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girlfriend's first time skiing - which new england resort?

post #1 of 98
Thread Starter 

a bit of background:

 

i'm a not-terribly-experienced-but-decent skier, can ski most blacks in the northeast, and have been improving steadily. planning to go out west for the first time this season.

 

a couple of years ago i convinced my girlfriend to let me teach her how to ski. suffice it to say, i wish i had read some of the advice on this forum first! she actually got the hang of it very quickly, but i of course tried to take her on steeper trails way too soon, and the day pretty much ended right there. haven't tried again since.

 

this year i have another shot, she's agreed to give it another try, and i want to do it right, so i was planning  on going somewhere for 3 days in early/mid january and getting her lessons. looking for advice on where we should go.

 

from my research, the top prospects are sugarbush, whiteface, and killington. they each have some kind of 3-day 'learn to ski' program.

 

my priorities are great instruction and great beginner terrain - i think she'll pick it up pretty well and will want to move off the bunny hill after not too long, but won't want to get run over by advanced skiers on crossovers. also, would like somewhere with nice views and a nice town/village - we're not looking for parties, but would like to be able to walk around somewhere at night, etc.

 

what can anyone recommend? for obvious reasons, i want her to be as excited about skiing as i am, so i want her to have the best all-around experience possible.

 

thanks in advance for the advice - these forums are a fantastic resource!

 

 

note: would love to consider stowe as well, but i think we're priced out, based on some preliminary research

 

note 2: so far i've been thinking to stick with the 'big mountains' because of the impressive views and experience, and also because i'd prefer to have more to explore while she's taking lessons :-) open to other suggestions as well though

post #2 of 98

I would avoid MLK weekend. The weekend after is usually less crowded. Sugarbush has a beautiful hotel in the base so you can walk to the trails. There are also restaurants in the base area for dinners.

post #3 of 98
Thread Starter 

oh yeah, i think we'll probably go the week of jan 9 so as to avoid the holiday crowds (and rates?)

 

thanks for bringing up lodging, forgot to mention that - affordable slopeside lodging would be an amazing help. is that hotel at sugarbush relatively reasonable price-wise? sugarbush would actually be best from my own selfish perspective, been dying to try it based on what i've read on these forums, so i certainly wouldn't mind if that ended up being the best for the gf beercheer.gif

post #4 of 98

OKEMO....that is a ski hill that will make a begginer feel great!!!  My wife and I are both advanced imtermediates and we've skiied that twice and both times have come away feeling wonderful. It's just a super nice hill and even skis in thru the condos next to the slopes and the whole hill just has a "fun" feeling about it.

post #5 of 98

 

Quote:

from my research, the top prospects are sugarbush, whiteface, and killington. they each have some kind of 3-day 'learn to ski' program.

 

my priorities are great instruction and great beginner terrain - i think she'll pick it up pretty well and will want to move off the bunny hill after not too long, but won't want to get run over by advanced skiers on crossovers

 

Killington's beginner terrain is largely the very definition of being run over by advanced skiers on crossovers.

 

As for beginner-friendly mountains -- the two that immediately come to mind are Okemo (which can be a mad-house on the weekends) and Bretton Woods.  Neither one has anything all that challenging, so you can roam without too much worry.  The view from Bretton Woods is mighty nice, as Mt. Washington and the rest of the Presidential Range is across the valley.

post #6 of 98

a few random comments

- that time in Jan can be very cold in New England, late Feb and early Mar have low crowds and usually more beginner-friendly weather

-Whiteface and Killington probably not so good for your intentions because of predominance of busy or challenging slopes

-if you try sugarbush, consider hostel tevere for inexpensive, but non-private lodging. The nice slopeside place (Clay Brook condo hotel) they are referring to could be pricey.

-agree that Okemo and Bretton Woods would be good candidates, might also suggest Smuggler's Notch which could be less costly than OK or BW and has dedicated beginner hill and some challenging steeps on main mtn.

-some mid-size hills might offer good value and excellent beginner stuff, eg. Sunapee, Gunstock, Bromley, Cranmore, Belleayre, lots more

post #7 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

a few random comments

- that time in Jan can be very cold in New England, late Feb and early Mar have low crowds and usually more beginner-friendly weather


I think the only problem about waiting that long to start is that if she likes it, you wont' be able to consolidate her feelings with a few more days on the hill.  Those days, where you really feel like you're getting better and the mountain is starting to open up to you, are the ones that get you addicted (at least in my experience).  If you wait until the end of February or March, she might love it, but then have to put away the skis after one more trip and by the next year, the ember might have gone cold.

post #8 of 98

You said Jan 9th, which is a sunday, so if your were going 3 days into the week Killington wouldn't be that bad, if you're interested in the big mountain scene. Great intermediate groomers there as well, however if it is crowded(weekend)  it will not suit your needs. I hear great things about Sugarbush and lodging there, Smuggs is a good option, and Bromley is great too and has a southern exposure for nice warm sunshine.

post #9 of 98

It's been a while since i skied on the east coast, but i think i recall Mount Snow being a good beginners place (though, a bit smaller than the other options). I would also 2nd Okemo and Smuggler's Notch. 

post #10 of 98

If you don't mind the longer drive go for Sugarloaf in ME, usually can get slope side in the Inn with lift tickets for a fair price, nice beginner terrain, no crowds. As others have said it will be cold that time especially up there but there is clothing and equipment for that. Nice thing about slope side is go right into your place and relax and warm up then go back out if feel like it.Look into their white , white winter week special they usually have in Jan.

There is also a good deal at Killington that if you upgrade her beginner package at the end of the first day for about $99 you get 3 more group lesson/lift/ rentals at Killington plus 3 lifts/rentals at Pico for use any time of this year. You should look into that especially if you can do Sun - early mid week. Just mid week would be much better. Saturadys it can get crowded especially as people fly down the easy slopes to get back to lifts and lodges.

post #11 of 98

Okemo or BW are definitely good ideas, particularly if you're going midweek.

 

Sunday River in Maine has some great deals on lodging and lifts midweek and also has a good variety of terrain.

post #12 of 98

FWIW, my wife's first time skiing was a trip to Mont Tremblant in Quebec, and she found it absolutely charming.  She really, really loved the place.  So did I.

 

However, she wasn't very impressed with her ski school experience.  But I took an advanced group lesson and liked my instructor just fine.

 

I don't know where you're coming from but Tremblant is probably a bit farther to travel than the places mentioned above.  But not *that* much farther.  90 miles from Montreal, so that makes it, what, 2.5 hours from the US border?

post #13 of 98

Regarding your desire for a village to walk around, although that's secondary, Okemo has one just off the mountain; Wilmington down the road from Mt. Snow is cute, Whiteface has Lake Placid down the road, but Sugarbush, Killington, and Bretton Woods don't.

post #14 of 98

Okemo gets my vote.  The mountain has something to offer everyone, but has very nice cruising trails.  They don't have alot of intersecting trails like some other mountains. Also, they do a great job with grooming. Great place to take a beginner. 

 

If Maine isn't too far, Sunday River would also be a good choice.  Not too much of a town, but you can stay slopeside with very nice accomadations relatively cheap, especially if you arrive on a Sunday.  

post #15 of 98

If you want a ski town & good beginner/intermediate skiing I'd recommend:

 

1) Stratton, Has a cute little base village at the mountain & Manchester, which isn't to far away, is a village which is basically one big outlet store after another. Bromley or Magic are close to Manchester also but don't have base villages. They all have good skiing with Magic probably being the toughest hill in the area

 

2) Okemo, no village on the mountain but Ludlow is right there, not much to talk about though. I don't really care for the skiing at Okemo because it's a cow pasture but that might be right up your ally.

 

3) Killington has lots of lodging options & lively night life but doesn't really have a village but the access road is quite active. Midweek at Killington is usually empty, especially in Jan. This is where I ski mostly because it's closest to my house & I've been getting a midweek pass for years. They have 2 separate mountains which are pretty much dedicated to beginners (Snowshed & Ramshead) & you won't deal with advanced skier traffic. If you want to move up there's plenty of more gnarly & intermediate terrain to explore. Okemo has zero gnarly terrain but Statton although not a steep mountain has much better terrain than Okemo in my view.

 

4) Sugarbush has great skiing & beautiful scenery but there's not much else in the Mad River Valley. If your into skiing more than nightlife it's one of the best in VT. Sugarbush is actually two very large but separate ski areas with plenty of terrain for all abilities

 

5) Stowe, You said your priced out but it is one of the better places to go. They have an absolutely beautiful new base village & the town of Stowe is one of the best towns in VT. Stowe also has a very active access road & lots of lodging options. The skiing & scenery at Stowe is legendary but the Spruce Peak area caters to mostly beginner/intermediate skiers. I'd give it a big thumbs up. Don't count yourself priced out because as I said they have a large variety of lodging options in the area. This place will certainly fill all of the criteria you asked for so try doing a little more research..

 

6) Smugglers Notch, Pretty good mountain when they have snow. They are not noted for their snowmaking or grooming & supposedly cater to families with kids. Not much of a base village (mostly just condo's) & nothing else nearby. The begiiner area (Morse Mtn) is basically it for beginners & isn't much, the rest of the mountain is intermediate/expert terrain. They don't put much money into the mountain with all old slow double chairs for lifts. There money is in their condo's.

 

7) Bretton Woods, although I've never skied there I have been there several times. Mountain appears to be mostly beginner/intermediate & the views of Mt. Washington & the rest of the White Mountains is stunning. Don't know much about lodging in the area but the Mt. Washington Hotel is right across the road. They have no base village & it doesn't appear to be much else in the area.

 

Hope this helps a little & if you'd like to know anything else about any area in New England just ask. I've been to all of them more than once.


Edited by steamboat1 - 12/9/10 at 2:54pm
post #16 of 98

Killington is not a bad choice for a beginner/novice if you stick to Snowshed and Rams Head.  High speed quads on each and little advanced skier traffic to deal with.  Another good choice near Killingtonn is Pico.  Probably the most overlooked mountain in the east.  And the high speed quad out of the base serves a variety of easy novice to lower intermediate trails.  Cheaper than any of the other places mentioned to.  And you can have the nightlife of the Killington access road if you are up to it after a day of skiing.

post #17 of 98
Thread Starter 

wow, thanks for all of the responses everyone! just got caught up now!

 

i definitely will have to look into some of the newly advised places above. i hear the weather comment, but for work/school reasons, i think it's going to have to be that week. also, as marcus mentioned, i want her to get addicted like i am, so would prefer to have the option out there to take her again this year if she likes it.

 

we're not too concerned with a party scene, so killington doesn't offer any real advantage in that sense

 

driving wise, our most probably outset point is ny, so all else equal, i'd prefer to stay away from the really far places right now. i would have loved to do sugarloaf (did sunday river last year with a similar great deal on slopeside ski/stay), but that's gotta be at least 8 hours each way, and can't manage that for a 3-day trip. tremblant is probably out as well. sugarbush looks like about 5 hours, so i think that's right around the limit of what would work.

 

re: stowe - i'm dying to get there too, but i really don't think it's within the budget for this trip. assuming things go well, i'm sure i'll be taking said lady up there in the future, maybe once she has a bit more experience and can really make the most of it...and once i've worked for a little longer and can actually afford it...my back of the envelope estimate put stowe at around 150% of the cost of the other resorts

 

does anyone have experience and/or information about quality of instruction at any of the resorts? that's going to be key, since i want her to both learn well and (more importantly) have a fantastic time doing it.

 

we WILL be going midweek, so hopefully that should mitigate the crowd concerns, especially at a place like killington - thanks for the heads up on that

 

so as of now, the top contenders look like sugarbush, killington, and maybe okemo.

 

if i'm paying big-resort prices, i'd lean towards a place with terrain that i'll enjoy as well. has anyone had a great experience at any of the more mid-size places in nh/vermont? with great instruction? if it were a significantly lower price, i might consider that and pass on my big-mountain terrain for this trip, but otherwise, it sounds like sugarbush, killington, and maybe okemo might fit both of our bills.

 

i'm really in awe of all the helpful responses - what a great forum, thanks everyone. looking forward to more advice, especially about instruction

 

post #18 of 98
Thread Starter 

my only hesitation with pico, btw, is that i think i want to stay at one resort for the three days so that she gets nice and comfortable, and i think i might get pretty bored at pico over three days, given it's size. would love to spend a day or two there at some point though, maybe on a follow-up trip...also convenient area because we might be launching from boston on future trips

post #19 of 98

I've been in the exact same boat as you-I was an ambitious intermediate looking to get my honey into skiing and lived in new england.  Here's my thoughts on what works.

 

All the major destination New England ski areas are priced pretty close-so I'm not sure why you'd be priced out of Stowe??  (they are all getting 75-85 a day for non-pass holders, etc).Stowe would be my recommendation-it's a great great couples destination (lots of classy post-ski couples endeavors to pursue-from spas to good dinners etc).

 

It has some of the most majestic beginner terrain anywhere-Spruce Peak area is great-but I love the long, beautiful Toll rd cruiser-it's a green that lets beginners go to the top of the mountain, and it doesn't intersect/ cross expert trails and tends to not be a thoroughfare for high speed skiers heading to other terrain (which is the case with most green cruisers throughout new england).  There is a whole toll house beginner area that's pretty nice as well.  The views and everything else make Stowe a wonderful place as well.

 

The Challenging terrain is as challenging as anything anywhere else in the USA. 

 

BUT-and this goes for wherever you take your honey, go during the week and not on a weekend.  The qualitative difference in a beginners experience in New England between a Saturday and a non-holiday Monday is huge. 

 

Take time off of work, or call in sick-you'll make a life long ski fan out of your woman if you take her to Stowe midweek.

 

My second recommendation, also a little pricey, but not horrible mid week is Stratton-it has a lot of beginner terrain that begins at the top of the mountain but doesn't intersect with busier, high speed trails.  And it's pretty and chicks dig it (and the vail-esque village is a nice draw for some folks).

 

And, if you want cheap and uncrowded (midweek or otherwise), pretty and decent terrain for beginners and rockstars, I'd push for my home hill of Berkshire east in Charlemont, MA-you can get a ski lesson for your woman from Epic's own Skimangojazz (good guy, good intructor!).

 

Liam

 

 

 

 

post #20 of 98
Thread Starter 

oh man, you're just about making my mouth water to go to stowe! in a selfish sense i'm dying to ski there, and like you said, i really think my girlfriend would melt with an experience like that.

 

i think the difference in price comes largely because stowe doesn't seem to have a beginner package like the others do. at killington/sugarbush, for $200/$230 respectively (i think), i could set her up with lessons, lifts, and rentals for three days.

 

at stowe, the best i found was stowe-for-starters on day 1 (two 1.5 hour lessons, plus lift ticket), and then slightly discounted lift tickets on days 2 and 3 without lessons. then i would have to add on rentals for 3 days - which, even if i did it off-mountain, would probably run at least $60-$70 for the whole package, and on-mountain would be $150.

 

i'm also assuming that getting decent lodging at stowe would run quite a bit more expensive than a place like sugarbush...

 

will these places make up custom package deals if i call and try to work something out?

 

separate question i didn't think to ask before - any perspective on whether doing three days of lessons is the best way to go about this? the bush/k-ton packages seemed like an awesome way to get her started, but maybe i'm thinking about it the wrong way? do you think two lessons on day one at stowe would be enough to ensure her having a good time overall?

 

i'll look into stratton, hadn't really yet because it seems to get slammed a lot on these boards for all sorts of reasons.

 

berk east - wanted to try that when i was at school in boston, never got around to it - has potential as a follow up (don't think it's big enough for three days, like pico...), and i'd be more than happy to do a lesson with skimangojazz - thanks for the rec on that

 

man, if i can find a way to do stowe affordably...

post #21 of 98

Thanks Liam for the kind words.  I am far from the best Instructor at Berkshire East, but I do find that working with adult beginners, and in particular women is one of my strengths.  Having started skiing as an adult I'm very in tune with fear issues.

 

As to Stowe, I agree, and there are affordable lodging options up there, don't know about package prices though.  The Town and Country isn't expensive and there are other motels around as well.  If you go definitely go up to the Trapp Family Lodge and look around - that's where The Sound of Music was filmed.

 

post #22 of 98

Pico is closed on Tues & Wed during non-holiday weeks anyway.

post #23 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

 

As to Stowe, I agree, and there are affordable lodging options up there, don't know about package prices though.  The Town and Country isn't expensive and there are other motels around as well.  If you go definitely go up to the Trapp Family Lodge and look around - that's where The Sound of Music was filmed.

 


The "Sound of Music" is loosely based on the von Trapp family story.  The movie was filmed in Salzburg,Austria and in the 20th Century-Fox studios in Hollywood.
 

post #24 of 98

I'll toss another vote in there for Stowe. It can be pricy as many have pointed out, but the Spruce area is a great place to learn to ski. My buddies and I went up there last year and a few of our girlfriends had never skied before.  There are extremely wide open and relatively flat trails directly in front of the new lodge which are perfect for beginners.  In the event that your girlfriend feels overwhelmed or wants to take a break, the lodge is gorgeous.  Also, Waterbury/Stowe area is awesome and you can certainly entertain yourselves with other activities besides skiing. Do it. 

post #25 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWF-VT View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

 

As to Stowe, I agree, and there are affordable lodging options up there, don't know about package prices though.  The Town and Country isn't expensive and there are other motels around as well.  If you go definitely go up to the Trapp Family Lodge and look around - that's where The Sound of Music was filmed.

 


The "Sound of Music" is loosely based on the von Trapp family story.  The movie was filmed in Salzburg,Austria and in the 20th Century-Fox studios in Hollywood.
 


I stand corrected.

post #26 of 98

It's hard to get a handle on pricing off the net, I'd call the mountain directly.

 

Just what I found out quickly:

 

Stowe lift & lesson is $95 a day midweek, I don't believe it includes rentals.

 

Sugarbush lift, lesson & rental 3 day package is $230. 1st day ticket only good for beginner area but day 2 & 3 is a regular ticket. They say once you complete the 3 day learn to ski program your entitled to a free all mountain season pass. I'd definitely ask about that one since season passes are over a grand. If that's true I'd make believe I'm a beginner for 3 days myself, lol.

 

Killington lift, lesson & rental 3 day package is $199.

 

It was hard to determine pricing & what it included on The Stratton & Okemo websites.

 

Good Luck

 

edit: forgot to mention if your driving from NYC & taking  Int 91 into Int 89 Stowe & Sugarbush are about the same driving time. Both a little over 5 hrs with no traffic & a short gas stop, Stowe might be just slightly more. Killington isn't really a bargain because it's still a long haul over if you get off at White River Junction. If you get off at Ludlow & then take Rt 100 up from there to get to K-mart you'd be driving right by Okemo. Stratton would be the shortest drive coming from NYC.


Edited by steamboat1 - 12/10/10 at 11:29am
post #27 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post

my only hesitation with pico, btw, is that i think i want to stay at one resort for the three days so that she gets nice and comfortable, and i think i might get pretty bored at pico over three days, given it's size. would love to spend a day or two there at some point though, maybe on a follow-up trip...also convenient area because we might be launching from boston on future trips


Pico is a mid-sized area, but has just under 2000 foot vertical and 50 trails.  Not bad.  And its so close to Killington you can ski both easily.  The Pico Super Express card is a GREAT deal.  Three days of skiing for $99 and then discounts after that.  Note they will stop selling them shortly. 

 

Also give Killington a call about their 3-day learn-to-ski packages.  They were offering some really good deals on them but don't seem to advertise them well. 
 

post #28 of 98

If you are coming from NY it sounds like VT is going to give you your best options. I would rank them in terms of travel time and give you three options that will give you a bit of everything you are looking for. Based on closest to furthest...Stratton, Okemo and Stowe. I would stay away from Sugarbush as there is not much that your girlfriend will be skiing if you want to keep her on green trails where she can gain confidence. 

post #29 of 98

Go to Okemo.  Why?  First they have great snow making and grooming.  Second, they have tons of beginner and easy intermediate terrain all over the mountain.  Third, fairly close for you from NYC.  And finally, this is about getting your girlfriend into skiing.  Forget about getting in challenging runs for yourself.  If you want to be challenged take up snowboarding and share the beginner experience with your girl.  You can both  struggle your way down Mountain Road from the top.  She can laugh at you as you flail and fall and she will feel better about her own lack of skills rather than frustrated that she can't keep up.

 

Your other option is Stratton, which is similar in challenge, or lack thereof, to Okemo, and has more of a base village and may be slightly closer to you.  Killington is, IMO too big and lacks the charm of the other areas.

post #30 of 98

Okemo would be my first choice.  And I suggest that you keep her inside if it gets too cold. 

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