Whether you’re a married, divorced or single woman, we all need one thing: girl time. And if you’re a brazen woman worth her mineral salts, you need to go on a girls’ retreat—stat. Where, you wonder? Any place where you can eat, play and enjoy pampering your stressed-out self. Like, say, Stowe, Vermont.
Where to Stay in Stowe, Vermont
There’s nothing so decadent as indulging in spa treatments specifically designed to soothe the savage breast so we’ll be girl-tripping to The Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont. Do as I did and take the two-hour drive from Montreal alone for a No Sex and the Country extended summer weekend.
This year-round destination is nestled in New England’s primo ski area, so just pick your fave season and go. You and your squad can go leaf-peeking in the fall, play rounds at the nine-hole golf course in nice weather or buy a few rounds at Charlie B’s Pub year-round. This resort resto serves what every girls’ retreat needs—more than 50 different wines by the glass.
To work off your wine, you can play tennis, racquetball or volleyball, swim in the indoor or outdoor pools (there’s a chaise-side café for après-spa), work out in the women-only gym, or take spinning, yoga, Pilates and something called Aqua Zumba in the co-ed facility.
What to Do in Stowe, Vermont
You never have to leave the premises if you don’t want to, but there’s plenty to do should you want to explore. Some highlights for both on-site or AWOL fun:
I’ve had more massages than I can count on two kneady hands, and the luxurious Spa at Stoweflake ranks among the best. You and your GFs will want to book at least one of the 150 healing and anti-aging remedies for the mind, body and soul. The spa has an Aqua Solarium with the cascading waterfall and mineral soaking pools, and a woman’s sanctuary lounge where you can sip fresh-squeezed OJ, herbal teas, and cucumber water.
I had the 80-minute Alpine Kur, a full-body exfoliation and mineral wrap, followed by a warm bath and a head-to-toe massage. I emerged feeling so relaxed and rejuvenated that my pedicured feet did not touch the ground as I drifted back to my hotel room.
Other signature treatments:
- The Vermont Maple Sugar Body Polish. Hot towel compressions and full body maple scrub and moisturizing massage.
- Green Mountain Coffee Body Treatment. An invigorating exfoliation with an antioxidant Dead Sea Mud wrap and a coffee oil massage. (Coffee is not just good for our brains, it’s good for our skin—who knew?).
- Lymphatic Hot Oil Treatment. A dry skin brushing that stimulates the lymphatic system, followed by a hot lavender or evergreen oil massage. Calms me down just writing about it.
Should you decide to venture off the 60-acre compound, here are some fun activities:
Go to town. Easy riders can rent bikes at the resort and cycle along the paved 5.3-mile Stowe bike path with its views of Mount Mansfield in the distance and trails that run parallel to a creek (we stopped for a quick wade). The path will also take you into the town of Stowe, which, like many Vermont villages, is historic and quaint, and boasts the tallest church spire in the country. You can browse the shops on Main Street, including the Mercantile, an old-fashioned country gift and clothing store. Skip the touristy merch upstairs and head straight to the basement where you can sample an array of mustards, jams, salsas, cheese and other local goodies.
PS. Sporty spices might want to slip on their clip shoes and go mountain biking on the rugged off-road trails.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory. Take route 100 about 8 miles from the resort to visit the place where the famous tie-dyed-in-the-wool ice cream is made. My top pick is still Cherry Garcia but you might prefer Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Dough, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream or Vermont’s local band tribute Phish Food.
Make Some Waves. Our friendly Mountain Vacation Planner (MVP!) recommended a trip to Waterbury State Park for an hour of kayaking and another hour of paddle boarding on the reservoir. Aside from the wildlife, we glided past people fishing, swimmers at the roped-off beach, and a man on a jet ski (there are launch sites along the lake). If your balance isn’t great, stick with the seated kayak, but falling overboard into the cool water isn’t the worst thing after working up some paddle sweat. Cost: $4 entry fee for adults/$35 for 2-hour equipment rentals.
The Renaissance Faire. If you’re looking for your knight in shining armor or a little role playing, then the Stowe Renaissance Faire might be for you. The Faire features artisans and crafts from across New England; beer, wine, mead and cider makers from around the state; local food; musicians, dancers, and a joust on horseback. I never watched Game of Thrones, but if you’re one of the millions who do, go medieval me ladies.
Get High. Thrill seekers can take the Ziptour at Stowe Mountain Resort, with zip lines ranging from 150-feet long and 10-feet off the ground (Demo Trainer) to the Nosedive Zip that’s 130 feet high and 4,462 feet long! You can cable ride at speeds that would get you pulled over on the highway, but you can control your drop if you want to slow down and chat with a zip buddy. The less adventurous can take the Gondola. Gondola SkyRide
Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. If you come to Stoweflake in mid-July, you can enjoy a gentle ascent above the mountain tops in one of the 25 hot-air balloons or simply watch the colorful sky show. The $10 admission fee is waived for those staying the hotel. We weren’t there for the festival, but we took a Stoweflake-owned balloon to view of the landscape right before sunset.
Stowe Farmers’ Market. If you happen to be at Stoweflake on a Sunday, you can walk across the street to the Stowe Farmers’ Market, where local farmers and craftspeople sell their wares. Come hungry, because there are cheeses, baked goods, BBQ and more. Opens at 10:30 am.
What to Eat in Stowe, Vermont
Speaking of Food…
In addition to Charlie B’s for traditional pub fare and New American cuisine, you can go next door to Winfield’s Restaurant for elegant dining.
Start with drinks on the porch: a refreshing cucumber and sage cocktail and local ciders. At dinner, we enjoyed fresh fare, including spinach salad with blueberries, bacon and blue cheese, kale hummus and spicy duck ninja rolls and various mains such as a roasted garlic stuffed fillet served with Cabot mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus, angel hair pasta with silvered garlic, crushed tomatoes, basil, olive oil and Vermont mozzarella, and Piccata pan seared haddock. And what’s dinner without a berry tart for dessert?
The Bistro at Ten Acres, 14 Barrow Road
Our trusty MVP recommended The Bistro at Ten Acres, owned by husband and wife team Mark and Linda Fucile. It’s said to be one of the best restaurants in Stowe and now we know why. We sat on a pitch perfect summer eve overlooking a cow pasture as we dined on lobster with polenta, Moules Mariniere (fresh mussels cooked in white wine, hot sauce, onions, garlic and grape tomatoes) and truffle fries (house-made hand-cut French fries seasoned with truffle oil and tossed in parmesan cheese). Whatever you order off this menu, you’ll be amazed by the creativity and taste.
Jodie Gould is an award-winning writer and author of 10 books, including HIGH: Six Principles for Guilt-Free Pleasure and Escape (Hazelden). She is a frequent contributor to Brazen Woman.