Jay Peak Resort, Vermont

When it comes to vacation locales, any discerning traveler will tell you that the world is running out of well-kept secrets. Word of mouth travels faster than ever and, before you know it, that less-beaten path you have taken to that esoteric spot in the past is presently crowded with strangers and saturated with attention. So, before it, too, becomes mainstream, perhaps, you should direct clients to Jay Peak Resort in Vermont.

Jay Peak Resort// Photo courtesy of JJ Toland

Travel Agent recently took a ski trip to the resort in May. You read correctly: May. In fact, we heard enough trails were open during the weekend after Mother’s Day that guests could squeeze in a round of golf after a few runs on the mountain. It makes sense when you realize Jay Peak has the largest annual snowfall (377 inches) of any ski area in eastern North America.

We stayed at the Tram Haus Lodge, a 57-key boutique property that rests at the base of the mountain. It is just over a year old, adjacent to the equally new NHL-sized ice rink which hosts pro hockey games, figure skating and curling competitions, and more. Each of the Lodge’s studio, one- and two-bedroom accommodations features a gas fireplace, flat-screen TV, kitchenette, living space and free Wi-Fi. Emitting “sustainable charm,” the rooms are designed with truly local elements: from the barn timber dining table to the retired sap taps (iron taps once used to coax sap from the area’s maple trees) that serve as coat hangers.

Making the ski-in/ski-out aspect more efficient are private equipment lockers for guests that, although separate from the guest rooms, are 25 yards from the door to the mountain. Add in the RFID cards that act as room keys and lift tickets, along with the included valet parking that greets you with a country smile, and the schlepping from slope to room is effortless.

The Taiga Spa offers a variety of treatments and massages, in addition to separate saunas for men and women. Dining options include the Aroma Café for your bakery and on-the-go breakfast needs, the Tower Bar for suds and grilled goods, and Alice’s Table for delectable dishes that are as logically organic as they are exceptionally exquisite. After a tiresome day on the slopes, the staff was quite accommodating in allowing us to order takeout from Alice’s. They even helped us bring it to the room.

Photo courtesy of JJ Toland

Jay Peak’s most luxurious accommodations, the Clubhouse Suites, are in a separate building from Tram Haus but are just a parking lot’s walk away. The Franklin Suite comes with mountain views and can sleep six with a king bed, queen bed and two queen sleep-sofas. Enjoy a splendid view of the 18-hole golf course from the Caledonia Suite, which sleeps four with a queen bed and queen sleep-sofa. The Orleans Suite sleeps four as well, with a king bed and queen sleep-sofa, and has views of the valley.

Perhaps, the most unique lodging available is Elevation 4,000: a two-bedroom condominium at the summit of Jay Peak. The condo sits on the top floor of the property that primarily serves as the disembarking spot for those taking the tram from the bottom of the mountain to the peak. But if you have a special occasion or story (50th anniversary, first vacation together after a military tour, plans to propose marriage), the staff will prepare the property and stock the shelves with all the food, candles and firewood you want. You can watch the sunrise in Canada (only two miles away) over the border, and get truly “fresh tracks” as the first to ski down in the morning. Jay Peak does not advertise this opportunity, making it one of those pieces of inside information you need to share with your high-end clients.

More accommodations, activities and amenities are on the way for Jay Peak. Opening in December is the 170-room/761-pillow Jay Hotel, complete with conference center, spa and fitness center, pizzeria, mezzanine bar, two restaurants, and a 2,500-square-foot video game arcade. JJ Toland, the communications director for Jay Peak Resort, tells us that the property is geared toward conferences, FIT travelers and families. Accommodations will be on the line of two double-bed rooms with up to four bedroom units.

Photo courtesy of JJ Toland

Whether for Tram Haus, Elevation 4,000 or the Jay Hotel, concierge service is available for myriad guest requests. For instance, Toland says that, with the proximity to Montreal, the staff can arrange roundtrip limo service to the City of Saints. But wait, there’s more.

Also opening in December will be a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park with a retractable roof where, as Toland says, “you can surf in Vermont.” It will feature a twin surfrider station and an aqua loop that drops sliders at 60 feet per second as the water is filtered every two hours. There is only one other aqua loop like it in the world—in Japan. RFID bracelets for kids will act as access passes to the water park and spending accounts for food and games at the arcade.

And, yes, there’s still more. For the 2011-12 ski season, the resort has purchased a $100,000 groomer to improve Nordic trails. For the 2012-13 season, the resort will debut a new high-speed, six-passenger chairlift. By the 2015-16 season, Jay will get a new peak as three new lifts servicing 22 trails are developed. On top of that, Jay hopes to open an outdoor adventure center—that offers bike tours and features an amphitheater for concerts—in 2014. It will add non-winter excitement to the six-year-old golf course, on which more than 10,000 rounds of golf are played each year.

While one could say these new additions are the first steps at making a bid for the Winter Olympics, Toland tells us they are primarily to enhance the experience of the many who take the long trip north (the resort’s top markets, according to him, are Montreal, Boston and New York). The other goal: enticing non-skiers to enjoy the resort in the warmer season and gain interest in returning to the slopes in the winter. Better get your clients ready before it becomes too popular.

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