What an interesting winter this 2015/2016 has been so far in Stowe, Vermont. Guests who have stayed with us this season can certainly attest to the typical and atypical weather patterns we have experienced so far.
Even as late as Christmas Eve, I was golfing. We hit a record high of 68 degrees that day and with a full blue sky and sunshine the greens of the golf course were just too inviting to pass up. While we typically expect to be shoveling snow and hitting the slopes this record warmth had me reaching for the summer outdoor gear.
Within a week of that event we had a full blanket of snow on the ground, thanks to an 8” snowfall, something that is much more indicative of that point on the calendar here in Stowe. And while so far this season we have missed out on a “real snowstorm,” and had serious snow envy for those who experienced the Blizzard of 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic coast, we still have had some truly amazing ski days on the mountain. With the help of modern day snow-making technology and the hard work of the snow-making crew at Stowe Mountain Resort they have saved this season from what many who may be tracking our weather forecasts from afar would assume to be an abysmal ski season into a true Vermont winter experience.
At the risk of sounding like your local Chamber of Commerce and putting the best spin on things we truly have had some really wonderful ski days so far this season. Yesterday, for example, we had a great spring skiing conditions, buttery snow, warm temperatures and no lift lines. Bonus day for sure! Granted, we have the luxury of waiting things out for a day of rain (way too many of those this season/year) or very windy and below zero temperatures and hit the slopes the following day or two. And yes, our Innkeeper ski days are a bit behind where they typically are at this time of year though some of that is due to our business needs (we are planning some major building improvements – more on that in follow up blogs) and of course some not so perfect weather conditions.
Throughout all of this winter season we know our guests have been making the most of their time here. Our incredible selection of restaurants, breweries, other Vermont local attractions in harmony with other outdoor adventures/pursuits have made for some lively discussions around the fireplace each evening.
We continue to do our snow dances as we know there is still plenty of winter left in the Green Mountain State. Call us and we can fill you in on the real time conditions.
See you outside,
While others may lament the onset of, what has for us, always proven to be a wonderful winter season, we, of course, are looking forward to the next change in scenery and activities! Winter in Vermont is celebrated by locals and those fortunate to travel here for all the reasons you might think and may not. And while we are known as the skiing/riding capital of the east, you may be surprised to know that more than half of our guests come here in the winter for something other than this signature activity of alpine skiing/snowboarding in Stowe.
Many of our guests love and seek us out for the scenic beauty of our winter wonderland. Certainly a scene on par with those of Vermont’s fall foliage or summer hiking scenes from the top of Mt. Mansfield. Many of our guests have told to us that there is just something so calming and peaceful with watching a snowfall from the warmth of our living room next to the wood stove, a good book in one hand and perhaps a glass of hearty Cabernet in the other. Or, other outdoor activities that may not get quite the same marketing exposure as alpine skiing/riding but no less enjoyable such as; snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, cross-country skiing or perhaps catching a sleigh ride through the valley floor of Mt. Mansfield.
Ski Magazine recently listed Stowe and Stowe Mountain Resort as the #2 ranked ski destination. Of course we think we are #1 (leaving that for another discussion) but what the writer of the Ski Magazine noted as a significant reason for our high ranking beyond just the incredible skiing and riding is our unique and truly special collection of restaurants both on and off the mountain. We are so lucky to have so many high quality, mostly family owned/operated restaurants, in Stowe. Only challenge you should have, confirming which restaurant/pub to try out this trip!
Check out our winter specials that yes, include several ski/ride and stay deals but also lots of other unique discount packages that will get you reaching for your calendar to confirm when you can get up here. Another season is upon us, don’t get caught being too busy to take some time for yourself and get out here and enjoy our little corner of paradise.
See you outside!
George and Mary Anne
Ok, as much as we love our winter activities we also embrace the upcoming Mud Season (more on that in a follow up blog) and the opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons, winter to spring with the traditional “Sugar on Snow.”
What? Sugar on snow? As you may know, Vermont is the single largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. “Sugar on snow” is a delicacy here in Vermont found this time of year at many sugar houses (where they produce the maple syrup). Essentially this dish is made by drizzling hot maple syrup over a bowl of snow. The syrup congeals and hardens to create a crystallized treat. That’s right and to complete the tableaux the traditional Vermonters will have this sugar on snow with a donut and finish it off with a dill pickle.
The coming weekend, March 28, 29 is the official Maple Sugar Festival celebrated all over Vermont. There is a wonderful weekend celebration planned at our friends at Boyden Valley Winery just up the road from here. More info: http://www.boydenvalley.com/maplesugarfestival.html and http://vermontmaple.org/events .
The Boyden family has been making Vermont maple syrup for five generations in the picturesque Lamoille River Valley using a traditional wood-fired evaporator with sap collected from over 300 acres of maple trees located on their farm. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of Maple tree sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup? Vermont farms produced approximately 1.3 million gallons of maple syrup in 2014.
There is typically only a week or two where the sap runs and the optimal conditions permit the process of sugaring to occur. The sap from maple trees flows when the trees experience an abundance of sunshine (reawakening the growing season) with temperatures below freezing at night and daytime temperatures above freezing during the day.
The whole process of how we get local maple syrup to our breakfast table from those amazing maple trees is best described at the sugar house. There you will find the true Vermont sense of tradition of producing high quality, all natural, maple syrup, nothing added, ever.
If you have never experienced sugar on snow you need to add it to the list of things to experience here in the Stowe area and of course we hope you will consider the Brass Lantern Inn as your home base, independent of the season at hand.
Of the many “perks” that we feel come with this “job” as Innkeepers, certainly, one of the most rewarding is the opportunity to welcome back friends from one or many more previous stays. This past weekend we were so very fortunate to have a full house/”no vacancy” sort of weekend with six of our nine guest rooms filled with returning friends.
We had Louise (Weezie) and Allen here (all the way from southern Vermont!) returning to the Brass Lantern Inn to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. These friends enjoy Vermont so much that they actually stay here and we are so richly rewarded to have this opportunity to host them again and again. And we were so humbled that they felt that the Brass Lantern Inn was the “perfect place to be to celebrate our 40th anniversary!” Thank you Weezie and Allen.
Bruce and Sheila have been coming to the Brass Lantern Inn for more years than we have even been the Innkeepers here. They come at least once a year, typically for the winter activities of cross country and downhill skiing but have also come in the summer with bicycles in tow. This past weekend, like all previous examples of their stays, they bring their guitar, beautiful musical voices and warm, infectious laughter. This time they brought family with them taking over four of our nine guest rooms. Thank you Bruce and Sheila.
Paul and Maria made their yearly trek from the Boston area. We joked that they had to come north to great a break from the record snowfalls that the Boston and southern New England area experienced this year. At least here they can do something with the snow other than just shoveling it out of the way. Thank you Paul and Maria.
This past Friday, the main gathering room of the Brass Lantern Inn was filled with music and good times thanks to the Bruce and Sheila. We sure wish we could have them here every weekend as it was such great way for all of our guests to get to know one another gathered around the fireplace, sharing Cabot cheddar cheese, wine or your favorite local micro brew. Our music night was shared with Weezie and Allen, Anthony and Carol from Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Susan from Toronto (and family of Bruce and Sheila). I think we all made new friends this past weekend.
I miss my family back in Columbus, Ohio and our friends from our former lives in Baltimore, Maryland. While that loss can be tempered by phone calls, social media, and the occasional off-season trips to see family and old friends, our lives are so full now with so many new friends through our current position in life here as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn. We have also had the occasion to host family and friends which is even more special here in Vermont!
How can this role as an Innkeeper be classified as a job when we have the greatest opportunity to meet so many wonderful people? Ok, when the printer breaks down during the busiest weekend of the winter or a heating valve sticks in the closed/off position on a night where it is 18 below, or the housekeeper quits on Valentine’s Day Saturday morning or any number of small issues like this you get a sense of why it might be considered a job. But truly these are all trivial matters in the larger context of this wonderful experience.
And this is all before you realize you are in this wonderful corner of paradise called Stowe, Vermont! Yes, we are so very thankful to be here and it is only through the support of our guests and friends, both new and returning that allow us this unique opportunity. We never take that for granted and hope you see that in return from us through our service and warm welcome. Thank you all!
November 26, 2014
This coming December 29th, Mary Anne and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary! We will also be celebrating our 5th anniversary as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn which will occur on the 16th of December, 2014.
In both cases it’s amazing to realize how quickly time and events pass through our lives. For our wedding anniversary, we have, in part, Stowe to thank as this was the special place where Mary Anne and I first crossed paths in that fateful summer of 1983. It was that summer where I met Mary Anne here in Stowe at the start of a week long, guided bike tour of Vermont. Who knew that 26 years later from that summer encounter that we would find ourselves back here in Stowe. And of course we never imagined at that time that we would return here as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn. Ok, to be fair, the Brass Lantern Inn, Bed & Breakfast, didn’t exist in 1983, but, you get the idea!
As Innkeepers, the stories that we have shared with so many literally thousands of guests over these past 5 years could fill pages and pages of blogs. Fortunately, I am usually so busy experiencing this life that I typically don’t have time to record it on this keyboard. Our guests provide us with a renewed sense of excitement about Stowe and this area of Vermont as we get to see this place through each guests’ unique perspective (each and every day). Throw in how very different this setting is with each passing season and you can see how life just quickly marches on with us just trying to squeeze every moment and experience all that we can from it in passing.
So, you see, these two anniversaries are really so very intertwined that it is impossible for me to respond to those guests who ask, “what brought you to Stowe?” and “what made you want to be an Innkeeper?” without mentioning our very personal connection to this unique place in Vermont.
And finally, to finish this celebratory note I give a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday – we are so very grateful for this opportunity we have had as Innkeepers over the past 5 years. We have and know that we will continue to meet funny, touching, gracious, caring and friendly guests that in many instances become our most recent friends. I am so very thankful that I had that chance meeting with my incredible wife, dearest friend, Mary Anne, and know clearly that without her I would not be living this dream today. Thank you my dear!!
Happy Thanksgiving all. Hugs to our friends,