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Springtime Group Activities in Vermont

The snow has melted and now it's time for the spring and summer activities to start...only which ones to choose? 

Recently we had one of my favorite days of the year.  Smugglers Notch was opened!

My winter driving commute is cut in half on the day when the snow has melted and the steep, mountain pass called Smugglers Notch (VT Route 108) is once again open for traffic.  With the sun shining and leaves bursting many shades of green, I made a hasty exit from work and enjoyed a rite of spring that many of us in Stowe eagerly await – driving through “the Notch”.   We were skiing and snowshoeing through this area just a month ago – what a difference a few weeks makes.

Smugglers Notch bursts with natural elements to explore.  At the top of the pass, there are signs posted on a couple of trails to keep hikers off where the Peregrine Falcon nests this time of year.  Once on the endangered species list, the Peregrine is slowly making a comeback and lives among the cliffs of Smugglers Notch.    These falcons are formidable hunters that prey on other birds (and bats) in mid-flight. Peregrines hunt from above and, after sighting their prey, drop into a steep, swift dive that can top 200 miles an hour.  It is truly an amazing sight to watch.    Our sister property, Terranea actually has a falconer on staff who uses Peregrine’s as seagull deterrent.    

Now that I have put away the ski gear, I have to figure out what toys to bring out next – mountain bike, golf clubs or kayak?  This is part of what makes my job so much fun.    I love bringing clients to the area and showing them all the different activities in Vermont – regardless of the time of the year, we always have great opportunities for group activities.    Right now kayakers are taking advantage of the fast flowing rivers.  Trout fisherman are looking for the secret fishing holes and farmers have their hands full sending their spring crops to our kitchens.

While I get excited about outdoor gear, local foodies and our chef’s are excited to dive into their Spring menu and culinary adventures. Like many of the properties within Destination Hotels and Resorts, we offer a farm to table dining experience.  We not only support a local economy, but we find so much more flexibility when planning menus this way.   Have a budget but not sure what you want?  Let our chefs go into the local market, find what is fresh and design a seasonal menu with only the best local ingredients.  With flexibility and an adventurous palette we can create once in a lifetime meals for our groups that won’t break your budget.  I am still in awe of Chef Cody’s delicious yellow tomato gazpacho that a client and I sampled last week.

It wouldn’t be summer without golf!  Our Golf Pro, Ron Philo Jr., is excited that Stowe Mountain Golf Club is open.  We recently met to review an upcoming group golf tournament that a client is hosting.   Ron suggested a format called Stableford scoring.  This format awards points on each hole based upon a groups score relative to par.  Groups set a score of -0- when an individual or team has taken "too many" strokes (you decide how many is too many) and this allows them to move to the next hole when that score has been reached - no toiling for 8's and 9's.  We can adopt this scoring system for use in Scrambles and other forms of play and it helps to keep the rate of play even among all the teams and gives an out to the teams that are there for the social aspect not the trophy.

With so many options to choose from just outside our meeting room doors, our client’s biggest challenge is to narrow the activity options down to just three or four to choose from!

This blog was written by Jim Beaulieu, sales manager at Stowe Mountain Lodge.

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