WEST DOVER — Local ski resorts are celebrating the start to winter.
“Opening Weekend was a great success, thanks to the hard work of the entire Mount Snow team and the passion and enthusiasm of our guests,” said Adam White, spokesperson for Mount Snow. “Everyone was thrilled to get the winter season kicked off, and it was evident everywhere you looked. There were smiling faces all over the mountain.”
Mount Snow opened last Friday and kicked the first day off with complimentary breakfast sandwiches followed by the traditional first chair banner break. By midday, White said, the air was filled with snowflakes and the conditions improved with each run.
Mount Snow originally planned to open Nov. 19, however, warm temperatures pushed the starting day back by a week.
“Weather in New England is often a challenge, hence the importance of having such a powerful snowmaking system,” White said. “Our teams are used to it, and have the knowledge and skill to move quickly once that proverbial window opens.”
A new paid parking system will go into effect at Mount Snow starting Dec. 18, with payments being made via a smartphone app.
Premium parking will cost $15 weekdays and $30 weekends and holiday periods in Lot A and Upper Carinthia. On weekends and holiday periods, Lot B, Lot C, Sundance, and Lower Carinthia also be paid parking sites at a rate of $15.
Lot D, Lot E and the Tiered Lots, which are estimated to make up nearly half of the resort’s total parking, will remain free daily. And all lots will be free after 1 p.m.
“The aim of this year’s parking plan is to improve traffic flow into the resort at our most popular times, when guests have often experienced delays between arrival and getting onto the mountain due to backup,” White said. “The plan is also intended to encourage more responsible transportation habits to and from the mountain, including carpooling and especially the use of public transportation, such as the Moover bus.”
Mask wearing will be mandatory inside Mount Snow establishments. White said proof of vaccination will be required at quick-serve, cafeteria-style restaurants, shared seating areas and some other adjoining spaces.
Asked whether the resort expects to experience another year with a large number of new winter sports participants or people who haven’t come out in a while, White said all indications show “enthusiasm is high for this season.”
“I think a lot of people are excited to recreate again, after amending some of those habits in response to the pandemic,” he said. “You saw it during the offseason; people were flocking to outdoor recreation spots in droves, and fall foliage drew a tremendous number of leaf-peepers. Strong Epic Pass sales here in the Northeast show that our guests are more excited than ever to get out on the mountain, doing what they love.”
White said the 20 percent reduction in the price of the Epic Pass season pass helped make skiing and riding more accessible and inclusive than ever.
“It is so important for the sustainability of our resorts and this industry for us to grow the sport and welcome new guests,” he said. “I think anyone who loves Mount Snow should be excited about that.”
Regarding hiring, White said Mount Snow is always looking for talented people who would fit well with the resort team. This year, international workers will return.
Snow Lake Lodge, a popular seasonal rental property at Mount Snow, has been converted into employee housing. White noted employee housing is “a perpetual challenge” in the ski industry and can be especially difficult in Vermont, which has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation.
“The conversion of Snow Lake Lodge increased Mount Snow’s total number of beds for employees by more than 80 percent, which has boosted our ability to staff the resort,” he said.
Stratton Mountain Resort opened last weekend and it was “excellent,” said Andrew Kimiecik, marketing communications specialist at Stratton.
“Our snowmakers, grooming teams, ski patrol, lifts, mountain ops, really everyone at the resort came together and got the mountain ready for opening in just about a week’s time,” he said. “Snowmaking started only about a week before, so a few late night shifts, and an all-nighter on Tuesday, got the mountain ready to ride with 13 trails, 5 lifts and 56 acres for Saturday. The snow coverage was great, especially with a little boost of 5 inches of snow on Friday night.”
Kimiecik said the snow guns have been going constantly through the week and the number of trails will greatly expand by the weekend. Stratton will be requiring masks indoors but proof of vaccination will not be needed.
This year will mark Stratton Mountain Resort’s 60th anniversary and a big party is planned for Dec. 29. The Moover will now be running a bus route for Stratton employees and guests seven days a week.
Bromley in Peru opened last weekend. Magic Mountain in Londonderry is scheduled to open Dec. 18.
The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington is set to open Dec. 11. President and General Manager Bill Benneyan said the club has grown from 100 members, when it reopened under member ownership last year, to 300 now.