By Gwen Ashley Walters
As winter approaches, so can the blues and blahs. I dread the shorter days, the extra pounds I effortlessly pack on, and the ancillary layers of clothes needed to muffle the wintry chill. What better time to escape to the mountains for a rejuvenating break from the daily grind? and a resort with a world-class spa offers the perfect respite.
Topnotch Resort and Spa, five minutes from Stowe, is nestled in the quiet countryside of north central Vermont in the Green Mountains. Stowe is one of those postcard-perfect New England towns, with gently rolling hills, white steeples and quaint tree-lined streets, the ideal place to put stress on hold for a few days. As Stowe's only AAA Four Diamond and Mobil Four-Star resort, Topnotch provides an exclusive four seasons retreat for the body and soul, all on 120 acres of woods and streams.
The décor is earthy, with lots of stone and wood accents, along with traditional colonial furniture. The rooms vary from a spacious but cozy bedroom to a luxurious multi-bedroom townhouse, with several choices in between. with so many indoor and outdoor activities to choose from, including a 23,000 square foot health spa, don't plan on spending too much time in your room.
Step into the Spa, and you'll feel as if you have crossed the Atlantic and ventured into a famous European day spa. More than 120 different treatments await you, with choices like a Cranio-Sacral session to help reduce stress, or a Vermont Wildflower Herbal Wrap or Woodspice Treatment to relax and sooth tired muscles. If you're worried about how pale you look this winter, the Spa offers a Northern Sun Tanning Treatment, using sunless tanner products from head to toe.
If you want to feel a bit more "active" (and justify any additional calorie-bingeing), the resort has 14 tennis courts (four indoors for inclement weather), nearby skiing in the winter, and hiking in the summer. The famed Tennis Academy has put Topnotch on the map as one of the top five tennis resorts in the country.
Regardless of which activity you indulge yourself, it won't be hard to tear yourself away to sample the delicious cuisine at either one of Topnotch's two restaurants. Try Maxwell's, the fine dining restaurant for steaks, seafood and game. Spa-developed recipes share the menu with traditional dishes, and if not carefully marked with calorie counts and fat content, you might not recognize these choices as spa cuisine. Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Fresh Mozzarella with Aged Balsamic is bursting with flavor, yet only 255 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving. Day Boat Sea Scallops with Asian Vegetables, Glass Noodles and Miso-Dashi Broth is another tantalizing spa dish, weighing in at only 470 calories and 5 grams of fat. of course, you can mix and match your meal so that you have a regular appetizer, like Exotic Mushroom Dumplings, with a spa entrée of Pan Roasted Grouper and still feel good about your choice—especially if you finish your meal with a couple of deep, dark chocolate Topnotch Spa Madeleines.
For a less formal meal, visit Buttertub Bistro for casual lunches and dinners. Favorites include the Mediterranean Shrimp Salad and Vermont Maple Barbecued Chicken with Sour Apple Compote and Jasmine Confetti Rice. Both restaurants offer regular and spa cuisine with plenty of choices low in fat and calories but high in flavor and creativity.
Who cares if the days are shorter and the nights are colder when you're at one of the top resorts in the country? The most stressful decision you have to make is do you play a game of indoor tennis or hit the cross-country ski trail. Do you want the Spirulina Body Wrap or the Paraffin Body Mask? Do you dine at Maxwell's or Buttertub's? You get the picture. Topnotch can chase the winter blues clear to the Arctic Circle, leaving you warm and cozy, happy and healthy and remarkably stress-free.
Topnotch at Stowe, Resort and Spa
4000 Mountain Road
Stowe, VT 05672
Accommodations: 90 rooms, including luxury rooms, suites and 1-2-3-bedroom townhouses.
Activities: Full European health spa. Winter: downhill and cross-country skiing. Summer: tennis, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking.
Rates: Varies by season, peak starting at $220-$310 per night (hotel rooms); $355-$750- suites and townhouses
Copyright © 2001, Gwen Ashley Walters. All rights reserved.
Gwen Ashley Walters is cookbook author, cooking teacher, food writer and Certified Culinary Professional with a degree in Culinary Arts. Gwen's travel guide/cookbooks, The Great Ranch Cookbook, (1998) and The Cool Mountain Cookbook, (2001) were published by Pen & Fork Communications.
This page created December 2001
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