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First time planning a ski trip - help me pick the destination? Looking at VT and ME

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I'm trying to plan a 3-day trip leaving from the Boston area, probably the week of 12/13 (which will in most cases get us non-peak pricing). However, I don't know how to pick a resort. I've come up with a list of a few places, namely: Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Sugarbush, Killington, and Stowe. I'm assuming they all cost approximately the same (unless you know of any great deals...?) and the driving times don't vary by more than an hour, so what I'm really trying to figure out is simply which would be the best place to ski.

We're a small group, probably about 4, and assume we're intermediate. To use myself as a barometer, I'm not a terribly experienced skier, but I went to Killington once a few years ago and by the second day I was skiing blues and blacks (but not double blacks).

The important considerations are:
Variety of trails
Length of trails (would prefer not to be on the lift every 5 minutes)
Availability of blues and blacks
Availibility of affordable ski-in/ski-out accomodations (less important than the other considerations)

I've been reading these forums for a couple weeks now and I can tell that they're a great resource, so I really appreciate any help you're all able to give me.

Thanks,

nkage487
 
post #2 of 19
I usually take a weekend trip up to VT around that time.  First, pricing is not only non holiday, but is early season and is discounted significantly from what it will be in a month's time.  Second, snow making trumps everything in early season NE skiing. (Unless they happen to get a big dump up north, but you shouldn't make plans counting on that.)  Third, Killington and Stowe don't have ski in  ski out other than the big base hotels.

We have skied Killington and Okemo in early December, both with a good variety of trails open.  KIllington's was a short shuttle bus ride to the lifts and back.  Okemo was a trailside condo that was tru ski in - ski out.  Killington offered more steeps and thus more variety, but Okemo had a lot of top to bottom intermediate runs and very good, for that time of year, conditions.

So, my advice, so far as VT goes - stick to Killington or Okemo for their snow making and grooming prowess.  I'm not sure what Sugarloaf is like early season.  They do have a larger base village than any of the other areas so there should be plenty of lodging just below the hill.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply - I actually stayed at a ski-in ski-out condo type of place when I went to Killington, split it with 9 other people to defray the cost (I'm a college student, so that's no problem ). That said I don't remember seeing very many others, and I don't remember the name of the place or have any idea how available it is.

Your advice about snowmaking makes sense - do you think even in mid-December there still won't be natural snow? I know that's a concern in November and early December, but I thought maybe by the middle of the month it was more reliable?

Does anyone know if the Maine resorts are more reliable for snow in early season? I was thinking maybe since they're farther north they'd have more consistent coverage...?

Keep the replies coming!

Thanks,

nkage487
 
post #4 of 19
Are you sure about the drive times?  Looks to me like Boston > Sugarloaf is about twice the drive that Boston>Killington is.

At any rate, welcome to epicski and have fun!
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the welcome! I'm glad I found this site. Now that I'm graduating and (hopefully) getting a job/income, I'm planning on getting more seriously into skiing - there's only so far you can get on a work study job...!

In terms of drive times, I did some quick Google Maps-ing and it looks like Killington is 3:01 and Sugarloaf is 4:39, so I guess there's an hour and a half difference, but I think my group would be fine with either of those distances so that's much less of an issue than where the skiing will be best.
 
post #6 of 19
I'll second Crank on the importance of snowmaking. It's entirely possible that there won't be any natural snow in Mid-December, or at least not enough to open any trails without snowmaking.  Sunday River is at least as good at snowmaking as Killington and Okemo; Sugarloaf and Stowe not nearly as good.
post #7 of 19
I'd check out Loon New Hampshire also. Early December will probably see natural snow on the ground, and northern Vermont will have the most, but you won't be skiing on it. That's not really a bad thing, the skiing should be pretty good for Blue and Black cruising terrain early season... but it is still early season. If this is 'The Big Trip' for the entire season and you are looking to save $$$ by skiing 'off-season' I'd say ski later and you'll get more for your money. Late March and early April are dead at ski areas but the conditions are often better than peak season. Everyone wants to get out early, no one wants to ski late. BWinPA is very right about that.
post #8 of 19
Sugarloaf and Stowe can be wonderful at that time of year. They are typically uncrowded, and are more likely to get early season natural snowfall. If they do, you will hit the jackpot. But if they don't, you will probably wish you went somewhere else, as their snowmaking can't compete with the likes of Okemo, SR and Killington. If you can play it by ear, I would wait and see before you book, you shouldn't have any problem at that time of year finding a place on short notice. But if you have to book now, the latter three would be your best option.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I appreciate the snow condition information - this is just the type of stuff I was hoping to find out, as I couldn't really gather it elsewhere. I think we can probably wait to figure it out until closer to the time, so the actual snowfall can make a difference.

Do Sugarloaf and Sunday River both have good amounts of blues and blacks, and long runs? How about ski-in ski-out?

Thanks
 
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post

I'm trying to plan a 3-day trip leaving from the Boston area, probably the week of 12/13 (which will in most cases get us non-peak pricing). However, I don't know how to pick a resort. I've come up with a list of a few places, namely: Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Sugarbush, Killington, and Stowe.
 


This is a great weekend to go - it's early, so the crowds will be sparse and you should be able to find deep discounts on lodging.

My advice: wait til the last minute to commit.  You should still have your choice of affordable accommodations, but you can pick your destination based on who has the best/most terrain open. (or bail entirely if Ullr is sleeping in this season). 

A couple of years ago we planned a trip where we flew into Burlington.  We didn't pick a resort until two days before the flight.  The winner was Bretton Woods that year.  Who knows who'll have the best conditions this year?  Why commit to anything until you know?

Further north is the better bet.  Perhaps Tremblant?
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
This might be a noob question, but what's Ullr?
 
post #12 of 19

Ullr is the Norse god of winter.  Like most Norse gods he can respond very favorably to drinking beer in his name. 

You should do that on your trip wherever you choose to go.    Have fun!

 

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post


Do Sugarloaf and Sunday River both have good amounts of blues and blacks, and long runs? How about ski-in ski-out?

Both SL & SR have plenty of ski in/out condos, blue and black trails.  SL has much longer runs, much steeper runs (people will argue this but it is true), but as others have said SL relies more on natural snow so you may not get to taste the likes of Bubble Cuffer, Upper Winters Way, White Nitro or the Snow Fields in early season.  SR has shorter runs, but will be blasting the slopes with snow for the holidays and likely have a few show case steeps open like White Heat.
 
 
post #14 of 19
Second hand info:

A buddy of mine always went to the boston ski expo to pick up a sweet ski and stay package at sugarloaf.  He always said it was the best out there for preseason prices.  The expo is coming up here in Boston (http://www.bewisports.com/expos/boston)

Thursday, November 19 - 4pm to 10pm
Friday, November 20 - 4pm to 10pm
Saturday, November 21 - 10am to 8pm
Sunday, November 22 - 10am to 6pm
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post

Hi,

I'm trying to plan a 3-day trip leaving from the Boston area, probably the week of 12/13 (which will in most cases get us non-peak pricing). However, I don't know how to pick a resort. I've come up with a list of a few places, namely: Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Sugarbush, Killington, and Stowe. I'm assuming they all cost approximately the same (unless you know of any great deals...?) and the driving times don't vary by more than an hour, so what I'm really trying to figure out is simply which would be the best place to ski.

We're a small group, probably about 4, and assume we're intermediate. To use myself as a barometer, I'm not a terribly experienced skier, but I went to Killington once a few years ago and by the second day I was skiing blues and blacks (but not double blacks).

The important considerations are:
Variety of trails
Length of trails (would prefer not to be on the lift every 5 minutes)
Availability of blues and blacks
Availibility of affordable ski-in/ski-out accomodations (less important than the other considerations)

I've been reading these forums for a couple weeks now and I can tell that they're a great resource, so I really appreciate any help you're all able to give me.

Thanks,

nkage487
 
I went to killington last year and stayed on the access road in december ( I think.)  It was about 60 and raining and then it all froze over at night... which is not good.  They did have a lot of nice blues and blacks.  I wouldn't call the runs very long if that is what you wanted.  The website says it is 3000' vertical feet but thats if you go all the way to the first gondi stage on a boring green.  If sugarbush has snow you have gotta check it out.  Castlerock is great but might be a little hard for you.  Suagrbush has great views but not much nightlife and ski- in ski- out.  Stowe is very similar but more nightlife.
Overall you can't really go wrong with any of them as long as their is snow.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I guess the consensus is that the only safe bets for snow if I book in advance are Killington and SR, but that if possible I should wait until right beforehand and see if any of the other places got good natural snow - Stowe looks like a really good time if conditions permit.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm sure I'll be back here with more questions soon.
 
post #17 of 19
Howdy nkage487....

Not much here on Sugarloaf so I thought I would add this......

As said, wait as long as you can before committing to a resort. Lodging won't be a problem here in Maine so you can literally book a week in advance. Or, a day in advance.

Sugarloaf should be at least near the top for mountains to watch. I have skied there for many years and todays snowmaking at the 'loaf is about as impressive as it gets. Major $$$$$$$ has gone into snowmaking improvements over the past 2 or 3 years. The comments above are not up to date.

In the old days it seemed like they would have 1 or 2 trails open early season for the first month. Not that way anymore. I remember watching trails open last year and it was like watching lift poles go by.....Tote open. Kings Landing open. Guage open. Spillway open. Hayburner open....and on and on and in like 2 or 3 weeks there were 30+ trails open. It happened state of the art fast last year, and I ain't kidding. 

All it takes is cold weather AND Boyne can make snow at higher temperatures than most. 

Check Sugarloaf a week before your trip...you sound flexible in which resort to go to. If the loaf has 10 or 12 trails I would head there. If not, elswhere.

Wait and see.

As a side note....I think it was last year that me and my buddies were riding the Superquad at SL mid season and they were making snow over on Gondie Line. I'm telling you, we were in awe of the snowstorm that was lit up on that trail. It looked like they had 25 guns or more screeching on the mid section of that trail. I'd never seen snowmaking like that in 25+ years of skiing. At Sugarloaf. Un-real. No joke.

You might think I work for them...I don't. I am a local day skier that hearts that mountain and the improvements that have come along that benefits the day skier.

It's simply a great place to be.  
post #18 of 19
If you need to book early Killington is a fairly safe bet as they have good snowmaking coverage and a good variety of terrain. There is a lot of good night life and places to eat as well. December there won't be too cold or too crowded. I would also recommend Stowe if you can wait to plan and see if they have snow. Stowe is probably an hour and a half further away but a very nice mountain.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
thanks again for all the advice - i think i'm gonna talk it over with my friends and we'll probably end up waiting to make our decision until right before, based on whatever the conditions at the time may be.
 
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