by Josh Lieberman and Andrea Doyle | October 03, 2017
Recently, Stoweflake Resort & Conference Center in Stowe, VT, unveiled a new program for groups to experience local food, beverages, and activities, both on- and off-property. The program, Merchants-to-Meetings, brings more than 30 local businesses into the attendee experience. Everything from using local maple sugar in the property's spa treatments to touring local breweries, distilleries, and wineries can be brought into a group's meeting for a totally local, Vermont experience.

The Merchants-to-Meetings program is the latest way in which Stoweflake, the only IACC-certified facility in Vermont, has incorporated its deep Stowe roots into the meeting experience. The 176-room property, which consists of 116 rooms in the main inn and 60 townhouses, features 19 meeting rooms and over 42,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.

"With more than 30 businesses all within walking distance of the resort, we have teamed up to provide a seamless experience for our meeting participants," says Scot Baraw, vice president of sales for Stoweflake. "This works well, as today, anything local is hot. Our Vermont farm-to-table and Taste of Vermont dinners are in high demand and our chefs love preparing them."

A Taste of Vermont dinner is the perfect way to kick off a conference at Stoweflake, adds Baraw. "We will have representatives and beers on hand from The Alchemist and the von Trapp Brewery, as well as someone from Stowe Cider. Dessert will feature a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream scoop cart," he says. "This is a true Vermont experiential dinner where the chef will come out and explain where all the ingredients featured in the meal came from. This kind of kickoff makes people feel more vested in the meeting experience."

The resort also owns two hot-air balloons that will whisk attendees up over the gorgeous Green Mountains, a highlight of any gathering, adds Baraw.

Stowe, a 200-year-old village, is dotted with classic white-steepled churches and charming shops. It is also home to 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield -- Vermont's highest peak, a juxtaposition that gives Stowe the character of a great European mountain resort.

Another recent Stoweflake group initiative pairs golfing at the resort's par-3 course with a trip to the adjacent -- and nationally renowned -- Alchemist Brewery, where lines to buy their limited-supply beer routinely stretch out the door. Alchemist brews the famed Heady Topper, "America's most coveted beer," according to Men's Journal, and it can only be purchased within a 20-mile radius of the brewery.

"The group plays nine holes followed by a tasting over at Alchemist," says Baraw. "The great thing about this program is that it only takes about an hour, it's right here on property, and there is no fee to play the course or to taste the beer."

Groups that aren't interested in golf but are interested in trying the famous local beer can instead opt for a dinner-and-brewery pairing. "We are now selling dinners on the edge of our property over by The Alchemist," says Baraw. "Groups dine on our property, trying some local and Alchemist brews, then after dinner, attendees can stroll over to the tasting room for free samples. Both programs are starting to gain traction." There are seven breweries in total within 15 minutes of the resort.



This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.