The High Points of a Family Trip to Topnotch
As you head through Stowe, past town and up Rte 108, tucked away you will find Topnotch — a Preferred Boutique, Four Diamond, Resort and Spa. This hotel has been well designed to afford guests sweeping views of Mt. Mansfield from every public space beginning with the lobby. Recently redesigned, it invites you in with large leather chairs and couches and rustic furnishing. We arrived for a midweek stay with our family; dog included, and were very impressed with how warm and attentive the staff was as they quickly checked us in to our suite. Our kids each got a “welcome gift”, a Topnotch backpack stuffed with a water bottle and kid-friendly info for our stay.
Families have lots of accommodation choices at Topnotch. Small families can book a Deluxe Double Bedded Room. Adjoining Deluxe King rooms are available as well. We checked into a Junior Suite on the first floor where our dog was welcome. Not staying with Rover this visit? You might ask for a room on the second or even third floor which has vaulted ceilings. Our Junior Suite had a living room with a pullout couch, a circular glass dinning table, one reading chair, a walk-in closet, and a separate king master bedroom. I appreciated the spa toiletries in the large-ish bathroom that is just off the living area and master bedroom. Even larger still are the Executive Suites with a king bedroom, a nice big living room with a flat screen TV and a murphy bed rather than a pull out couch, plus a deck. Staying in the winter? Ask for an Executive Suite on the second or third floor as they have fireplaces.
If your wallet can handle it, take a look at the Overlook Resort Homes, just a short walk or drive up the hill from the resort. These 3-bedroom stunners are ideal for families with a full kitchen, living space and even a washer and dryer. Keep in mind that each one of these are individually decorated and furnished by the owners therefore the bedding configurations can vary. The same holds true for outdoor space. Some have larger decks or patios than others. I viewed one side-by-side town home that can actually be opened via an adjoining door to make a large six-bedroom home.
Having never traveled to a hotel before with our large chocolate lab, we found Topnotch to be very accommodating for guests with dogs (no cats). However there are perils and pluses of packing a pooch. It is no surprise that dogs are not allowed in restaurants, nor are they allowed to be left alone in the room. On our first evening when it was drizzling, we had to eat on the porch at Piecasso under an umbrella while it rained. Not ideal but great pizza none-the-less!
The next morning we grabbed our bikes and hopped on the family-friendly Stowe Recreation Path. The entrance is located directly across the street from the resort. This 5.3 mile paved path will take you through shady forests, past farms and fields, and over the river via 11 bridges. We absolutely loved how the path winds through the town and comes close enough at certain points to hop off and grab lunch at restaurants like The Blue Donkey or The Dutch Pancake House. If you didn’t bring your own bikes the Nordic Barn can outfit you with rentals. In addition to adult bicycles, they have children’s bikes, trail-a-longs, burleys and helmets. They’ll also hook you up with fishing gear, guided hiking tours and horseback riding too.
Tennis fanatics and amateurs alike will want to check out the 4 indoor and 6 outdoor courts. Every morning there is a Jr. Tennis Clinic from 9am – noon. Kids are placed by age and ability. Very conveniently this clinic runs at the same time as the adult one.
We spent some significant time at both pools. On our first day the weather was a bit uncooperative so we started at indoor pool which is really quite lovely on so many levels. It takes advantage of those Green Mountain views with the floor to ceiling windows. Plus the lounge chairs are high-class and make you just want to lounge all day. The pool is 4’ deep at all points; the only shallow part is the stairs. This could be a bummer for little ones, except there is a railing the runs the length of the pool for them to hold on to. Plus we found a secret stash of noodles in the closet adjacent to the sauna, steam and shower. There is also a large hot tub with a waterfall. We ordered lunch poolside. This was a real treat apparently for my kids because what’s not to love about a double-decker, crust less PJ & J and a soft-pretzel with mustard?
Once the sun started shining we hit the outdoor pool. You have heard of a room with a view? Well this is a pool with a view. There are actually two outdoor pools, but one is for guests 18 and older please. Although in the wintertime the adult pool is open for use by all.
Stowe is a town just begging to be explored. We headed into the village and had burgers for lunch at The Blue Donkey and ice cream stop at I.C. Scoops. Before it was time to go home we made one last stop at Ben & Jerry’s factory for a tour.
This was our first stay at Topnotch and certainly won’t be our last. This resort is a wonderful place for families who love the great outdoors. There are endless recreational opportunities for all ages. You will find skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, tubing, fishing, hiking, biking, dog carting, and more. Stowe is a great year round destination.
Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations and some meals were provided by the Topnotch Resort. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.
Photo Credits: Topnotch Resort & Dana Freeman