Best time of the year to head for the Mountains of Vermont? While New Englanders love their snow, many folks might just argue that spring/summer time trumps ski season when the landscape is blanketed in white. Take the town of Stowe for example. Come April when most of the skiers have departed, there’s a hush to the town. Where families and friends filled hotels and restaurants and once communed heartily in chilly weather, there’s now a pastoral feel as the mountains thaw. Each year that passage spawns a milder season – one perfectly suited for unplugging and reconnecting. Topnotch Resort, tucked in the foothills of Mt. Mansfield, welcomes the intervals and has spent decades shaping their services and accommodations to seize the merits of each season. As the demand for spa and wellness services has exploded, Topnotch has listened to that call and in doing so quietly evolved into one of New England’s premier retreat destinations – especially in spring, summer and fall.
In addition to luxury accommodations, craft menus, a state of the art fitness facility, an outdoor pool that remains open year-round, premier tennis and a staff brimming with cheer, Topnotch also offers a full menu of private and group wellness offerings such as yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, meditation and kick boxing. Their fitness menu bookends a host of custom spa services offered in the thirty treatment rooms the Spa boasts. Topnotch, opened in 1953, with its breathtaking mountain views was conceived with healthy living and wellness at its roots and that commitment remains at the forefront of the guest experience. That pillar has been an important factor in attracting spa therapists throughout the United States and beyond suggested Spa Director Alexandra Sharpe-Keene. Through the years she has made much use of her deep bench as the Spa has grown and sculpted their philosophy through shifting trends in the industry, “Our menu of services is fluid and driven by what our therapists see as current, what they want to be sharing with our guests. For example, in 2015 we refined our philosophy from a more centric nature to offer treatments and services to those of a more healing nature, and as of late to more offerings like Reiki and Thai Massage.”
Ms. Sharpe-Keene and her therapists listen to each guest’s personal needs and then pair the Spa’s signature body wraps and treatments, skillfully. The Spa’s innovative Pathways to Wellness approach extends to guests four principal routes by which they might experience the Spa – Discovery, Active, Revive and Restorative. Guests then chose a path which speaks to their particular needs and are presented with a menu of spa treatments, services and fitness classes keyed to their preferred track. Drawing from the Sanskrit term “to purify”, the Mount Mansfield Saucha which blends a seas salt exfoliation with a heated linen wrap and a full body aromatherapy massage is just a hint of the exclusively Topnotch treatments awaiting guests.
What so enchants many to Topnotch, regardless of the season, is the resort’s total package. One can literally check in and enjoy a complete retreat without ever leaving the grounds’ privacy. The property even houses a smartly curated boutique featuring organic, vegan haircare by Kevin Murphy as well as an array of yoga apparel, aromatherapy and other beauty products. Demand for these types of self-piloted escapes is trending. They extend to the traveller wide margins and a level of spontaneity that can be missing in larger more formal holistic settings where one must commit months in advance. Smaller sanctuary settings such as this also come with a lower volume and thus an enhanced degree of attention and space in which to wander.
“Topnotch in the heart of the Green Mountains encapsulates everything the region offers in so far as; being aware of your natural surroundings, well being, healthy living. Our guests just leave feeling better,” beamed Ms. Sharpe-Keene when pressed with “Why Topnotch, why here?” And, this season the resort is fueling her message of enhanced living with a “Staying in Motion” (regardless of age) campaign… yet another charge for breathing more freely and waking up to the wonders of life!
The Resort at Topnotch is operated by Gemstone Hotels and Resorts and is located on Mountain Road in Stowe, Vermont – a roughly three hour scenic drive from the Boston area. In addition to its opportunities for skiing and winter sports the town of Stowe offers a wide range of hiking trails, kayaking, art and cultural offerings, dining and shopping.
By, Susan Currie