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Inn Vermont: An Elevated Escape

Topnotch Resort in Stowe offers a phenomenal guest experience in a breathtaking Vermont mountain setting.



STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER 

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY TOPNOTCH RESORT


In the foothills of Stowe’s majestic mountains, Topnotch Resort stands at the literal and figurative pinnacle of contemporary Vermont luxury, providing a world-class resort experience that more than lives up to its name. With a longstanding commitment to delivering exceptional service, this gorgeous, 120-acre resort perfectly mirrors the marvelous beauty of its natural surroundings, offering sublime hospitality and comfort in all seasons. Topnotch Resort is a welcoming haven for those seeking a balanced blend of adventure, relaxation, and elevated splendor – and there’s never been a better time to journey north and experience the best of what Stowe has to offer. 



Rooms with a View


Upon arriving at Topnotch, guests are greeted by courteous and welcoming staff members at the striking front entrance. Integrating elements of Nordic and  Vermont modern aesthetics, it establishes an atmosphere of tasteful, quiet luxury. The main building’s unique horseshoe structure is connected by an intricate series of breezeways. It leads from the lobby to the spa, fitness center, and several well-appointed event spaces, all of which are housed under the same roof. Wide-ranging accommodations, including guest rooms, sumptuous suites, and additional resort homes are thoughtfully designed, providing an escape that is both comforting and re-energizing. 


Perched on the main hotel building’s top floor, the Executive King and Queen rooms offer a blissful retreat with high ceilings and stylish decor. Guests will find top-tier amenities, including luxurious beds and granite and tile baths. Strategically situated on the 1st and 2nd floors, the Deluxe King and Double rooms are designed for those who wish to be at the heart of the resort’s vibrant atmosphere. Close to key amenities like the spa and on-site restaurant, The Roost, these rooms are ideal for guests who appreciate convenience without compromise.



Topnotch’s resplendent suites, including the Moss Glen, West Branch, Cotton Brook, and Gold Brook Suites, wonderfully balance modern sophistication with classic charm. With contemporary decor and thoughtful in-room features, including fireplaces and private decks, these suites are stylish and relaxing sanctuaries. In every room and suite, guests are treated to a deftly-curated array of luxe amenities. From the plush pillowtop mattresses and high-end personal care products, every detail is meticulously crafted to ensure guests’ enjoyment and satisfaction.


For guests seeking an extended stay with family, friends, and loved ones at Topnotch, their Resort Homes are an excellent choice. Ranging from cozy one-bedroom homes to spacious three-bedroom residences, these homes feature fully-equipped kitchens, comfortable living and dining areas, and beautiful outdoor spaces. 


Culinary Excellence Takes Flight at The Roost


The Roost at Topnotch Resort is an epicurean gem that fuses modern gourmet flair with Vermont’s rich culinary heritage. Open and spacious, this welcoming bar and restaurant wonderfully complements the resort’s Vermont ambience, offering farm-to-table food and fun in a casual, upscale setting. Guests can indulge in a satisfying meal, or savor a glass of wine, craft cocktail, locally-brewed craft beer, or Vermont-brewed kombucha while playing a game of shuffleboard. In the warmer months, al-fresco service is offered on the outdoor patio. When the sun sets after dinner, guests can gather around the fire pit and enjoy spectacular mountain views.


From traditional breakfast favorites to inventive lunch and dinner options, the seasonally-shifting menu at The Roost is designed to cater to diverse palates. Whether it’s the Vermont-inspired 802 Omelet, the delicious and decadent short rib brisket or lamb Bolognese, or the flavorful seasonal vegetable risotto, every dish serves as a vibrant reflection of the region’s flavors – as well as Chef Dustin Johnson’s passion for locally-sourced foods.


Johnson, a Vermont native, has artfully merged his two primary culinary influences through The Roost’s menu. His profound appreciation for Southern cuisine dovetails nicely with his lifelong connection to Vermont’s farms and food makers. His career trajectory was influenced by his mother’s Southern roots and his formal training at the New England Culinary School. Chef Johnson sharpened his craft at multiple celebrated Vermont establishments before joining the Topnotch team, including local Stowe and Waterbury favorites such as the Trapp Family Lodge, the Bistro at Ten Acres, and Prohibition Pig. His tenure in Charleston, South Carolina, working with renowned chefs, further refined his skills.


Celebrated for his mastery of barbeque, Chef Johnson was honored with the Food & Wine Magazine Award for Best Barbeque in Vermont in 2020. At The Roost, he has created a menu that is both innovative and delicious, encompassing the warmth of Topnotch’s hospitality through phenomenal cuisine.


A Sanctuary of Wellness


Topnotch Resort’s Spa is an oasis of tranquility and rejuvenation. It offers a variety of services tailored to individual preferences, ranging from manicures and pedicures to specialty massages. The spa’s goal is to offer every guest a unique, reparative journey, immersing them in a holistic wellness experience that is personalized from the moment of booking. The spa team considerately guides newcomers and seasoned spa enthusiasts, helping them choose treatments that align with their needs. Topnotch’s hotel concierge service further enhances this extensive customization process, harmoniously integrating spa treatments with other resort activities.



Massages remain the spa’s most sought- after treatments, with options spanning from soothing aromatherapy to intense deep tissue massages. “The deep tissue massages are great after a day of skiing, hiking, or mountain biking,” shares Topnotch’s Spa Director, Alex Braaten. Braaten also touts the Topnotch Spa’s private lounges, which ensure a tranquil environment for guests seeking solitude and relaxation. She adds that the outdoor hot tub has proven to be a longstanding favorite among visitors, especially in the winter months, providing the unique experience of soaking in warm waters amidst a postcard snowy landscape.


Braaten began working at Topnotch 12 years ago as a summer international exchange student. She started working there full-time nine years ago, and she has found significant growth and career advancement at Topnotch. Braaten adds: “I became the massage supervisor, then the manager, and now the Spa Director. I love living here in Vermont, and I’ve really found a family of passionate people here at Topnotch. We take care of each other just like we take care of our guests.” Braaten’s experience serves as a consummate embodiment of Topnotch’s encouraging work culture, as well as the staff’s commitment to offering opportunities for employee advancement within the resort.



In line with her heartfelt connection to the Vermont community, Braaten takes immense pride in Topnotch Spa’s use of local products, including aromatherapy oils blended in-house and skincare products from renowned Vermont brands. To that end, many of Topnotch Spa’s signature treatments also incorporate Vermont-made products, which help guests unwind while supporting local businesses. The Total Hops Massage uses locally-sourced hops, which are known for their anti- inflammatory, detoxifying, and skin- nourishing properties. Guests are also treated to an optional locally-brewed craft beer post-massage. The R & R CBD Massage features house-blended CBD oil enriched with locally sourced ingredients, providing natural pain relief and deep relaxation. “We want to help connect our guests with the local Vermont environment in every sense, both in and outside of the spa,” shares Braaten.


Topnotch’s on-site Fitness Center complements the spa’s calming ambiance with a range of dynamic classes. Aqua Fusion classes in the pool offer a unique blend of cardio and strength exercises. The Gentle Flow Vinyasa Yoga and Restorative Yoga classes focus on mindful movement, while Fitness Kickboxing and Indoor Bootcamp cater to those seeking high-intensity workouts.


Beyond the indoor wellness facilities, Topnotch’s commitment to holistic wellness and natural immersion extends to the great outdoors. The resort offers a vast array of activities, including family-friendly games and an equestrian program that allows guests to enjoy the pastoral beauty of Stowe on horseback. The nearby bike path presents another opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in Stowe’s lively culture. It welcomes joggers, bikers, and Nordic skiers in all seasons, tracing a path towards the main town center that is connected to a road full of local shops, restaurants, galleries, and breweries.


Game, Set, and Match!


Topnotch Resort’s tennis program stands as a beacon of athletic excellence, offering players of all levels a chance to strengthen their racket sport skills. The Tennis Center at Topnotch Resort is known for its fantastic facilities and its rich history of hosting tennis legends. Topnotch has been a preferred destination for many top tennis professionals, with a history that includes visits from tennis greats such as Jim Courier, Jim Connors, and the Williams sisters, among many others. This storied past has elevated Topnotch’s reputation as a premier tennis destination, and that legacy is carried on today through the hard work of Topnotch’s affable Tennis Director, Simba Happy. 


“Our tennis program is designed to captivate and challenge players,” says Happy. In order to actualize that goal, Topnotch Resort meticulously maintains their indoor and outdoor courts. Set against Stowe’s picturesque landscapes, the outdoor courts offer an unrivaled immersive experience for tennis enthusiasts. The main tennis center features four indoor courts, and six additional outdoor courts are placed strategically throughout the resort’s grounds. This includes two pairs of Har-Tru courts and two outdoor hard courts, which are also lined for pickleball. 


The Pro Shop at Topnotch Resort is well-equipped to meet all tennis needs. It stocks an extensive range of tennis gear from leading brands like Wilson, Babolat, and Head. The shop offers junior to adult rackets, along with a variety of demo rackets. For experienced or novice players who may have forgotten their gear at home or need a tune-up, the Pro Shop provides tennis shoes and racket restringing services. The shop offers the unique service of renting out ball machines, allowing players to practice independently.


The resort’s highly skilled coaching team personalizes instruction for all guests, catering to beginners, intermediates, and advanced players alike. Topnotch’s tennis program features a variety of clinics and sessions, including Cardio Tennis and skill-specific clinics. “Our goal is to make tennis both engaging and enjoyable,” shares Happy. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not going to keep coming back.” 



Simba Happy’s path to becoming the Director of Topnotch’s tennis program closely parallels Braaten’s story of progressive advancement within Topnotch’s workforce. Before coming to Vermont, Happy began his tennis career by playing junior tournaments in his native Zimbabwe. Happy went on to play for the Florida A&M Tennis team, building his skills in collegiate sports before embarking on his subsequent career as a tennis coach. Serendipitously, he first came to Vermont as the result of an invitation from a friend from back home in Zimbabwe. Happy adds: “I was intrigued by the chance to experience snow, because it was something I had only seen in movies. I came here and it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.” Happy’s decision to stay in Vermont turned into a lasting commitment. “Twelve years later, I’m still here. I started as an instructor, progressed to Junior Tennis Coordinator, then to Director of Tennis,” he notes. “They’ve given me the chance to really grow and develop the program here. I do everything I can to provide guests with an amazing experience while building our relationship with the local community in Stowe.”


The Junior Tennis program at Topnotch reflects Happy’s passion for mentoring the next generation of tennis athletes. It provides a nurturing and supportive environment for budding young players. Topnotch also extends its tennis facilities and expertise to the local community, embracing inclusivity and fostering a vibrant tennis culture in Stowe. This integration enriches the experience for both residents and resort guests. “By welcoming the local community to our courts, we create a lively and diverse tennis culture,” notes Happy. He elaborates: “If two of our guests are looking to play doubles but can’t find partners, we will reach out to our Club Topnotch members in the local community. It works perfectly, because local residents can play with visitors and vice-versa. It’s always good to play with new people.” 


In addition to their phenomenal tennis program, Topnotch Resort has embraced the modern popularity of pickleball. Offering clinics and open play sessions for this increasingly popular sport, the resort caters to a broader audience. Happy adds: “Pickleball’s rising popularity has added a new dimension to our racket sports offerings that appeals to guests of all ages.” 


A Dream Come True


Topnotch Resort serves as an idyllic setting for weddings, celebrations, and corporate events, where nature’s grandeur meets genuine sophistication. Their location at the base of Stowe’s lofty mountains offers a storybook romantic backdrop. The Mountain View Pavilion Tent is an outdoor marvel. Draped in fabric and set on a full wooden floor, it is surrounded by gardens and stunning views of the Green Mountains. This tent, equipped with its own parking lot and nearby restrooms, can seat 250 guests for dinner and dancing or host up to 420 people for a standing reception. 



The Pinnacle Ballroom is Topnotch Resort’s largest indoor space. It comfortably seats 120 guests for dinner and dancing, and it accommodates up to 145 guests for a standing reception. The room’s 

contemporary lighting and decor offer a versatile backdrop for any large-scale event. Echoing the décor of the Pinnacle Room, the Summit Room provides a fabulous setting for smaller gatherings. Whether used alone or in conjunction with its sister space, the Summit Room can seat 70 guests for dinner and dancing or 80 people for a standing reception. 


For awe-inspiring views of Mount Mansfield, look no further than Mansfield Overlook. This lawn is perfect for welcome parties and cocktail receptions, offering guests the chance to enjoy the panoramic magnificence of the Green Mountains. The space also provides access to fire pits and bocce ball, adding a playful and relaxing element to any event.


Join The Club!


Want to make the most of your Topnotch experience? The Club Topnotch program has you covered. Several membership options are available, each of which is designed to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of all members.


With a 5-day Club Topnotch pass, members relish in a range of benefits, including discounts of up to 15% on food, retail items, and spa services. The pass extends complimentary access to a variety of group fitness classes, with some private classes available for an additional fee. Tennis enthusiasts enjoy preferred pricing on tennis services and complimentary court times for up to 1.5 hours per day, based on availability. The pass also allows tennis court reservations to be made one day in advance, and it offers exclusive discounted room rates. Members can conveniently charge services to their account with a credit card on file. A 7-day pass extends the same benefits to a full week, allowing members to fully immerse themselves in the leisure and wellness opportunities at Topnotch Resort.


The Platinum pass is the epitome of luxury and leisure, which grants members unlimited access to the pool, spa lounge, and fitness center. It includes all the benefits of the 7 Day Pass, with enhanced discounts of up to 20% on resort-wide food, retail items, and spa services. The pass also covers complimentary fitness classes and preferred pricing on tennis services, along with the convenience of booking tennis courts seven days in advance. Additionally, Platinum members enjoy special room rates and the ease of charging privileges with a credit card on file. A Club Topnotch membership is more than just a gateway to luxury; it’s a one-way ticket to a truly elevated lifestyle —and each tier of membership ensures that every visit to Topnotch Resort is filled with fond memories. 


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