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Saddleback

dlague

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I have only been to Saddleback once and loved the place. However, the line for the double was out of control. Didn't effect my day that much or my decision to return, as the terrain I wanted to ski was off the Kennebago which was ski on. However, if I was there to ski off the double I would be hesitant to return, so I understand where the long line perception comes from even if it is only the case a small % of days. Of course I told people how much I loved the place, but also about the lines, so I guess I am part of the problem.

We generally go there for the RSNE weekend at least for the past four years. We always have fun. Our strategy is to ride the double and then lap/ski the Kennebago Quad. If the line is too long, take the double chair next to the lodge (Sandy) and scoot over to the Cupsuptic T-bar and ski "The Pass" (mountain traverse) over to Kennebago Quad or lap the T-bar. Basically I may ride the Rangeley Double about twice in a day - waste of time!
 

deadheadskier

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They will never find a buyer in my opinion if the keep the ski area sale separated from the mountain real estate property. That is how they have it now and I don't see a buyer for just the ski resort operation. They will need to sell both to find a buyer so I am not convinced they want to sell "really bad". They may want to shed the operations of the ski area if it is bleeding money, but holding onto the real estate tells me they still think long term SB has growth potential.

Agreed. No one is buying the place unless an abundance of slope side real estate is included.
 

drjeff

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Bottom line, for the masses (I.E. the folks who ski resorts make most of their $$ off of) Saddleback is always going to be perceived as being a LONG ride into the middle of cold nowhere to sit on some slow lifts. That is a combo that will make it tough for them to get what they really need, which is a yearly increase of 10-25k plus visitors....
 

dlague

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Bottom line, for the masses (I.E. the folks who ski resorts make most of their $$ off of) Saddleback is always going to be perceived as being a LONG ride into the middle of cold nowhere to sit on some slow lifts. That is a combo that will make it tough for them to get what they really need, which is a yearly increase of 10-25k plus visitors....

Funny the ride up does not seem that bad due to excitement I guess but the ride home seems long as hell!
 

steamboat1

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I would argue that Smuggs is much more of a destination resort than Saddleback. Smuggs has an award winning ski school, a lot of condo build out, multiple restaurants, pools, hot tubs etc.
Saddleback ski school and the terrain they teach on is excellent but they don't really have the other amenities that makes doing a week long vacation quite as easy with a family. Folks at Smuggs are willing to deal with the slow doubles since the build out is already there and there is much more to do beyond the skiing.
Also Smuggs draws from a greater local population base---Burlington and surrounding towns is more built up than Rangeley.
The town of Rangeley is great but is a bit detached from the mountain as well.
Smuggs does a pretty good summer business also from what I saw. Passed by 2 weeks ago & the Morse parking lot was pretty full. I drove up the road where all the condo development is & that also looked to be pretty full. This was on a weekday. A lot more activity going on at Smuggs than at Stowe. So busy in fact they had several shuttle vans driving around the area.
 

crank

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I haven't been in 7 years but I remember the town of Rangely being pretty small with a couple motels and maybe 3 places to eat. Completely take over by sledders in the winter.
 

bigbog

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It's a very small village on a lake known for its history of trout DNA;-). Two of the best known river systems in the state , for trout fishing, flow into the lake, but that's it...and snomobiling. Skiing runs behind fishing in Maine. A completely different scene from Vermont and NH. Rangeley is out in the lesser developed/populated woodlands of Maine..ie rural...in comparison to Vermont or New Hampshire...where more developed highways helps customer travel and elevation with big mountains that would seem to make running a ski resort pretty easy. Idiots who can't manage a three car funeral are out there....everywhere...today, but I wonder if Les Otten couldn't make something of the place....y/n?
 
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xwhaler

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Rangeley has grown quite a bit for those who haven't been up there in years. There are a bunch of yr round and seasonal restaurants, a bowling alley, retail shops, multiple marinas around the lake, 2 golf courses, etc.
It's not Burlington or anything remotely close but compared to say Carabassett Valley there is much more going on as a 4 season destination.
I'll be up there over Labor Day wknd (rented a cabin on the lake with my family) and can try and upload some pics if anyone is interested.
 

dlague

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I would argue that Smuggs is much more of a destination resort than Saddleback. Smuggs has an award winning ski school, a lot of condo build out, multiple restaurants, pools, hot tubs etc.
Saddleback ski school and the terrain they teach on is excellent but they don't really have the other amenities that makes doing a week long vacation quite as easy with a family. Folks at Smuggs are willing to deal with the slow doubles since the build out is already there and there is much more to do beyond the skiing.
Also Smuggs draws from a greater local population base---Burlington and surrounding towns is more built up than Rangeley.
The town of Rangeley is great but is a bit detached from the mountain as well.

Not to mention that getting to Smuggs is much easier and closer to Boston and NYC by 1 or 2 hours respectively, Smuggs has much better terrain and twice the size too! So considering the lift prices being the same $69 (Saddleback) vs $70 Smuggs. It is easier to understand why people are more attracked to Smuggs not to mention that Smuggs has something people are willing to wait in line for.
 

fiddleski

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I know Les Otten's name is poison to some, but he does seem to have the magic touch with investors and bankers. Saddleback seems to have much more potential to me than The Balsams, but if the Berrys are not interested in selling the development property, then there's nowhere to go with it. I never could understand that sale strategy.
It's a very small village on a lake known for its history of trout DNA;-). Two of the best known river systems in the state , for trout fishing, flow into the lake, but that's it...and snomobiling. Skiing runs behind fishing in Maine. A completely different scene from Vermont and NH. Rangeley is out in the lesser developed/populated woodlands of Maine..ie rural...in comparison to Vermont or New Hampshire...where more developed highways helps customer travel and elevation with big mountains that would seem to make running a ski resort pretty easy. Idiots who can't manage a three car funeral are out there....everywhere...today, but I wonder if Les Otten couldn't make something of the place....y/n?
 

prsboogie

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Not to mention that getting to Smuggs is much easier and closer to Boston and NYC by 1 or 2 hours respectively

Curious, it too me 5 to smuggs and 5 to SB and that was with the same # of stops from the Providence area
 

dlague

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Yeah, maybe 30 minute difference max (excluding traffic).

I forgot that 108 is closed in the winter adding and extra 20 minutes or so to Smuggs trip. In any case, I think Smuggs still offers better terrain and is significantly larger for the lift ticket costs.
 

VTKilarney

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People here have hit the nail on the head. Smuggs seen by many of its customers as a destination resort. Saddleback is not.
 

DoublePlanker

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Smuggs is also a lot closer to Montreal metro area. So I'm guessing there are significantly more skier visits from Canada at Smuggs than Saddleback.
 
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I forgot that 108 is closed in the winter adding and extra 20 minutes or so to Smuggs trip. In any case, I think Smuggs still offers better terrain and is significantly larger for the lift ticket costs.

I agree that the terrain is better at Smuggs, but weekend/holiday lift lines combined with the slow lift system makes runs off of the Madonna 1 chair take forever. I can't believe so many people drive so far to wait in those lines. Saddleback has a slow lift system, but you spend considerably more time in the snow there than at Smuggs.

Also, to DHS's point, I think that the sterling lift at Smuggs and the Rangeley chair at Saddleback are probably in the most desperate need of high speed replacements as anywhere in the east. Don't know if one at Saddleback will ever make economic sense though.
 

dlague

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I agree that the terrain is better at Smuggs, but weekend/holiday lift lines combined with the slow lift system makes runs off of the Madonna 1 chair take forever. I can't believe so many people drive so far to wait in those lines. Saddleback has a slow lift system, but you spend considerably more time in the snow there than at Smuggs.

Also, to DHS's point, I think that the sterling lift at Smuggs and the Rangeley chair at Saddleback are probably in the most desperate need of high speed replacements as anywhere in the east. Don't know if one at Saddleback will ever make economic sense though.

Trust me, I am not a fan of Smuggs setup. I do like the terrain. However, we ski there probably once every two years because each time I go I get reminded of the lift lines and the craziness at the restaurants/bars for food and beverages. I agree with you regarding time on the snow, though. Once you are on the Kennebago Quad - no real need to be on the Double. I will often ski off the T-bar if I want to hit some runs in the blue pod and you can still cut back over to Kennebago.
 

deadheadskier

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To go through the Notch to Smuggs from downtown Stowe takes about 20-25 minutes. To go around via Stagecoach Road and route 15, it's about 40-45 minutes. So, it really is only about 20 minutes further driving around.

That said, in winter when you're coming from Boston you go a different route to Smuggs than you do to Stowe. Fastest route is to continue up 93 to Saint Johnsbury and grab 2 > 15 across.

Google maps automatically routes via 108 and the Notch because that's the least mileage. That's where I assume Dlague got his time estimate from.
 
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