Inn at Blush Hill
(near Sugarbush, Mad River, Stowe, Bolton Valley)
"Innies"-those who quest eternally for the ideal B&B-would be thrilled to happen upon the Inn at Blush Hill, poised conveniently midway between a quartet of Vermont resorts (each within 20 minutes' drive) and only about a minute off Interstate 89 (which is well out of earshot). The only surroundings that register are the Worcester Mountains, which unfold like a Japanese screen beyond the meadow. Even if the siting weren't so propitious, this hillside haven, built in the 1790s as stagecoach stopover, has every feature required of a charmer, including six antique-furnished rooms and a fireplaced sitting room where an old oak armoire camouflages the entertainment center. Its friendly hosts, Pam and Gary Gosselin, make their family quarters in an annex, so there's none of that sense of hovering that can sometimes mar the B&B experience. The Gosselins do turn up, though, in time to whip up a gourmet breakfast served at a farmhands' table in the centuries-old keeping room. Such treats as four-berry pancakes are often topped by the output of their nearby neighbors, Ben & Jerry, whose ice cream factory is just down the road a ways. Information: Inn at Blush Hill, Blush Hill Road, Waterbury, Vt.; (802) 244-7429 or (800) 736-7522; E-mail: email@example.com .
Stoweflake Moutnain Resort and Spa
Mountain Road, Stowe, Vt.
It's a uniquely Vermont story. Charlie Baraw grew up on a farm in the countryside, moved away to pursue an education and a career, got hooked on skiing and decided he wanted to become a ski-town innkeeper. In the early Sixties, he returned to his native state and built the Stoweflake, one of the first hotels in Stowe. Baraw would hardly recognize the Mountain Road today-or his inn, which under the guidance of son Chuck has evolved into a sophisticated, full-service resort/spa, with every modern amenity. Chuck Baraw has taken the family business aggressively high-end, with amenities to match. The Stoweflake stretches across a 60-acre campus in the heart of the Mountain Road's growth hub. It borders the Stowe Country Club, and takes advantage of its location by offering a golf school in the summer-on grounds that become cross-country skiing and snowshoeing terrain in winter. Inside, white-robed guests pad through wide, carpeted hallways between their rooms, the pool, the weight room and the spa. They can avail themselves of an invigorating LaStone therapy session, in which the skin and circulatory system are stimulated through the application of alternately hot and cold stones. Conference-goers, who make up half the clientele, confer comfortably in facilities that are state-of-the-art-right down to the ergonomic chairs. Every room offers convenient parking just outside, though guests need never leave the premises. There's fine, health-conscious dining in Winfield's Restaurant, or casual food and après-ski camaraderie in Charlie B's Pub. But there's also plenty to do within walking distance of the Stoweflake: perhaps dinner and a microbrew at the venerable Shed Restaurant across the street, followed by late-night fun at Stowe's new hotspot, the Roadhouse. My room (peak season rates: $160 to $340) was quiet, compact and richly appointed in a thoroughly modern way: gas fireplace, solid-wood furniture, crown moldings. I loosened my ski muscles with a soak in the pool, where glass walls frame a lovely view of Mt. Mansfield's rugged "chin," 5 miles distant. Later, after a drink at Charlie B's, I paused by a wall of photographs from the old days: homey reminders of the past at a resort that is clearly ready for the future. Information: Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, P.O. Box 693, Stowe, Vt. 05672; (802) 253-7355; fax: (802) 253-6858; www.stoweflake.com ; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . .