Winter Rendezvous, a gay and lesbian ski week, returns to Stowe on Jan. 22 to 26. The Rendezvous first came to town 30 years ago, with about 75 people attending. Rendezvous director Michael Wilson is expecting close to 500 people this year.
"We have worked hard at marketing this event," says Wilson. "There are gay ski weeks in other towns out west, such as Aspen and Bozeman that draw 5,000 people. We chose Stowe because we want Winter Rendezvous to continue to grow and become a world-class event. We are incorporating all the best that Stowe has to offer, such as our host hotel, Stoweflake Resort and Spa, the world-class Nordic ski trails at the Trapp Family Lodge, and one of the most beautiful ski resorts in the country, Stowe Mountain Resort."
Rendezvous attendance comes primarily from the northeast and Canada, with a few people coming from as far away as London and Germany. About 80 percent are men, 20 percent are women, and a few families attend as well. Some have been coming since Winter Rendezvous’ inception 30 years ago.
In a letter to Wilson, Stowe Area Association president Chuck Baraw said, "Winter Rendezvous is more than just a celebration of hundreds of winter enthusiasts from across the country and beyond. It is a visible statement to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that Stowe has long been a popular gay-friendly destination."
Winter Rendezvous organizes a variety of winter activities-skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding-but there are plenty of other activities, such as shopping and spending an afternoon at a spa. Day trippers from Burlington and other nearby towns are welcome as well, for the entire five days or for specific events. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the door for single activities, such as concerts, dinner parties, and the wildly popular pool party, held this year at the Trapp Family Lodge.
Trapp Family Lodge is on board this year as the host site for cross-country ski tours, led by Dave King and Scott Heller, who own Frog Meadow, a gay, all male bed and breakfast in Newfane, Vt. "Frog Meadow is a sponsor of Winter Rendezvous. A couple of years ago we offered to lead some Nordic trips to help round out the activities, potentially attract gay Nordic skiers that might not otherwise attend the event, and also to increase visibility for our business to a key demographic," says King. "But our main motivation for leading the Nordic events is to meet other gay cross-country skiers and to support an event we believe in."
More importantly, King appreciates the purpose of Winter Rendezvous. "It’s all about comfort. Even today, gay people are nervous about being in public. This is a chance to just have fun with like-minded people. For singles, it’s a nice way to meet other gay people in an outdoor, healthy environment."
"People love this event," adds Wilson. "In gay culture you’ll often find events are tailored to specific gay sub-cultures. Winter Rendezvous is much broader and no one genre dominates. Everyone has so much fun."
Winter Rendezvous Package at $195 per person gets you tickets to all the special events and discounts on lift tickets and rentals. Tickets to individual events are also available. Lodging, sold separately, ranges from at $220 - $450 per person for four nights of accommodations. For more information, a full schedule of events, and to register online go to www.winterrendezvous.com