Family Travel with the von Trapp Family

By Melanie Nayer

It’s hard not to imagine Maria and Captain von Trapp reciting those lyrics when they woke each morning to view the snowcapped mountains that graced the Vermont landscape, but there was something even more captivating about the tour – the graveyard. Buried on the hillside is Captain von Trapp, Maria and some of the children, and for those of us who grew up singing their songs it was a privilege to pay respects to the family who kept us singing.

A few things to know about the lodge for your next visit:

  1. When you rent skis or snow-shoes you rent for the day. Start in the morning, then break for lunch before hitting the trails again that afternoon.

    A walk through the woods

    A walk through the woods

  2. The staff at the ski and snow center are trained professionals and are spectacular with children of all ages. My nephews, ages 12 and 14, had never skied before and were pros by the time they left the mountain (by pros I mean they were having a blast and didn’t want to come inside).

    Learning to ski

    Learning to ski

  3. There are various trails for various skill sets – ask before you head out and the staff will be sure to point you in the right direction.
  4. Request a room on the mountain side – you can ski or snow-shoe directly into your room for a mid-morning retreat before you head back out for afternoon fun.
  5. The lodge is full of ways to get lost. Curl up in one of the reading rooms with a good book by the fireplace and enjoy some quiet time while the kids are on the slopes.

    Reading room in the lodge

    Reading room in the lodge

  6. The lodge offers a fantastic continental breakfast with hearty fillings to get you going for your day. Don’t miss breakfast, complete with the von Trapp’s own maple syrup! Everything at the lodge is homemade so you can be sure you’re getting the freshest baked breads, corned beef and Linzertorte. Take a walk to the bakery just a few steps down the hill from lodge and treat yourself to a corned beef on rye or the best egg salad in New England.

    Traditional corned beef on rye

    Traditional corned beef on rye

  7. The lodge has its own movie theater and shows kid-friendly shows every night, giving adults some down-time in the lounge with a warm nightcap.
  8. Grab at least one evening in the lounge to hear the legendary John Cassel, a jazz musician who has performed with the likes of Bonnie Rait and Gary Burton. His jazz complications and “Sound of Music” medleys will keep you entertained for hours.
  9. Rates start at a reasonable $225 for the winter months and spike to around $450 for summer months, but there’s always a deal to be had. Check the website for monthly specials that include free tours, included meals and passes to some of Vermont’s best seasonal events.
  10. If you have questions, just ask. The staff at the Trapp Family Lodge – from August at the front door to Andrew at the reservations desk to Jennifer in the back office – are eager to make your visit perfect.

    A view of the mountains

    A view of the mountains

I walked with Sam von Trapp through the lodge as he pointed out significant pieces of his family’s history, from the apple tree on the front yard to cabin at the top of the hill. The story of von Trapps is everywhere throughout the lodge and it’s a powerful statement. The family had wealth, prosperity and safety in Austria but gave it up for their convictions. They fled the country and went to Italy in an effort to escape Hitler’s power and found their way to America with only a knapsack and a few personal belongings per child. Had they not held steadfast to their beliefs, would we have ever heard the sound of music?

It wasn’t until I asked Sam about the future of the lodge that I saw the purpose behind its past and present: it’s not about “The Sound of Music,” the fact and fictions of the story as it was replayed, or the songs that made his family famous.  It’s the look Sam gets in his eyes when he speaks so fondly of his grandmother and her memory, and it reminds me that there’s nothing more sacred than family.

Sam von Trapp and his father, Johannes, at the Trapp Family Lodge

Sam von Trapp and his father, Johannes, at the Trapp Family Lodge