Category Archives: Women Travel

A Mother-Daughter Cruise Aboard Windstar’s Star Breeze from Athens to Venice is Chance to Share History and James Beard Cuisine

Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze is anchored just off the Old Port of Dubrovnik (photo by Geri Bain)

by Geri Bain

My 23-year old daughter Jenny and I have carved out two weeks to travel together, something we haven’t been able to do since she graduated high school. Setting our sites on Greece and Croatia, we decide a cruise will let us see the most with our limited time—and still be relaxing. We select a ten-day sailing from Athens to Venice on Windstar Cruises’ 218-passenger Star Breeze motor yacht (www.windstarcruises.com); it maximizes the time in each port, often staying on long after the larger ships depart, and goes places larger ships can’t.  Plus, Windstar Cruises’ partnership with James Beard Foundation promises (and delivers) gourmet cuisine.

We fly to Athens two days before the ship’s departure and check into the elegant Grand Bretagne Hotel (www.grandebretagne.gr) in time for a late breakfast at its rooftop terrace restaurant, where the views of the Acropolis are as amazing as the extensive buffet spread, which even includes spanakopita.  At 11 a.m., our waitress suggests we look across the street and we catch the formal changing of the guard at the Greek Parliament building. Conveniently located on Syntagma Square, the hotel also is within walking distance of everything we want to see in Athens, and we enjoy being able to stop back “home” in between sightseeing for a cool drink in the lobby or a refreshing dip in the pool.

After settling in, we head to the Acropolis, but lines are long, so we go to the Acropolis Museum at the base of the site. The museum displays original treasures and finds from the Acropolis that were moved inside for safe-keeping. That evening, we join a free 2.5 hour walking tour (www.athensfreewalkingtour.com) with Euphrosyne, an excellent guide who is both informative and entertaining and gives us great touring tips.

Taking her advice, the next morning, we are at the side entrance of the Acropolis at opening and find virtually no line and have the site almost to ourselves for almost an hour, and on our last morning, we take her suggestion and walk up the wooded trails of Philopappu Hill for amazing views of the city. We also love strolling through Plaka, Athens’ old town, especially the picturesque Anafiotika area with its steep narrow streets lined by white-washed houses with brightly painted shutters. It’s especially pretty at night when strings of light twinkle about the small restaurants and shops.

Windstar Star Breeze’s cabins are large, with sitting and sleeping areas, a walk-in closet and a marble bathroom with a full-size tub (photo by Geri Bain)

We are sad to leave Athens but excited to board our ship. Our standard cabin is much larger than we expected; there’s a true walk-in closet, a marble bathroom with a full-size tub, and sleeping and living rooms that can be separated by a curtain. We also are happy to find there are no assigned dining times and tables and surprisingly, five different places to dine—plus room service. Throughout our cruise, we enjoy meeting our fellow passengers, and it seems the crew somehow learns everyone’s names almost spontaneously.

The well-preserved Theatre of Epidaurus still hosts performances. (photo by Geri Bain)

The next morning, we are excited to wake up and find our ship docked in the center of Nafplio. We will be here from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.  We start with a pre-booked four-hour tour to ancient Epidaurus, where we learn that theater was considered integral to good health in ancient Greece–just one of the fascinating tidbits our guide Elsa shared. Most of the temples and buildings are in ruins, but the Theatre of Epidaurus, among the largest and most beautiful of the ancient theaters, is still in use today. Guides usually demonstrate the near-perfect acoustics, but we are lucky. Just when Jenny and I reach the top row of the theatre, a group of German students stand in the center of the stage and sing, their lovely harmonies reaching us loud and clear.

Back in Nafplio, we accomplish our daily workout at the Venetian-built Palamidi Fortress, which fell to Ottoman control when the architect, who the Venetians neglected to pay, got his come-uppance by showing the Ottomans the way in. The fort is accessible by bus, or via stairs from Old Town; locals tell us there are 999 steps but we lose count! We quickly realize how hard it would have been to conquer. Once scaling the nearly 800-foot outer walls, intruders would reach not one fort, but a maze of enclosures. Areas that seem like they will connect, never actually do. Many times, we follow a path that seems to link to the next area only to reach a huge chasm or high wall, forcing us to retrace our steps. Our frustration is offset by the ever-changing and stunning views of Nafplio, the Aegean Sea, and the surrounding hills.

Geri Bain and daughter Jenny at Palamidi Fortress overlooking Nafplio.

Old Nafplio, the first capital of the modern Greek state, (from 1823 until 1834, when the capital was moved to Athens) is one of our favorite ports. We visit the site of the first Greek parliament. Saint Spyridon church and the small Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation museum, but what we most enjoy is strolling amid the pretty Venetian architecture, with its characteristic red roofs and colorful windows. We dine at Kastro Karima, tucked into a back street. It has scrumptious moussaka, and at reasonable prices.

Our next two ports of call are the ancient sites of Delphi and Olympia, which served as unifying forces for the many independent city states that made up Ancient Greece. Both were places the ancients would gather to pray, make offerings to the gods and compete in Pan-Hellenic competitions. As at Epidaurus, our Windstar Cruises excursions featured knowledgeable guides who shared insights with our group (about 20) about ancient and modern Greece during bus rides as well as at the sites.

Ancient Delphi perches high on a mountain overlooking a fertile valley (photo by Geri Bain)

Built on a high mountain slope guarded by steep jagged cliff faces, the site of Delphi is as awe-inspiring for its natural beauty as its temples. The extensive site is best known for the Oracle of Delphi, where people came from around the ancient world seeking advice. The Oracle’s messages often were cryptic and could be interpreted to provide opposing meanings, so accuracy was high.

In ancient Olympia, walking through its open-air park strewn with marble pillars, platforms and statues, our guide reconstructs the site and events of the past. We learn that ancient athletes also cheated by doping and that their traditional race attire was none (nudity) and only men could enter the athletic competitions.

Magna Grecia Farm hosts an all-ship party, complete with traditional dancing (photo by Geri Bain)

The hills surrounding ancient Olympia are striped with olive groves and vineyards. We see them up close at a complimentary all-ship lunch at Magna Grecia Farm, a family-owned operation producing olive oil and wine. We see how olive oil is produced then have a family-style feast with tastings of olive oil, wine, ouzo, wonderful local sausages, tzatziki and a zesty chicken and rice dish. After lunch, a traditional Greek dance troupe performs and then leads us all in a line dance around the room that seems right out of the movie “Zorba the Greek”.

At Corfu, our last port in Greece, we hit our first bad weather on an island bus tour and walk around the beach in the rain before heading back to Corfu’s Old Town, guarded by two forts. Fortunately, the rain stops as we explore Old Fort and the pretty marina at its base, and then slowly shop our way back to the ship.

It’s all photographers on deck for the leisurely cruise through the Bay of Kotor (photo by Geri Bain)

Rough seas delay our departure for Kotor, and after taking off, we hit the only rough seas of the trip. I get a bit seasick but once in bed, the rocking is no problem. The next morning is clear and the approach to Kotor through the mountain-framed “fjords” (geologically a once-submerged river-carved canyon) is thrilling. Everyone is on deck, taking photos of gleaming white cliff-top churches and small villages nestled into rocky coves backed by steep mountains.  Around a final bend is the walled city of Kotor, its ramparts rising in hairpin-turns to a mountaintop fort.

Picturesque Perast comes into view as we sail through Kotor Bay (photo by Geri Bain)

Before exploring Kotor, we head to the nearby maritime town of Perast and its famed Our Lady of the Rocks, a powder blue domed Catholic Church and museum on a man-made island a short boat ride off shore. According to legend, a lame fisherman was cured by an idol of the Virgin Mary he found at the bottom of the bay. In reverent gratitude, the town built an artificial island over the spot and to this day, sailors make offerings here and in an annual ceremony, fill their boats with rocks to add to the island.

Back in Kotor, we are happy to find that the entire walled Old City of Kotor is a pedestrian zone. Its twisting medieval streets are easy to navigate since all roads lead to the main plaza, Arms Square, with its iconic Clock Tower or the square of the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, consecrated in 1166. The town traces its history to Roman times but it was the Venetians whose influence we see and we enjoy spotting the Winged Lion of St. Mark, symbol of the Republic of Venice emblazoned around the city, especially on its Baroque and Renaissance style palaces.

For our daily workout and photo op, we climb the fortified path to the Church of Our Lady of Remedy where the views of Kotor’s red-roofed Venetian homes and the fjords beyond are amazing. We’d planned to continue on to San Giovanni Castle, a bit higher above the city, but the sun is setting and we return to see the city lights reflected on its marble streets and sidewalk restaurants filling with patrons.

The walled city of Dubrovnik was built for defense (photo by Geri Bain)

We wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. anchored just off Dubrovnik. We have 12 hours here and have decided to explore it on our own. After breakfast, a five-minute tender shuttles us to the dock right in the heart of the Old Port, where Fort St. John guards one end of the harbor and Fort Revelin, the other. A walled cliffside city, Dubrovnik is stunning for its setting as for its pretty red-roof topped buildings that climb up and down its hilly streets.

The entire Old City is a pedestrian zone and despite massive bombings by Serb and Montenegrin soldiers in 1991, Dubrovnik has rebuilt itself back into the spectacularly frozen-in-time city you see today. No wonder Dubrovnik was selected as the setting for so many famous “Game of Thrones” scenes.  We marvel that for a relatively small city, Dubrovnik packs in a lot of museums that can offer fascinating perspectives, often in bite-size 30 to 60-minute visits. Among my favorites was the Jewish Synagogue. (Note, if you plan to walk the city walls and dip in and out of museums as we did, check out the Dubrovnik pass.)

The other thing about the city is its extreme hills. I wish I’d worn a Fitbit because by day’s end, we must have climbed up and down at least sixty flights of stairs following the guard’s walkway around the walls of the city, climbing the stair-stepping streets of the city, and exploring St. Lawrence Fort, which defends one of the ancient harbors from a promontory facing the city walls. The walls, reinforced by towers, forts and bastions, started in the 10th century and improved right up until the 17th century, rise to over 80 feet in places and we make a point of mounting each of them. All those vantage points make for stunning vistas—one more amazing than the next—and a great workout.

Our final stop before Venice is Hvar, and we are only there from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. so we make sure to get up and out early. Our ship anchors a short distance offshore from Hvar, a small gem with its marble streets and Venetian architecture. Despite being a trendy destination these days, it feels like a small town. We see children walking to school and locals chatting in waterfront cafes.

Of course, we have to hike up to the mountaintop Fortica Španjola (Spanish Fortress). Like the town, most of what is standing was built under Venetian rule, which lasted from the 15th to 18th centuries. Then we pick up towels and water at the Windstar launch and walk to a recommended beach, just outside town. The water is calm and refreshing and the beach is beautiful.

Windstar’s Star Breeze sails into Venice as explorers and traders have done since the heyday of the Venetian Empire (photo by Geri Bain)

The next morning, we are up at 6:30 a.m. so we can be on deck as we cruise into the city of Venice, just as explorers and traders traveling routes like ours had done in the heyday of the Venetian Empire. We are greeted by thick fog and I feared we wouldn’t get to see the sail in. I needn’t have worried. Everything stops when the fog is too thick. After a leisurely breakfast, we wait. Finally, the captain announces we will be sailing into Venice shortly and soon, we are sailing past St. Mark’s Square.

Nafplio, Kotor, Corfu, Dubrovnik and Hvar were all strongly influenced by the Venetian Republic for centuries and by the time we arrive in Venice, we recognize the grand buildings, richly-decorated churches and marble streets that characterize a Venetian city. Each port is stunning, but as we take in the splendor of the Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, and the ornate architectural details at every turn, it is obvious that Venice was the capital of the Venetian Republic in every way.

Looking back at our cruise, Jenny and I are happy with our choice of ship and itinerary and marvel that we could comfortably explore nine different ports in ten days. We never visited the small casino and apart from the well-attended, informative port talks, our favorite entertainment was the lively Crew Show. Like the ship, the show was sophisticated yet informal, mirroring much of what we enjoyed about Windstar. We also enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers; while they tended to be more my age than Jenny’s, the ship’s friendly, low-key ambience was just right for a mother-daughter cruise.

For more information on Windstar Cruises, visit www.windstarcruises.com,

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Mount Snow’s First Ever Devin Logan Experience Provides Template for New Women’s Programs

Our intimate group participating in Mount Snow’s first-ever Devin Logan Experience (Devin Logan is second from left) © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mount Snow resort was abuzz – Olympic freestyle skiing silver medalist and hometown hero Devin Logan was back on the mountain where she learned to ski and compete. But what may not have been so obvious was the group of women trailing along with her.

I was one of the lucky ladies who got to hang with Devin during  Mount Snow’s first-ever “Devin Logan Experience,” a two-day women’s ski camp which Mount Snow hopes to be the model for future women’s ski clinics.

What is it like to hang out with an Olympic silver medalist? Well, if it’s a delightful person like Devin Logan, the freestyle skier who won her silver medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and now lives in Park City, Utah, back home at Mount Snow in West Dover, Vermont, to spend Christmas with her family, it is sheer fun.

Mount Snow’s first-ever Devin Logan Experience was designed as a laid-back women’s ski camp – instruction from Mount Snow’s top female instructors – with all the extras of a ladies’ outing (fine dining, a massage at the NatureSpa at the Grand Summit Hotel, VIP access to lifts, parking, ski storage). We skied with Devin, enjoyed fantastic meals with her (at one, she brought her medal so we could hold it and pose with it if we wanted), picked up some warm-up exercise tips from her, met her Mom and boyfriend, Travis Jayner (the short track speed skater who was on the 2010 US Olympic Team in Vancouver, winning bronze in the 5000 meter relay with teammates Apolo Ohno, JR Celski, Jordan Malone and Simon Cho).

The other ladies in our intimate group were long-time Mount Snow season passholders – from Long Island, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey – whose kids and grandkids  have come through Mount Snow’s various academies, training and development programs and some who have gone on to competitive skiing and professional sports as well.

Barbara Hyde, one of the ladies who joined the debut Devin Logan Experience at Mount Snow, with her granddaughter, who grew up skiing and competing with Devin Logan © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Barbara Hyde, for example, who wanted to be called “Granny,” boasts three generations who have been coming to Mount Snow. Barbara says that she only learned to ski at age 21, when she met the man she would marry who was an avid skier, so she had to become one, too. But her kids and grandkids were able to start skiing at a young age and have become serious in the sports.

Her granddaughter, who joined us for some of our time, is a friend of Devin’s from being in the same Mount Snow development program and competitions, but her competitive career was cut short after an injury; now she is going to school to become a sports psychologist, she tells me.

On our first morning, after checking in for the program, we all headed up the mountain to ski together  for First Tracks, before the lifts officially opened at 8 am (okay, I was rusty – this was my first time out this season while the other ladies had already had several days) for a few runs before breakfast together in the lovely ballroom of the slopeside Grand Summit Hotel.

Then we were back on the slopes for more runs, with Devin and some of Mount Snow’s ski pros.

Watching Devin ski is a marvel and an inspiration. “She’s like a rubber band,” says “Granny” (aka Barbara Hyde).

When the group got to the Carinthia area – the East’s top-ranked park and one of the largest in the East taking up a whole mountain face, 100 acres and offering 97 features (and counting, since they add new features almost daily) – Devin demonstrated a few of her tricks. It’s clear that having access to such a facility set her on her path, which you can see replicated in the development program for young kids.

To Mount Snow regulars, Devin is a hometown hero – you should see the expressions on the youngest kids’ faces as they were getting ready to get on the lift for their training programs, when they recognize Devin.


Stopping for ski pointers during the Devil Logan Experience at Mount Snow © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The program is designed as a Women’s ski clinic, and the pro of Mount Snow’s pros, Maureen Drummey, stopped periodically on the mountain to give us pointers and techniques. “Visualize your foot as part of the ski,” she tells us at one point. “Visualize you have no bindings,” she says at another (an excellent thought in the larger scheme of things).

Hanging With Devin

Back at lunch, it was interesting to chat about how Devin got to where she is.

Devin Logan with her Mom during Mount Snow’s Devin Logan Experience © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Devin is originally from Oceanside, Long Island. The youngest of five children, she started skiing at age 2, joining the Mount Snow competition program at age 6. She said that she had been traveling around to competitions with her mom to watch her two older brothers and her mom told her if she was going to watch, she might as well be competing.

“I had to keep up with my older brothers” who today are professional extreme skiers and filmmakers, she tells me.

She moved with her Mom to West Dover to train more intensively when she was 13. “I wanted to take my ski career to the next level.”

She progressed through racing and moguls before moving on to big air and then halfpipe and slopestyle. She’s a double-threat, competing in both halfpipe and slopestyle (she missed the halfpipe Olympic team in 2014 by one spot, the Olympics where she won her silver in slopestyle, but hopes to make both teams for 2018).

D-Lo” as her friends call her, not only has an Olympic slopestyle silver medal, but five overall AFP titles (including 2016), an X Games silver medal and dozens of times on the Dew Tour, World Cup and Grand Prix podiums.

Devin Logan good-naturedly models her silver medal in freestyle skiing from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (we get to hold it, too) © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

She brings her silver medal so we can hold it, pose with it (it is really bulky and heavy). Clearly she has brought it around a lot because it has a surprising number of knicks.

Just being with her piques my interest about her sport. Does she watch the other competitors and decide to throw in a different trick in order to win more points?

I learn that in slopestyle, you don’t win points for specific tricks, as they do now in figure skating, where each element has a certain value (a change in scoring that was meant to overturn the extreme subjectivity of judging).

I ask if there is pressure to throw in some extra trick to get extra points, and she explains, “You are constantly innovating. There are seven features on the course – rails and jumps – different options. You can take a different route, mix and mingle, make your routine to your standard, make it unique – there are no guidelines of tricks. You do what you like but you cater to judges.  Every course is different – when you see the course, you devise your routine.

I ask how she acquires new skills. Is there is a lot of painful trial and error before you nail a new routine?

She tells us that she learns new techniques on the trampoline and water ramps. “There are steps to take to build confidence, know you can do the trick. It’s about confidence and muscle memory.

There is also air-bag training on snow – where they cut the half pipe and put an air bag.

“There’s no room for error on the half pipe. There’s only so much room to land. It’s the same take off, but you land on an air bag.”

I ask whether she modifies her routine in competition after seeing other competitors, in order to score higher.

She says that unlike many of the other competitors, she likes watching the other competitors “so I know what I have to do.” But they get to see each others’ tricks during training so they know what they are up against.

Unlike figure skating, where each element has a point value, in freestyle, the tricks are n ot individually scored – the whole performance gets a ranking.

Devin’s story follows several other Mount Snow alums, like Eliza Outtrim, an Olympic mogul skier, who has been on the US ski team for 10 years and came in 4th at Sochi.

Devin Logan’s silver medal for freestyle skiing from the 2014 Olympics at Sochi, showing the knicks of taking it out frequently to inspire others © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s a credit to Mount Snow that several Olympians have emerged from the development programs here, a testament, too to the facilities.

Indeed, Carinthia, which is now the top-ranked terrain park in the East, originally was its own ski resort which Mount Snow acquired. It takes up a whole mountain face – 100 acres – with 97 features.

“The size of the park, the caliber of the park, turns out great athletes,” says Jamie Storrs, Mount Snow’s Communications Manager.

And this great area will be getting even better: Mount Snow just got $52 million in funding which will go toward building a new 28,000 sq. ft. lodge at Carinthia (the current one will remain open during construction of the new one), plus 120 million gallon reservoir which will provide 200% more water for snowmaking than now and enable Mount Snow to have half of its terrain open on the first day of the season.

Mount Snow supported and sponsored Devin in those early years and Carinthia continues to sponsor her. And now Devin is returning the favor – one of the reasons she is part of this experience. She has organized a Silent Auction – ski equipment and such – with the money raised going to help a young skier with their travel expenses to competitions.

BlueBird Express bubble chair whisks us to the mountain top at Mount Snow in comfort © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Waiting at the Bluebird Express lift, a wonderful six-pack detachable chair with a bubble covering (blue plexiglass) to protect you from the elements as you whisk up to the top of the mountain, all the kids recognize Devin. Many of them are in Mount Snow’s Grommet program for 12 and under– that starts them learning how to ski freestyle and compete as early as six.

Devin was part of the program when she was growing up – winning it in 2003 and 2004. Today, there is the first of three Grommet Jams, where 100 kids, 6-12 years old from throughout the Northeast, get coaching and then compete.

Devin came by in the afternoon to meet with the Grommets, to show off her silver medal and provide inspiration and encouragement.

Devin Logan offers some tips during our Mount Snow Devin Logan Experience, designed as a women’s clinic © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

I had a chance to see how these youngsters train during my visit to Mount Snow – it is really incredible, to see kids as young as six (or younger still), in their racing bibs with their coaches.

The 15-week seasonal development program is designed for skiers and riders 6 to 18 years old. Participants are matched with a coach based on their area of interest and ability level. One coach oversees a group of kids whose skills and abilities complement each other. The same coach works with them on a weekly basis, The Development Program provides the personalized attention of working with the same coach each session and the group confidence of learning with familiar faces. The program is also an environment in which the participants are able to have fun and form lasting friendships.

Our second day, we have time to get in a couple of runs before we meet up with Devin who shares some of her warm-up fitness exercises, and then are out skiing again before we come back in for lunch.

In the afternoon, we have the opportunity to ski with Maureen Drummey to pick up more ski tips and techniques.

Olympic silver medalist Devin Logan shows us lucky ladies how it’s done © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is template for future women’s clinics, possibly organized around other sports celebrities or sports figures associated with Mount Snow (several Olympians have come from here). It’s not just a ski lesson, but the casual camaraderie that makes it relaxed and fun, with an entire atmosphere created around the meals. (The relaxation massage at NatureSpa at the Grand Summit helps, too.) It’s an unusual turnabout for these ladies, who are more used to sending off their kids and grandkids into development programs.

Devin Logan demonstrates some warm-up exercises as part of Mount Snow’s Devin Logan Experience, designed as a women’s clinic © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Though each of them had been coming to Mount Snow for years, they had never met before, and now were exchanging numbers to meet up to ski together.

Most Southerly Vermont Major Resort

There is a good reason why there are so many season holders for generations from Long Island, New York metro area, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey: Mount Snow, the most southerly major Vermont resort, is the closest drive, just 20 miles off I-91.

Founded in 1954 by National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame member, Walter Schoenknecht, today Mount Snow is owned by Peak Resorts which has invested more than $25 million in capital enhancements since the spring of 2007.

Getting in some runs on Long John at Mount Snow before meeting up again with the Devin Logan Experience. Mount Snow already had a great base of snow by New Year’s © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Mount Snow offers 589 skiable acres across four mountain faces, 1700’ vertical drop, snowmaking on 472 acres, 85 trails of which 12 are easy (green) including long rambling greens from the top, 54 intermediate (blue) trails, and 14 advanced/expert, glades, 10 terrain parks and half pipe. It’s an easy mountain to navigate (excellent signage which I appreciate) and 20 lifts.

Skiers are whisked up to the mountain top on the fast six-pack detachable Bluebird Express bubble, traveling the distance in absolute comfort no matter the weather, wind or blowing snow.

Enjoying outdoor pool and hot tubs at Grand Summit Hotel slopeside at Mount Snow © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mount Snow is designed as a self-contained resort with slopeside condos, the famous Snow Lake Lodge (a European style inn which affords incredible ski/stay value packages), and a gorgeous, slopeside luxurious Grand Summit Hotel with full-service NatureSpa, fitness center, outdoor heated, lap-sized pool (with indoor entry), two hot tubs, an arcade room, and restaurant with bar, plus ballrooms and meeting facilities, and lovely fireside sitting areas. The Grand Summit is steps away from the main base lodge and the Bluebird Express chairlift.

The Mount Snow regulars love the homey feeling.

Last season, Vermont had a dismal season for snow, so this season, Mount Snow is making up for it – slashing the price of its season pass which for the first time provides access to all six Peaks resorts that include Hunter Mountain in New York’s Catskills, Attitash and Wildcat Mountain in New Hampshire, Big Boulder and Jack Frost in Pennsylvania (see www.peakresorts.com/our-resorts).

(Other ways to save: the earlier you purchase your lift ticket, the cheaper it is; you can purchase at Liftopia.com as well as online at mountsnow.com. Also, the Snow Lake Lodge has unbelievable specials, as low as $69 for a ski-and-stay package that is essentially cheaper than a lift ticket.)

And by Christmas, the resort had already had more snow than all of last season, with a major dump expected to blanket the mountain in time for New Year’s.

Special Events

The Devin Logan Experience may be done for this season but Mount Snow has an ambitious schedule of special events, including January Learn to Ski specials. Also on tap:

Kid Vibe, Jan 8 – youth pay their age day (if under 18, pay whatever)

January: Learn to Ski

Feb 4-5- Season Passholder Appreciation Weekend  with fun events, giveaways.

Valentines Day – Cloud 9 Nuptials  on Cloud 9 trail where a justice of the peace is available for couples to renew vows and even get married (show up with a license).

Mar 24-26 Reggae Fest with reggae band concerts day and night; Pond Skim, Duck Tape Derby.

April 1- 9 Annual Winter Brewers Festival, followed by Glade-Iator mogul competition.

In line with these special events, there are also special pricing days: Discount on children’s tickets , 6 and under $10/day, 7-17, $70/day; Valentine’s Day when two lift tickets cost $59

And St. Patricks’ Day, March 17 with $17 lift tickets. Also, the “Sunday Sleeper,” where visitors can sleep in Sunday, ski 12-4 for $39.

More to Do 

There are regular concerts at the Snow Barn within Mount Snow as well as a lift-served snow tubing hill.

Just down the road, there are various restaurants (my favorite is The Silo, in West Dorset on Rte 100) and shops on the way to Wilmington six miles away.

And for some interesting things to do:

Husky Works Mushing Company offers dog sled adventures through scenic winter landscapes for ages 6+. (Reservations required. 9 minute drive from Mount Snow.  5189 VT-100, Wardsboro, VT 05355, 802-896-3478, www.huskyworks.com.

Adams Farm, a working 7-generation farm, has offered afternoon and evening traditional Vermont sleigh rides pulled by a team of heavy draft horses since 1980. Sleigh rides are scheduled days and evenings as well as special sleigh rides for Christmas Eve, New Years, Full Moons, and Valentine’s Day. Each sleigh ride lasts approximately 1.5 hours and takes you through the Vermont countryside to an old log cabin for hot chocolate and music by the woodstove. (Reservations are required and sleigh rides are weather-permitting,12-minute drive from Mount Snow, 15 Higley Hill Rd Wilmington, Vermont 05363, 802-464-3762, www.adamsfamilyfarm.com.

Mount Snow is a premier four season resort that offers extensive downhill mountain biking, golf at the acclaimed Mount Snow Golf Club as well as flexible wedding and conference facilities.

Mount Snow, 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, VT 053561, 800-245-SNOW, www.mountsnow.com. 

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© 2017 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures