Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hotel/Motel (09/12/05)
TITLE: Von Trapp Family Lodge
By Michelle Vander Wal
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In the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont echos the sound of music. After fleeing the Nazis in Austria, Colonel Von Trapp and his new wife Maria settled in Vermont among the rolling hills that surely must have reminded them of home. Just outside the picturesque village of Stowe, renowned for its ski hills and shopping is the Von Trapp Family Lodge, a beautiful hotel in the European tradition.
I had the privilege of staying at this hotel with my family when I was sixteen. The first impression was one of twisting roads as we navigated the switchbacks through the forest. It was already dark and the slow speed limit made it seem like we were climbing into eternity in these mountains. As part of the Appalachian chain, the Green Mountains aren’t anything like the Alps or the Rockies. They roll instead of rear, they invite instead of impose. Cloud cover only obscures the tops on rainy days and in the cool nights of August the autumn colour had already begun a slow burn.
The lodge itself is Alpine in look as is the chalets that dot the grounds and offer a more private, prolonged stay. The bathrooms came with European style showers, wide open tiled, spaces with a slight slope to a drain. After the common experience of a tub/shower combo and a shower curtain the luxury and decadence of space was appalling at first. This style is now frequently seen in magazines and home décor shows but fifteen years ago it was still an unknown on the large North American scene. Even the Hilton didn’t have anything like this.
The bedrooms were a true suite. No nasty little pullout couches here. As children we slept in an adjoining separate room with double beds, down comforters and the cushiest mattress I had ever had. Everything was white, no pink or dirty beige and tacky hotel prints for this spa like atmosphere. The windows looked out the back of the hotel into the forest. Mom and Dad had their own room and could watch TV in peace late at night with no fear of waking us.
Dining at the Von Trapp lodge is at once elegant, surprising and elite while at the same time friendly and accessible to a family. We watched in awe as staff changed elaborate table settings of linen, multiple pieces of fine china and extraneous cutlery with rapid grace. The waiters were wonderful and knowledgeable and had no problem explaining an odd sounding dish so that a child was tempted to order it. I had Russian eggs one night, it was my first taste of caviar. Even the salads were amazing with yummy dressings that weren’t too sharp or too runny. Since dinner was included in the price of the room ordering every course was expected. With no prices on the menu a new world of culinary investigation opened. We loved to the play the “What are you getting?” game of everyone ordering something different so we could try as many dishes as possible. Although we had to dress up for dinner it seemed a small price to pay for such a feast.
We loved the outdoor existence that the hotel offered. From the front lobby a wide vista of the valleys and mountains opens to you and beckons an adventure. The hotel keeps up several trails on the mountain for hiking in the summer and cross country skiing in the winter. We went first to the tourist stops, the family graveyard and Maria’s shrine which was little stone church, big enough for one person to meditate or pray. The largest ode to the family is the Von Trapp room where the movie “The Sound of Music” plays 24 hours a day for anyone who wants to watch. After getting our fill of the story we went swimming in the outdoor pool. The hotel has two pool facilities, again for winter or summer use. The summer pool overlooks the valley. My swimming experience was limited to the chlorine rich environment of the YMCA or the deep, murky waters of the local quarry or lake. This pool combined the best of both worlds, open to the sky and breeze but heated and clean. We stayed until prunifed.
My favorite memory was on the second day when I had a headache and decided to stay inside instead of hike. After a while I decided I need food and found out from the room info that the hotel offered a mid-afternoon snack in the dining room along with live music. Nothing makes you feel more grown up at sixteen then sitting by yourself, ordering and then uttering the magic words, “Charge it to my room.” No parents, no permission or ID needed. It was the same gracious service that would be offered to a lady with salt and pepper hair and a designer handbag. That really sums up the experience at the Von Trapp family lodge. I hope to go again, one day. Maybe I’ll take my parents with me.
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