Nestled into a piney ledge midway between Stowe and Sugarbush, the Grünberg Haus resembles a Tyrolean cottage hotel. So it's surprising to learn that the inn dates not from the region's formative Austrian pioneer years, but from the Flower Power year of 1972, when a Midwestern couple decided to flesh out their own Sound-of-Music idyll.
Unfortunately, the original owners didn't know a whole lot about foundations, so today's innkeepers, Chris Sellers and Mark Frohman, are figuring out how to rehab the inn's wavy floors. Meanwhile, the floors' slant contributes to the inn's old-fashioned feel: The folk-painted armoire in our bedroom looked as if it had been in the family for centuries.
Be forewarned: The baths, though adjoining, are all shared. For privacy, book a pair for the modest price of $55 to $70 each.
Early morning encounters of the naked-stranger sort can make breakfast a red-faced affair, but the morning feasts¿prepared with the output of the resident chickens and ducks¿are sufficiently distracting. We enjoyed fluffy ricotta-stuffed French toast as Sellers, his stove duties done, regaled guests on the grand piano.
A former music teacher, he's comfortable with anything from 'Memories' to Schumann's 'Scenes from Childhood.' And his cocktail-time concerts enliven the huge living room warmed by a crackling flame in the stone fireplace. A gemütlich little bar has cocoa and games on tap, as well as the BYOB stuff adults like. There's also a sauna and outdoor hot tub to soothe savaged ski muscles.
Information Grünberg Haus, Route 100 South, Waterbury, Vt. 05676; (802) 244-7726 or (800) 800-7760