I must confess, when the folks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort first invited my family up as their guests for a “Bloggers’ Weekend” in Vermont, my initial thought was that they were going to try to sell us a timeshare.
They were very nice when I actually asked, in my usual tactless way, if this was in fact the case. “No, no catch!” they assured me. They had decided to host a small gathering of New England mom/family bloggers just so that we could see for ourselves what a great family destination Smugglers’ Notch (“Smuggs,” to those in the know) is.
And you know what? It really, really is. Although the area (not far from Stowe) is best known for winter skiing, it’s a great place for a summertime family vacation, too – loaded with pools for swimmers and splashers of all ages, waterslides, nature trails, and various activities like mini golf and tennis, all within the sprawling Smugglers’ Notch complex. There are also lots of activities for your too-cool-for-school teens, too, including dance parties and movies at the teen center, as well as an arcade.
The resort struck me as being like a cruise ship in that you can do as much or as little as you want, with as much or as little family togetherness as you desire throughout the day.
This is true even if you have peanuts much younger than Lorelei – the daycare program, Treasures, takes children as young as 6 weeks for either full- or half-day stints. You provide the diapers and wipes and they do the rest (private babysitting in the evenings is also available).
The daycare facility is gorgeous: open and airy and full of familiar games and toys, staffed by an experienced team that obviously adores their charges. My favorite part was a window-lined room overlooking the resort with several baby swings facing out so that the littlest vacationers can enjoy the breeze and watch the world go by – I found myself wishing they had something comparable for grown-ups. There’s also a rack of tiny skis nestled in a corner; ski time is offered in the winter for ages 2.5 and up.
So what did we Foster/Carsens do during our time at Smuggs?
1. We marveled at our luxurious accommodations, which were listed on our confirmation letter as being a “two-bedroom” but were in fact an enormous, fully furnished three-bedroom condo that slept 8+ (including a room with four twin beds; we totally could have invited some of the other mommy bloggers and their kids over for a rager). There are a variety of lodging options at Smuggs, and I knew they’d put us up somewhere nice, but I had no idea we’d be staying somewhere literally twice the size of our house.
2. We admired the magnificent view.
3. We stocked up at the on-site Country Store, which to me evokes images of dusty maple syrup bottles and old cheese, but which is in fact a compact yet comprehensive collection of nearly anything you could want during your stay – a wide assortment of fresh and prepared foods, first-aid supplies, beer and wine, DVDs, puzzles and board games, souvenirs, snacks, maps, non-dusty bottles of maple syrup, and more. I couldn’t believe how much was there; I walked around just looking at everything for so long that I think the staff began to worry that I was casing the place.
4. Daddy and Lorelei enjoyed quality (and, apparently, madcap) father-daughter time together while Mommy was at her blogger conference.
5. Lorelei briefly embraced her inner flower child, until Daddy noticed that the daisy petals were winding up in her mouth rather than her hair, at which point the lovefest ended.
6. Mommy and Lorelei headed to one of the gradual-entry pools but were turned away due to an imminent thunderstorm. We splashed around in the enormous whirlpool tub in the master bathroom instead.
7. One of us – and I’m not naming names here – started cutting a new tooth and became extremely cranky on Sunday morning, causing the Foster/Carsens to head home a bit early and miss both our ziplining tour and our scheduled half-day at Treasures. We did, however, rally on the drive home.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Jeffersonville, VT, www.smuggs.com. Although we were invited by Smugglers’ Notch and they paid for most of our stay, this post reflects my candid impressions of our visit.