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Enjoy a Ski Vacation with no Snow

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer 4/15/2012

We were pushing our luck planning a ski trip the first week of April. Topnotch Resort in the Green Mountains of Vermont was our choice. We nursed a small hope for one last skiing and snowboarding hurrah until we got to the hotel and were told by everyone that skiing was really not an option—no snow even though the mountain was still open. So what do you do on a ski trip with no snow?

Eat, swim and have spa appointments, of course! Tennis was part of the schedule, too (and Topnotch has a world-renowned tennis program)! Luckily for us, Stowe is a charming destination no matter what the season. As the mountain was closing, everything was “on sale.” Our room rate was the lowest of the year, and spa appointments were two-for-one. When planning vacations, look for what the travel industry calls the shoulder season—that time in-between a destination’s low and high seasons. If you can travel then, you get the best prices and uncrowded places, but you do roll the dice on the weather.

TopNotch is a full service resort with a top-rated spa and tennis program. Great for those who actually want to exercise and improve their game and for those of us for whom lounging around the pool is the full extent of our interest in exercise. We had lots of choices between inside and outside hot tubs and swimming pools. With the sun shining, outside was almost warm enough to catch a few rays, jumping between the heated pool and the steaming hot tub. The beautiful Green Mountains frame every vista from the pool and spa area.

At the spa, I sampled the seasonal smoothie wrap that combined combines a sugar body polish with a seasonal enzyme mask to smooth and polish my winter rough skin—yummy and relaxing.  My newly pampered toes soon sported the latest t color of the season! To me, it looked like orange, but some might call it pink. I just call it a topline pedicure, heaven.

Over at the indoor tennis facility, other family members were getting tips from Milan Kubala, Director of Tennis who came to TopNotch from the Midland Community Tennis Center in Michigan.  He now heads one of the foremost tennis programs in the country.

Stowe is a quaint town of 4,300 souls and boasts almost as many restaurants as Boston. Our first stop was at Frida’s Taqueria & Grill, a high-quality Mexican restaurant with quick service, good prices and a killer margarita. We needed a pasta fix, so we stopped at Pie in the Sky. The pizza looked tempting, but we loaded up on huge plates of pasta and bowls of salad. Two other poplar stops were The Bagel, where they make their own fresh bagels every day and the Harvest, an upscale deli and market. Absolutely fabulous desserts at Harvest included scones and cream cheese brownies.

Stowe is near the home of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream’s biggest factory in Waterbury. A tour of their facilities—complete with the testing of a new flavor—was a great way to pass a few hours. Ben and Jerry’s is a great story of two friends who turned a five-dollar correspondence course into a highly successful international ice cream company.

On our last ski tip to Stowe, there was lots of snow but it was 10 below zero, grey and blustery. I think I almost prefer, sunny, blue skies and high 60s, even without any of the white stuff!

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