The Ottawa Citizen - Bruce Sach
December 4, 2013

Located in the northern Vermont town of Stowe, the Trapp Family Lodge has been drawing visitors who love the story of Maria and the rest of the von Trapp family. With the Sound of Music on at the National Arts Centre, here’s some information on a possible side trip for fans of skiing and the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein prepared by freelance writer Bruce Sach.

I really love the Sound of Music. Is there a way I can extend my interest when the show ends its run in Ottawa?

Why not go to their lodge just five hours away in Vermont. After leaving Montreal (sadly, you have to take the Champlain Bridge), take highway 133 south (direction Philipsburg) to the Vermont border. Then, south on state highway 89 past Burlington to Waterbury, where you take highway 100 north, to Stowe, passing the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream place. Maintain self-discipline when passing Ben and Jerry’s.

The same Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame?

Yes, you can spend the night at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Two of Maria and Baron Von Trapp’s adult grandchildren live on the property.

How did they end up so close to Ottawa?

After fleeing Europe in the late 1930s, the family toured the world, eventually setting up a music camp in Vermont which became today’s lodge.

Can I meet members of the family?

You might meet the two grandchildren Kristina and Sam. Kristina has been known to snowshoe with guests whereas Sam’s baby is the cross-country ski area.

What does the lodge look like?

There are 100 Austrian chalets and 96 rooms in the main lodge that looks like it’s been lifted out of Austria. The site is in hilly country that really does remind one of the mountain meadows of the Sound of Music landscape.

What else is there to do at the lodge?

There are two restaurants; a fancy sit down restaurant a lounge.

Would you recommend any of the Austrian cuisine?

The bratwurst and goulash are to die for. They brew their own beer and import a private-label wine from Austria.

Anything else there for diehard fans of the Sound of Music?

There are family photos, posters announcing the family’s singing tours and movie posters from around the world. In the basement there is a screening room where you can see a documentary that gives the Von Trapp family’s version of their celebrated story. And every Thursday, the Sound of Music film plays.

So the lodge is like a Sound of Music theme park?

No, not at all. The only thing that is even slightly tacky are items in the souvenir shop. But hey, Sound of Music souvenirs probably interest a lot of the guests. I regret not buying a book about Baron Georg Von Trapp’s voyages as a sea captain in the South Seas during the First World War.

So, did you meet any of the Von Trapps?

I skied with Sam Von Trapp at the Slayton Pasture Cabin, a good five kilometre uphill cross-country ski climb up from the lodge.

Must have been quite a memorable experience?

Yes, Sam’s a real go getter. He continued the family alpine tradition, spending time as a ski enthusiast and instructor throughout the States and South America before marrying a Chilean woman and settling down at the family’s lodge. And speaking of memorable, I never had such great minestrone soup in my life.

I hear they make their own snow.

Yes, it’s the only such place in the United States. In March, 2014 both the U.S. Junior National Cross-Country Ski and the National Ski Orienteering Championships will be held here.

So it’s a big area?

There’s more than 2,500 acres with 60 kilometres of groomed ski trails and 100 kilometres of ungroomed ones. If you’re really ambitious you can ski all the way to Topnotch Resort 12 kilometres away. The combined area makes for the third largest cross country ski network in the States.

What other activities are available on the lodge grounds?

Hiking, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, wine tasting, yoga, arts and crafts classes and swimming.

What about downhill skiing?

One of Vermont’s top ski hills, Mount Mansfield is down the road, twenty minutes away.

I heard there’s another South American connection there.

Yes, many of the temporary staff on the mountain and throughout Stowe, hail from Latin America. So, you could practice your Spanish while swishing through the snow.

What other downhill skiing centres do you recommend?

Smugglers Notch is recommended for families and offers an excellent program for learners of all ages. Mad Glen River prides itself in not having changed since the 1950s, the era when the Von Trapp family arrived in Vermont.

Where can I learn about the Lodge?

Try trappfamily.com or phone 1 802 253 8511.

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