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Monday,  July 15, 2024 6:53 AM 

Vermont prepares for another busy ski season

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  •   10-20-2014  11:49 am

Vermont prepares for another busy ski season

While the leaves are still falling and the ground is free of snow, the resorts of Vermont are busy preparing for what promises to be another strong year for ski conditions and tourism numbers.

The Vermont Ski Areas Association touched down at Toronto’s Thompson Hotel last night for a media event, with representatives from several Vermont resorts on hand to detail plans and new developments for the coming ski season.

According to Sarah Wojcik of the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the last two winters proved to be record years for Vermont, which welcomed more than 4.5 million skiers and snowboarders to the slopes during that time, helped in part last year by the frigid temperatures experienced in the northern U.S. and southern Canada. Wojcik said that this year resorts will also be producing their own snow in a more environmentally-friendly manner, part of a $15 million snow gun exchange program in conjunction with the Efficiency Vermont organization, which is collecting the old equipment as resorts upgrade to more efficient models.

“We’re hoping to make it three in a row,” said Wojcik of the recent strong ski seasons, adding that the variety of terrain and trails offered by Vermont's resorts make it a draw for skiers both near and far. “The long-term forecast is cold and snowy, so we couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Porter Airlines will also resume its direct seasonal service between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Burlington, VT, between Dec. 14 and April 5 with two to four weekly flights, peaking with five weekly flights over March Break.

Resort updates

Stowe Mountain Lodge: The 300-room luxury hotel at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort is featuring a number of programs at its spa this winter, said Leslie Kilgore, including packages such as Winter Goddess, offering guests a full day of pampering; a Day of Detox; and Mountain Survival, which pairs guests with a local ‘mountain man’ for a day of furniture-making, ice-climbing and back-country skiing followed by a dinner back at the resort.

Trapp Family Lodge: Owned by the Von Trapp family of ‘The Sound of Music’ fame, this European-inspired lodge in Stowe is situated on 2,500 acres and offers a 96-room hotel, 100 guest house chalets and 22 luxury villas, said Sam Von Trapp. In addition to the accommodations, the lodge features the on-site Trapp Lager Brewery and agriculture programs supplying much of the food prepared at the destination’s multiple restaurants. In warmer months, extensive mountain biking opportunities are offered with bikes available on site, said Von Trapp.

Sugarbush Resort: Surrounded by open country dotted with family farms, Sugarbush is one of the only resorts offering ‘cabin cat’ skiing, said John Bleh. The 12-seat vehicle transports skiers to the top of the slopes for the first run of the day, or to the resort’s Allyn Lodge for a candlelit three-course dinner, followed by a moonlit ski back down the mountain.

Jay Peak: Located just miles from the Canadian border near Montreal, Jay Peak welcomed 10,000 Toronto-area residents last March, said JJ Toland, featuring three hotels, 300 chalets, a water park and ice arena.

Mount Snow Resort: Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Mount Snow is preparing to announce phase one of a $52 million masterplan plan this coming April, said PJ McSparran, including a 36,000 sq ft base lodge and new snow-making pond to increase the resorts snow output by 600 per cent.

Smugglers’ Notch: Close to Montreal with lodging for 3,000 guests, Smugglers’ Notch was once again rated both the number one kid-friendly resort and number one overall in the eastern U.S. by Ski Magazine, said Rob Aiken.

Okemo Mountain Resort: Embracing “the next step in lift technology,” family-oriented Okemo will introduce a new six-person ‘bubble’ lift with heated seats this season, said Dave Kulis, adding that the lift is the only one of its kind in North America.

Killington Resort: Renowned as a snowboarding destination, Killington will introduce new skiing and snowboard instruction programs this season, said Michael Joseph, incorporating methods such as ‘terrain-based’ learning. The program will also offer participants their own pair of skis or a snowboard at the end of four lessons, said Joseph.

Photo: Adam Wilcox, director, regional airport operations, Porter Airlines; Parker Rihele, president, Vermont Ski Areas Association; Kyle Lewis, director of marketing; Sarah Wojcik, director of public affairs