Funny you should ask!
Thanks for the questions!
I instruct part time at Smugglers' Notch, so I'm there quite a bit. The reports you read were obviously "end of the season" reports and do not reflect what happens during the main season.
For example, the 2003 Christmas season was terrific. The trails connecting the two mountains worked very well, and I used them when my supervisors wanted to switch me from one mountain to the other. However, even if you use the shuttle buses, they also work fine and run frequently. Smuggs is a three mountain resort, with one area suited for beginners through high intermediate (and with a few black diamonds) and the other two-mountain area with everything else, from low intermediate through really, really expert. At the two-mountain area, the two peaks are all part on one area and don't require any shuttling - just choose your lift, - they both interconnect, and they both end up at the same base area
Every resort has some trails closed at the season begining before the major storms have occurred, and at the end as warmer weather comes and the season winds down. However, during the season at Smuggs, trails were and are quite open and available.
Families come from all over the country - and the world - to ski at Smuggs. I've instructed skiers visiting from California, Florida, Indiana, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Poland, Germany - heck, even New Jersey! Occasionally, I even get to instruct my neighbors in Vermont.
But Smuggs isn't the only resort in Vermont, and if you stay at the right location, you can sample more than one very easily.
Private Message me with your e-mail address and I'll give you all the information you want about Vermont ski areas - or just e-mail me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Best regards, oboe