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Topnotch Resort

Stowe, Vermont

By Roger Cox, Editor

Topnotch Resort, Stowe, Vermont
©Roger Cox

If you have a long history with Topnotch, as I do, it's a pleasant shock to drive up the winding path to the entrance and find it completely changed. The entire building that once housed the lobby and moose-head dominated living room was obliterated—except for the wall the moose hung on, which is now outside—and replaced with a cheerful open entry foyer and a new bar and dining area called the Roost. Among other things, this means a whole new set of windows looking west toward the ski slopes of Mt. Mansfield, as well as outdoor lounging and dining areas, fire pits, and a new bocce court. The restaurant and bar now named Flannel focuses, as Topnotch has for decades, on farm-to-table cuisine. At the same time all 68 rooms and suites underwent their own extensive renovation, acquiring marble baths and elegantly simple new furnishings.

This rambling 120-acre estate perches on a rise 5 miles from the village of Stowe. And for such a relatively small property—those 68 renovated rooms plus two- and three-bedroom townhomes—it has an astonishing array of resort amenities. Central to its appeal, at least for tennis players, are its 10 hard and clay courts, four of which are indoors and constitute the largest indoor complex of any resort in the Northeast. No less impressive, however, is the range of other amenities, including a 35,000-square-foot European spa, an equestrian center, and summer children's programs. There are also options to golf, hike, and bike in the area. Tennis is only the beginning.

Tennis Features

Pro Shop: 802-253-6435

The resort has a long history of devotion to tennis, including at one time hosting the Head Classic, a men's professional tournament. More recently, it was the site of the 2007 Fed Cup match between the U.S. and Russia. That tennis mystique still contributes to its allure. It is home to a well-run academy, under the direction of Milan Kubala. And it has been one of the earliest to embrace new technology, including Dartfish, digital video software that can be used to analyze strokes.

Tennis Staff. Kubala joined Topnotch as assistant director in August 2004 then moved up to the top spot early in 2005. He had previously been the director at the Midland Community Tennis Center in Midland, Michigan. A ranked junior in his native Czech Republic, he later played for Northwoods University in Midland, where he had a Top 20 ranking in NCAA Division II. He heads a staff of international pros, and there is a sports psychologist on staff for private consultations in mental toughness.
Tennis Programs. After several years of tweaking what was already a solid program, Kubala revamped the curriculum with the avid player in mind. Central to the roster is the Topnotch Tennis Academy, a 3-hour-a-day camp that runs weekends in early summer, and daily from the third week in June into fall. And during that high summer season, campers also have the option of tacking on an addition two hours daily. Topnotch Resort, tennis courts, Stowe, VermontAdopting a theme of "Play to Win," these sessions focus on stroke production, footwork, and strategy as they cycle through four components: Technique to Win, Train to Win, Think to Win, and Equip to Win. Each session is structured as an independent module, so you can arrive any day for as many days as you like without feeling that you've missed crucial information. The pros focus on a combination of technique, footwork, and strategy. "We build a game around a player's strengths and make them a better player, not just a better hitter," says Kubala of their approach. Each day's program is independent, so you can arrive any day and book as many days as you want.
Personal attention remains a focus, so the student:pro ratio never exceeds 4:1 and is often less. "I or my head pro call them the night before to verify their playing level and just to make contact," Kubala told me, who often makes the rounds at Flannel during breakfast to chat with the guests, whether or not they are tennis players. A half-hour private lesson is bundled into every three days of workshops.
During the busy July/August tennis season, there is also a Saturday evening pro exhibition with hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer, and cheese. "We use it as instruction," Kubala told me. "We also encourage them to heckle the pros." The package also includes morning stretching sessions in the spa, unlimited court time, use of the ball machine, and access to the spa. Tennis teams can either join the regular program or have the staff tailor one to their specific needs. And with 11 USTA league teams of its own, Topnotch can also set up team matches with appropriate levels.
For juniors, Topnotch has introduced a summer junior academy. It emphasizes tennis skill development and runs concurrently with the adult program. At noon, kids who opt for an all-day program go on to a picnic following by a mixture of activities, including more tennis, field game, and hikes. For the 10-and-under set, Topnotch offers Quickstart tennis.
During July and August, the tennis options are largely limited to the tennis academy, private lessons, or open court time. But in the shoulder seasons before and after, the roster broadens to include Cardio tennis sessions, daily 90-minute clinics, and weekly round robins, supplemented by the tennis academy, which shifts mostly to weekends. Game matching, on the other hand, has not been what it once was, not because staff cares less but because they often don't have the available courts.
Courts & Fees. There are two pairs of Har-Tru courts below the swimming pool between the inn and road. The pro is across the road at the indoor complex, where there are four hard courts, a lounge area, and showers and lockers. Kubala's dog Milo is still often around and eager to go on walks with anyone so disposed. Finally, there are another two outdoor hard courts among the townhomes behind the resort. Court Fees: $30/hour.

Ratings

(289 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating
Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4-Ball Rating
Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating
Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating
Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Romance
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating


Topnotch Tennis Academy Ratings
( 134 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
4½-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
4-Ball Rating
Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating


Topnotch 250x250-2014


Expedia.com


Ratings

(289 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Romance
4½-Ball Rating


Topnotch Tennis Academy Ratings
( 134 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4-Ball Rating

Other Recreation

Golf Courses. Topnotch does not have a golf course of its own; however, guests do have privileges at the exclusive Country Club of Vermont and the staff can arrange for guests to play on the 18-hole championship course at the Stowe Country Club nearby.

Spa & Fitness Center. Now expanded to 35,000 square feet, the highly rated Topnotch Spa has become an even more central amenity. It offers 120 rejuvenating and skin-care treatments as well as a full-service salon, indoor pool, a whirlpool with cascading waterfall, and state-of-the-art fitness studios for daily classes, yoga and Pilates instruction, weight training and cardiovascular workouts, and personal training.

Horseback Riding. The equestrian center just across the road from the resort offers guided trail rides, instruction in both English and Western riding, a training ring for experienced riders, and pony rides for kids. It's open from mid-May to November. During the winter months, the equestrian center offers sleigh rides through the Vermont countryside.

Biking & Jogging Trails. Across Rte. 108 from the resort, near the indoor tennis courts and equestrian center, is the trail head for the Stowe Recreation Path. Begun in 1981, this 5.3-mile paved byway parallels Rte. 108 all the way into Stowe, providing bicyclists, joggers, and in-line skaters with their own traffic-free thoroughfare. The winding path crosses the Little River 11 times on the way from Main Street in Stowe to just beyond Topnotch. Along the way it passes century-old trees and affords views of quintessential Vermont village architecture, fields of wildflowers, covered bridges. and Mount Mansfield. And it's free. Bikes and in-line skates can be rented from the Nordic Barn Recreation Center.

And ... In addition to the indoor spa pool, there are two pools just outside, the larger of them open seasonally, the smaller one, which is heated, and its adjacent hot tub are open year round. Both pools are surrounded by flagstone decking and stonework. And in winter, there is skiing at nearby Mt. Mansfield.

Children's Programs

The experienced resort staff keeps kids active and engaged throughout their stay, offering a variety of fun things geared specifically to kids. With family activities such as kite-flying, berry picking, arts and crafts, snowshoeing and evening bonfires as part of an ever-changing schedule, the kids will find plenty to do. The Junior Tennis Academy is also a favorite with kids and is open every morning for ages 5-14. Babysitting service is also available for younger children through the concierge.

Lodging

In the latest phase of upgrading, the rooms at Topnotch have shed their country inn decor in favor of a modern take on Vermont living: rich wood furnishings, marble baths, flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffeemakers (with Green Mountain coffee, of course), alarms with an iPod dock. The white louvers on the windows remain as do mountain views for many of the 68 rooms and suites. Alternatively, you can choose from some 22 privately owned two- and three-bedroom homes with fireplaces and fully equipped kitchens in a neighborhood just above the spa. Also: pet friendly.

Restaurants

Flannel, a bistro with an open kitchen, focuses on locally grown organic ingredients. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its terrace tables have views of Mt. Mansfield. Early risers will find coffee there, and then in the late afternoon the staff sets out cookies and tea service in the Notch Room just off the lobby. Finally, there is The Roost, with farm-to-table fare, a lively bar scene, craft beers, and outdoor fire pit.

See Also

For comparison's sake, also check out:

If the dimensions matter but you can forgo the tennis clinics, look at:

Rates and Reservations

Topnotch has both rooms and suites in the resort and 22 2- and 3-bedroom resort homes. Several tennis packages are offered, all of which include a choice of accommodations, breakfast daily, unlimited court time, access to the fitness center and more.

Visit the website for current rates

Topnotch Resort
4000 Mountain Rd.
Stowe, VT 05672
802-253-8585
Toll-free: 800-451-8686
Fax: 802-253-9263
Web Link: Topnotch Resort


Travel Essentials

Seasons. The inn is open year-round. The tennis program also operates year-round but attendance reaches its peak during the summer and fall seasons from June through September.

Travel Instructions. By Air: The nearest airport is Burlington, VT, roughly an hour's drive away. By Car: Take Exit 10 off I-89 and follow Route 100 North for 10 miles into Stowe. Turn left at the blinking light onto Mountain Road—a.k.a., Route 108. Topnotch is roughly 5 miles farther along on the right.

General Tourist Information. Visit the Stowe Area Association website or contact them at P.O. Box 1320, Stowe, VT 05672; 802-253-7321 or 800-24-STOWE. Or for general information about travel in Vermont, visit the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing website or contact them at 6 Baldwin Street, Drawer 33, Montpelier, VT 05633-1301; Phone 800-VERMONT (800-837-6668).

©2017 Roger Cox

Ratings

(289 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Tennis Complex
4-Ball Rating Lodging
4-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
4-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
4½-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Game Matching
4-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4½-Ball Rating Cuisine
4-Ball Rating Other Recreation
4½-Ball Rating Setting
4-Ball Rating Romance
4½-Ball Rating


Topnotch Tennis Academy Ratings
( 134 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
4½-Ball Rating Dollar Value
4-Ball Rating
Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
4-Ball Rating


Topnotch 250x250-2014


Expedia.com




Topnotch 250x250-2014


Expedia.com


©2017 Roger Cox