The Hills Are Alive with Holiday Magic

Trapp Family Lodge

The Trapp Family Lodge, near Stowe, Vermont, must be one of Saint Nicholas’s favorite stops during the holiday season. Tree ornaments depict the von Trapps’ musical legacy, crosscountry skiing turns snowdrifts into folly, and fireplaces blaze until the wee hours.

Trapp Family Lodge

When Maria von Trapp first gazed at the snow-blanketed hills and valleys of Vermont’s Green Mountains after she and her family fled Nazi-occupied Austria, the area looked much like home—a sister scene to her beloved Alps. In 1943, the famous Sound of Music singing troupe bought a farm on Luce Hill, near Stowe, and welcomed guests to their farmhouse. Four decades later, fire destroyed the original house, but within three years, the family rebuilt and created a ninety-six-room inn that embraces Austrian style and outdoor vigor. Comprising 2,500 acres, the property includes villas and chalets, as well as a restaurant, garden, brewery, and bakery. The resort continues to thrive in the hands of third-generation von Trapps. Although the singing tours ceased in 1955, hospitality is now the high note they strive to achieve.

Trapp Family Lodge

As thoughts turn to Christmas, no season could better frame the family’s long-held traditions. Snowshoes and cross-country skis become the preferred modes of transportation, and sleigh rides delight guests. Logs crackle in the many fireplaces, and steins of lager warm cheeks on brisk winter nights. The exterior balconies are lined with a cavalcade of fresh garlands and lighted firs. Ornaments brighten the holiday trees—fifteen in all, each with its own unique theme—and the intoxicating scent of evergreen suffuses the air.

Trapp Family Lodge

On movie night, guests can watch actress  Julie Andrews rhapsodize in that iconic alpine meadow or view a BBC documentary on Maria’s amazing life as a nun who left the convent to nurse a sick child and then became the second wife of widower Captain Georg von Trapp. It was she who nurtured the musical skills that garnered a world stage for the Trapp Family Singers. In the spirit of commemorating their talents, informal carols drift from the inn’s Mozart Room every Christmas Eve. “We always sing the first verse of ‘Silent Night’ in German,” says Trapp Family Lodge vice president Sam von Trapp. “It still brings tears to my eyes.” His father, Johannes, was the youngest child in the family and the only one born in the United States. Johannes began touring with his siblings at the age of 8, singing soprano. When the croak of his adolescent voice smoothed out, he then sang in the bass register. Sam regales guests with his father’s stories of the early days here, such as there being a secret door to Maria’s apartment on the top floor and that they opened gifts there on Christmas Eve.

Trapp Family Lodge

The overall experience the resort provides is reminiscent of his childhood, says Sam. “It’s the connection with nature. You see deer and wild turkeys; we raise our own beef and make beer with water from our own springs,” he adds. “There’s a quality of goodness here.” The fourth-generation von Trapps are being groomed with the same stewardship of heritage and hospitality. To them, it is only natural to listen to the hush of a silent night while they, along with their guests, celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas.

Trapp Family Lodge

“The Hills Are Alive with Holiday Magic” can be found in the November/December 2011 issue of Victoria magazine. 

Text Kathryn Renner
Photography Kamin Williams

3 COMMENTS

  1. Years ago I read Maria Von Trapps book reprinted as The Sound of Music. It was very inspiring and moving. I too love the musical and the movie. We are expecting the opening of a new stage production of the show here in Sydney any day now. As this year is the 60th anniversary of the film it will be wonderful to see new actors portraying this wonderfully heart warming story of courage and faith amongst dangerous odds. I have confidence that this show and movie will live on for at least another 60 years.

  2. The Von Trapp lodge and the movie are both favorites of mine & my husband we love the movie and honeymooned at the lodge 15 years ago this year we went back for our 1st anniversary. They remembered us! They had a bottle of champagne chilling in our room when we got there. Definitely want to go back

  3. I have enjoyed the von Trapp Lodge for years — even in the first lodge — Always welcoming and enchanting. The views are breathtaking. Victoria magazine and the von Trapp Lodge go hand in hand for a wonderful, beautiful and comforting visit especially at Christmas time. Thanks so much.

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