Opening Day in Stowe, Vermont!

Mt. Mansfield, 11/14/17

November 14, 2017 image of Mt. Mansfield

Opening Day is November 17!  For those of us who embrace each and every season with similar enthusiasm there are activities here in Stowe, Vermont, that clearly help us transition into each of the wonderful four seasons of our area.  For the spring, it might be that first day when it is safe for the trail to hike to the top of the Pinnacle trail, and for the summer the opening concert of the Stowe Performing Arts, Music in the Meadows with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and for us, the start of the Fall Foliage Season is marked by the British Invasion Weekend.

Of course this next, “opening day,” is all about alpine skiing and snowboarding.  Stowe Mountain Resort has been working diligently with the weather conditions and Mother Nature to blanket many of the trails on Mt. Mansfield with a base of snow (several feet by now in some areas).  The mountain has also received a bit of snow from a dusting to something more recognizable as a snowfall.

All of that has led to a backdrop (at least on the mountain side) that takes away the grayness of leftovers from our Fall Foliage Season and provides us with the beginnings of what we know will be our winter wonderland of New England.  And while of course we would love to have that opportunity to take that “first chair” up the mountain tomorrow, we will have to postpone our own opening day until we get back from our own vacation.

We have had a wonderful little respite ourselves the past two weeks having closed the Inn since the first weekend in November and will be returning to the Green Mountain State this Sunday evening.  And yes, even Innkeepers need some time to recharge the batteries and get refreshed for the next busy season!  For this and the past six Stick Seasons we have made a quick trip to one of our favorite southern spots, Sanibel Island, Florida.  Oh, yeah, we open Stick Season with a flight out of Vermont to Florida.

And just like many of our returning guests to the Brass Lantern Inn, we have the chance to catch up with our friends, snowbirds here in Sanibel each November.  Even with wonderful weather, great reunion with friends here, and sleeping in each morning, we are truly looking forward to trading in our view and experiences along the Gulf Coast with the ever changing views of Mt. Mansfield from our Inn and of course, welcoming our guests to Stowe.  Home is home and we continue to feel so very fortunate to have this ability to call Stowe and the Brass Lantern Inn our home these past 8 years.

With Thanksgiving just on the near horizon I guess this note has a multitude of meanings to us.  We wish you all a Thanksgiving Season that is filled with wonderful memories, traditions and a sense of gratitude for whatever life has provided to you as well.  Hope you have your own Opening Day memories!

Warmly,

George and Mary Anne

Ski Like a Local

Ok, this isn’t me skiing, but, it was the scene here in Stowe just 5 months ago (3/18/17 to be exact)!

I know, it is still summer and trust me, we aren’t wishing this wonderful summer here in Stowe away anytime soon.  However, we wanted to pass along this bit of news regarding what we anticipate to be valuable information for our ski and snowboard guests.

As you may have heard, Vail Resorts purchased the Stowe Mountain Resort this summer.  While there are expected to be some positive operational changes (traffic and parking, no. 1) with that transfer of ownership, everything we have heard, and read in the paper, indicates that the experience on the mountain will be even better than ever this coming 2017/2018 winter season.

One significant change and one that we hope gets the attention of our skiing/riding guests is the Epic Pass.  As many may already know, the Vail Resort model seems focused on selling passes versus daily lift tickets.  And as you investigate this difference further you will note that the skiing/riding experience at Stowe has new way to have a more valuable ski/ride experience through the Epic Pass.

The most popular Epic Pass provides the pass holder an amazing option for Unlimited Access to Stowe, several resorts west of the Mississippi as well as access, with some restrictions, to several exclusive Resorts in Europe within the coming ski season 2017/2018.  This standard Epic Pass is listed at $849 (now through Sept. 4, when we understand it is expected to increase in price).  The typical walk up rate last year at Stowe Mountain Resort was $122.  While there were certainly some deals to be had and we did have access to some of those deals and pass along the savings from the Resort to you, the point is with the new price of the Epic Pass at $849 you would pay for the pass with the $122 walk up rate in less than 7 days of skiing/riding, either here OR a combination of here AND out west!

And, the beauty of this pass, especially for those within driving range of Stowe or even fly/drive you can “Ski Like a Local” here in Stowe.

How?  Well, say you planned your escape to Stowe, and ok, New England weather becomes, well, New England weather. You find yourself on the mountain and the conditions are as we say, not exactly pristine.  Well, if you had plunked down the walk up rate (or even a discounted rate) you may have felt the need to “tough it out” and ski/ride through that weather.  With this pass you can do as the locals, try a few runs, say, ok this isn’t my cup of tea, count it as a ski day, and head for early après ski happenings in town and not feel the loss as you would before; just like a local.  All knowing you can come back and ski it again as you have paid for unlimited lifts this season through that pass.

As a “local” ourselves (a transplanted local, for sure) we love the pass idea as it allows us to get as many runs in as possible between check out and check in on select weekdays and the occasional Sunday!  We, as you may be able to see here, are very excited to welcome our new neighbor to Stowe with their Epic Pass.  Give us a call and let us help you coordinate a unique experience here in Stowe, Vermont.

See you outside,

George

Insert yourself in this scene!

Welcoming Back Friends in Stowe, Vermont

Of the many rewards of this adventure of being Owners and Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn here in Stowe, Vermont, one of the most special to us is the opportunity to welcome back guests, rather, friends.

We recognize that part of the experience of staying in an intimately scaled Bed & Breakfast such as ours is the sense of place that is only available in this unique style of lodging.  In our search for a lodging business we were continually attracted to those B&B’s that were in the 8 to 12 guest room size.  With our 9 guest rooms, and, both of us directly involved in the day to day operations of this Inn, we then have the reward of meeting and hosting so many wonderful guests that when they can, and in every way, return as our friends.

Just this past Memorial Day Weekend I was able to slip out of the Inn (thank you Mary Anne!) and go mountain biking with a friend who has stayed here multiple times over the past 7-1/2 years of our tenure here.  And due to the generous offer of another returning friend, I have had the chance to drive a Ford Mustang, “Bullitt,” created in similar style to the 1968 Mustang GT and movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen.  Remember those car chase scenes through the streets of San Francisco?  Ok, in my little tour through the back country roads of Vermont, I kept all four wheels on the ground (as we of course want our friends to return…).  It was just so much fun getting behind the wheel of 300 horses.

Through the various stays of our friends, we catch up with guests who have become engaged, married, are expecting their first child, are taking their first trip away from the kids, visiting their kids for Parent’s Weekend at one of the local colleges and universities, and/or, just returning in search of a peaceful retreat.  We continue to share book recommendations with our friends both while here during their stay and through e-mail, exchange holiday cards, etc.  We have “regulars” affectionately regarded as “Inn-mates” but always, always recognized as Friends.

As those who have stayed here or other small lodging properties can most likely attest, the social component of interacting with the Innkeepers, staff and other guests is just one of the things that make a stay at a B&B a positively memorable stay.  We recognize, very directly, the gift of each guest who stays here and for those who return whether only once or regularly of each friend that through their direct support of our business we are permitted the “pinch-me-to-make-this-real” kind of lifestyle.

Arrive as guests, depart as Friends” – the photo at the top of this post, is a custom designed and created tray by one of our Friends!

Happy Travels,

George

Change of Scenery for a Peaceful Retreat

May 9, 2017   

Getting out of town can be so refreshing and, admittedly, can also be somewhat stressful.  We regularly hear from our guests that traveled here by car, either from our neighboring states of New England to several states away, that shortly after entering Vermont they feel a sense of calming retreat.

Perhaps part of that feeling is from the scenery that the Green Mountain State of Vermont provides as you make your way to the Brass Lantern Inn.  There is a wonderful and unique opportunity that is afforded to those who travel through Vermont as our small state does not permit billboards along our roadways.  No billboards, anywhere, period.  Whether you are making your way up Interstate 89 or via the iconic and historic Route 100 through the Mad River Valley, or Route 7 along the eastern edge of Lake Champlain, your views of this special corner of New England are unencumbered by these unnatural elements blocking those views.  It is just one of those special conditions of this amazing place.

As I write this post we are actually away from our Inn as we take a brief retreat ourselves from our role as Innkeepers.  We are in Bozman, Maryland, just outside of the town of St. Michael’s.  It is an area we know fairly well from our life prior to our 2009 relocation to Stowe, Vermont.  This area is rich in the qualities similar to Vermont; friendly locals, unique restaurants, shops, culturally rich and diverse events, peaceful, and just stunning vistas.

If you venture deep enough into this area known as the “Eastern Shore” you will notice a particularly interesting feature.  As you drive along the quiet back roads of the area you will note that locals will give you a little wave from the steering wheel of their vehicle.  It is just a two to three finger wave, just to say, “Hello, and Welcome.”  In Stowe, and perhaps other small towns in Vermont, our special feature is to yield to others trying to make a left turn on Main Street.  A simple gesture of unexpected courtesy, but one that is clearly special to experience first hand.

To be sure, the views are quite different here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland than from the back porch of the Brass Lantern Inn, as much of this area that provides the soft edge to the Chesapeake Bay is low and flat, all dramatically different than our view out of the Inn looking up at Mt. Mansfield.  Sixty to seventy percent of some of the counties that make up that transitional area from estuary to land on this side of the Bay are considered and protected as wetlands.  I know, sounds amazing, right, that we could see what some would perhaps term as swamp land to be so serene.

All this to say it is really calming to the soul to venture to a place, whether far, near or somewhere in between to experience either as the first timer or as a regular migratory traveler a place even subtly different than what you have at home.  I think it is the peacefulness of being in a new place that then allows one to appreciate their own special retreat of home that in turn makes whatever stress or effort needed in that process of traveling to reach this place all worthwhile.

Happy Travels,

George

Winter’s Last Hurrah?…

As I write this post on the evening of March 13, 2017, we are positively giddy with excitement waiting for our next big dump of snow.  The National Weather service and local reports are calling for snow depths of anywhere between 16 to 20+” of snow between tomorrow, mid-day through Weds., evening, 3/15.  And we say, “it’s about time!”

Admittedly, it has been a schizophrenic kind of winter.  We were skiing, as if on cue, on the Saturday right after Thanksgiving, 2016.  We received more than 5 feet total of snow in the month of December, 2016, alone.  Then, the dreaded January thaw hit us.  And hit us again in the second week of January.  The Stowe Mountain Resort crews did an amazing job taking whatever Mother Nature threw at them and turning it into (for the most part) some really great conditions.  Ok, there was a day that we did two runs and called it and then had a early lunch in town!  So yes, you had to have the luxury of an extended stay this past January to get in any consistently good skiing/riding conditions.

February was ushered in with, and I really do not use this term lightly, some epic powder days.  We had a couple of days where we easily hit 16 to 18″ of absolute champagne powder.  There was so much excitement in town during that period I heard of people, and felt some of this myself, having trouble falling asleep the nights before, because of the anticipation of the stellar conditions that we were predicted and hit us with even more than what was predicted.  It was truly a nice little reward for getting through those January thaws.

After President’s day Weekend we had our February thaw.  We actually hit 62 degrees and a few follow up days of mid to upper 50’s.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, rain, yes, lots of it during that brief period.  Fortunately, the mountain had a 60″ base or more on the vast majority of trails but the couple of days of 1/2″ or more of rain did take its toll.  When the temps. the snow guns were fired back up and greatly improved the conditions.

All that to say, we have a full house set up for this weekend and anyone who skis, snowboards, cross-country skis, snowshoes or even if you just like to drink hot chocolate (or perhaps a Vermont Craft Beer) by the fire and watch it snow will be in the perfect spot this week and weekend here in Stowe, Vermont.  Typically, March is one of our best months of the year to play outside with our snow equipment.  The sun is getting closer to the position of vernal equinox as our days are getting longer, the temperatures resist those below zero (and more with that silly wind chill factor) levels and many times, we can have lunch outside at the Midway Lodge.  Also, many times, the snowfalls in March are more legendary than any other time of the preceding winter.

We are hopeful that with this pending Vermont snow storm and perhaps another one to to finish out the season we will be able to keep the skis firmly in place within the truck to allow us, on a moments notice, to spring for the mountains.  And a “Last Hurrah” offer – watch the forecasts, plan your “sick day” or “snow day” (call it what you will) and if you can make a last minute trip to get outside with us, we can offer you a wonderful stay here at the Brass Lantern Inn, fabulous breakfast, that we can make early if you want, so that you can grab that “first chair” up Mt. Mansfield.

See you outside,

George