Matthew ElderIconic Stowe resort indeed offers ‘a little of Austria, a lot of Vermont’

Eight decades after the Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame left Salzburg to eventually settle in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the famous resort that celebrates the family’s history continues to offer an impressive blend of comfort, cuisine and activities.

Trapp Family Lodge

Self-contained guest cottages are popular with families and groups

Check in to Trapp Family Lodge just outside Stowe, Vermont and you can leave the car parked for the duration. There literally is something for everyone here – busy families, sporting couples, active seniors – and yes also for those of all ages who simply want to enjoy a book, truly fine cuisine and spa time.

For fans of the Trapp family story and its dramatization in The Sound of Music, there are framed photos and other memorabilia throughout the resort. You may not be able to climb every mountain, but there are 65 kilometers of hiking/biking/ski trails immediately above the resort, and Mount Mansfield and its world-renowned downhill skiing is but a few minutes’ drive. And there are goats, although it’s not a particularly “Lonely Goat Herd”, given the frequent interaction with resort guests.

Trapp Family Lodge

Elegant Von Trapp Suite bedroom

A priority is to sign up for the Von Trapp Family History Tour, which is a presentation of the family’s story – the real one, which is somewhat different from the musical. For example, Baron Georg von Trapp married Maria in 1927, more than a decade earlier than in the movie. And the family fled Austria not by climbing a mountain into Switzerland, but by taking a train to Italy and beyond – albeit suddenly and under duress. The presentation is followed by visit to the family cemetery on the Lodge grounds, and a brief but brilliant documentary film, which follows Maria Von Trapp on a long overdue visit to Austria during the decade before her death in 1987.

Trapp Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge is ideal for a family getaway

Trapp Family Lodge has 174 units, comprising a wide rage of accommodations on 2,600 acres across a ridge on the west slope of the Stowe valley. The main lodge was built in 1983 following the loss of the original lodge to fire in 1980. The original building opened with 27 rooms in 1950. Its significantly larger replacement has 96 guest rooms and suites, the biggest being the Von Trapp Suite, with more than 1,000 square feet. Below and beyond the Lodge are the Villas (1,000 sq. ft. each) and Guest Houses (1,500 or 2,500 sq. ft.) The latter two types of accommodation are particularly suited to families and large groups, and have full kitchens.

Gourmet Farm to Table

A stay at Trapp Family Lodge is a culinary delight, with a focus on farm-to-table dining. In fact, much of its menus are sourced from the Von Trapps’ farm operations, both on-site and in nearby Waitsfield.

Trapp Family Lodge

Farm-to-table cuisine ranges from comfort food
to fine dining

The main dining room is known for its gourmet dinner menu and buffet breakfast. Menu highlights include Trapp Family Farm Beef Liver Pâté appetizer; and mains Wiener Schnitzel von Schwein and Baked Chicken Roulade. The adjacent lounge and terrace is the place for lunch and casual dinner, including some items from the main dining room menu, as well as a selection of salads and sandwiches. A stone’s throw across the road is the Kaffeehaus for breakfast and lunch, with a wide choice of pastries and, for lunch, homemade soups and gourmet sandwiches.

Perhaps the resort’s piece de resistance – or, more appropriately, krönung, given its atmosphere and cuisine – is the Von Trapp Bierhall, a brief shuttle ride down the road. This is the showcase for the family’s award-winning lager beers, brewed on-site in the attached 30,000-square-foot plan (see sidebar). It is also THE place to be for Austrian beer-hall fare, attracting not just Lodge guests but visitors from Stowe and beyond.

Trapp Family Lodge pool

The indoor pool is a fine alternative to the outdoor
location on rainy days

Plenty to do

While hiking, biking and skiing are one of Trapp Family Resort’s biggest attractions (and can somewhat offset the effects of the resort’s fine dining), there is a host of other activities, most of which are covered by the Hotel Resort Fee ($35 per day). In addition to trail and fitness-centre access, including two swimming pools and an outdoor hot tub, some of the spring/summer/fall activities included in this fee are:

• Meet the Cows Tour – Agricultural walking tour focusing on the Lodge’s herd of 65 Scottish Highland cattle.
• Sugar Maple Tour – Guided tour to the Sugarhouse in the maple bush.
• Hike to the Chapel – Ascend to the stone chapel built high above the Lodge by Werner von Trapp, one of the Baron’s sons, following the end of the Second World War.
• Bird Watching Walk – A tour of the Lodge grounds to observe the area’s many species of birds.
• Meet the Sheep Tour – A walk among the Lodge’s flock of sheep and newborn lambs.
• Wildflower Walk – A hike through the fields around the Lodge.
• At extra cost, there is a disc-golf course near the Bierhall.

Strength and serenity

Highland cattle Trapp Family Lodge

The resort maintains a herd of Highland cattle

Trapp Family Lodge offers a unique wellness and strength-development program based on a number of activities, including massage, yoga, rock climbing (on an indoor wall), and water fitness.

Trapp Family Lodge

Access to all trails on the property is covered by the Resort Fee

A special feature of this program is the Nature Therapy Experience, where the participant immersing him/herself in the property’s peaceful natural environment, slowing down and engaging with the senses to reduce stress, improve well-being, and connect with nature. Walk the forest trails, occasionally pausing to engage in mindfulness activities, deep breathing, and reflection.

The sum of the Trapp Family Lodge experience is a sense of family, whether it be your own family, the Von Trapps, the genial staff (some of whom have worked at the Lodge for decades) – or your relationship with nature. So, it might be tough to say goodbye. But one of the great things about Stowe is that it isn’t far from Montreal, so there’s no need to break into a tearful verse of So Long, Farewell upon departure, as it would be easy to return.

Von Trapp Brewing Co.

Pictured here leading a brewery tour, Sam Von Trapp manages the brewery and the entire resort along with his sister, Kristina von Trapp Frame, and her husband, Walter Frame.

Beer as it should be

Von Trapp Brewing Co. began brewing craft beer in 2010 in a former bakery on the Trapp Family Lodge property. Its products quickly achieved success and a new facility, including a massive Bierhall restaurant, opened in 2015. The new plant has an annual capacity of 36,000 barrels, and currently has a dozen beers on offer. Perhaps the favourites – certainly in the opinion of this writer – are Dunkel (a roasted, dark lager with “creamy, toffee aromas balancing the bitterness of Munich malts”) and Helles (a golden lager made with pilsner malt and two types of hops “to create an incredibly clean, yet complex, lager). Simply put, it is wonderful beer.

Von Trapp Brewing Co.Johannes von Trapp, youngest grandson of Maria and Baron von Trapp, was able to realize his dream of creating an American version of the Austria lagers of the family homeland. The brewery is now managed by his son, Sam, who also managers the entire resort along with his sister, Kristina von Trapp Frame, and her husband, Walter Frame.

“When the craft beer movement in the United States gained momentum in the early 1990s, there was a noticeable lack of focus on lagers,” says Sam. “That wasn’t surprising, given that lagers are more challenging to brew, take longer to mature, and are therefore more expensive to create.”

Only a decade and a half after its founding, Von Trapp Brewing has won a host of awards, going to nine of its labels, with Dunkel and Helles each winning gold medals last year at the World Beer Awards.

The brewery is state of the art, with equipment supplied by ROLEC, a world-leading brewery-hardware manufacturer in Bavaria, and a tour is well worth booking. You will learn the intricacies and precision of the eight-step process (milling, mashing, lautering, boiling, whirlpooling, cooling, fermentation and lagering), and literally capped off in the packaging section with an elaborately accurate Italian-made canning and barrelling system.

Von Trapp beers are available across the U.S. Northeast as far away as Virginia.


Trapp Family Lodge

Trapp Family Lodge is a dog-friendly resort

How to get there: Trapp Family Lodge is near Stowe, in northern Vermont, 210 km or about three hours south of Montreal via the Champlain Bridge and A-10 to exit 22, then A-35 to the U.S. border at Highgate Springs, VT. From there follow I-89 to exit 10 at Waterbury, thenVT-100 north to Moscow Road, and 4 km or 10 minutes up the road to the resort. Some motorists prefer a drive along state highways by taking exit 19 off I-89 and approaching Stowe from the northwest on VT-108 through Smuggler’s Notch, although the latter is closed to traffic as of mid-November. Turn right off the 108 at Luce Hill Road and follow the signs to the Lodge. As a point of reference, the resort is four miles or eight minutes from the center of Stowe village.

Contact the resort: To book and for information, visit Email via Telephone toll-free 1-800-826-7000. Mailing address: 700 Trapp Hill Road, Stowe, Vermont 05672, USA.

Trapp Family Lodge

Horse-drawn tour of the extensive property

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