Vermont ski resorts showcase winter in its original state.
The Green Mountain State gets its nickname from the Appalachian range that stretches nearly the entire length of Vermont. With peaks forming a backbone from the Massachusetts state line to its border with Canada, Vermont is the top destination for skiing and snowboarding on the East Coast, and No. 3 in the nation after California and Colorado. The snow sports are so prevalent, and heritage so deep, that Vermont’s official state sports are skiing and snowboarding.
Groups are most welcome at the 42 Alpine, Nordic, and combination resorts of the Vermont Ski Areas Association.
“We are so close to so many metro areas, groups are a very important market for us,” said Sarah Wojcik, director of marketing and communications for the nonprofit organization known as Ski Vermont. “All of our resorts cater to groups, and cater to them in different ways.”
Ski Vermont is a resource for information on each property, and staff is available to assist tour planners in finding resorts compatible with group needs, budget, interests and type of lodging desired.
“It has been apparent to me for years that the Green Mountains are special, and their call to others is strong; so strong in fact that we welcome over four million skiers and snowboarders every winter and millions more visitors in the spring, summer and fall,” said Chloe Elliott, communications manager for Ski Vermont. “This is a destination for all ages and interests.”
Besides downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, Vermont ski resorts offer a variety of activities such as snowmobile outings and sleigh rides, zip line thrills, breathtaking snowcat rides up the mountains, guided winter hikes, gondola rides, torchlight ski parades and bonfires.
“There really is an activity for everyone,” Elliott said.
The convenience factor
Self-contained Vermont ski resorts are convenient for groups. Unload the motorcoach and everyone is free to pursue their interests at their own pace on and beyond the slopes, with options that include dining, entertainment, shopping, spas, fitness centers and other leisure pursuits. Ski Vermont can offer itinerary suggestions and provide contact information to aid planners, who then work with resort staff to obtain group package deals and amenities that range from reduced lift tickets and discounts on ski and snowboard lessons and equipment rentals to organized meals and activities.
Vermont’s ski season begins around Thanksgiving weekend and wraps up in April, with the core period from mid-December to mid-March and peak months from January into March. Despite the storyline about a lack of snow dooming a Vermont inn in the 1954 movie White Christmas, the state enjoys an average snowfall of 200 inches. Extensive snowmaking capabilities assist Mother Nature to ensure that 80 percent of Vermont’s mountainous territory is snow covered. That’s a lot of white stuff, considering that 10 ski areas have in excess of 2,000 vertical feet of terrain — more than Maine, New Hampshire and New York combined.
Each resort claims a special piece of the Green Mountains. Killington is the largest resort in eastern North America, and at 4,241 feet, the second highest peak in Vermont. Edging it out at 4,393 feet is Mount Mansfield, which, with Spruce Peak, is home to Stowe Mountain Resort. Burke Mountain Resort boasts views of Willoughby Gap, a stunning, glacier-carved wonder featuring the deep Lake Willoughby nestled between Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor. Smugglers’ Notch spans three mountains and is named for the narrow pass (or notch) used by smugglers transporting goods from Canada in the early 19th century and during Prohibition. Its terrain accommodates all abilities, from gentle slopes for beginners to the Black Hole, the only Triple Black Diamond trail in the eastern U.S.
Many groups enhance their trip en route or plan off-resort tour options such as a visit to the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame in Stowe. Housed in the 1818 Old Town Hall, the museum tells the state’s snow sports story through vintage ski equipment, memorabilia, art, films and interactive displays. Snowboard enthusiasts can see how Burton boards are made at Craig’s Prototype Facility in Burlington.
For a taste of local flavors, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory offers tours (and samples) in Waterbury, and the Cabot Visitor Center & Tour explains how Vermont’s famous cheddar cheese is made — complete with nibbles. Brewery and distillery tours and tasting rooms include the Woodchuck Cider House in Middlebury. A stop at a maple sugarhouse — they’re found throughout the state — is a must for authentic Vermont souvenirs.
For more information, call 802-223-2439 or visit skivermont.com.
Article by Kath Usitalo