Thomas Bywater checks into the Sun & Ski Inn, in Vermont, USA.

Getting there:

It's a 40-minute drive from Burlington through the rolling hills along the toy-barn lined route 100.

Check in: Painless. The receptionist had recently been on holiday to NZ and was sympathetic for the need to check in pronto.


Room: The Suite looked out over a lawn and "little river". The room, however, was anything but little.

Self-reliance is a thing they're big on in Vermont; the room included a full kitchen, fridge freezer and ample storage for supplies for a week in the mountains. While room-service was an option, the hotel seemed perfectly happy for guests to hike in with
their own supplies.

The cupboards weren't completely bare. A drip filter of Green Mountain coffee was extremely welcome.

Price: From $287 a night.

What's good about the place: Family run but not folksy — the Inn feels grounded in the fabric of Stowe.

The Sun & Ski follows the seasonal pattern of skiiers and hikers. It's built as a base for outdoors adventures and backs up onto the Stowe Rec Track — a mainline for cyclists into the mountains which doubles as a cross-country ski track come winter.

Not so good: Stowe is great for wildlife, not nightlife. The bucolic backwater charm of Stowe is perfect for morning larks. However, by around 7pm even the crickets have turned in for an early night. I'm told ski season also favours the "early tracks" approach.

What's in the neighbourhood: Having written off the nighlife, I failed to mention Sun & Ski's most unique offering: the Stowe Bowl.


The "boutique" bowling alley built under the hotel is the closest thing to apres ski activity.

Its decor and lanes seem perpetually frozen in the grungy 90s, but in a great way. From $10 a game, with a bar and kitchen at the top of the lanes, the Stowe Bowl seems like the perfect way for families to mollify bored teens, or nostalgic gen-Xers on a trip to the Green Mountains.

Food: An all-you-can-cover in maple syrup breakfast buffet is included from 7am. The Sun & Ski also does room-service and light bites. In this chalet-like set-up you could survive without having to eat out once, but that would be a shame.

The Blue Donkey burgers, Pablo's Pizza, Tres Amigos Mexican and Sushi Yoshi are staggered along the Rec Track though town — even guests with the least-honed survival skills will not starve in this neck of the Vermont woods.

Exercise facilities: There's a modest bank of treadmills and torture devices and a heated indoor pool, however the real fitness buffs will be outside for some of the best hiking and biking in the country.

Bottom line: An outdoors-ey boutique inn for all seasons; perfect for a family holiday hunting the "fall colours" or a group trip into the mountains.