Once we rolled up on the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, and my daughter was safely deposited at the kids' Adventure Program and my equipment whisked away to the Ski Valet, I thought about the third element of a happy family ski getaway: What to do with our nonskier?
I had been promising my husband a lovely great room with a crackling fire and a big window with a mountain view. Perfect for spending the afternoon doodling on his iPad Pro, perhaps with a limited edition Rock Art Stowe Mountain Lodge Ale by his side.
The lodge's lobby did not disappoint. It was a warm haven for ski bums and non alike, with couches, armchairs, wing chairs and rockers. The aforementioned fireplace was steps from the Hourglass bar and restaurant, all done up in earthy mountain tones and lit with soft lamps. It was just the spot for catching up on that Kindle novel, taking a break after a particularly punishing day on the slopes or returning a few important emails (the WiFi at the hotel was excellent when we were there, a stay organized by the hotel and ski resort).
When guests tire of relaxing in the lobby, there's a large exercise facility at the hotel. Among the treatments at the spa is a DIY Healing Lodge Ritual, where people cool down under a shower, warm up in the hot tub, cool down under a shower, scrub with minerals, sit in the sauna, etc.
Or there's a stroll through the Stowe village. The lobby doesn't look out on to Stowe's famous Front Four slopes, but it does have a huge picture window that frames the improvements the resort has been making to its base lodge on its Spruce Peak side, turning it into a proper upscale mountain village.
Stowe Mountain Lodge, which is managed by Destination Resorts, is the on-campus hotel. Since the hotel opened in 2008, a walkway with shops and restaurants has been finished. In the coldest months, an ice-skating rink takes center stage (an actual stage at the end of the rink is a place for music and outdoor concerts).
On the opposite side of the quad, a handsome building is nearing completion that will house the kids' Adventure Center and the Stowe Country Club, reminding me that Stowe, like most ski resorts, is an all-season destination with golfing, swimming and other warm-weather activities.
The only thing that might outstrip the lobby in terms of a relaxation space would be one of the lodge's Front Four residences. These are grand accommodations that can sleep up to 16 in nearly 2,900 square feet of luxury: a two-story great room with floor-to-ceiling windows, some with the Front Four view; a full kitchen and island; and living room. These suites, which also include access to a concierge and continental breakfast, start at around $2,500 a night, according to the lodge's website.
There's even more for nonskiers about a 10-minute drive away, in the form of shopping and dining in the quaint town of Stowe proper.
And there's the option for nonskiers/riders to enjoy mountain views and a meal by buying a $25 roundtrip pass for the Gondola to the Cliff House restaurant, which sits at the resort's highest elevation on Mount Mansfield.
Of course, unlimited trips up to the top of Mount Mansfield is included in the Stowe lift ticket. Although the mountain doesn't come with an awe-inspiring backdrop of the Rockies and, at least not this season, the kind of powder dumps the West Coast has been enjoying, it still provides plenty of challenging runs and pretty Vermont views. I did enough to come back to the Ski Valet satisfied and exhausted.
And after my daughter came back from the Adventure camp crowing about skiing her first blue trail, my husband murmured something about maybe taking up the sport himself next season.