Stowe, an idyllic ski village nestled at the foot of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, has always been a refuge for wealthy East Coast urbanites. There’s little wonder why. The quaint town — with its landmark church steeple, covered bridges and folksy Main Street — offers a postcard-like setting for anyone who wants to escape the city and enjoy the spoils of rural living: fresh air, space and a sense of security. That desire has only been amplified this year with the pandemic.
“Previously, buyers would say, ‘I only want to be at the ski resort,’ explains McKee Macdonald, a Stowe native and owner/broker with Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate. “Now they’re saying they want a home for year-round use. They’re expanding their search so they can have full privacy and safety for their families.”
If they want views, there are mountain retreats that overlook the majestic Green Mountains and ski trails at Stowe Mountain Resort. If they want a completely secluded experience, there are farmhouses tucked deep into the woods where they can enjoy their own private scenes of nature’s bounty. But if they want the best of both worlds — views and a hidden-away location? A mystical property by the name of Stowe Away may provide the answer.
“No one knows this property exists,” says Macdonald, whose team, the Smith Macdonald Group, recently listed the prime acreage for $6,750,000. “You can stand in the village of Stowe and would never imagine that a property of this significance and size resides just two minutes from town.”
Sequestered on 54 wooded acres right above the village and hidden by a discreet gravel driveway, Stowe Away Estate is the private family compound of a Florida business executive who purchased the land unseen in 2004. “We wanted a place that was easy to access from Florida,” he recalls. “But we also wanted a place to ski and do winter sports, as well as activities year-round. How could I go wrong with the land and the views? It’s not easy to find such a large piece of land, so close to the downtown area.”
His vision for the property quickly came into focus upon his first visit a week later.
“There was one pond already dug at the entrance to the property,” he remembers. “And when we finally arrived at the location where the homestead was going to be, we could see the most spectacular views of the ski mountain and all of the runs. It was amazing.”
From that first introduction to the land, the owner knew he wanted to create a self-contained sanctuary for his family where he could walk right out of his back door and go hiking, sit on the stone patio and watch the sunset behind the Green Mountains, watch his grandchildren swim in the pond, grow organic vegetables and brew beer. “The whole objective was to create these different areas that would be fun for the entire family to enjoy,” he says.
True to his vision, Stowe Away Estate is a wonderland, a place where one’s imagination comes alive with the endless possibility of country life. Groomed trails meander throughout the entire property, connected by bridges and crossing over brooks. Each path invites exploration of the magical woods and meadows threading through the property. Along one trail, a treehouse allows visitors to watch over the center of Stowe Village as it comes to life with twinkling lights. At the beginning of another trailhead, an antique door from a French château causes one to wonder, “Where does it lead?” Many of the trails link to miles of other trails throughout Stowe. Colorful gardens, landscaping, and a charming gazebo spark curiosity. A soccer field next to the flower gardens calls for hours of play. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, swimming, kayaking, or simply relaxing are the beat of life at Stowe Away.
Taking its enviable position facing the mountains, the spacious stone and clapboard homestead draws inspiration from the local architectural vernacular of Stowe. Like the grounds, the homestead is teeming with handcrafted touches and artisan details that give it a whimsical quality. Natural stone and other local materials infuse the home with a sense of warmth and authenticity. Antique stained-glass windows in several rooms are among the home’s many unique features.
Architect Shane Ames masterfully balanced public and private spaces in the over 8,000-square-foot home with a multigenerational floor plan, all oriented toward the view. The living room is an immediate standout with intricately detailed wood ceilings, a dining area to seat 10, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The living room also opens to a hand-laid stone patio, with tiers leading down to a natural stone-faced swimming pond complete with waterfalls. This patio extends the length of the house and takes full advantage of the panoramas. “We often sit on the patio in the afternoon as the sun is setting,” says the owner. “It’s a very beautiful and relaxing place.”
The kitchen is the center of this universe, with high-end appliances, extensive counter space, and a breakfast room as it opens from the family room.
The main floor owner’s suite was designed to be a haven unto itself, with a fireplace, his-and-her baths, private garden planted to accent the large stone patio, and trees framing a view of Green Mountains and onward to Stowe Mountain Resort.
Upstairs, three en suite bedrooms are suitable for guests of all ages. There’s also an eight-seat theater room with a performance stage and dressing room for the kids. “This room is conducive for all of the families coming together, without getting into the car and going out,” offers the owner.
A private lower-level suite with living room and bedroom offers additional space for guests or an au pair. A gym allows fitness enthusiasts to stay in shape, regardless of the weather. Beyond the main homestead, there is also a two-bedroom barn/ guest apartment — completing Stowe Away Estate and helping it live up to its name.
Located only a mile from the Village and 15 minutes from skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe Away Estate unites the magical world of nature, the luxury of a finely crafted home and a close-to-town location with complete privacy. Concludes Macdonald: “It’s the ultimate self-contained Vermont paradise.”