Charm enough on a ski trip to Vermont

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The view from the top goes on forever across three states and includes rolling hills and beautiful lakes. Glistening snow-covered trees stand out against an electric blue sky. Skiers whoop and whoop from perfect spring slopes with that joyful exuberance that comes straight from the heart. This is skiing at its best and it’s at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont’s idyllic and charming Mad River Valley.

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After a lifetime of exploring the mountains of the west and a few years of very limited travel, it was time to cross off an item on the bucket list and fulfill something deep down. Vermont’s appeal extends beyond the slopes and into the realms of culinary exploration, craft beer, and towns that exude an old-world charm rarely found on this continent.

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From the top of Sugarbush Resort, you can see three states: Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire.
From the top of Sugarbush Resort, you can see three states: Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. jpg

In any case, Sugarbush is a respectable resort with some major mountain stats to boast. With 4,000 acres of terrain split between two mountains and a summit elevation of 1,245 feet, 111 marked ski trails and 39 acres of cut-away tree runs, there’s plenty to keep skiers and snowboarders busy. Sugarbush is known for having some of the most advanced terrain in the Northeast and they take their grooming seriously. To transport skiers and snowboarders up the mountain, there are 16 lifts, including a quad chair that takes you across a basin that separates two ski areas that are now connected into one resort. Having spent a lifetime at large resorts in the Rocky Mountains, I am in awe of the facilities and grounds the resort has to offer. Sugarbush is also part of the Ikon pass group.

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The resort itself has several ski-in-ski-out accommodations on the mountain and there is something for everyone. Located in the middle of the village, the Clay Brook Hotel is built in the style of the quaint local red barns that dot the valley below. A heated outdoor pool, hot tubs, ski service, and a fantastic location make this a great choice. The rooms range from standard hotel rooms to five bedroom suites.

Designed in the style of the iconic red barns of the Mad River Valley, the Clay Brook Hotel at the base of Sugarbush offers a variety of hillside accommodations.
Designed in the style of the iconic red barns of the Mad River Valley, the Clay Brook Hotel at the base of Sugarbush offers a variety of hillside accommodations. jpg

There is no shortage of unique food and drink options to discover. Resort pubs offer a variety of craft beers that Vermont is famous for, and sunbathing on a patio, cold beer in hand reminds you of the importance of “apres-ski”! Culinary options range from fun basic food trucks to fine dining. Places like Rumbles Bistro and Chez Henri Restaurant & Bistro offer upscale fine dining, while places like the Castlerock pub and Reks offer classic pub fare. Just down the road in the incredibly charming hamlet of Warren is the Pitcher Inn, a luxury hotel by Relais & Châteaux. Extraordinary culinary offerings are complemented by art-filled and well-designed decor that well represents the Relais & Châteaux brand.

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The Old Wooden Bridge in Warren, Vermont, was built in 1880 and is one of several historic wooden bridges in the area.
The Old Wooden Bridge in Warren, Vermont, was built in 1880 and is one of several historic wooden bridges in the area. jpg

The Mad River Valley lives up to the idyllic vision I had of rural Vermont. Rolling hills, babbling brooks, ancient hamlets and wood-covered bridges are as charming as they sound. The villages of Waitsfield, Warren and Moretown lie along the Mad River and each has its own unique charm. Waitsfield is home to must-see establishments such as Lawson’s Fine Liquids, which serves the area’s craft beers. Great little coffee shops and a delicious breakfast spot called Toast and Eggs are there to help you start the day. Head to the Mad River Taste Place, which offers a variety of local offerings and a cheese tasting of Vermont’s finest. There are of course also the old wooden bridges the area is famous for, ready for your Instagram photos. The Von Trapp Farmstead (yes, that Von Trapp family) has an unusual store that gives new meaning to the term farm-to-table. There is also a variety of crafts and other local producers to discover. Also not far down the valley is the town of Waterbury and we sampled more great local craft beer at the Prohibition Pig.

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The local pubs around Sugarbush Resort serve a variety of craft beers, which Vermont is famous for.
The local pubs around Sugarbush Resort serve a variety of craft beers, which Vermont is famous for. jpg

The people of Mad River Valley are as charismatic as the place itself. We found a friendliness beyond your normal tourist destination. There is a warmth here that makes us forget the past few years of not traveling. Sugarbush Resort and the Mad River Valley exceed expectations, offering something special and distinctive. I will return!

How to get there:

Sugarbush Resort is about a three-hour drive south of Montreal. Burlington International Airport is an hour’s drive from the resort and offers connections to several major airlines, including United, American, Delta and JetBlue.

For more information about the area, visit https://www.sugarbush.com and https://www.madrivervalley.com

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