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Xmas 2014

gt2200

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I guess I should start by saying 'Hi' from over the pond as I'm a Newbie to the site and so this is my first post.

As the title kinda suggests I'm planning ahead for Christmas 2014 and thinking of returning to the US, it's been some 14yrs since I last visited!!! The last time BC (Before Children), my wife and I came to the US with our best buddies, and we saw in the Millennium with Christmas in Stowe and New Year in Boston......it was an awesome holiday, stunning Skiing in Stowe and Boston was just fabulous with it's atmosphere, history etc.

Now looking at the similar trip again, my wife has said she really wants to go to Boston again for the New Year celebrations......and probably shopping at Tiffany's, but the real question is whether Stowe is still the resort to go for, or the one that best suits our family, this is where you guys come in?

To give you a heads up we're planning on being in the resort for 5days skiing, I'm really looking for one with a decent ski school for the children (both beginners, with a little skiing experience) and skiing suitable for Intermediates as that's the level my wife is comfortable with.

Having looked at Stowe again it would appear it's had a huge amount of development (which I guess would happen in 14yrs) but I'm concerned it's sort of lost it's 'homely' atmosphere and consequently also seen a big hike in prices.

Accommodation wise last time we stayed in the Stowe Motel & Snowdirft which was fine as it's really only a place to bed down as meals will be out most days.

I guess the $64,000 (is that just an English saying) is whether Stowe is still the East Coasts (driveable from Boston) best resort or whether there are other resorts we should be considering to suit our ski level.....and also not wanting to get stung by silly prices for passes / ski-school etc?

I look forward to any advice you guys n gals can offer....
 

jaytrem

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Stowe is still a good choice. But yes, the prices might be a bit high. Jay Peak could be an option. Lots to do there beyond skiing, and they probably have the best shot at good natural snow for Christmas. Sugarloaf in Maine could be nice, not sure how the Christmas crowds are there. For something a bit more off the map maybe Saddleback, also in Maine. New England certainly has a lot of options. Tons of smaller places that won't have the crowds, but if you're used to European skiing I imagine they would look REALLY small.

$64,000 question works over here too.
 

gt2200

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In my opinion Stowe is still the best. If you haven't seen the new base area they built at Spruce Peak I think you'll be quite impressed by it.

Thanks Steamboat1......I guess one of the things we really loved about Stowe was the 'homely' feel of the town and friendliness of the whole area, I wonder has any of that been lost due to the development? ....... more importantly are they still serving Chowder in a Bun on top of Spruce Peak in the café?
 

steamboat1

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Thanks Steamboat1......I guess one of the things we really loved about Stowe was the 'homely' feel of the town and friendliness of the whole area, I wonder has any of that been lost due to the development? ....... more importantly are they still serving Chowder in a Bun on top of Spruce Peak in the café?
Nothing much has changed in town or on the access road. The ski area is still the same but with several lift improvements. New HSQ at both Little & Big Spruce & a new higher capacity HSQ on Mansfield. There's also a gondola connecting Spruce with Mansfield so there's no need to take a shuttle anymore. Don't know about a cafe on top of Spruce, never had one there to my knowledge. You must be thinking of either the Octagon restaurant at the top of the Mansfield quad or the Cliff House at the top of the Mansfield gondola. I'm sure one of those places still has chowder in a bread bowl since this is popular at many ski areas. If not I think you'll be quite impressed with the food they serve in the Great Room in the Spruce lodge. All the food is good albeit expensive.

Oh & the snowmaking at Stowe can't be beat. They've invested over $8 million in snowmaking in the past 2 years & they use it. If anyplace is going to have good skiing over the Christmas holiday it's Stowe
 

gt2200

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Stowe is still a good choice. But yes, the prices might be a bit high. Jay Peak could be an option. Lots to do there beyond skiing, and they probably have the best shot at good natural snow for Christmas. Sugarloaf in Maine could be nice, not sure how the Christmas crowds are there. For something a bit more off the map maybe Saddleback, also in Maine. New England certainly has a lot of options. Tons of smaller places that won't have the crowds, but if you're used to European skiing I imagine they would look REALLY small.

$64,000 question works over here too.

Some gr8 names popping up there. I've heard of Jay Peak and Sugarloaf, so guess I need a bit more research on those. We've not actually done any real skiing since our last Stowe visit, only indoors......so we've never really got into the European Ski scene. We rarely do big 'blow-out' holidays, but as the children, now 8 & 10yrs old, are old enough to enjoy and remember the experience their parents give to them it seem only right that as we loved the US skiing so much, and all that Boston had to offer, that we come back to the same neck-of-the-woods for their first experience :)
 

mister moose

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Patience. You're planning 11 months in advance, and get nervous in 8 hours about your responses?

Anyway, my tuppence:

Stowe has the best village, most quaint, etc. I think it skis a little small. Great natural snow, good vertical. But I rate it over rated.
Jay has a waterpark and better snow, but average intermediate terrain. Snow usually isn't better during Christmas as it is still early season here ( by that I mean all of VT) and most terrain anywhere this time of year will be on a man made base.
Okemo is known for great intermediate terrain, small but nice village, and good grooming. It might also be the most crowded choice.
Killington pushes hardest in early season snowmaking, has a good mix of restaurants and shops but no real village feel, and has good kids programs in the Rams Head base.

Do you want to try something new, or go with a known (to you) quantity?

I'd say go for the best intermediate terrain and try Okemo or Killington. Or stay at Hawk Resorts, Echo Lake Inn, or Jackson Gore and do both.

For savings, look into 5 day packages that include lessons. Find lodging off the mountain. However, recognize you are booking prime time, and bargains will be much harder to find compared to just a week earlier or later.

Lastly Smuggler's Notch routinely gets awards for their kids programs. However they blow the least snow of the resorts I've mentioned, and have near zero for apres ski off resort.
 

gt2200

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Don't know about a cafe on top of Spruce, never had one there to my knowledge. You must be thinking of either the Octagon restaurant at the top of the Mansfield quad or the Cliff House at the top of the Mansfield gondola. I'm sure one of those places still has chowder in a bread bowl since this is popular at many ski areas.

You're right, my mistake. I think it was the Cliff House at the top of the Gondola.....brings back happy memories :)
 

abc

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I would add to the chorus that Stowe is still the best. Except the price hike of course.

One possibility is base in Stowe, but take a day to explore another resort such as Jay, provided the condition warrants it. (Jay is pretty tricky due to high wind, it can be fantastic or awful)

I also think Sugarbush is pretty neat and worth looking into. But I'm not the best judge on what's best for a family though...

Not a big fan of Killington, lousy layout and lack of base village.

Never quite see the appeal of Okemo nor Stratton. Coming from Boston, I think Bretton Woods is far better than those 2.
 

steamboat1

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I would add to the chorus that Stowe is still the best. Except the price hike of course.

As I explained in another thread Stowe is not the most expensive place to ski. If you buy tickets online the rate is $84 as opposed to the walk up rate of $98. I know Sugarbush, Killington & Okemo charge $89 on we/holidays (I'm sure there are others) making the $84 Stowe rate less expensive.
 

abc

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As I explained in another thread Stowe is not the most expensive place to ski. If you buy tickets online the rate is $84 as opposed to the walk up rate of $98. I know Sugarbush, Killington & Okemo charge $89 on we/holidays (I'm sure there are others) making the $84 Stowe rate less expensive.
But it's more than just lift ticket. Lodging has gotten more expensive too, as the OP noticed.
 

mister moose

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As I explained in another thread Stowe is not the most expensive place to ski. If you buy tickets online the rate is $84 as opposed to the walk up rate of $98. I know Sugarbush, Killington & Okemo charge $89 on we/holidays (I'm sure there are others) making the $84 Stowe rate less expensive.

Why would you compare on line Stowe prices to walk up Sugarbush, Killington & Okemo prices?
 

crank

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Stowe has also invested in their snowmaking system and, unfortunately, when planning a trip for early season, or far in advance, Snowmaking is very important. Go with Stowe. The village is the same. The mountain skis the same and still has the little old lodge at the bottom of the quad chair. There is a big new hotel and lodge at the bottom of spruce and a short gondola to get you from there to the base of the gondola and back.

I am sure ski school prices will be ridiculous though.
 

ss20

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Christmas can be really hit or miss here. Go to a resort with solid snowmaking. Stowe, Killington, Jay, and Okemo are all really great choices. If I were in your situation, I would book a hotel between Okemo and Killington. Both resorts have great snowmaking, solid intermediate terrain, and are 20-30 minutes away from each other. If we get a Christmas dump, you can head to Killington, as they have a much larger trail network than Okemo. If not, Okemo and Killington will have similar amounts of terrain open. You can't lose.

Can't believe you haven't skied here in nearly 15 years! Snowmaking systems have gotten larger, man-made snow is much better quality, terrain parks are more common, and all the major resorts have at least 5 high-speed detachable lifts.

BTW, hope your equipment isn't 15 years old! Defineately demo new stuff if you've still got straight skis! :-D
 

gt2200

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Stowe has also invested in their snowmaking system and, unfortunately, when planning a trip for early season, or far in advance, Snowmaking is very important. Go with Stowe. The village is the same. The mountain skis the same and still has the little old lodge at the bottom of the quad chair. There is a big new hotel and lodge at the bottom of spruce and a short gondola to get you from there to the base of the gondola and back.

I am sure ski school prices will be ridiculous though.

Just had a look at that and 'yep' it's pretty expensive. The kids will be having some lessons here in the UK, to hopefully prepare them a bit before hitting the white stuff. I'll probably email the Childrens Programme at Stowe and see what they can offer too :) I guess it would be lovely for the my wife and I to enjoy a few days free time skiing and then a couple of days with the kids, plus I guess we can meet up at lunch etc.

Can't believe you haven't skied here in nearly 15 years! Snowmaking systems have gotten larger, man-made snow is much better quality, terrain parks are more common, and all the major resorts have at least 5 high-speed detachable lifts.

BTW, hope your equipment isn't 15 years old! Defineately demo new stuff if you've still got straight skis! :-D

I can hardly believe it's 15yrs either! It seems like only yesterday and the whole experience was so fantastic (I guess winning a Key-ring on the Ben & Jerry's tour helped) I think we're being drawn back to Stowe....I'd just seen a quite a few recent negatives on Trip-advisor and so I was just a little concerned.
As for the equipment, will probably be hiring from AJ's again, unless there's any other recommendations and as the Stowe Motel has offered us a decent room rate I think we might have the accommodation sorted too......unless of course we have a lotto win and I'll be buying one of the new Condo's :)
 

thetrailboss

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Another option is Deer Valley if you want to try Utah. It is amazing for intermediates and international guests. Truly a top notch experience and probably not (that) much more money really. More in airfare, sure, but SLC is a major airport with many direct flights and is closer to Deer Valley than BOS is to Stowe...closer as in 40 minutes vs. 3 hours.
 
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ScottySkis

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Another option is Deer Valley if you want to try Utah. It is amazing for intermediates and international guests. Truly a top notch experience and probably not (that) much more money really. More in airfare, sure, but SLC is a major airport with many direct flights and is closer to Deer Valley than BOS is to Stowe...closer as in 40 minutes vs. 3 hours.

+1 once you enjoy the mountains of SLC you be always dreaming of them.
 

Huck_It_Baby

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Octagon serving Chowda in bread bowls now! Delicious. I've packed away many of those things.

There's always snow in Stowe, ya know!
 
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