Great Family Skiing at Stratton Mountain in Vermont
By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva
Looking for a family ski vacation that offers something for everyone? Stratton Mountain has it all. The resort’s great snow guarantee takes the worry out of family vacations here. In addition, the resort’s wide range of accommodations and southern Vermont location makes family travel easy and budget friendly.
It had been about eight years since we last visited Stratton Mountain, and all we can say about our recent three-day stay is, “Why did it take us so long to come back?” Stratton is a perfect choice for families looking for a ski vacation that offers everything – great ski terrain serviced by the best lift system in New England, a wide choice of conveniently-located accommodations, and lots of off-slope activities. Families will find so much to do in the village-like resort that they can park their car upon arrival and not have to use it again until the end of their stay. And with the variety of ski-and-stay packages that Stratton offers, families can plan a great ski vacation that will fit just about any budget.
Guaranteed Snow and Awesome Lifts = Great Skiing
No family ski vacation is going to be memorable without good skiing. This is why we highly recommend Stratton Mountain. First of all, Stratton’s terrain is sure to please everyone in the family. With a little more than 70% of the 92 trails rated intermediate or easy, novice and intermediate skiers will find plenty of trails to cruise. Advanced skiers will also find plenty of very challenging terrain, some great bump runs, as well as over 100 acres of glades for some challenging tree skiing.
For skiers and snowboarders looking for terrain parks to do some freestyling, Stratton offers a line-up of parks for every level of freestyler. From “Kids Parkway,” designed for first-time park riders, to the expert terrain park and awe-inspiring “Superpipe” at the Sun Bowl, home to the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, and the Boardercross run on the “Byrneside” trail, freestyling at Stratton is very serious stuff. This theme of progression of technical skills in the different terrain parks is also seen in the “Mogul Learning Areas,” where skiers can work on their skills before moving up to the big bumps on the “Bear Down” and “World Cup” trails.
Great terrain needs great snow, and Stratton guarantees it: just ski or ride for one hour, and if you don’t like the snow, just return your lift pass and your next day of skiing is already paid for! With 95% of the terrain covered by snowmaking and a great team of groomers (which we can attest to based on our two days of perfect conditions), Stratton must feel pretty confident that it can present top snow conditions to offer this guarantee.
Many of the popular Northeast ski resorts have good terrain, snowmaking, and grooming. The thing that separates Stratton from the rest is its lift system. With a total of 12 lifts, skiers will find that getting on the trails can be quick and easy, especially with the four high-speed 6-passenger lifts and the gondola. The 6-pack lifts don’t offer base-to-summit rides, but deposit skiers at mid-mountain from where they take the next 6-pack lift to the summit. Actually, we found this system to be highly effective, as it offers the most choice to the most skiers. Those that don’t need the trails from the summit find it convenient to ski just from mid-mountain. Or when conditions are such that skiing just the bottom (or just the top) half of the mountain is best, these lifts are prefect. Besides, those who want base-to-summit skiing and lift rides can use the gondola.
Convenient and Comfy Accommodations
Lodging at Stratton Mountain is so varied that families can find the right place at the right price quite easily. The best feature of all is that most of this lodging is within a short walk of the main base lodge, the lifts, and Stratton Village, where you will find some great shopping and dining in an alpine village atmosphere. A number of Ski-and-Stay packages are available. For instance, the Kids Ski and Stay Free package allows kids 17 and younger to ski and stay free when two adults purchase a (2-night minimum) lift and lodging package in a family friendly condominium. Plus, kids can rent equipment free when an adult purchases a rental. One child is free per paying adult. Check out this ski package as well as others by visiting www.stratton.com/deals or call 1-800-STRATTON.
Our choice of lodging couldn’t have been much better. We stayed in a quite comfortable, two-bedroom condo at the Long Trail House, which is just steps from the Village and a short walk to the lifts and Main Base Lodge. At the end of each day of skiing and snowshoeing, we found it easy to relax first by soaking in the heated outdoor pool or hot tub and then settling down with some après-ski fare and a glass of wine in front of the gas fireplace in the living room before preparing our evening’s dinner in the fully equipped kitchen. Other amenities offered at the Long Trail House include heated underground parking, private ski locker, free use of washer and dryer for laundry, and free morning coffee. A variety of other lodging options are also available, from traditional hotel rooms to exquisite slopeside homes. Simply log onto the Stratton website and search for lodging options based on price, star ratings or name.
KidsKamp, Winter Fun and More…
Great skiing and riding may be the focal point of the Stratton experience, but there is so much more for families to enjoy. KidsKamp Programs begin with the Child Care service in the fully licensed day care facility for children ages 6 weeks to 3 years. KidsKamp ski and snowboard programs are available for kids 4 years old to 12 years, and kids 13 and up can take group lessons which are grouped by ability level. Each child 12 and under enrolled in the Ski School programs is equipped with the new Flaik GPS tracking system, which allows kids to track their speed and vertical feet, post photos on a map of that ski day, and gives parents an easy way to find their kids on the slopes. A Kids Night Out program offers parents a chance for a quiet evening while the kids ages 6 to 13 enjoy a dinner and group fun both indoors and out from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Other things to do when not of the slopes include snow tubing at the new lift-served Coca Cola Tubing Park at the Sun Bowl Adventure Center. The four tubing lanes that stretch up to 750 feet long are open Fridays from 4 – 8 p.m., Saturdays and holidays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sun Bowl Adventure Center also offers snowshoe treks, snowmobile tours, including Mini-Z’s for the kids (kids get to drive their own snowmobiles!), and snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals. Snowmobile tours are offered only on Saturdays and holidays.
We enjoyed a couple of peaceful hours on afternoon snowshoe treks in the Nordic trail system that can be accessed at the Sun Bowl. This is a perfect activity for non-skiers, as it will give them a chance to experience the beauty of Vermont’s winter landscape. Guided snowshoe tours are also available. Families will love the ice skating on the outdoor pond at the Village Common next to the Long Trail House. Family skating parties are held (weather dependent) on Saturdays and select holidays, and skates are provided. Skaters can warm up inside the Mill House with hot chocolate or toast s’mores at the firepit. Skating with your own equipment and at your own risk is permitted anytime ice conditions will allow.
Non-skiers looking to continue a workout schedule, play some tennis, take a fitness class, or get a massage can buy a day pass at the Stratton Sports Center. The Sports Center also operates The Wreck, which has various activities for kids 20 and under. The Wreck currently has a skate park, basketball court, football, floor hockey, soccer, coin operated pool tables, air hockey table, video games, various refreshments for purchase and more. Hours are 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. (10 a.m. to 11 p.m. in inclement weather) on weekends and during holiday weeks. Children 9 and under must be accompanied by a parent.
So Close, Yet Worlds Away
Stratton Mountain, southern Vermont’s highest peak, is just a four-hour drive from New York City and only 2 ¾ hours from Boston. So, for a big mountain experience that includes great skiing, convenient lodging, shopping and dining in an alpine village, all just hours away, visit www.stratton.com or call 1-800-STRATTON. Be sure to click on the “Plan Your Visit” link and you will be on your way to a great winter family vacation.
Jeff and Stephanie are retired English and Social Studies high school teachers who have been professional travel writers for over 21 years.
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