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

Step in to the Wyoming Wilderness in Style at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park

OFI an Old Faithful

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of an active vacation is the experience you’ll have off the road, walking path or ski trail. At the end of an adventure filled day we want our guests to slip in to the lap of luxury. A delicious meal, a few laughs with some new friends over a drink, a toasty fire to unwind near and an inviting, comfortable bed to rest up for the next day’s experiences. One of our favorite accommodations is featured on our new Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness vacation and where guests will stay on their last night, the iconic Old Faithful Inn.

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Construction
The Old Faithful Inn is a rustic-style lodge, with a log and wood shingle exterior in close proximity to the world famous 736px-OldFaithfulInnLobby1904FJHaynesOld Faithful Geyser in the heart of Yellowstone National Park.  Initial construction on the Inn began in the fall of 1903 to replace the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel which had burned down. Robert Reamer, a 29 year old architect known for designing train depots, was hired to design the new lodge.  Reamer’s enormous vision was inspired by the rustic camps of the Adirondacks, just on a much grander scale, as the seven-story log and frame lobby is quite unique in American architecture.  Most of the building materials used, including lodge pole pine and rhyolite stone, were found within a 5 mile radius of the Inn and a temporary sawmill was built to assist in the log preparation. When the Old Faithful Inn first opened in the spring of 1904, it boasted electric lights and steam heat. 

Famous Features
The Old Faithful Inn, a designated National Historic Landmark, is one of the few remaining log hotels in the United States and is the largest of its kind in the world. The Inn is a masterpiece of rustic architecture with its unique design and fine craftsmanship and has even hosted six presidents and all Three Stooges. Its influence on American architecture, particularly park architecture, was immeasurable due to the use of natural materials to create a feeling of high-style Old Faithful Inn Lobby.rusticity. In fact, in 2007 the American Institute of Architects conducted a survey to determine the 150 favorite buildings in America and the Old Faithful Inn ranked 36. Recently the Inn was featured on Travel + Leisure’s list of Great National Park Lodges.

Of course the most famous “feature” of the inn is its location within Yellowstone National Park.  At a mere eighth of a mile from the most famous geyser in the world, guests can use the viewing platform on the porch’s roof to see Old Faithful’s eruptions , while the front of the Inn faces Geyser Hill across the Firehole River. But let’s get back to the Inn itself. The century-old heart of the inn, known as the “Old House,” features a cavernous 7-story lobby with a handmade copper, wood and wrought iron clock and an 85-foot stone fireplace in the center -classic examples of the “Golden Age” of rustic resort architecture. Guests can stand in the middle of the lobby and look up at the exposed structure, or climb up a gnarled log staircase to one of the balconies and look up, down, or across. Visitors could even climb up to the roof via the staircases before the 1959 earthquake damaged the hotel. In the lobby, you’ll enjoy relaxing by the magnificent fireplace or take in the sunset on one of the giant porches with spectacular views

Old Faithful Inn exterior.

Modern Day
Despite its 109 year history, the Old Faithful Inn features many modern amenities complimenting its rustic charm, making it an attractive place to stay and not simply visit. It remains the most requested hotel in all of Yellowstone Park and the east and west wings where the rooms are, built in the 1920’s, have been remodeled in recent years. The Old_Faithful_Inn_interior_wideGeyserside premium rooms look out on the geyser basin, and include one or two queen beds.  There is also a full service dining room as well as the Bear Pit Lounge, where guests can enjoy appetizers and drinks while discussing the day with friends. A deli, gift store and interpretive tours are also available at the Inn.

We are very excited to share this new Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness vacation with you. We hope learning a bit more about this gorgeous lodge piques your interest and you know that while you’ll spend your days in the vast Wyoming wilderness, you’ll have wonderful accommodations waiting for you at days end, as with all VBT vacations. To learn more about this vacation please visit the tour page on our website.