adventure in the summer are endless as well. Take a hike on the property on your own or enjoy a longer guided hike on trails that can take you to the Appalachian Trail. Onsite horseback riding is available at the Equestrian Center and bikes are available on-property at the Nordic Barn. Nearby you'll find canoeing and kayaking, hidden swimming holes and waterfalls, geocaching, an alpine slide, hot-air balloon rides, golfing, and shopping and dining in the historic Stowe village. Topnotch is located by the entrance of the 6-mile Stowe recreation paved path that is perfect for walking or biking. Stop at the restaurants and shops along the path or head into town for lunch at the 1950's-style Depot Street Malt Shoppe and a visit to Stowe Mercantile, where kids are sure to find a treat or two to beg for!
Topnotch also takes pride in its year-round tennis facilities and programs, ranked among the top 10 in North America by Tennis Magazine. Not only do they offer all kinds of tennis clinics and instruction for adults, but they also offer the only USTA Junior Tennis program (for kids under 10) in the Northeast. All children ages 3 and up can participate in daily tennis lessons.
Rainy Day Activities
On rainy days, take a tour of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory or head to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory where kids learn about and make their own cuddly teddy bears. Board games and a limited supply of DVDs are available through the Front Desk free of charge. Wii, Nintendo and PlayStation 2 are available in the Game Room.
The View from the Top
Don't miss the breathtaking view from the top of Mt. Mansfield of Lake Champlain and Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York. A ski lift is the obvious way to get to the top in winter, but you can also hike, take the gondola or drive your own car (Mt. Mansfield Auto Road) to the top.
There's just one main restaurant at Topnotch, The Roost, but with the restaurant Flannel offering breakfast, lighter fare, snacks available in the hotel boutique, refrigerators in the rooms, and room service offered nearly around the clock, you're sure not to go hungry at any hour of the day.
Norma's is not only known for their excellent modern American cuisine but also for the spectacular view of Mt. Mansfield showcased by the large picture window along the outside wall of the restaurant. Open from noon to 10 p.m. The Roost offers a casual dining option with things for the kids to do too with shuffleboard and a fire pit on the outdoor patio. Menu items include things like wings, salads, soups, fish and chips, sandwiches and burgers. The kids' menu includes chicken fingers, pasta, veggie sticks and grilled cheese.
A fun, casual spot open for breakfast daily from 7 to 11 a.m. and for dinner 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Flannel offers a relaxed setting with a bar and flat-screen TV. Parents can enjoy drinks including local beers while ensuring the kids have a snack to ward off potential five o'clock meltdowns.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
At Topnotch, you'll know from the moment you set foot on-property that you're in for a special vacation and easily surrender to the extra luxuries provided throughout your stay: plush robes, free bottled water, in-room DVDs, nightly turn-down service, complimentary morning coffee and afternoon tea and cookies, and more. And kids (and parents, too!) will enjoy Just For Kids, the resort's day and evening activity program for children that will keep them happy and busy with engaging and seasonal indoor and outdoor activities.
For skiers and boarders, equipment may be rented at the Nordic Barn onsite and all outdoor sports equipment, rented or owned, may be stored in the outdoor facility by the resort entrance. Guests will enjoy the added convenience of the well-stocked boutiques, ensuring they won't be caught short if they have forgotten sunscreen, swim suits, and other sundry items.
The nightly resort fee covers Wi-Fi; valet parking; shuttle to and from Stowe Village and the mountain; tea, cookies and coffee in the lounge; and access to the indoor and outdoor pools as well as the sauna, steam room, waterfall Jacuzzi, outdoor Jacuzzi, and fitness center.
If you are in need of childcare beyond the children's programs at the resort, the front desk will provide a list of babysitters in the area that you may contact directly.
Pets are welcome in some select rooms.
The Art of Smart Timing
There's no avoiding it, if you want to ski in true winter snow conditions, you'll have no choice but to visit during the busy ski season, but if you really are opposed to a full-house, try to avoid the hectic Christmas and New Year's holiday week as well as Presidents' Day Weekend. If you do visit during these times, expect to wait longer while dining as well as for the resort shuttle (two resort-owned SUVs). It may be worth driving to the ski resort if you don't want to risk having to wait out in the cold for the shuttle with tired kids at the end of the day. The quietest times of year are just before Christmas and after March first, when the weather can be inconsistent but if you hit it right, the spring skiing is excellent. The lowest room prices may be garnered mid-week April through June and late October through early December. A ski package is offered annually as well as other various packages throughout the year.
Topnotch Resort is 35 miles, approximately 50 minutes, from the Burlington International Airport and the hotel will provide airport transfers on request. If driving via Route 89 North or South, take Exit 10 (Waterbury/Stowe) and turn onto Route 100 North. Proceed into the Village of Stowe. Turn left onto Route 108 and continue approximately 4 miles; Topnotch Resort is on the right.
The resort's shuttle vans will take you to the ski resort or into Stowe village and there is also a town shuttle that travels up and down Stowe Mountain Road with a stop at the end of the entrance road to Topnotch. Guests driving their own car may self-park or enjoy complimentary valet parking.
For Mom and Dad
The obvious choice for alone time for mom and dad is to take advantage of the onsite award-winning spa. With an endless list of enticing options, you're sure to find a treatment that suits you. If the outdoors is more your style, head off for a longer or more challenging hike, bike ride or similar adventure than what you may be able to undertake with children in tow; it may give you more patience when you do take the kids along.