Weddings & More at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, VT
Oh Stowe, you and your twinkle-lit terraces, your mountain roads that wind through endless greens of every shade, your rustic barns that house boutique coffee houses and micro-breweries, your hidden waterfalls and crystal streams. Pardon my love letter, but any lucky visitor to this Vermont oasis will return with the same exact thought: when can I go back? Don’t be fooled, despite its nickname as the “Ski Capital of the East,” Stowe sparkles in every season.
If you’re like me you prefer your wildnerness with a generous helping of luxury and a dash of glam. Nestled into the foothills of Vermont’s highest peak, Topnotch Resort offers a sophisticated charm, combining the comfort of feeling at home with the wonder of travel. It’s no surprise the resort, which boasts a blissful spa, two restaurants, both indoor and outdoor pools, and a tennis academy, is a nominee for the Condé Nast Traveler 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards. Whether searching for a stunning wedding venue or a weekend escape, this versatile and picturesque property is a no brainer.
No two days at Topnotch Resort are the same. During my two-night stay, even though I spent the majority of the trip out and about exploring Stowe, I managed to squeeze in cocktails on the patio, a zenful yoga class, plenty of sunbathing by the adults-only pool, and a decadent trip to the spa– which included a life-affirming steam, sauna, and jacuzzi. But my absolute favorite Topnotch tradition was the nightly s’mores by the firepit. Nothing pairs better with a cool Vermont evening than a toasty fire, a gooey marshmallow sandwich, and–of course– a glass of red wine. Both nights I stayed at Topnotch, my sister and I posted up by the fire for hours, chatting with other guests and learning about what brought them to Stowe. Over the countless conversations I had by that fire, every single one included something along the lines of “wow, now this is the life.”
Weddings and Events
Many couples are flocking to the rolling mountains of Vermont for that gorgeous Tuscan-esque backdrop of their dreams. At Topnotch, Senior Wedding & Events Sales Manager Elizabeth Seward, turns those dreams into reality. Seward, who has in her sixth wedding season at the property, says, “my couples are often from the city but have a love of the outdoors, so it’s important for them to “bring the outside in”. They want the glam of our tent, but with a touch of the outdoors, which means trees, greenery, vines, etc. This year, a lot of my couples are also straying away from the classic wedding menus and are being more adventurous with what they’re feeding their guests, or they want something filling, yet light – so people are ready to dance!”
As a venue, “Topnotch offers couples a high-end, Vermont wedding experience without being the classic rustic Vermont barn. The vast majority of our weddings happen in our seasonal tent, which offers stunning views of Mt. Mansfield and beautiful landscaping. We’re large enough to provide a significant chunk of your vendor needs (venue, catering, bar, lodging), while small enough that we only focus on one wedding at a time. I’m also very hands-on with my couples throughout the entire planning process, which allows me to build a tight relationship with them and in turn, they can relax on their wedding weekend knowing we have it under control,” Seward notes.
No visit to Topnotch is complete without a visit to their resort-style spa. Spa Director, Alex Braaten, who started at the resort over 11 years ago as a Spa Attendant, says, “Working in a variety of roles here over those years has given me a deep understanding of Spa operations. We have such a gorgeous property with amazing amenities, stunning views of Vermont’s highest peak (Mount Mansfield) and luxurious spa services. We offer a wide variety of massages with over 30 treatment rooms, in addition to services like facials, nail and hair treatments. We also have indoor and outdoor pools, multiple whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and private gentlemen’s and ladies’ lounges. It all makes for a luxurious getaway in Vermont’s Green Mountains.”
Offering more than a typical spa, Braaten says, “My favorite part about working at Topnotch Spa is the sense of community we have between our employees, local clients and our destination guests. To see guests unwinding and relaxing from the rigors of daily life, and then leave the Spa with a smile on their face is one of the most rewarding feelings I can have. Life is stressful and I enjoy having the Spa be like a peaceful oasis for guests to decompress…My favorite is our CBD massage. We blend our own CBD oil in-house and it’s such an incredible way to disconnect from the world for an hour or an hour and a half.”
For couples who are celebrating their wedding in the area or at the resort, Braaten notes, “Bachelorette celebrations have become more common in the Spa over the past year or so. Following COVID-19 restrictions, it has been so enjoyable to be able to host these important life events and to see everyone celebrating together again. Currently we are hosting two to three bachelorette celebrations in the Spa each weekend. For these important life events we are often seeing wedding groups coming in for hair and makeup services. They also try to enjoy some time relaxing in our pools, whirpools, saunas and steam rooms before and after these events.”
And the relaxation and self care does not need to wait until the wedding. “My best advice is to start early! Get facials regularly and start a few months before the wedding date. Get a hair cut a few weeks ahead of the big day. Develop a routine of care that includes moisturizing and hydrating your skin to keep it dewy. Getting things like facials and relaxing massages occasionally will also help ease the stress of planning your big day,” says Braaten. “Self-care is so, so important and most time we get caught up in our daily routine and we forget to enjoy the simple pleasure of life. So I would advise everybody to be selfish from time to time. Do something that relaxes you and keeps you grounded. Make sure to take some personal time to relax and unwind from the stress of daily life.”
While I could easily have spent the entirety of my trip enjoying the amenities at Topnotch, I couldn’t resist venturing out to find out more about Stowe. The quaint town is best known for its access to the ski slopes, but in reality, summer is when Stowe sees the most visitors. With countless hiking trails for trekking and rivers for kayaking, it’s hard to even want to be indoors during your stay. Here are a few exceptions worth putting the adventure on pause for:
PLATE: For a meal to remember. This is a 100% must try restaurant. Chef Aaron Martin and his wife Jennifer curate a seasonal & surprising menu that delivers from first bite to last. We started with the parmesan and white truffle gnocchi and ended with the banana pudding.
Idletyme Brewing Company: For a relaxed lunch and a masterfully brewed beer on their gorgeous patio (don’t leave without trying the cheese fritters)
Black Cap Coffee and Beer: For an afternoon pick me up opt for their True Vermont Maple Syrup Latte
The Boutique & Stowe Mercantile : For a trendy souvenir (or maybe 5) and thoughtful gifts
Girakofi: (Yes, another coffee shop!) For a custom breakfast sandwich and all the giraffe decor
Emily Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle and travel writer. A recent graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Emily’s work can be found in numerous regional and national publications including Connect Corporate Magazine, Alma, New England Living, and Bride and Groom. She has served as the Arts Editor for both Southeast Florida Style and Design Magazine and Charleston Style and Design Magazine. Emily is currently an Academic Advisor at Northeastern University where she also teaching writing courses.