No question about it: Vail Resorts has stormed the entire East Coast ski market, just this season adding 17 resorts in one fell swoop with its acquisition of Peak Resorts, including such iconic destinations as Mount Snow in Vermont and Hunter Mountain in New York to a list that already included Stowe and Okemo Mountain in Vermont (and Okemo’s sister resorts, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado), Now add in Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire and Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop Mountain Resort, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania plus seven more in the Midwest, all of which are included on this season’s Epic Pass.
Epic Pass already provides access to some of the biggest names in skiing – Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone in Colorado, and Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Park City, Utah, Whistler BC– as well as its partnerships with resorts in the Alps and Japan, even Perisher in Australia when it is summer in North America. The Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted access to all of Vail Resorts’ owned and operated mountain resorts plus additional access to partner resorts around the world including Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, Hakuba Valley Japan, Verbier, Courchevel. (For more information: www.epicpass.com)
What is more, innovations in Epic Pass allow for more flexibility.
New Epic Day Pass Makes Skiing and Riding More Accessible and Affordable: New for the
2019-20 season, Vail Resorts launched the Epic Day Pass, which provides all skiers
and riders with the value and flexibility traditionally available only to
season pass holders. The Epic Day Pass is a first-of-its-kind customizable pass
for skiers and riders who may not need the unlimited access offered by
traditional season passes, with discounts up to 50% off of lift ticket window
prices and as low as $109 for one day of skiing at any of our North American
resorts. Guests can lower their cost per day by adding more days and selecting
the number of days they plan to ski or ride – from one day to seven days – and
whether or not to add holiday access.
A Digital Mountain Assistant at Your Fingertips. Last season Vail
Resorts introduced Emma, the Epic Mountain Assistant, to help guide guests
visiting select Vail Resorts destinations. Using artificial intelligence and
natural language processing, Emma has the ability to answer a wide range of
guests’ questions in real time through SMS text. She transforms the guest
experience by offering on-demand information on everything from grooming, lift
line wait times, and parking, to recommendations on rentals, lessons, and
dining options. Through machine learning and data analysis, Emma will be even
smarter for the 2019-20 season. She’s available at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge,
Keystone, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. More
information can be found at www.EmmaIsEpic.com, or text 77477.
2017, Vail Resorts launched Commitment to Zero, the company’s
industry-leading sustainability goal. The company pledged to achieve a zero net
operating footprint by 2030 across all of its resorts through (1) zero
net emissions by 2030 with 50 percent progress toward this goal by 2025, (2)
zero waste to landfill by 2030 and increasing waste diversion to 50 percent by
the end of 2020, and (3) zero net operating impact to forests and habitat.
new developments at Vail Resorts:
upgrades at Vail Mountain that will allow for more diverse terrain to be
open earlier. This is the largest snowmaking expansion project in Vail
upgrades at Beaver Creek, which will ensure more reliable early-season
terrain in a key learning area of the upper mountain, with the goal of
top-to-bottom skiing on opening day. Additionally, a newly remodeled
village will welcome families for one-of-a-kind events and experiences
throughout the season.
of the Peak 8 base area at Breckenridge, which entails new escalators that will
connect the street and plaza levels; a new skier services headquarters
(pass/ticket sales, ski school, retail/rental, etc.), as well as an ice rink,
coffee shop and new town transit stop. And there’s more to come with a
four-star hotel under development. Also, Gravity Haus Breckenridge will
open this winter, replacing the Village Hotel at the base of Breckenridge’s
Peak 9. The appeals to outdoor enthusiasts through ongoing programming and
amenities that include Dryland Fitness, a sports recovery center,
four lanes of duckpin bowling, and a co-working space.
upgrades at Keystone Resort that will position the resort to be one of the
first in the country to open this season! Alongside neighboring Breckenridge,
the two Summit County resorts will offers guests one of the longest ski seasons
in the country, with skiing and riding operations planned to kick off at
Keystone in October and run through Memorial Day at Breck, as weather and
Teocalli Lift at Crested Butte, a fixed-grip quad lift, replacing a
fixed-grip double. The upper terminal will also be slightly realigned closer to
the top of the Red Lady Express Lift, improving egress to Uley’s Cabin and the
addition, Telluride has a
partnership arrangement to be on Vail’s Epic Pass, whereby those with a full
Epic Pass can get up to seven days, and those with a basic pass can ski four
days. Getting to Telluride from New York is easier with a new Saturday flight
on American from LaGuardia (Dec. 21-April 4) in addition to daily nonstops from
Newark on United (Dec
19-Jan 5, Feb 15-Apr 2).
new Over and Out Lift,
a fixed grip quad lift will transport guests from the bottom of the Tombstone
Express Lift to the top of Sunrise Lift on the front side of the mountain. As
the name suggests, this lift will provide a quicker, more direct route for
skiers and riders to access Canyons Village from the center of the resort. Steps
from the Tombstone Lift, the new on-mountain dining restaurant,
Tombstone BBQ, will replace the moveable food truck with a permanent
structure that includes seating for up to 50 guests, a beer bar and a full
kitchen to allow for the use of reusable serve ware.
is the only ski resort in North America to span across two states, allowing
skiers and riders to experience the best of both California and Nevada terrain,
all on one mountain. For guests who like to take enviable Instagram pictures,
they can do so next to on-mountain “Welcome to California” and “Welcome to
Nevada” signs, all while capturing the beauty of Lake Tahoe in the backdrop.
Meanwhile, off-mountain, you get to frolic in the yin-yang of Nevada casinos
and nightlife and the laid-back wholesomeness of California.
Northstar is partnering
with internationally acclaimed restaurateur, Michael Mina, to unveil the newBourbon
Pub Northstar, opening in winter 2019. Bourbon Pub Northstar will offer
upscale pub food to the après ski crowd with starters such as truffle tater
tots, mesquite grilled steaks, and fennel stuffed salmon.
37 miles of groomed trails at Kirkwood’s Cross Country and Snowshoe
Center on skis, snowshoes…and now fat bikes! Diverse terrain and modes
of exploring are available for all ability levels making Kirkwood’s Cross
Country and Snowshoe Center a perfect spot for winter family adventures that
can include everyone – even the dog.
Roundhouse Umbrella Bar and new 60-seat patio offers a chance
to raise a glass among the clouds at the front of the Roundhouse Lodge
out the Cloudraker Suspension Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in North
the top of Whistler Mountain, 7,160 feet above sea level. Spanning 426.5 feet
from the Peak to West Ridge, the Cloudraker Suspension Bridge brings
sightseers, hikers and mountain bikers to the Peak for an unparalleled view of
the Whistler Valley and Black Tusk, in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Heli-Skiing is the pinnacle of Whistler’s skiing experience. For guests
looking to take their experience to the next level, Whistler Heli-Skiing has
what it takes to go the extra distance. With exclusive rights to 432,000 acres
of big mountain terrain that includes 173 glaciers and 475 trails, Whistler
Heli-Skiing offers a variety of packages for everyone, from strong intermediates
to seasoned experts. Whistler Blackcomb
offers some of best snow in North America. Last year, Vail invested $66 million
in upgrading lifts. A new activity is Vallea
Lumina, a nighttime interactive walk in the rainforest, which had been
offered only in summer, being offered in winter for the first time (www.whistlerblackcomb.com).
Improvements to Okemo’s on-mountain lodges, The
Sugar House Lodge and Summit Lodge will be completed in time for the
2019-20 season. Both lodges will receive upgrades including new
culinary concepts and menus, as well as a new interior look and feel.
is one of Vermont’s most celebrated locations for foodies – from farm
fresh meats, cheeses, produce, heirloom grains and local craftsmanship. Stowe’s
creative and eclectic collection of spots to eat span many cultures and dining
experiences, from breweries and restaurants like the new Von Trapp Bier
Hall, to on-mountain fine dining at the Cliff House, Stowe’s attention to
quality is exceptional.
for 2019-20 season, Mount Sunapee is launching EpicMix. Skiers and
riders can download the free EpicMix app to access a variety of features from
their mobile phones to check snow conditions, view webcams and trail maps, earn
pins and track their Ski & Snowboard School progress. After a great day on
the mountain, you can even share your achievements on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition operating 37 world-class mountain resorts and urban ski
areas Vail Resorts owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels
under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Even as Vermont’s major ski resorts add imaginative new experiences on and off the mountain to new heights, high speed six-pax and bubble chairs, other resorts are promoting their “pure Vermont” roots and authentic ski experience, touting old fashioned fixed grip chair lifts, proudly proclaiming themselves “throwbacks” in time.
Vermont, which will take center stage with the first World Cup events to be held here in 25 years, is distinguished not only for the sheer number of mountain resorts, but the differences in their character, personality and features.
This year, the resorts throughout the state have really focused on enhancing snowmaking and rounding out off-mountain experiences, in light of the mischief Mother Nature can play. But good news! Accuweather is predicting a normal year for snow in the Northeast.
So what is new for the 2016-17 winter season? Quite a lot. Vermont’s resorts have had a busy summer full of lodging and restaurant renovations, lift and off-slope amenity improvements, and historic event announcements.
Killington Resort is bringing Alpine World Cup skiing back to the eastern US for the first time in 25 years when the Audi FIS Ski World Cup takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, November 26-27. Giant Slalom and Slalom races will pit the best female technical alpine skiers from 26 countries against one another on Superstar trail, the infamous New England steep that is regularly the Eastern US’s last remaining open ski trail through late May or June. The general public is invited to view the women’s giant slalom and slalom races in a free general admission area at the base of the trail with a jumbo screen for watching the full race course, plus a weekend loaded with festivities including free live music, multiple movie premieres and additional surprises to be announced.
Killington and Pico, with six mountains between them, is the largest ski area in the Northeast and open the longest, from mid-October (you can ski in costume on Halloween) sometimes as late as June. It also offers 15 km of groomed Nordic skiing; two golf courses. Also enjoy ziplines and a mountain coaster year round. (killington.com)
Magic is under new ownership in 2016-17 as SKI MAGIC LLC purchased the ski area with an initial 5-year plan to invest capital into lifts and snowmaking. With a robust operating budget and new snow guns, Magic will have more snow in 2016-17, made earlier than ever before to improve the consistency and reliability of skiing on both the easier East Side and more challenging West side trails. For the first time in years, both bottom-to-top summit lifts (1,600’ vertical) will be in full operation. There will also be new daycare facility for young parents and some refurbishing to the lodge and Black Line Tavern. It also offers ski school, rentals, tubing park (night), and a base lodge with restaurant and bar. There’s no lodging at the mountain, but plenty of quaint places nearby.
Located in Londonderry – south of Okemo, east of Bromley, north of Stratton- Magic Mountain is much like Mad River Glen, with terrain is its most distinguishing feature.
“Magic Mountain is for people whose #1 priority is skiing. It offers 43 trails, all running from top to bottom (the green trail is 1.2 miles from the top; the longest, Wizard, is 1.6 miles).
“Like Mad River Glen, Magic Mountain is a throwback – nothing fancy. We are ‘tree-mendous’ – lots of glades.” With the capital improvements, he says, Magic Mountain will “provide better ski experience – more lifts, snow making, more consistent product – but we’re not changing its character,” Geoff Hatheway, one of the new owners. In an industry which always changes – follow the leader – we’re counter-culture, a throwback, with a pace and style more like 1960s and 1970s. We’re old school – fixed grip chairs top and bottom – not high speed (no six-packs or detachable quads). It spreads people out. We have snowmaking on 50%.
“We want to sustain, preserve and enhance the ski experience. What differentiates us is the people, the friendly vibe, friendly. And value? We make skiing affordable – lift prices are lower even at ticket window.
Magic Mountain has joined the Freedom Pass program.
Magic Mountain is 2 hrs from Boston, 3 ½ hours from NYC, 90 minutes from Albany. (magicmtn.com).
Off-slope Activities Appeal to Everyone at Vermont Resorts
Stowe Mountain Resort
Brand new this winter at Stowe Mountain Resort is the opening of an $80 million Adventure Center. This state-of-the art facility sets a new standard in the industry for kids and family amenities, says Jeff Wise, Marketing & Communications Director. Located at Spruce Peak and adjacent to Stowe’s new outdoor Ice Skating Rink, Stowe’s Adventure Center is home to all Stowe’s children’s programs (3-12), with ski in/out convenience. From beautiful daycare facilities (largest in Vermont, accommodating 60) to ski and ride programs for kids 3 and up (accommodating 500 children a day), the new Adventure Center has significantly advanced and expanded family amenities and services at the resort.
“It sets a new standard – visionary – we can have 500-600 kids checking in within 30 minutes. It offers a seamless experience for the family,” Wise says.
After skiing (4 pm), the Adventure Center turns into a family recreation center, offering an Indoor Climbing Center (called Stowe Rocks), a movie theater, activity center, kids-specific restaurant ,The Canteen (after 4 pm is family friendly), and right outside the door, a new ice skating rink (free skating, but rentals available), lit til 9 pm. Also, an outdoor pool, heated year round (swim in/out of building, (there is also an indoor pool in lodge next door).
The new Adventure Center is the final piece of a 15-year, $500 million building program. “The big news is that it is finally finished.”
Part of that plan was the 312-room Stowe Mountain Lodge, built at a cost of $100 million, which opened 2008, offering ski in/out convenience and now recognized as one of Top 10 in the world.
Stowe is open longer than most, Nov 19-April 21 because of $30 million snowmaking system. “New technology can make more snow at higher temps than before (we start making snow on November 1), and in fewer than 20 days, we can get 20% of top to bottom done.”
Stowe has trails on Mt. Mansfield, part of Appalachian Trail and the highest point in Vermont, second highest in New England (after Mount Washington, where people ski Tuckerman’s Ravine).
Stowe (stowe.com) also offers 75 km of cross-country skiing that connects to the Trapp Family Lodge. (Trapp just opened a beer hall).
Always innovative, Stowe Mountain Lodge, which is managed by Destination Hotels, is celebrating the opening of the new adventure center with a “digital detox for the family” package, incentivizing people to give up their phone for a period of time in exchange for learning a new experience. There are 22 to choose from including “learn to” ski, snowboard, rock climb, fat-tire bike, try the spa (there is a kids spa, too). “We want ‘screenteens’ to turn back into regular teens,” says Leslie Kilgore, Director of Public Relations & Social Media. (www.stowemountainlodge.com)
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
After investing $5 million in snowmaking enhancements over the last four winters, Smugglers’ Notch Resort is turning its attention to the resort village’s most popular amenity for families, the FunZone. The new 26,000 sq. ft. FunZone replaces a bubble with a multi-story, indoor steel structure opening in March (Smuggs is very much a 4-season resort).
One section of the new FunZone will feature inflatables, games and areas for imaginative play with primary appeal to families with kids ages 2 to 10. A second area will offer features with appeal to older children and adults such as a ninja warrior-type obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, column walk, slot car racing, and arcade and redemption center. The new FunZone, a $4 million investment, is expected to open mid-winter 2016-17.
Smugglers Notch, now in its 60th season, has always been the trailblazer in family programs (Ski Magazine for 16th time voted Smuggs the #1 family friendly resort in eastern US), including innovative Mommy & Me, Daddy & Me ski/snowboard lessons where the parent tags along and learns the techniques to continue the child’s training.
Now, Smuggs has introduced Riglet Park, a special snowboard area for the smallest kids. “It’s hard to learn snowboarding so we build features out of snow and drag them around –they don’t just take up the hill,” says Mike Chait, who prior to becoming Public Relations Manager headed the Ski & Ride school. The program was developed by Chait with Burton, and means that youngsters as young as 2 ½ can start learning snowboarding (indoors), and 3 years old (outside). The day-care facility also has its own 20-foot magic carpet which gives a fun introduction to non-skiing kids.
Smuggs also pioneered packages that included programming, and this year, is catering to the shift in how guests vacation – shorter periods, more time (Link: smuggs.com/winterbrochure).
A relatively new Winter Experience is designed for family members or individuals who don’t ski, but want to be on the mountain, so they get to pick from a menu of programs, such as snowshoeing, massage.
Smugglers Notch is a true, full-service resort, albeit overwhelmingly with families in mind, so it is like camp for everybody (the information guide is huge booklet, so it is worth your while to plan ahead).
Among the special activities you should pre-arrange: a Nighttime Cat Trax Tour, where you ride a snowcat up steep vertical pitch to the mountain top at night –it feels like riding a space rover – to a heated cabin from which on a clear night, you can see Montreal.
Also a Parents Night Out activity takes you up to the top of the Notch for a Snowshoe Dinner. (This is offered in conjunction with Kids Nite Out, when the kids get pizza, make your own sundae, movies and dance party). Parents ride the chair up to a catered candle-lit dinner catered by Hearth n Candle (Smuggs’ signature restaurant) in a heated building (BYOB). Then, you take a guided snowshoe hike to Sterling Pond, the highest elevation trout pond. (Offered once/week ($75) (4323 Vermont Rte 108 South, Smugglers’ Notch VT 05464, www.smuggs.com).
Okemo Mountain Resort
After several years of major snowmaking improvements totaling more than $1 million, Okemo is expanding its snowmaking system again. 18,000 feet of new pipe will introduce snowmaking capabilities on Catnap and Suncatcher in the South Face area. A Prinoth Bison X park cat, equipped with a Caterpillar 400 horsepower, tier 4 engine that meets all federal emission standards, is the newest addition to Okemo’s fleet of grooming machines as Okemo enters its third year of partnership with Snowpark Technologies. Rental equipment upgrades include 515 Volkl skis, 153 Burton snowboards and more than 1,000 pairs of boots.
Also, Okemo has joined the M.A.X Pass family of resorts this year. Okemo season passholders can take their pass on the road – up to 30 mountains (including Okemo’s sister mountain, Crested Butte in Colorado) with an Add-On upgrade.
Among the many attractions at Okemo (including indoor and outdoor pools at Jackson Gore, the ski in/out lodge), is a year-round mountain coaster.
Okemo is now offering scenic train rides –a shuttle takes you to the Green Mountain Railroad station in Chester, 20 miles south, for its slow ride back to Okemo. It offers a dining car so you can do dinner on the train. It takes one hour each way. Okemo offers the ride twice, four days a week ($25, booked through Okemo). (okemo.com)
Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton Mountain Resort announces an addition to the vibrant slope-side Village dining fleet– Karma: an Asian fusion experience. A menu inspired by the Asian travels of Karma’s chef will debut with traditional ramen bowls and dumplings fresh-made with local ingredients, imaginative entrees and craft cocktails with a twist like vodka filtered through Herkimer diamonds for a side of positive energy.
Stratton’s snowmaking fleet gets a new computerized control system, allowing snowmakers to record real time energy use for increased snowmaking efficiency.
The Mountain Sports School welcomes Tim Massucco as its new Program Manager for the Stratton Winter Sports Club Freestyle. Massucco’s 16 years of coaching experience will enhance the training curriculums critical to the success of weekend and full-time competitive freestyle skiers.
The Stratton Jitney which began last year will again take skiers from Manhattan on Friday, returning Sunday afternoon (beginning December).
And in another incentive for millennials, its Stratitude Pass is now available for 18-32 year olds (instead of 1829) – $349 and no blackout days. (Stratton.com)
Mount Snow Resort
Winter 2016-2017 welcomes Mount Snow’s greatest season pass offering yet, the Peak Pass, which features a total of six pass options valid at seven different mountain locations across four states in the Northeast. And Mount Snow extended the period for millennials, 18-29, to purchase its pass for $399 through Dec. 15 (no blackouts).
With the success of the Grommet Jam Series, Mount Snow is increasing the uphill capacity in its beginner terrain park by 50 percent, by replacing our Ski Baba Lift with a 400’ SunKid conveyor called Grommet (Lift One).
Lastly, taking advantage of the dry spring this year Mount Snow increased trail and glades work. So far over 1600+ hours have been spent pruning, mowing and clearing new lines through tree skiing areas in preparation for powdery runs this winter.
Mount Snow’s terrain park has been voted #1 in the East and #6 in North America. “It’s not often an East Coast resort is in the top 10,” says Jamie Storrs, Communications Manager. “We are where the X Games started. Our lead pro, Devan Logan, is the most decorated Olympian, winning gold in the last Olympics, and the captain of team. He is the face of our professional team – we have 11 people on team – who are out there training most days.” Guests can watch.
Mount Snow is the most southerly of the major Vermont ski resorts. (West Dover, VT 05356, mountsnow.com).
Sugarbush has invested $750,000 into capital improvements for the 2016-17 winter season which including lift improvements and improvements to the snowmaking pond, continuing to progress upon the on-slope experience. Skiers and riders don’t have to worry about crowded trails thanks to the Valley House Quad Sugarbush installed last season. With the new quad, Sugarbush’s uphill capacity is one of the largest in the northeast, while still managing to spread traffic across 16 lifts and two mountains. The resort has also completed Gadd Brook Residences, sixteen ski-in/ski-out condominiums at the base of Lincoln Peak available as two-, three-, and four-bedroom units.
Sugarbush, located in central Vermont, offers 139 trails on two mountains connected by the world’s longest detachable quad lift, and 2,000 acres of back-country skiing (there is a shuttle to take you back). (www.sugarbush.com)
One of the special features of Bolton Valley, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, is that it offers night skiing, and this year, night skiing hours are being expanded. Night skiing will be offered Tuesday through Saturday until 10 pm – that means you can ski Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 10 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am to 10 pm (the daily ticket is good for night skiing). “There are amazing sunsets from the mountain, overlooking Lake Champlain in the west,” says Josh Arneson, VP of sales and marketing.
Bolton Valley is also renowned for their extensive 1,200-acre backcountry area, where they have two backcountry cabins– one from 1928 and the other from 1935 – which are available for winter stays (the cabins hadn’t been available for two years while they were being renovated by the Green Mountain Club). Rugged and rustic, you get up there with your own supplies (sleeping back, food) – firewoord is provided – and can stay over.
There are also 15 km of groomed x-country trails, but above that is backcountry skiing.
Skiers will enjoy the benefits of more snowmaking, so Bolton Valley can make snow earlier and get to more trails faster.
Bolton Valley’s hallmark is its rustic, unpretentious quality – a step up from Magic Mountain and Mad River Glen because it has ski in/out lodging and indoor pool (the cafe and bar have been renovated). But it also has some unique programs: artist Natasha Bogar, who did the art that is in the hotel rooms, offers Paint Nights, where you come to paint and have a beer.
Over the past year most suites and 25 hotel rooms at Bolton Valley have received major upgrades. The units have seen improvements such as new carpet, drapes, furniture, painting, renovated bathrooms, new mattresses and new artwork. The improvements greatly enhance guest comfort in the rooms that had become a bit dated. Indeed, the hotel was one of the first ski in/ski out lodgings in the east when it was built.
Bolton Valley, the popular playground for Burlington, is celebrating its 50th anniversary year. “We’re planning to paint the 50th chair on the three original lifts gold – and if you get the golden chair, you might win something,” Arneson says.
Mad River Glen’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it.
“We’re the food truck of ski areas – authenticity – only cooperatively owned, nonprofit.
2000 skier-owners are dedicated to keeping Mad River Glen the way it is – a time warp.”
“The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. In 20 years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested over $5 million in capital improvements.
Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area replaces chair #1 with a new quad chairlift that will double capacity, offering a more comfortable and rapid ascent to the summit. Leitner-Poma of America, Inc., installed the lift at an estimated cost of $1.5 million. Funding for the new chairlift is being provided through a grant from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund. Recognized as one of the oldest ski areas in the country, Suicide Six has a rich history. Today, Suicide Six is one of Vermont’s leading family-friendly ski resorts featuring more than 100 acres of skiing on 24 trails and slopes with terrain suitable for all abilities. (www.woodstockinn.com/ski-area)
Bromley Mountain Resort
Green Team Go! With a focus on both establishing new habits and reinforcing current good ones, Bromley rethinks trash, recycling and composting food waste to implement a “Go Green” initiative this winter season. The intent is to eliminate organic waste and all recyclables from the Bromley dumpsters containing refuse destined for the landfill. Recycling for bottles and cans has always been available around the resort, but not universally across the base area, and composting has never been an option. This season bring change and while Bromley works towards keeping the planet beautiful, they’re pleased to announce that base area buildings have also received a makeover. (bromley.com)
Jay Peak Resort
The folks at Jay Peak are still of the mind that the 5,000 acres between their borders represent one massive terrain park, but they understand the need for focus. So this season the resort is increasing the snowmaking capacity to its LZ and Jug Handle parks by 60%, running a new waterline up the Interstate trail and installing 20 new guns along the Interstate. The expansion will not only allow Jay Peak parks to open sooner, but will also allow the resort to open learning terrain at its Tramside area earlier in the season. (jaypeakresort.com)
The Hermitage Club
The Hermitage Club, in Wilmington, has taken over Haystack Mountain as a private club, investing $125 million in the redevelopment, with $285 million more to go.
At its busiest, there would only be about 1100 people on the mountain at any one time. It offers fine restaurants and inns.
“The Hermitage Club is looking forward to providing one of the fastest and most efficient ski experiences in the northeast. Not only do our members enjoy the absence of lift lines, our high-speed summit lift is the only one of its kind in the U.S. – a six-person heated bubble lift by Doppelmayr, zipping our skiers to the top of the mountain in less than six minutes. And take a break and enjoy the beverages and views at our Mid-Mountain Cabin, which has become a veritable slope side oasis for our members.” (hermitageclub.com)
The Quechee Club ushers in a new experience for its members, visitors and area guests this winter season with the completion of a newly constructed Aquatic Complex and fitness club expansion. The complex includes a new indoor pool area with an aerobics room, in addition to implementing a new retention pond. The indoor complex, approximately 10,000 square feet, is twice the size of its initial pool and includes four lap lanes and an open concept design with natural post and beam architecture to complement the refined yet understated aesthetics of the Clubhouse.(www.quecheeclub.com)
Mountaintop Inn & Resort
Mountaintop Inn & Resort is a four-season resort that in winter, affords top-notch cross-country skiing on 60 km of trails.
It offers a 32-room lodge plus 4 cabins and 23 guest houses, literally set on the top of a mountain, with a 748-acre lake and spa (known for weddings and particularly winter weddings).
The inn is 15 miles from Killington, and it offers packages that include lift tickets, as well as shuttle service to the mountain. (195 Mountain top Road, Chittenden, VT 05737, www.mountaintopinn.com).
Burke Mountain Resort
The Lodge at Burke Mountain will finally open its doors on September 1st with introductory rates starting from $109/night during its first month of daily service. The 116 room Hotel is situated mid-mountain and provides a true ski-in ski-out experience. Suites range from a standard studio to three bedroom with onsite amenities including a pub, restaurant, heated pool & hot tub, fitness center, arcade, retail and repair shop for guests to enjoy. Striking views of the Willoughby Gap and Burke Mountain can be seen from nearly every window in the Hotel. (skiburke.com, 866-966-4820).
For more information, visit Ski Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association), skivermont.com