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Cross-Country Skiing in Vermont with VBT: A Conversation with Garrott Kuzzy, VBT’s Ski Product Manager

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After such a successful first year of cross-country ski vacations abroad, VBT is excited to be introducing two new domestic ski trips in 2014. One of which is located in our home state of Vermont. We’ve been offering biking vacations in Vermont for over forty years so we are delighted to finally share our home state with travelers during the months that Vermont is a virtual winter wonderland. We recently sat down with VBT’s Skiing Product Manager, Garrott Kuzzy, who isgarrott a world-class skier in his own right, seriously. Garrott was a member of the US Ski team and competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Here’s what he had to say about VBT’s new A New England Winter: Cross Country Skiing in Vermont vacation.

After a successful first season of ski vacations abroad, what made you decide to design a vacation in VBT’s home state?

From the beginning, we really wanted to launch a ski tour in our backyard that showcases the skiing and winter activities in Vermont.  A Vermont ski tour is within driving distance from many locations on the East Coast, offering the opportunity to try a VBT ski vacation without having to travel by plane.  Both of our ski centers on tour, the Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton and the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, offer snowmaking on their cross country trails which insures excellent conditions even in a marginal snow winter.  We strategically chose these destinations as they will offer the best experience for our guests.

Let’s say I have never cross-country skied before but love the idea of visiting Vermont in the winter.  Why would I choose to go on this vacation with VBT?

The Green Mountains are a fantastic place to ski, steeped in a rich history of winter culture.  We’ll learn about this history when we visit the Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe.  Also, we’ve always wanted to offer a maple sugaring demonstration on tour, as Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S.  While that’s not possible in the summer or fall, we’ve got a great snowshoe and maple sugaring tour planned at the Trapp Family Lodge.  There’s much more to a VBT winter vacation than just skiing.

100_0221Although you’re a World-class skier, how do the trails on this vacation apply to skiers of all abilities – will experts and novices both have a good experience?

All of our ski Trip Leaders are certified ski instructors and can teach beginners to ski or help experienced skiers improve.  Our beginner departures (on all of our ski tours) are a great opportunity for someone who has never skied to enjoy our winter tours without prior ski experience.  We’ve got a variety of routes planned for this vacation, from flat trails along the Little River in Stowe, to more challenging trails at Blueberry Hill in Ripton.  We offer snowshoes for guests on the Vermont tour who might prefer to snowshoe instead of ski.  Experienced skiers will find more than enough kilometers of skiing on the vast, well-marked trail networks on the tour.

What about Middlebury and Stowe drew you to include those towns in the itinerary?

Our ski tours are as much about experiencing winter culture as they are about skiing.  Middlebury is internationally renowned for its college and language schools.  This influence has brought many outstanding restaurants to this quintessential New England village.  Middlebury’s Swift House Inn offers comfortable accommodations at the end of a day on the trails and is within short walking distance of the village center.

Stowe is perhaps the best known winter community in Vermont—and for good reason.  Stowe attracts winter enthusiasts from around the world.  You may choose to take time off from cross-country skiing to enjoy a day of chairlift assisted garrott trying to catch a liftalpine skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort.  Of course, the Trapp Family Lodge has a special Austrian charm that comes alive in the winter.  These characteristics of Middlebury and Stowe made them easy choices to feature the best of what Vermont has to offer.

What aspect of the vacation, other than the skiing, would you say you are most excited for travelers to experience?

Vermont is quickly becoming famous for its wineries and microbrews.  This vacation features tastings and tours at three of them and I’m looking forward to guests raising a glass.  Lincoln Peak Winery produces their wine with grapes grown right here in Vermont.  We’ll enjoy one of their northern varietals and learn about what makes this wine unique.  At Otter Creek Brewery, we’ll have the opportunity to sample Long Trail, Shed, and Otter Creek beers.  Trapp Family Lodge recently added a brewery, Trapp Lager, to their facility.  We’ll raise a Trapp Lager with Sam Von Trapp, Maria Von Trapp’s grandson, or brew master JP Williams, before a delicious dinner at the brewery.  If wine and beer aren’t your thing, you’ll be sure to enjoy a stop at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory, where we’ll savor another special taste from Vermont.

For more information on the A New England Winter: Cross Country Skiing in Vermont vacation and our four other ski vacations click here: http://www.vbt.com/Skiing

5 Reasons to Love Summer in New England

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Here in Vermont, we cherish a classic New England summer. After enduring a long, cold winter we relish in the warmth, the lush scenery and most importantly the ability to play outside without our snow suits on! Biking, walking, swimming, gardening and just taking some time to relax are all on our summer check list here at VBT. Since we now offer 5 bicycling vacations throughout New England in the summer time we thought we’d share our 5 favorite things about summer in New England.

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The Local Food
Vermont is a leader in the farm to table movement, prominently featured in both local restaurants and the state’s many farmers markets. Of course, while on vacation we don’t want you to cook for yourselves, so you’ll enjoy more of the former. For example, take in the sweeping vistas of Lake Champlain while enjoying the included lunch at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes. With over 200 farmers and producers in Addison County, VT alone, their commitment to being “local and fresh” is made easier with so many farms and orchards nearby. We’ll also stop at local breweries like Long Trail and enjoy some cheese locally made in Grafton. For those VBTers on our seaside vacations, you’ll dive in to a bounty of fresh Maine lobster after meeting a lobsterwoman on remote Little Cranberry Island. Perhaps New England clam chowder is more your style? Enjoy a hearty cup along with some fresh cod at the Wild Goose Tavern in Chatham on our Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard vacation. Nothing beats a dinner so fresh that it was swimming in the Atlantic that morning!

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The Beautiful Bloom
Northern New England can be blanketed in white snow all winter so when colors resume in the spring, we love biking by meadows and hillsides dotted with wildflowers, something you may miss speeding by in a car. Vermont is home to lovely wildflowers like purple lilac, red milkweed, butterfly weed, ox-eye sunflower, mountain mint and New England aster – many of which you’ll ride by on our new Biking Southern Vermont: A New England Idyll tour​. Coastal New England offers a wide array of colors as well. Although native to eastern Asia, the rosa rugosa (aka the beach rose) is commonly found in the Massachusetts seashores you’ll be exploring on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Up in Maine, we’ll take you to the gorgeous Azalea & Thuya gardens of Northeast Harbor in Acadia.

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The Car-Free Biking Routes
A lot of our biking vacation routes are along lightly traveled roads but there is something special when it’s just you, your bike and nature. On our Maine Coast: Purely Acadia trip we’ll ride along Acadia’s famed carriage roads, our favorite way to see the park, removed from the busy summer loop of cars. In the late 1960’s a movement started in the United States to transform unused railroad lines into paths for recreation. These “rail trails” allow a pleasant, silent corridor on which to bike. We’ll hit some of the most beautiful in the New England, like the Cape Cod Rail Trail and on our Vermont: Champlain Valley & Islands vacation, the Island Line Trail – a 12.5 mile stretch that runs from Burlington to the Champlain Islands with unparalleled views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains.

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The Swimming
After a long day in the hot New England sun nothing beats cooling down quite like a dip in the ocean or a serene mountain lake. And we’ve got you covered.  Guests on our Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard trip will practically be living at the beach. You’ll bike along the Cape Cod National Seashore and swim under the dramatic Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard. If fresh water is more your cup of tea, you can cool off in Lake Dunmore on our Classic Vermont bicycling vacation, a pristine alpine lake located within a 70 acre state park in Salisbury, Vermont.

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The Hot Summer Nights
After cooling off in the water, it’s time to shower up and hit the town. We know you’ll love perusing the shops and dining on the waterfront  with a warm ocean breeze in summer communities like Bar Harbor, ME or Edgartown and Chatham in Massachusetts. In Vermont, we have a different kind of waterfront – along rivers and lakes. Take a stroll along the Otter Creek in Middlebury and savor the taste of the eponymous local craft beer at a riverfront pub. And Burlington has a bustling waterfront scene as well, on the shore of Lake Champlain. Picture yourself enjoying a glass of wine while watching the sun disappear over the 4,000ft peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

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