By Mark Moffa

An easy trip from Philadelphia to Stowe, Vermont, provided Unique Homes with an exhilarating and somewhat surprising On Location experience last weekend.

Our visit coincided with what locals pronounced “the arrival of winter,” as snow began to fall shortly after our midday Friday arrival, and continued almost until our Sunday afternoon departure. In just 72 hours, the top of Mt. Mansfield (Vermont’s highest peak) received 22 inches, while the base enjoyed 9, making for phenonemal skiing on Stowe’s first powder day of the season.

Hosted by Spruce Peak at Stowe, we toured the recently completed $90 million Village Center, an impetus for our visit. It did not disappoint. A 10,000-square-foot ice skating rink serves as the centerpiece of a high-end alpine village that the developers are rightly claiming is the East’s answer to Deer Valley, Aspen or Beaver Creek.

Director of Sales and Marketing Michael Langley, and Sam Gaines, vice president and director of development, proudly displayed Spruce Peak’s amenities, smartly noting the thoughtful details that add sophistication and elegance, and help reinforce the character already present in Stowe itself, a classic 200-year-old village. For example, the new Adventure Center — which now houses the famed Ski and Ride School, a movie area and casual dining — also boasts a climbing gym that replicates some of the local rock formations, and boasts a large-scale mural by famed artist Geoff McFetridge using caricatures of animals to reference the local points of interest. The Alpine Clubhouse and Club Residences — which features 19 luxury resort club homes, a private dining facility and a ski club for Spruce Peak residents and local members — has a dynamic glass and wood structure by architectural firm Bull Stockwell Allen that gives the feeling of looking out through trees. And for Clubhouse interior, Brayton Hughes Design Studio paid homage to the early ski lodge as well as New England architectural traditions, incorporating regional touches such as Douglas fir for the central stairways, granite and soapstone, and plaid carpets and fabrics contrasted with cowhides to reference Vermont’s agrarian traditions.

Gaines showed off one key amenity that doesn’t have glitz or glamour, but sets Spruce Peak apart — it is the only facility of its kind to offer underground slope-side parking, affording members trek-free, hassle-free access to the mountain.

Spruce Peak at Stowe clearly checks all the boxes for the intangibles: experience, lifestyle, authenticity. So what about the real estate? Checkmate.

Of the over 2,000 acres at Spruce Peak, only 35 acres will be used for residential development, and only 400 dwellings are permitted. For such a small footprint, the variety of real estate is astounding. From slopeside single-family homesites (one of which now has an HGTV Dream Home), to the 19 Club Residences that sold out late last year in 6 weeks for $42 million (Gaines jokes that he must have priced them too low), to the 34 Mountain Cabins that sold out in phases from 2004 to 2015, to condominiums in the Stowe Mountain Lodge (2003), to one-eighth fractional ownership opportunities in the Front Four Private Residence Club, the price points and styles vary greatly.

The newest offering: Spruce Peak recently broke ground on 18 four-bedroom Village Townhomes, 2,100-square-foot triplex units with direct access to the slopes, 18-hole golf course and Village Center. Homes range from $1.5 million to $2.2 million. About 50 percent of them are sold already — in fact, Langley sold one while we were there!

There is much more of this story to tell. Look for more online, and in print in the January/February issue of Unique Homes.