Tag Archives | Resorts

Which Multi-Resort Season Pass Should You Choose?

Getting a season pass used to be fairly simple. You decided which mountain you’d ski the most, handed over your credit card, and that was that. Easy peasy.

Lately it’s become a lot more complicated. Ski resorts have teamed up to offer joint passes that are good at multiple locations. On the upside, these can save you a lot of money. With daily lift passes at many resorts well above $100., the pay-off comes pretty fast. The catch is figuring out which pass is best for you. You pretty much have to 1)  decide on next year’s ski plans a year in advance and 2) have a ph.d in Math, like my son-in-law, to figure out which one makes most financial sense.

So here’s a limited compilation about what’s out there.

In the West:

listingRocky Mountain Super Pass: Unlimited skiing at Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora with six days at Steamboat and three days at Crested Butte Mountain Resort.  You also get 7 days at four resorts in Japan and two in New Zealand. The price is $529. for adults, through April 11. That’s up from $499 for 2016-17. And for a second year in a row the Rocky Mountain Super Pass provides a free kids pass (12 and younger) with the purchase of an adult pass.

epic-pass-logo2(1)Epic Pass: Click on the Epic Pass link, and you’ll find 13 varieties of this pass. Here are four of the more popular:

The Epic Pass: For $859., you get unlimited skiing at 11 major resorts, including Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, as well as 30 European resorts across Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland.  You also get six Buddy Tickets if you buy before April 9, and six Ski-With-A-Friend tickets at varying discounts, which are automatically loaded onto your pass.

The Epic Local Pass, offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar & Kirkwood. Also includes a total of 10 days at Vail, Beaver Creek and Whistler Blackcomb with holiday restrictions. $639. for adults, with lower prices for teens, college students, and children. In addition to six buddy tickets (if you buy before April 9) and six Ski-With-A-Friend tickets, you get:

• Half-price pass holder tickets available during restricted dates at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood;
• Advanced lift ticket rate available during restricted dates at Vail and Beaver Creek and beyond 10 days;
• Unlimited access to Vail and Beaver Creek in April 2018 available to pass holders who purchased their 2017-2018 passes before 5/29/17;
• 2017 Summer Scenic Access.

The Summit Local Pass, Unlimited skiing or riding at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with limited restrictions at Breckenridge. Same side benefits as above. $529. for adults.

The Tahoe Local Pass, Unlimited skiing or riding at Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood 7 days a week, with limited holiday restrictions. Saturdays included at all resorts. It also includes 5 total restricted days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City or Arapahoe Basin.

PA-Logo-Stacked-v2-895x217Powder Alliance:  Buy an anytime season pass to any of 15 areas and receive three free days at all the rest. Powder Alliance Resorts include Angel Fire, Arizona Snow Bowl, Bridger Bowl, China Peak, Crested Butte, Kiroro, Mountain High, Mount Hood, Schweitzer, Silver Bowl, Sierra at Tahoe, Snowbasin, Stevens, Timberline, Whitewater, Wild West Powder Quest.

d5bbb8e18cf3c3cd310bb2d137955221Mountain Collective Pass:  The MCP gives you two days at a wide range of ski resorts (and for a limited time, three days at the mountain of your choice). New for ’17/’18,  Utah’s Snowbasin and Vermont’s Sugarbush, which replace the Vail-incorporated Whistler and Stowe. The collection of independent ski areas includes Aspen-Snowmass, Alta, Banff Sunshine, Jackson Hole, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Sugarbush, Sun Valley, Taos, Telluride; in Canada, Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Revelstoke;, and in the Southern Hemisphere, Thredbo and Coronet Peak-The Remarkables. This year the Mountain Collective splits Alta and Snowbird into two resorts, offering two days at each and offers the same deal at Canada’s Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise ski areas. The price: $399. For a limited time, you can get $1 passes for kids 12 and younger with the purchase of an adult pass.

Ski Utah Silver and Gold Passes: These are a bit costly, but if that’s what you want, who am I to judge? The Ski Utah Silver Pass allows the holder to ski for 30 days at each of 14 Utah ski resorts (30 days at Alta, 30 days at Deer Valley, 30 days at Sundance, etc.), except for Park City, where it’s valid for 60 days of skiing. The price? $3,150 The Ski Utah Gold Pass offers 50 days of skiing at each Utah resort, except for Park City, where it’s valid for 100 days; however, the pass is also fully transferable pass so your friends and family can enjoy your same privileges on the days you’re not using the pass. A cool $4,800.

The Gold Tahoe Super Pass: Worried about buying a season pass and not using it? Here’s one with a  worry-free guarantee. The Gold Tahoe Super Pass gives credits for unused days that can be put towards the following season. Skiers get unlimited access to Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, plus 2 free days at Zermatt, Switzerland, and unlimited 50% discounts on lift tickets at Mountain Collective resorts. But if you’re unable to ski at least five days during the upcoming season for any reason (not just poor conditions) on your 2017-18 Tahoe Super Pass, they’ll credit you up to 4 days towards your 2018-19 pass when you purchase a Gold or Silver pass. $869. til April 18.

california-cali4nia-ski-passCali4nia Pass: One pass covers Mammoth, Bear, June, and Snow Summit. There’s a host of benefits when you buy early, including 5 exclusive Early Up events at Mammoth, 5 Bring-A-Friend tickets, 10% off rentals, 10% off retail when you spend more than $100., and up to 20% off lodging at Mammoth Lodging Collection properties. $749. through April 3.

In the East:

 Ski Roundtop/Liberty Mountain/Whitetail Pass: Includes unlimited access to Ski Roundtop, Liberty Mountain, Whitetail Resorts. You also get 30 minutes early lift access Thursday through Sunday, preferred parking at Roundtop on weekends and holidays until 5PM,  50% off regular class lessons, two snow tubing tickets valid Monday through Thursday non-holiday, one free Learn to Ski or Board Package for a friend, special hotel rates at the Liberty Hotel, 15% discount in the sports shops, and 50% off midweek/non peak tickets at Mountains of Distinction resorts. $469. for adults.

superpassWhite Mountain Superpass: Valid every day of the 2017/18 winter season at Bretton Woods, Cannon, Cranmore and Waterville Valley. $979. before May 31.

 

 

NEPass_logo-bw-180New England Pass: Includes unlimited access to Sunday River, Loon, and Sugarloaf. $1,099. before April 30.

 

 

PeakPassPeak Explorer Pass: Unlimited days at Mount Snow, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched, Hunter, Jack Frost and Big Boulder, along with discounts on retail, lodgings and activities. $599. until April 30.

 

UnknownFour.0 College Pass: This is for the full-time college student who wants unrestricted access to Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Killington and Pico at a price that fits a student’s budget. Includes resort-specific benefits. $369. through August 31.

logoVermont Travel Club Card: Get varying discounts at 11 Vermont ski resorts plus Sunday River. Individual cards are $54., Family cards (up to 5 members) are $179.

 

East & West, Combined

MAX_Pass_Logo_highresThe MAX Pass: The MAX pass advertises five days each at 44 mountains with zero blackout dates. You can find the full list here; this year their new offerings include Belleayre Mountain, Gore Mountain, Granite Peak, Lutsen Resort, Whiteface Mountain, and Windham Mountain. You can buy the pass outright for $629. through May 1. But if you have a season pass at one of the 44 mountains, you can buy a MAX pass add-on for just $329. The web site has a handy calculator that tells you the savings you’ll get by using the MAX Pass.

Mountain Playground Card: I don’t have a price on this one yet, but this year, the $29. card got you great deals at a variety of smaller, community-oriented ski hills. You also got deals with brand partners, and helped benefit SheJumps, a non-profit geared toward increasing the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities. More details on the ’17/’18 season to come in the Fall. To find out more, go here.



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Skiing at a Private Resort: The Hermitage Club, Wilmington, VT

Have you ever wished you had your own private ski hill?

Yep, me, too.

If you’re a member of the Hermitage Club in southern Vermont, this is very nearly a reality.

logo-hc2Located just down the road from Mount Snow, the Hermitage Club is like a private golf club, but for skiing. You pay an upfront amount — in this case, $85,000 — plus a recurring fee each year. Use of the facilities is limited strictly to members and their guests, and membership is now capped at 1,500 — so you’re virtually assured that even when they’re standing on long lift lines over at Mount Snow, you’ll never find the trace of a lift line here.

I recently spent a day at the Hermitage Club, and was blown away. It’s pretty much a New England skier’s fantasy: great skiing, impeccable facilities, and amazing service — all with no crowds, even during the busiest weekends and holidays.

Things weren’t always rosy at the Hermitage Club, at least before it was the Hermitage Club. Built on the site of the former Haystack Mountain Ski Area, the property once belonged to Mount Snow, and then to the now defunct American Ski Company. It then changed hands a few times, even sitting idle for a period, before being bought by its current owner, Jim Barnes, in 2011. It was that close to joining the roster of lost New England ski areas.

Today, the Hermitage Club is the only private ski club in the East. The 3,200′ mountain features 1,400 vertical feet, 46 trails, and 6 lifts. One of these lifts is a high speed bubble with heated seats, a godsend on the cold day I visited last week, when the wind chill was well below zero.

Here’s a view of the Clubhouse and bubble lift:

Lodge

Hermitage Club Lodge & Bubble Lift, photo by Peter Hines

And here’s the Clubhouse’s main entrance:

Main entrance, photo by Peter Hines

Main entrance, photo by Peter Hines

At 90,000 square feet, the Clubhouse is the largest post-and-beam structure east of the Mississippi. You can’t help but be impressed by the huge vaulted ceiling. And there’s enough room to hold a party in the massive stone fireplace.

The Fireplace

The Fireplace

Lodge Interior, photo by Peter Hines.

Lodge Interior, photo by Peter Hines.

But there’s more here than just a gorgeous clubhouse. Here are some of the amenities that Club members enjoy:

Sweeeeet skiing. True, this isn’t the gnarliest terrain around. But it’s impeccably groomed, has a snowmaking system that covers 90% of the mountain, and provides the feeling of having a whole ski resort just about to yourself. All this translates into a lot of fun.

trail-map2016final

Lots of food choices.  The Hermitage isn’t huge, but it has six restaurants. Which means you have a multiple options. During the Sunday that I visited, there was a buffet brunch in the Clubhouse featuring everything from omelets to sushi to shrimp, oysters, pork chops — you name it, it was there. And it was all really, really good. Here’s my lunch:

Not your ordinary ski lunch.

Not your ordinary ski lunch.

One of the restaurants is located in the Mid Mountain Cabin. You can eat lunch while looking out over the beautiful Deerfield Valley.

mmc-snow

Mid Mountain Cabin

Outstanding service. You know how the genie from Alladin’s lamp says, ‘Your wish is my command?‘ That’s pretty much what it’s like here. You get your skis valeted when you pull up to the Clubhouse, so you don’t have to exert yourself before skiing. They’ll store them for you all winter, and they’ll valet your car, too. There are lots of staff at work here, and they’re committed to making you happy. They’re all terribly polite, friendly, and service oriented.

The Clubhouse: Okay, I know I spent a lot of time talking about this already. But this is not your ordinary ski lodge. It has a bowling alley and a movie theater, private lockers for members and guest lockers for guests, a fitness center, an indoor sauna and lap pool, daycare, and a kids’ arcade.

Spa-ahhhhhh. The Clubhouse also features a spa with 14 treatment rooms where you can get everything from facials to skin treatments to massage. The spa also has private men’s and women’s locker rooms, steam rooms and showers, and a large relaxation room with daybeds and a waterfall. I couldn’t pass up a massage and a facial as my aprés ski, and I practically floated home.

The Serenity Room in the Hermitage Spa

The Serenity Room in the Hermitage Spa

Other activities. If you don’t like to ski, you have other options, too, such as cross country skiing, ice skating, sleigh rides, snow tubing, bonfires, and snowshoeing. And because this is a four-season resort, members have access to year-round recreational activities, as well. In the summer, you can tee up on an 18-hole, Desmond Muirhead-designed championship golf course. Or go fly fishing, swimming, hiking, or more.

Private Concerts: This is for real. They bring in acts like Hall and Oates, Jackson Browne, Huey Lewis, and Counting Crows to perform just for members. You get big names in a pretty small venue. Nice.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?
The Hermitage Club is a New England skier’s dream come true, but the price tag puts it out of reach for most people. If you have the bucks and the inclination, it’s a pretty nice way to go. If you can’t handle the fees and still want to ski there, you can — but only if you stay at one of the inns owned by the Club. It’s worth checking out.



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Clinic Review: Women’s Discovery Program, Sugarbush, VT

UnknownVermont has 20 alpine ski resorts. And though each has its own particular charm, one of my favorites is Sugarbush. Located in the Mad River Valley, a beautiful region in an especially beautiful state, Sugarbush consists of two main peaks: Lincoln Peak (3,975 elevation, 2,400 vertical) and Mount Ellen (4,083 elevation, 2,600 vertical). Between the two is Slide Brook basin, a wilderness ski area made up of 1,000 acres.

IMG_0488

Sugarbush

So what makes it so special? First, it strikes a great balance between being a skier’s mountain and a family destination. There’s plenty of expert terrain — more than 40% of the mountain is rated black diamond — but there’s enough to keep intermediates and beginners happy. Instead of the broad groomers that make one mountain pretty interchangeable from the next, Sugarbush has terrain with character. There are lots of the traditional, winding New England trails that offer a surprise around every bend. There’s plenty of tree skiing and bumps. And there are spectacular views; look one way, and the Green Mountains stretch out before you; the other, Lake Champlain. What’s more, Sugarbush has what can only be defined as a Vermont vibe. It’s as if the place was weaned on maple syrup. And yes, it makes a difference in the atmosphere.

This past week I had the pleasure of spending a few days at the mountain’s Women’s Discovery Camp. Sugarbush ran two of these this season: one over a weekend in January, and one during the week in early March.  So let’s cut to the chase: Was it good? Would I recommend it? An emphatic yes to both.

I’ve always been a strong proponent of women’s clinics. I even wrote a blog post a while back called Why a Women’s Clinic, which explains why I think they’re so worthwhile. Meredith McFarland, Sugarbush’s Director of Adult Programs, agrees. “It’s a fun, comfortable, supportive environment. The women who come love the camaraderie. It’s just different from learning in a mixed group.”

I’ve attended a few women’s clinics over the years, and I liked what I saw at Sugarbush. Maybe it’s because it has a history. Meredith told me that the clinic at Sugarbush goes back at least 25 years. Although the focus was initially more social than instructional, it evolved over the years to the shape it’s in today.

So what did I like about it?

• Great student/instructor ratio: The clinic I attended had 13 women attendees, the one in January, 20. In general, there’s a 6:1 student/instructor ratio (though my group was 4:1). Which means you get a lot of individual attention and feedback.

• First rate female instructors: Make no mistake, these women are top notch. My instructor, Lisa Segal, is an L-3 PSIA Examiner. In case you don’t now, this is as high as you can go in the instructor hierarchy. It requires a massive amount of  training and expertise. And it showed.

So does it make a difference to have all-women instructors in an all-women’s clinic? I believe it does. As Meredith McFarland said, “I think it’s easier for a female instructor to understand what a woman is asking about some sort of movement. Sure, there are men who are great at teaching women. But I think women instructors generally have better insight into what works and doesn’t work for a woman skier.”

PSIA Examiner, and my instructor, Lisa Segal.

PSIA Examiner, and my instructor, Lisa Segal.

 

• The terrain: I described Sugarbush’s terrain at the beginning of this piece, and the variety makes it perfect for a learning situation. You get to try new skills in a lot of different situations.

• Off slope learning: The first morning of the clinic, we had an address by Terry Barbour, Sugarbush’s Ski School Director. Terry discussed the importance of proper stance along with the uses of edging and turn shape, and took us through a few off-slope drills. Later that day, there was a presentation about new skis. And the next day, a talk about ski boots. So a lot of good information about stuff skiers need to know.

Ski School Director Terry Barbour explains rotation.

Ski School Director Terry Barbour explains rotation.

• Sure it’s a learning experience. But if sure feels like fun! That’s because everyone associated with it — the instructors, the staff —  did their best to make this a low pressure, highly enjoyable environment. Let’s face it: we’re not trying out for the US Ski Team. The idea behind this is to not only make you a better, more confident skier but to amp up the fun factor. And they do.

Instructors and students of the March session

Instructors and students of the March session

• Ski demos: If you want to try new skis, you can. Demoing is a great way to figure out if a particular ski is right for you before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, and Sugarbush had a variety of skis available free to clinic attendees. Usually, you have to pay to demo. So this was an added plus.

• Running gates: OMG this was so much fun! I’m not a racer, so I’ve never had the opportunity to run gates before (full disclosure: these were stubbies). But it gave you a feel for what it was like. And it helped us with our turns.

Running the stubbies.

Running the stubbies.

 

• Videotape analysis: This is pretty standard in any good clinic. Nonetheless, it’d been a loooong time since I’d been taped. And yeah, it’s an eye opener to see how you really ski, particularly when it’s slowed down for frame-by-frame examination. A good way to find out what you’re doing wrong — and right! :smile:

An instructor takes an attendee through videotape analysis.

An instructor takes an attendee through videotape analysis.

• Yoga: We had the option of starting each day with a yoga workout, something I took advantage of.  And why not? Yoga gets your body ready and engaged for skiing. Plus it’s just good for your all around health.

Don’t just take my word for it.

Here are some comments from some of the other women attending the Camp:

• What I really like about the camp is how it not only helps engender a love of skiing, but also helps foster friendships that last. This is the third one of these I’ve attended at Sugarbush. And though the chemistry of each is different, they’ve all been fantastic.

• I love the low pressure environment. Sure, I’m here to learn, but I don’t feel the anxiety that I’ve found in a mixed group. The instructors really know what they’re doing. They’re so supportive. And they make it so much fun!

• I came to improve my skiing and I found a community, and every time I come back, I refind that community.

And then there’s the hotel…..

One of the great things about doing the clinic was staying in the fabulous Clay Brook Hotel, just steps away from the lodge at the base of the mountain (can you say pampered?). Opened in December, 2006, the hotel has accommodations ranging from studios to five bedroom suites. I stayed in a one bedroom unit, which consisted of a full-sized, completely outfitted kitchen, a living room/dining area with a  gas fireplace, a bedroom with a Queen-sized canopy bed, and a bathroom featuring a huge jetted tub. It even had a washer/dryer to take care of dirty ski clothes. If you want to soak out the kinks after your day, you can relax in the hotel’s heated pool or hot tub. Or if you don’t get enough of a work out on the slopes, there’s a fitness center, too.

All my interactions with the staff were extremely pleasant. For example, check in was a snap. They valet your car, unload your gear, and take your skis and boots to the respective ski and boot valets where they’re conveniently stored until you need them again. As for check out: I wanted to ski before I left, so they even put my bags in my car, where they were waiting when my vehicle was brought around at the end of my stay.

Here’s a file photo of the hotel. I love the Vermont barn-influenced design.

Clay Brook Hotel

Clay Brook Hotel

Here’s the living room/dining area of my unit, looking toward the kitchen (you can see the door to the hallway against the wall):

Clay Brook Living Room

Clay Brook Living Room

I also highly recommend the Timbers restaurant, which is attached to the hotel. I had dinner there one night. The food is terrific, and look at this place. It’s reminiscent of the round barns you can find in the area:

Timbers Restaurant

Timbers Restaurant

It was awfully nice to relax in this place at the end of a busy ski day. Truly, I felt like I was in the lap of luxury.

Was there anything you didn’t like?

Hmmmmm……um….no.

The bottom line:

Sugarbush has a great thing going. Granted, it’s probably not for those of you who are thinking about trying out for the US Ski Team. But for the recreational skier who wants to improve their skiing, increase their confidence and have a hell of a good time, it’s definitely worth doing.

 

 

 

 



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Oui, Ski Mont Tremblant!

Mont Tremblant

Mont Tremblant

Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated. I mean, I only live a few hours from the Canadian border, and until this past week, I’d never, ever been to Mont Tremblant.

Sure, I’d heard about it for what seems like forever. I’d seen how time and time again, it gets rated #1 in SKI magazine’s annual round-up of Eastern ski resorts. But to get in my car and actually go? That was another matter.

Well, last week I finally made it. I’m a member of the Eastern chapter of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association, and this year our annual meeting was held in Tremblant. I’m so glad it was; now that I know what I’ve been missing, I’ll be sure to come back.

Mont Tremblant is the second-oldest ski resort in North America (Sun Valley, Idaho, is older). But the Mont Tremblant you see today is relatively new. The mountain was acquired by Intrawest in 1991, who has turned it into a world-class destination.

Yes, I said world class; Tremblant has so much to offer that I think it deserves that designation.

Why? Consider the following:

The mountain: For all of us Ski Divas, this is by far the biggest concern. Sure, good food and accommodations are nice, but if the mountain doesn’t delivery, frankly, we’re not interested. Never fear. Mont Tremblant has loads of great terrain for everyone. First, some stats:

Summit elevation: 2,871 ft (875 m)
Vertical drop: 2,116 ft (645 m)
Skiable area: 662 acres (268 ha)
Number of lifts: 13
Number of trails: 96
Longest run: 19,800 ft (6,035 m)
Ability levels: Easiest, 17%; More Difficult, 33%; Most Difficult, 40%; Experts Only, 10%

catr_trailmap

So what did I like? First, every part of the mountain is easily accessible. All the lifts go to the top. And once you’re there, you can ski the north, south, or soliel (sunny) side. So if it’s blowy or the snow’s not great on one part of the mountain, you can easily move to another and chances are it’s entirely different. Second, there’s literally something for everyone — lots of long, long trails with a good amount of pitch; super fun glades; great bump runs; terrific views; along with plenty of greens for those who’re just starting out. Some of the favorite trails: Jasey Jay Anderson, Duncan, Mcculloch, Taschereau, and lord knows what else; I just followed the guides around. It’s all good.

 

Le Cabriolet

Le Cabriolet

The village: Spread out across the base of the mountain is a pedestrian village, otherwise known as Quartier Tremblant. Constructed in the early 2000’s, it’s built in a style that’s reminiscent of Quebec’s Old City. And sure, it’s probably a bit Disney-esque. But it’s also very convenient and loaded with hotels, shops, and restaurants, all within easy walking distance of each other and the slopes. We stayed at the Ermitage du Lac, but others in my group stayed in the Holiday Inn Express and the Marriott Residence Inn. To get to the slopes, you can either walk or do what I did: take Le Cabriolet, the commuter lift that skims over the village’s rooftops to land you steps away from the gondola base (my husband said it made him feel ike Mary Poppins).

Quartier Tremblant

Quartier Tremblant

Old World Charm: Tremblant is French to the core; well, French-Canadian, anyway. So you get this Old World-I’m-in-another-country feeling without ever having to cross the Atlantic. It’s lovely, everyone speaks both French and English (which makes it easy for those of us who aren’t bi-lingual), and the food is terrific. Speaking of which….

Lots of dining options: The village has tons of restaurants. A few we had the chance to enjoy include Gypsy at the Westin (great tapas), Le Shack (try the burger), La Diable (wonderful beer options), and Windigo at the Fairmont (great atmosphere and menu). All were very, very good. But if you want to stop and warm-up while you’re skiing, I recommend The Refuge, an on-mountain on-trail cabin that’s positively charming. A great place to stop for hot chocolate by a wood stove.

The Refuge

The Refuge

And lots of non-skiing activities, too: Sure, I was too busy skiing to do anything else. But if you come to Tremblant and have people who want to do something besides ski, there are lots of great options: Ice skating in front of the picturesque St. Bernard Chapel; gambling at the Casino; dog sledding; snow shoeing; fat tire biking; cross country skiing, spa treatments….the list goes on and on.

One of the best parts of the trip was that I had the chance to ski with two other members of TheSkiDiva.com. (Ski Divas are everywhere!) They gave me a local’s tour, as well as their own thoughts on why they love to ski Tremblant:

Three Ski Divas

Three Ski Divas

Judy: There are many reasons I love Tremblant. It’s an easy hour-long drive from my house, and we can park very conveniently on the North Side (not the main side of the mountain), just steps from the lodge. Often the car is so close we use it as a locker. As for the skiing, there’s plenty of choice and you can ski all day never doing the same run twice. There’s also plenty of variety: lots of groomers but also fun ungroomed stuff and glades. And because of the various “versants” (sides) to the mountain, you can stay in the sun all day long. Snowmaking and grooming are excellent. Some people complain about flat runouts at the bottom but you can make use of these – this is where I learned to carve. As passholders who park on the North Side we tend to avoid the busy-ness of the South side, but should we want to enjoy a longer lunch or browse some shops, we can head down to the pedestrian village for a totally different experience. Oh yeah, did I mention the views are great?

Jill: Here’s what I love about Tremblant…
The vertical: There’s over 2,000 feet, compared to places near me in Ontario. Most of these have only have 300 to 400 feet. Even Calabogie only has 760 feet, and that’s the highest in Ontario.
Terrain: There are lots of choices for everyone.
The people:  I have so many friends who ski here.
Things to do beside skiing: Lots of stuff, spas, shopping, dog sledding, tubing, XC skiing, snowshoe….
Conditions: They do try to make it great. Mother Nature can play games, but management makes the best of it.

 

Are there any downsides?
Depends on your perspective. I’ve heard some people say they don’t want to ski in Quebec because it’s cold. Yes, that’s true, there can be cold days. But you know, it is winter. Skiing is a cold weather sport, and yes, it gets cold everywhere. If you dress warmly and take a break here and there, you’ll be fine.

I’ve also heard some people say that it’s hard to get to. If you’re not within driving distance, Mont Tremblant has an airport with direct flights to New York and Toronto. And there’s an airport in Montreal, too, an hour and change to the south.

All I can say is that it’d be too bad if you let any of this get in the way of a great ski trip. So go to Tremblant. You’ll have a blast.

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Another Diva West is in the Books: Aspen Snowmass

Mention Aspen, and what comes to mind? Movie stars, millionaires, plenty of glitz and glamor.

But here’s something new to add to the list: The Ski Divas! Because this year, TheSkiDiva.com held Diva West, our annual Western gathering, at Aspen Snowmass. And like all the others that’ve come before, it was an absolute blast!

Diva West is the one time of the year we come together to meet one another in person; to connect a living, breathing person with a user name. And sure — while the skiing is important, even more important is enjoying the camaraderie of women with a shared passion. These annual meet-ups have helped forge bonds that have resulted in a genuine community, both on and off the slopes. It’s one of the things that makes TheSkiDiva such a great place to hang out.

Some of the Divas on the trip.

Some of the Divas on the trip.

This year’s Diva West at Aspen Snowmass was no different. Besides the fun of just getting together, there was a lot to love about the mountain, too. Here are some of the things we particularly enjoyed:

The size:

Aspen Snowmass from the window of my plane.

Aspen Snowmass from the window of my plane.

Snowmass is Snowmassive! The resort has a total of 3,332 skiable acres: a third more skiable terrain than the other three Aspen areas combined. Seriously, you will not get bored. We skied Snowmass four out of the six days we were in Aspen, and regrettably, there’s a lot of the mountain I missed. Guess I’ll just have to come back.

The views:
Incredibly beautiful. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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And that’s just a sample. Everywhere I turned, I wanted to take a picture. But somehow, skiing got in the way.

There are three other mountains to try:
Sure, Snowmass is amazing and has more than enough to keep you busy. But how could we resist the allure of Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain? You can ski Snowmass, Aspen, Highlands, and Buttermilk on the same ticket. Definitely worth exploring.

The shuttle system:
No matter where you want to go in the Aspen area, there’s a free bus to take you there. RFTA makes it easy to go from Snowmass to Buttermilk to Aspen to the Highlands, as well as to downtown Aspen and Snowmass Village. Honestly, you don’t need a car, so why go through the expense?

Forget about lugging your skis:
Skiing at one of the Aspen mountains one day and want to ski at another the next? No problem. Aspen makes it easy. For a modest fee ($12.), they’ll transfer your skis from one mountain to the other. We spent a day skiing at Highlands and knew we wanted to ski at Aspen the following day, so we just dropped off our skis at the Ski Concierge, and like magic, they appeared at Aspen the next morning. Sweet!

There’s terrain for everyone: 
Not everyone skis at the same level, and at Snowmass, this is easy to accommodate. Some in our group enjoyed the Hanging Valley, where you’ll find the steepest trees on the mountain, as well as the Cirque Headwall, accessible by a surface life and known as the former venue of extreme skiing competitions.  Others enjoyed the Powerline Glades, with its widely spaced, low angle trees, and Long Shot, Snowmass’s signature 3 mile trail that goes on and on and on and on. Then there’s the area off the Big Burn lift where you can find wide, open spaces, groomers, widely spaced trees, and a natural half-pipe gully. At Aspen Mountain, the Bells and Glades were a particular favorite. And at Highlands, some of  us tackled the famous Highland Bowl (Fact worth knowing: there’s a free cat that’ll take you part of the way up, so you can skip the hike).

In the Powerline Glades.

In the Powerline Glades.

The on-mountain food:
Aspen, Highlands, and Snowmass all have a good selection of on-mountain food. Yeah, it’s bit pricey, but the variety and quality are excellent. We checked out four of the on-mountain eateries at Snowmass — Elk Camp, the Ullrhof, Gwyn’s (they just completed a $5.9 million remodel), and Sam’s Smokehouse. At Highlands, we lunched at the Merry-Go-Round. And at Aspen, at Bonnie’s.

The town:
A trip to Aspen isn’t complete without a stroll downtown. And sure, you could easily blow a thou’ on a pair of ski pants (I fell in love with a pair that cost $950. No, I didn’t buy them), you don’t have to be a millionaire to browse. The people watching is pretty incredible, too. Let’s just say it was pretty clear I wasn’t in Vermont.

Just plain getting together:
This was the 10th Diva West, and I’ve never failed to be totally blown away by the strength, enthusiasm, and kindness of the women on the site. And though I was thrilled to be at Aspen Snowmass, the venue was truly secondary. The women are the heart and soul of the the site, and I’m truly honored that they took the time out of their busy schedules to get together. Let’s do it again next year!

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One more thing:
One of the things I truly love about the internet is how it allows us to make friends with people we might not otherwise have met. And one of the most outstanding people I’ve come to know is Kristen Lummis, creator of the most excellent ski blog, Brave Ski Mom. Kristen, who lives in Colorado, came to ski with me during Diva West. She’s a fine skier and terrific person. If you haven’t checked out her blog, make sure you do.

The Ski Diva and the Brave Ski Mom.

The Ski Diva and the Brave Ski Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Why you shouldn’t miss skiing Whiteface.

Okay, let’s get this over with:

Iceface.

Feel better now? Because often, when I mention Whiteface to someone, they’ll roll their eyes and say Iceface in kind of a know-it-all way — even if they’ve never been there before. My advice: Get over it. Because if you don’t, you’re missing out on one of the best skiing experiences in the East.

IMHO, Iceface is a vestigial term, left from a time when there was little to no snowmaking or grooming and yeah, it was icy. Whiteface is a high mountain that gets a lot of wind and weather. So I have no doubt that this was correct.

But times change, and today, I don’t think Whiteface has any more or less ice than anyplace else in the East. Everyone gets their fair share. And there are ways to deal with it now that didn’t exist in the past.

Instead, I’d like to start talking about just how awesome Whiteface is.  Consider this: the Olympics were held there in 1980, and in nearby Lake Placid in 1932. A place has to be pretty special to have that happen. And Whiteface is.

A couple weeks ago, Whiteface invited me and a bunch of other ski journalists for a ski media day. If you read my blog post about Okemo’s media day, then you know that this is a time that the resort people set aside to familiarize the press with all the stuff they have going on. You go on mountain tours, sit through presentations, eat at the various restaurants, and so on. It’s fun and you learn a lot.

Suffice it to say that the one at Whiteface reminded me about why it’s a must-do in the East.

Here’s what I love about it:

Whiteface gondola.

Whiteface gondola.

Long, long trails: The highest lift at Whiteface unloads at 4,386 feet, a vertical drop of 3,166 feet to the base area, which sits at 1,220 feet. Its hike-to terrain, The Slides, is 264 feet  higher (4,650 feet), giving Whiteface the greatest continuous vertical drop in the eastern US (3,430 feet). This makes for some very long, very fun runs. The Wilmington trail, for example, at 2-1/2 miles long, and is the East’s longest intermediate trail. Zoooooom.

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Snowmaking: Whiteface has come a long way in this department. The day of my visit, the guns were blasting everywhere. But what impressed me the most was the quality of the snowmaking system itself. In addition to a hefty arsenal of snow guns that blanket 99% of the mountain with white goodness, Whiteface has 15 TecnoAlpin fan snow guns that are absolutely incredible. These energy-efficient guns produce snow that feels amazingly natural, without blasting your ears when you stop to talk or turning your goggles into a frosty nightmare when you ski past. They have an onboard weather center that tells them how much water to use based on wet-bulb temperature. And their basic operation (start, stop, snow quality and position) can be controlled from any computer or smart phone.

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Kids’ Program: Whiteface has an entire section of the mountain set aside just for kids/beginners — with its own lodge, dedicated trails, and lift. Which means you don’t get higher level skiers blasting through and creating problems for learners. Truly, it’s  one of the nicest beginner areas I’ve ever seen.

Whiteface Kids Kampus

Whiteface Kids Kampus

The View: The summit of Whiteface offers a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Mansfield in Vermont (home of Stowe) and even into Canada. It’s pretty incredible. Here’s a view down the back side of the mountain:

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View from the summit

Lake Placid: There are ski towns and then there are Ski Towns. Lake Placid is the latter. It’s amazing. The spirit of the Olympics permeates the place. There are Olympic venues and training facilities everywhere. It’s like it took place last week.  And there’s so much to do! In addition to skiing, there’s ice-skating, tobogganing, the Olympic bobsled ride (DO IT!), cross country skiing at the Olympic venue Mount Van Hovenberg. Plus there are lots of great shops, restaurants, and places to stay. Which leads me to the following…..

Andrew Weibrecht stands by his medals

Andrew Weibrecht stands by his Olympic medals at the front desk of the Mirror Lake Inn.

The Mirror Lake Inn: I can’t let this review go by without mentioning the Mirror Lake Inn, one of my very favorite places to stay, anywhere. I actually nominated it for USAToday’s Ten Best Ski Hotels, and it came in fourth. With good reason. Owned and operated by Ed Weibrecht, father of two-time Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht, the Mirror Lake Inn is a gorgeous, rambling building on the edge of the lake. Decorated in a style I’d term elegant-Adirondack, the main building features a series of cozy sitting rooms with large, comfy chairs and sofas punctuated by huge, blazing fireplaces, a terrific restaurant, and bar. Downstairs, there’s a first-class spa, a hot tub, an indoor swimming pool, and a fitness center. No, this is not your Econo-Lodge. It’s pricey, but go ahead — treat yourself. It’s worth it.

Mirror Lake Inn

Mirror Lake Inn

So should you go to Whiteface? By all means. And next time someone says Iceface and rolls their eyes, feel free to roll your eyes right back.

 

 



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Eleven Reasons to Visit Okemo.

One of the perks of being The Ski Diva is that from time to time I get invited to media events at various ski resorts. These are days that the PR people set aside to familiarize members of the press with all the stuff they have going on. You go on mountain tours, sit through presentations, eat at the various restaurants. It’s actually very nice.

Recently I went to one here in Vermont for Okemo Mountain Resort. Okay, you say, isn’t that your home mountain? It is. But it’s good to hear from management about the new stuff that’s going on, their plans for the future, and so on. And with press people coming from all over the place, it’s nice to have the chance to see the mountain through new eyes. Kind of gives me a new slant on things I see all the time.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d devote this week to giving you my perspective about Okemo: the stuff I really like  — I mean, besides the fact that I can be there in about 7 minutes, which is very nice, too.

 

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1) It’s a cruiser’s paradise:  If you love rippin’ the groomers, Okemo is for you. These trails are designed to make you feel positively giddy. If you’re not smiling by the time you reach the bottom, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you at all.

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The Sunburst Six Bubble Lift

2) The Bubble Lift: The official name is The Sunburst Six, but everyone just calls it The Bubble. To be honest, when they first put it in a few years ago, my initial reaction was man, how decadent. What do we need this for? But seriously, on a cold day, when the wind is blowing and the wind chill is below zero,  this is the lift that everyone heads for. Not only does it offer protection, but did I mention that the seats are heated? This Can. Not. Be. Beat. Extra Okemo fact: there’s a second bubble lift at the Jackson Gore area. No, the seats aren’t heated, but it’s a godsend on cold days.

3) Friendly employees: I’ve skied at a lot of places, and I have to say the employees at Okemo are the best by far. They always, always act like they’re happy to see you. This can’t be easy, but somehow they manage to pull it off. It may seem like a small thing, but it really makes a difference.

 

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Photo courtesy of Okemo.

4) Food: I’m not talking about food in the cafeteria at the base lodges — though the food at the Jackson Gore base lodge is actually pretty good. And to be honest, I’m cheap; I usually bring my lunch. But if you want a treat, try Epic, the sit-down restaurant at the Solitude base area. I’ve eaten there a few times, and it’s excellent.

 

Okemo's Women's Alpine Adventures. Photo courtesy of Okemo..

Okemo’s Women’s Alpine Adventures. Photo courtesy of Okemo.

5) Women’s Alpine Adventures: Okemo’s women’s ski clinic is very well known. In fact, I wrote a review about it here. If you’re a Mikaela Shiffrin, or aspire to be, the WAA, as it’s known, probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking to gain confidence, have a terrific time, make new friends, and pick up some pointers, you’re definitely in the right place.

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The Magic Carpet

6) The Magic Carpet: Little known fact: the Magic Carpet conveyor lift at Okemo is FREE. For everyone! Which is great for beginners. Oh, don’t think I don’t know the score: the idea is to get you hooked so you want to pay the big bucks for the lift. But it’s a great way for newbies to learn the basics so they can ski more safely before they go up in the chair.

7) Ice Skating: Okemo installed its skating rink in 2006, and this year they’ve improved it with a new refrigeration system that can make ice at temperatures well above freezing. A lot of fun when you don’t feel like skiing.

8) The Timber Ripper: Okay, you’re there for the skiing. But honestly, how can you resist taking what’s essentially a roller coaster ride down the mountain? It starts with a five-minute, 1,600-foot climb followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of track that follows the contours of the mountain, at speeds of up to 25 mph. And it’s open all year long.

Timber Ripper Coaster. Photo courtesy of Okemo.

Timber Ripper Coaster. Photo courtesy of Okemo.

9) Summer concerts: Okemo has a lot of stuff going on in the summer. But to me, the best thing by far is the free Friday night concerts in the Jackson Gore base area. People pack picnics, bring lawn chairs, and just enjoy being out on a summer evening. Everyone loves it.

10) Ludlow: This is the town that’s at the base of Okemo. I’ll be honest: if you’re looking for a picture-perfect Vermont town, this ain’t it. But Okemo is the only ski area in the state that has a town right there. And that does have some advantages. For example, in addition to the ski shops right on the mountain, there are five in town (plus one shop just for boarders). And, love ’em or hate ’em (I’ll leave that up to you), there are lots of restaurants and places to stay.  Which weighs heavily on the convenience factor.

11) Hey, it’s Vermont! What can I say. There’s something special about the Green Mountain State. The rolling hills, the quaint villages, the lack of suburban sprawl, the state’s no billboard policy…it’s New England at its best. All I know is that when I tell people I live in Vermont, it’s like I’ve told someone I live on a tropical island; I get the same sort of reaction. No, it doesn’t have the gnarly terrain as Utah or Colorado. But it’s pretty unique, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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How a Community Saved a Small Ski Area: Mount Ascutney, Vermont

Whenever you drive around ski country, no matter what the state, you can’t help but encounter a defunct ski area or two. This is no surprise. Since the 1980’s, roughly 33% of ski areas in the US have gone out of business, and few have any hope of ever coming back.

Sad, I know. Many of these were smaller, more affordable places that were great for families and beginners. They also provided something larger resorts generally lack: a measure of character and community involvement that goes to the heart of what skiing is all about.

Today I’d like to focus on a ski area that’s had a much happier ending. After opening and closing multiple times, Mount Ascutney, Vermont, has almost literally risen from the ashes (the base lodge burned in 2015) .

Mount Ascutney Trail Map, 1969

Mount Ascutney Trail Map, 1969

In its heyday, Ascutney boasted 1,800 vertical, 57 runs, 5 chairs, and 1 surface lift. But after riding a financial roller coaster for many years, the mountain closed for good in 2010. Its lifts were sold, and it looked like the end for a mountain that had operated, albeit intermittently, for six decades.

In 2015, the mountain was purchased by the local community of West Windsor, VT, and re-opened for skiing in December that same year. Laura Farrell,  Executive Director of Mount Ascutney Outdoors, the non-profit charged with operating the mountain, would be the first to tell you that this was the result of efforts by many, many people.  And she’s right. But as Executive Director, Laura is responsible for overseeing the entire operation. I talked to her recently at the base of the resurrected ski area.

Laura Farrell

Laura Farrell

SD: So Laura, tell me a bit about yourself. When did you start skiing?
LF: I’m 64, and I’ve been skiing since I was two. Honestly, I’ve been in the ski industry almost my entire life. When I was a young adult I became a ski instructor, and then I founded Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport, a non-profit dedicated to providing recreational opportunities to athletes of any age and any disability. It was incorporated in 1987; back then there was nothing like it anywhere in the Northeast. I was involved in everything from teaching skiing to examining instructors, running clinics, and overseeing a race program. Then I moved on to coaching able-bodied kids, which I did for a number of years.

SD: Things didn’t look promising when Ascutney closed in 2010. What is Mount Ascutney Outdoors, and how’d it come about?
LF: Mount Ascutney Outdoors is a non-profit that’s responsible not only for the future of the mountain, but for creating and developing year round recreational opportunities that are accessible and affordable to everybody — skiing, mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, fat-tire biking. It was formed in 2010, when the chairman of the West Windsor select board brought up the idea of purchasing the mountain after it closed. This is a small community, and we were all hit hard when it went under, so the idea was to revitalize both the mountain and the town. The proposal received almost unanimous approval. Fortunately, we were able to get some help from a national non-profit, the Trust for Public Land. The Trust raised the money for the purchase and then handed the mountain over to us.

SD: So how’d you get involved?
LF: Even though the town bought the mountain, it didn’t want to develop, manage, or finance its recreational opportunities or events. And they didn’t want to increase the town’s tax burden, either. So I was asked to help start the non-profit that would develop, manage, and finance all the activities that go on here.

SD: What’s your role as  Executive Director?
LF: Essentially, I’m something of a jack of all trades. Obviously, right now I have my fingers in everything from fundraising to installing the rope tow, to managing the volunteers, projects, and events, but in reality it’s not just me. There’s an amazing group of people that believe in this project, and we all work together. We have nine board members, and they all have different responsibilities.

Ascutney's rope tow.

Rope tow.

SD: So what’s at Ascutney now?
LF: Let me say first that we’re a complete volunteer organization, so everything we have has been donated or built by volunteers. For example, six of us installed a thousand-foot rope tow. We had some help from an engineer, and of course, it had to be inspected by the state. But we did it all ourselves, and it’s a thing of beauty. I can now put rope tow installer on my resume.

So right now, we have 32 miles of trails that are used for mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. We have the rope tow, which serves three trails that we mow like lawns, so we only need six inches of snow to ski — we don’t have snowmaking because we wanted this to be a sustainable area. You can also skin up the rest of the mountain for backcountry skiing, and that’s a huge portion of the winter activities here. It’s great terrain. We’ve been clearing the old trails up there that haven’t been taken care of for 5 or 6 years. And we have a new warming hut at the base — again, donated and built by volunteers — that can be used year round for all our recreational activities and events and camps.

Once we get enough snow, we’ll be open Wednesdays from noon to 6, Thursdays 4 to 8, Friday 2 to 8, Saturdays 10 to 8, and Sundays 10 to 4. During holidays and vacation weeks, it’s 10 to 4 and on Fridays and Saturdays, 10 to 8. On Thursday nights we’ll have a locals race series under the lights. We’ll also have an informal race program on Friday nights, as well as on Saturday and Sunday. We’ll have courses set up and there’ll be coaches for anyone who wants to come and train. We have lights this year, which is exciting, so people can come out after work. There’s even a grill on the deck of the warming hut so they can cook their dinner.

As I said before, we really want to keep this affordable for anyone who wants to come. This is important. A lot of families can’t afford to get out and ski at the larger, corporate mountains. But we think it’s important to get everyone on the hill. So our rope tow is free to anyone who wants to ride it during our day hours — though we also accept donations — and ten dollars at night.

SD: What are the future plans for the mountain?
LF: The old lodge burned a few years ago but much of it is still standing. But it doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to another property owner. We hope to purchase it so we can tear it down, clean it up, and eventually build a really nice base camp. We’ve been donated a timber frame for just that purpose. We’re also hoping to install a chair lift up to the old mid-station  – the conservation easements only allow us to go up so far. We could also use the lift for mountain biking in the summer, or fat-tire biking in the winter. Needless to say, we’re very excited about the things we have going on here. It’s great to have it back.

New warming hut and old burned-out base lodge.

New warming hut and old burned-out base lodge.

View from the top of the rope tow down.

View from the top of the rope tow down.

Editor’s Note: I was totally charmed by Mount Ascutney and impressed by the hard work, mission, and spirit of  Ascutney Outdoors. The non-profit is funded entirely by donations. and I encourage you to contribute to keep this great community resource going. Click here.

 



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What’s new in Utah for ’15-’16

utahIf you’re planning to ski Utah this winter, then I’m sure you’ll find this of interest. The coming season brings a number of new improvements to Utah’s resorts. Here are a few of the things you can expect:

Snowbird: After spending $35 million on capital improvements last season, Snowbird has rebuilt its Creekside Lodge. The lodge, in Gad Valley at Snowbird Entry 1, is currently undergoing massive reconstruction to triple the building’s square footage. The larger facility will be the base of operations for all Snowbird Mountain Ski and Snowboard School lessons, eliminating shuttling students from the Tram Plaza and allowing for a lot more time skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. A new 500-foot conveyor lift will help skiers and riders get from the new Creekside Lodge to Snowbird’s Baby Thunder lift at the far western edge of the resort.

Snowbird is also replacing its 40-year old tram cables, and installing a fiber optic line into the cable, as well. The line will boost the resort’s online webcams to high definition and speed up the free Wi-Fi in the resort’s new Summit Lodge atop the tram. Finally, Snowbird is completing the remodel of the Cliff Lodge, its flagship slopeside lodging property, for the 2016-17 season.

Powder Mountain Resort:  Powder Mountain is adding two new lifts accessing Mary’s Bowl and Lefty’s Canyon, both previously accessible only by snowcat. These lifts will expand Powder Mountain’s skiable terrain to 1,000 acres.

Sundance Resort: Sundance is installing a new Arrowhead Lift to replace an aging triple chair on the mountain. The new lift will be a quad with new safety bars and improved loading and unloading areas. It willincrease uphill capacity by over 500 people per hour and assist in decreasing lift lines.

Cherry Peak: In its second year of operation, Cherry Peak is continuing to expand by adding a third lift. The new Summit Lift nearly doubles the mountain’s skiable terrain to over 400 acres. Cherry Peak is also installing lights in this area so it can continue to offer night skiing throughout the resort.

Brian Head: The resort has built a new state-of-the-art 2,000 square foot restaurant kitchen and BBQ pit. The improvement will triple the size of the previous facilities and double Brian Head’s current capacity for serving up brisket, ribs, chicken or pork every Friday and Saturday evening.

Solitude Mountain Resort: Now in its second year owned and operated by Deer Valley, Solitude is rebuilding the Roundhouse restaurant that was destroyed by a fire after the mountain closed last spring. The building’s architecture will closely mimic that of the former structure.

Other news out of Ogden Valley is the official opening of Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing, which starts on December 26. Whisper Ridge operates on over 30,000 acres of private ski and ride terrain east of the Cache Valley hamlet of Paradise, plus on over 12,000 acres of land south of Snowbasin, and uses eight custom PistenBully snowcats for access. Whisper Ridge is offering single to multi-day cat-skiing tours and optional first descent helicopter drops.



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What’s New in Vermont for ’16/’17

The beach at Chincoteague, Virginia

The beach at Chincoteague, Virginia

I’m on a beach vacation this week on Chincoteague Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (yes, the place that’s known for its wild ponies). It’s beautiful, the water’s great, the biking’s FLAT (quite different from Vermont), and I’m having a wonderful time. That said, I still can’t get my mind off the coming ski season. So when I got this information from Ski Vermont about what’s new for ’16/’17, I thought I’d share it here. Start waxing your skis, boys and girls. It’s coming, and here’s some of the new stuff Vermont skiers will find:

skimapKillington Resort
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 November 26-27. Giant Slalom and Slalom races will pit the best female technical alpine skiers 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 premiers and additional surprises to be announced.

Magic Mountain
Magic will be under new ownership in 2016-17 as SKI MAGIC LLC purchased the 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.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort is opening an $80 million Adventure Center. 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. From daycare facilities to ski and ride programs for kids 3 and up, the new Adventure Center has significantly advanced and expanded family amenities and services at the resort. The building also includes new shops, an Indoor Climbing Center (called Stowe Rocks), and family-friendly dining.

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. One section, designed to appeal to families with kids ages 2-10, will feature inflatables, games, and areas for imaginative play. A second area, targeted to older children and adults, will include features such as a ninja warrior-type obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, column walk, slot car racing, and arcade and redemption center. A $4 million investment, the new Fun Zone is expected to open mid-winter 2016-17.

Quechee Ski Area
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.

Burke Mountain Resort
The Lodge at Burke Mountain opened its doors on September 1st. 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.

Jay Peak Resort
Jay Peak 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 the Jay Peak parks to open sooner, but will also allow the resort to open learning terrain at its Tramside area earlier, as well.

Okemo Mountain Resort
After several years of major snowmaking improvements totaling more than $1 million, Okemo has once again expanded its snowmaking system. 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 MAX Pass family of resorts this year. Okemo season passholders can take their pass on the road – up to 30 mountains with an Add-On upgrade.

Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton announces an addition to its 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.

Mount Snow Resort
Mount Snow’s is now offering the Peak Pass, which features a total of six pass options valid at seven different mountain locations across four states in the Northeast. It’s also increasing the uphill capacity in its beginner terrain park by 50 percent, replacing its Ski Baba Lift with a 400’ SunKid conveyer called Grommet (Lift One). The resort has also spent over 1600+ hours pruning, mowing and clearing new lines through tree skiing areas in preparation for powdery runs this winter.

Suicide Six Ski Area
Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area replaces chair #1 with a new quad chairlift that will double capacity. Leitner-Poma of America, Inc., will install the lift at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Bolton Valley
Bolton Valley have given major upgrades to most suites and rooms at its hotel. Improvements include new carpet, drapes, furniture, painting, renovated bathrooms, new mattresses and new artwork to greatly enhance guest comfort.

Sugarbush Resort
Sugarbush has invested $750,000 into capital improvements for the 2016-17 winter season which include lift improvements and improvements to the snowmaking pond. 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.

 



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