Mount Mansfield sneaks up on you a bit. Visitors amble through classic Vermont rolling hills from Interstate 89, occasionally catching a glimpse of the state’s biggest peak before it looms large at the end of Mountain Road. Rising more than 4,000 feet, and raked with ski trails that start not too far from the summit, Mount Mansfield and sister Spruce Peak are the main attractions in Stowe, a ski town as unassuming—in a perfect New England way—as it is storied.
Blink and you may miss Stowe’s charming town center. Most of the action is strung out along Mountain Road, where recent years have brought an impressive array of dining options, not to mention a shiny new brewery/taproom at The Alchemist, the wildly popular craft beer maker.
Right in the middle of it all sits Field Guide, a luxuriously quirky hotel and a perfect fit for the town, from its high-style yet down-to-earth rooms to the friendly, attentive service. Within walking distance of the downtown, and a short drive from the skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort, the property is a great base for exploring the town.
Thoughtful touches at Field Guide make it easy to do just that—both on the property and in the region. Each room comes with an iPad for use throughout your stay, loaded with restaurant recommendations and directions to area attractions. To encourage exploration even further, the property offers an Instagram challenge: Guests can post selfies from iconic attractions in and around Stowe, like the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Store and the high-speed gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort, to earn a sweet treat and money off their stay.
The sense of play is a signature of the Amesbury-based Lark Hotels chain, Field Guide’s parent. Bright orange picnic tables provide seating at Picnic Social, the hotel’s restaurant, board games are available in the alpine-themed lobby, and each of the guest rooms has its own unique style, expressed in bold patterns and colors. Many rooms feature fireplaces, some adorned with cardboard deer heads. A breakfast basket, included in the room rate, is delivered to each door every morning, with baked goods, fruit and yogurt, or muesli.
It would be easy to just hunker down and enjoy the inside-outside vibe at Field Guide, from the year-round hot tub to the nightly fire pit complete with marshmallow toasting, but the mountain awaits. Parking can be tricky, though, and après-ski parties start in the early afternoon on weekends, so flag down the free Mountain Road Shuttle, which travels past Field Guide to the mountain every 40 minutes or so. A GPS phone app makes it easy to see when to hop onboard.
The shuttle drops off at Stowe Mountain Resort, the complex that encompasses skiing at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, along with a wealth of other options.
With more than 300 inches of annual snowfall, 485 skiable acres, and a vertical drop of 2,360 feet, Stowe gathers acclaim as one of the top resorts in the Northeast. While most of the trails are geared toward intermediate skiers and above, beginners love the long, gentle curves of Toll Road, noted as one of the best novice runs around.
Stowe Mountain Resort was acquired last year by Vail Resorts, which operates in some of the top ski areas in Colorado, Utah, and Canada. Insiders hope new management, and perhaps an infusion of cash, will bring improvements to parking and other logistical issues at the mountain. For a start, Stowe skiers now have access to the Epic pass, a worldwide
ski pass offering unlimited access to all of Vail’s properties.
The acquisition comes on the heels of a $500 million upgrade in 2016 that added new snowmaking equipment and lifts and a Children’s Adventure Center, along with a new pedestrian plaza and ice skating rink dubbed Spruce Peak Village Center. Full of alpine charm, it’s a natural gathering spot anytime, but especially after skiing, where live performances and free hot cocoa create a family-friendly vibe on select days.
Cozy up back at Field Guide. A long soak in the hot tub, perhaps followed by a casual meal at Picnic Social, or some small plates at the bar, could be just the ticket. Then snuggle into luxe bedding and dream of snow. ↵ stowe.com
North Shore insiders could be forgiven for believing that the cookie brand Lark Fine Foods, based in Essex, and the Amesbury boutique hotel chain Lark Hotels are connected, but besides having their home base in the same region and sharing the name of a free-spirited bird, they are separate entities. Still, that hasn’t kept them from collaborating. For several years, Lark Hotels has offered Lark cookies—made in grown-up flavors like salted rosemary shortbread and coconut butter—as an amenity for members of its On a Lark loyalty program in 17 properties in New England and California.
Rob Blood, CEO of Lark Hotels, says they first came across the cookies while seeking props for a photo shoot at one of their first hotels, The Attwater. “We were attracted to the quality of their product, the beautiful packaging, and, of course, the common name!” Blood recalls. “This was all before we even tasted their delicious cookies, and discovered that they were located right in our backyard.”
The businesses took the relationship a step further this fall, collaborating on a special sweet, the “Double Lark” cookie —a pistachio cherry sable curated by Lark Hotels’ group executive chef, Justin Perdue. The crisp, buttery delicacy dances between sweet and savory, and is available for $6 at Lark Hotels’ properties in New England and Northern California, and online at LarkFineFoods.com.