Depending on where you live, the state of Vermont can be a well kept secret or a lesser-known commodity when it comes to vacations. Year round, the Green Mountain State is known for green travel and eco-tourism. And then there's ski season.
Travel Agent recently attended Ski Vermont's summer barebecue in New York City, where we connected with representatives of some of the finer ski resorts in the Northeast. Here are some of the more interesting things we learned.
Vermont has 1,200 trails for skiing/riding, and receives 4.1 million visitors per season. Although 80 million live within driving distance for a vacation to the state, flight additions by JetBlue at Burlington International Airport will increase the number of vacationers in the coming years.
As much as all mountains are different from each other, each destination highlighted its unique features, some of which can be leveraged to target niche markets.
Stowe Mountain Resort, for instance, will welcome a new performing arts center this year— providing an "after mountain" stop for skiers and riders, as well as a touch of sophisticated culture for the affluent traveler. Clients who scream for ice cream can visit the home of renowned Ben & Jerry's, just around the corner from the mountain.
We had the pleasure of visiting Killington for a destination wedding in early 2009 and, hence, are well aware of the incentives for selling. How we wish we knew that the Long Trail Ale brewery was close to the resort. The hearty beers, which we sampled at the barbecue, will warm the soul after a day on the slopes.
Jay Peak had the biggest news to share, announcing $125 million worth of development in the resort. This includes two new hotels, a water park set to open in 2011; an NHL-sized arena that will welcome public skating as well as hosto several hockey games and other events; a new golf club that includes three apartment style suites on the second floor; a five-star restaurant and more.
Snowboard enthusiasts should back their bags for Stratton, which welcomes Olympic snowboarder Ross Ellis as he hosts a snowboard program. They can also witness some shredding by the region's own Lindsey Jacobelli, who won gold at the 2006 Olympics for snowboard cross.
Okemo is rolling out a new attraction for all seasons later this year: a mountain roller coaster.
For agents with female clients seeking a girlfriend getaway or perhaps an easier time when vacationing with the family, suggest Sugarbush. The resort celebrates its "mom focus" with programs tailored specifically for women. Meanwhile, the guys can rent a Snowcat for the day to bring 12 passengers on a private mountain party.
Getting there may be half the fun, but those who live in New York City and want to get the getting there over with should consider Mount Snow— the closest mountain to the region. Its relationship with Zip Car can make for smooth journeys up north to enjoy the $25 million snowmaking project the mountain is finishing, which includes two new chairlifts.