Stowe, Vermont, like most quaint ski towns, is chock full of eclectic lodging options. You’ve got fancy to utilitarian, lodges that harken back to Stowe’s Austrian ski roots, like the Trapp Family Lodge and The Stowehof, traditional spots like the Stoweflake Mountain Resort, the Stowe Inn or Green Mountain Inn, quaint bed and breakfasts like the Butler House Inn or the Sinclair Inn, something whimsical like the Sun & Ski Inn and Suites, and national chains like Best Western and Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Into that crowded field comes the Tälta Mountain Lodge, a subsidiary of Bluebird Hotels (managed by Lark Hotels), which opened its doors in October. Billed as “your boutique base camp,” the Tälta Mountain Lodge is a contemporary take on the time-honored hostel concept (or a high-end version of the Hostel of Maine, at the base of Sugarloaf). It might be a niche hotel, but it’s a niche well worth exploring.
“As with all our Bluebird properties, there’s something for everyone (at Tälta), and Vermont’s historic town of Stowe has drawn intrepid travelers, families and friends for decades,” said Rob Blood, founder and president of Lark Hotels. “There’s no doubt that Bluebird Tälta Lodge nicely complements our other destinations, and we’re committed to expanding the brand for travelers to continue discovering the joys and adventures of road-trip travel.”
The Tälta Mountain Lodge, situated on Mountain Road and alongside the West Branch of the Little River, minutes from Stowe Mountain Resort, is a true four-season getaway, providing access to all the adventure that Stowe offers — skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, dogsledding, cycling (road and mountain), fly-fishing and hiking. It’s the perfect spot for an escape with family and friends, or to make new friends with like-minded folks, for a weekend or longer.
Why? Let’s start with the basic amenities. Though not big on extraneous frills, the Tälta Mountain Lodge has the essentials that adventure types crave. Those essentials include a year-round indoor pool, sauna, ski lockers and boot-drying rooms (plus a bike shed and storage and a pump track for warmer months), free high-speed WiFi, and a fire pit and outdoor space for après-ski activities (is there anything better than stargazing on a crisp, clear winter’s night?).
That setting reflects Bluebird’s stated inspiration — “the great open road” — and its stated vision, which is to provide “a gathering place for wanderers and a resting place for free spirits.” Bluebird Hotels, according to a corporate release, is “founded on the belief that there are unforgettable discoveries just miles from your doorstep, and life-changing experiences further afield.” Mission accomplished.
Bluebird officials clearly recognize what their properties are, and what they’re not. The 51 rooms at Tälta Mountain Lodge offer a terrific range of nine configurations, from suites with king-size beds to bunk rooms, ensuring that you’ll likely find something to fit your needs and your wallet/pocketbook.
“By breathing new life into existing motor lodge properties, Bluebird accommodations are accessibly priced, opening up a world of adventure to all travelers,” according to a company statement. “The properties themselves are designed to further enhance the travel experience, offering various room categories for all types of guests and groups, with common areas created as gathering spaces.
“Rooms are simple, yet fully appointed and impeccably designed to prioritize comfort and rest after a day of exploring. Drawing on Lark Hotels’ expertise in service and quality experiences, Bluebird offers guests warm, familiar service matched with smart accommodations.”
Those last two sentences garner Bluebird my New England Ski Journal “truth in advertising” award. The Tälta Mountain Lodge doesn’t do bells and whistles (unless you call powerful WiFi in ski country a luxury). You won’t find amenities like irons or hair dryers or room service. Instead, this pet-friendly lodge provides the necessities without breaking the bank (think a base model of a fine Bavarian sports sedan, as opposed to a cheaper model loaded with “extras”).
Most of the Tälta rooms are decorated in soothing, neutral tones and natural wood, outfitted with a modular gear walls (to supplement the complimentary gear closets in the hallways) and private decks. The twin bunk is a great choice for families with plenty of kids (and parents who need a little separation) or adult groups traveling together. With two sets of bunk beds, the no-nonsense room can accommodate four guests (and dogs) and is ideal when all you need is to get horizontal after the day’s adventures. Situated on the river side of the building, it also offers relaxing views of the grounds from the private ground-level patio.
From there, the rooms progress from deluxe queen, to king, double queen, deluxe double queen, deluxe king and ultimately deluxe king with patio, with predictable upgrades in open spaces and additional furnishings. All provide comforting, solid bedding, pillows and linens, and neat-as-a-pin bathrooms.
The lodge’s three king junior suites feature a plush king bed that can accommodate two guests, and a private outdoor deck or patio. The largest and most unique room in the house, the king suite, boasts a single king bed, dining table, sectional sofa seating and a pull-out queen bed, allowing it to sleep four guests. (Guests should note, however, that this suite does not offer private outdoor space.)
Though the Tälta is pet-friendly, a number of rooms and suites are off-limits to the family hound, guaranteeing that guests with pet allergies won’t run the risk of an accidental reaction. Be sure to notify the lodge when reserving your room, and again on arrival.
To help guests start the day right, the lodge offers breakfast, but it’s a continental breakfast, with coffee, tea, juices, hot and cold cereals, toast, bagels, muffins and pastries. The lodge’s spacious common area, complete with a wood-burning stove and large banks of windows, practically begs guests to gather and share ski stories.
Based on customer reviews, the lodge experienced a few “start-up” issues, or growing pains, but later reviews were quite positive. Kudos to the property’s managers, who replied to every review, even those that were less than glowing, thanking them for the input and promising to address any issues. The same goes for the members of the lodge staff, who received high marks across the board for their friendly and conscientious service.
The Tälta Mountain Lodge’s location also deserves special mention. Whether you’re aiming to get first tracks at the crack of dawn, or get home safely after dark following a little après-ski revelry or a nice dinner, you won’t have far to travel. For après ski, you can get your fill at the Matterhorn, the Round Hearth at Stowe, Piecasso, Apres, Hourglass, The Roost at Topnotch Resort, The Den, Alfie’s Wild Ride, Charlie B’s, Burt’s Irish Pub, The Bench, Doc Ponds and Whip Bar & Grill at the Green Mountain Inn. Brewery enthusiasts will love paying a visit to Idletyme Brewing Company, von Trapp Brewing, The Alchemist Brewery (home of the legendary Heady Topper IPA), or Lost Nation Brewing and Rock Art Brewery in neighboring Morrisville, while hard cider fans should stop by Stowe Cider.
If you prefer fine dining, or something more romantic, consider Bistro at Ten Acres, Edson Hill, Cork Wine Bar & Restaurant, Salute, Swiss Fondue Restaurant, Plate, Harrison’s Restaurant or Hen of the Wood. “Sound of Music” fans might want to make a reservation at the dining room or lounge at the Trapp Family Lodge.
But Stowe isn’t simply about food. In the historic downtown, literary lovers can drop into Beat Pond Books Store, situated in an old train depot building, which features an array of Vermont authors (Bridgeside Books in Waterbury is another great bookstore nearby). If skiing and riding aren’t in your plans, you can also check out Stowe Cinema, Stowe Rocks Climbing Center and the Stowe Museum, with a full archive of snowboarding and skiing history and memorabilia.
And if you like what you find at the Tälta Mountain Lodge, keep in mind that Bluebird Hotels is planning a number of openings next year in the Northeast, including Bluebird Dennis Port on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Bluebird Sunapee in Newbury, N.H., and Bluebird Hunter in Hunter, N.Y., a much-anticipated alpine-inspired contemporary ski lodge in the Catskills, less than three hours from New York City. Several additional hotels are under agreement and are planned in both coastal and mountain destinations.
“With additional properties in mountain locations to come, including Bluebird Hunter in the Catskills and Bluebird Sunapee in New Hampshire, we look forward to introducing Bluebird to an even broader audience, welcoming skiers, mountain bikers, hiking enthusiasts and more,” said Blood.
Having plenty of options is paramount anytime you’re choosing a ski destination. The Tälta Mountain Lodge and its sister properties are proof that the same formula works in the lodging business.
Tälta Mountain Lodge
3343 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 05672
Brion O’Connor can be reached at email@example.com.