I posted part of this in reviews, but here is a full report:
After hearing predictions for large snowfalls for last Friday, I booked us (me and my son) a room at the Sugarbush Inn. Although the snow never materialized as planned (3-4" instead of 1' or more), it was an awesome weekend, with awesome conditions, and some pretty cool folks:
Overall: On Saturday we drove over to MRG and Sunday hit up Sugarbush. MRG is my favorite place I've been. Sugarbush was pretty awesome as well (great glades), but for totally different reasons than MRG.
MRG: You already know, but here it is anyway: Ski almost anywhere you want on some great terrain. Good for beginner/beginners (b/c they just don’t need that much terrain to be happy) and experts b/c there was some gnarly stuff there. Probably stinks for intermediates; this wasn’t like many resorts where if you just slow down and do big turns then the blacks are easy enough: there were tough technical lines that I wasn't comfortable letting the boy try (maybe next year). There were even a few of blues (immeidately to the left of Sunnyside lift) that I wouldn’t let him go down (3-4’ bumps). I dropped into a few glades and thought, “WTF am I doing, I don’t know if I have the skills for this.” But there were lots of bumps and glades that I had fun on and it was plenty big for the boy to never get bored.
Sugarbush: Total opposite of MRG. This is where you would take a wife. Tennis club, brand new facilities, out-door heated pool and hot tub; there were signs that pointed to the massage locations. I saw more than one Porsche SUV in the lot. But, we were there to ski and: the skiing was great resort-type skiing. It is LARGE: Hillel and I were there from 8:30-1:00 and covered about ½ the mountain (and that doesn’t include Mt. Ellen which was closed for the season). They had some really tough bump runs, but a large number of the blacks were ½ bump, ½ groomed, so I could hit up the bumps while the boy could cruise down the groomer. I will say that, despite its size, it was not Killington; Sugarbush maintained its “Vermontiness.” What was really nice was they had some sweet low-angle glades. Hillel was able to spend the day in the trees (that was not happening at MRG) and even get some fresh lines. It is a GIANT resort with lots of terrain and outside activaties for anyone that goes there.
Other travel notes: Sugarbush is appx 1hr further than Killington, but having been to both this year in really good conditions, I would drive the extra 1hr every time.
Sugarbush is isolated; Waisfield and Warren are tiny, so you’re a captive audience. There are restaurants and stuff, but it’s a bit limited. It didn't bother me, but the boy wasn't thrilled with his grilled cheese on bread "with stuff on the crust" (it was whole grains).
We stayed at the Sugarbush Inn, it was very nice and I’d recommend it, but you’re about 1mi from the resort itself. As part of the deal, we got use of the Sugarbush facilities, so I took Hillel to the pool…we had to drive. You’d also have to drive to the slopes. Obviously, they have slope-side stuff, but then the $$$ goes up. MRG is appx 6mi (and 20min) from Sugarbush.
Short: MRG/Sugarbush is GREAT and I would pick it EVERYTIME over K-ton.
I just wanted to give an extra shout out to MRG, for showing why it's differnet than other places:
My son turned 6 a week ago, so he's still a small guy. Anyways, we spent a few hours going down the runs off the Sunnyside double before my son asked about going to the top of the mountain (while pointing to the top of the single chair).
We went over to look at the single chair to see if he was ready. While Hillel was hemming and hawing about whether he wanted to go up by himself; a ski patroller stepped back from the line and came over and asked him if he had ever gone up the lift. After my son said he hadn't, the patroller said, "well, you just go up there and tell that guy that you've never been on it. He'll slow it down, pick you up and put you on the chair, and shut the safety bar. If you want to ride it, we'll get you on it...we want to make sure everyone has as much fun as possible." Riding the lift all by himself made his trip and I couldn't get him off of it for the rest of the day. I think the patroller letting him know that everything was good was the comfort he needed. And the lifty doing exactly what the patroller said he would do didn't hurt either. (Actually two guys: one held the chair while the other picked him up and then shut the safety bar).
Sometime in the afternoon, we went in for lunch. While he used the washroom, I found us a table. After about 15min, I was wondering where he was and went to find him. Thinking maybe he misunderstood our meeting spot, I went to look at where our skis were. I found him outside, hangin' out with some adults. One of them said to him, "See...I told you he wouldn't go up the lift w/o you." One of the adults told me that my son saw a white helmet and red jacket on the lift and thought I had left him. I asked him if he was OK and she said, "Oh yeah, he was just hangin out with me and the Director of Operations (I think) and having some french fries; he's fine."
Sure, there's great terrain at MRG, but there's great terrain at lots of places. But at MRG everyone seemed like a community that was just happy to be out there skiing. That's the way it should be and that's while we'll both be back.