Stratton has long been a playground for the well-to-do. The Bavarian village brims with Bogners on weekends and holidays. Stratton?s base-to-summit gondola reaches scenic meandering runs, nothing too steep, typically buffed to perfection for all 2,003 vertical feet. But Stratton is also the progressive playground to new-schoolers: huge parks, slopestyle trails, and a 22-foot tall superpipe that stages the US Open, all evidence that Stratton was the birthplace of Burton snowboarding, and elevated riders Ross Powers and Kelly Clark to Olympic Gold.
The Vermont resort, turning 50 this year, is, on one hand, elegant and upscale, with swank boutiques and the sophisticated Verde restaurant in the Intrawest village with heated walkways. But Stratton is also the stomping ground for free-spirited skiers and riders. Mulligan's has 40-cent wings and the Grizzly serves pizza and shots with a slope view. For lodging, the Inn at Stratton is the original alpine lodge with modest rooms, a cozy lobby and casual Bentley's restaurant. The Long Trail and Landmark are more luxurious condo style hotels with underground parking, etc.
I love the dichotomy of Stratton. Wealthy Connecticut condo owners, with memberships to the exclusive Stratton Mountain Club, share gondolas with grungier riders amped on granola and Red Bull. You are as likely to encounter Martha Stewart or the Hilfigers, as you are emerging XGame stars trying to hit it big at Stratton.
Stratton Ski and Ride Tips:
- Arrive early, Stratton's parking is at a premium - or you can pay to Valet.
- When the Gondola gets busy, hit the six pack chairs instead.
- Get your SES pass if you want to hit the parks - a quick but required quiz at Stratton.com to earn access.
- Check out Stratton's glade runs, 100 acres of tree skiing makes Stratton's 600 acres more interesting.
- Go on a bear hunt, count the many bears and bear trail names, Stratton's mascot.
- Bring your camera; Stratton has splendid Vermont views - of Bromley, Magic and Mount Snow.
- Go to Verde for après ski complimentary Swiss fondue and wine specials at 4pm.
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.