Now that Vail Resorts has expanded its Epic Pass to the Eastern US, skiers can rejoice that two of the top New England ski resorts are “epic”. Stowe Mountain and Okemo Mountain, both in Vermont, are now owned and operated by Vail. These worthy sister ski resorts have in common modern lifts, phenomenal scenery, a variety of terrain, and vibrant base villages.
But like any good sibling relationship, their uniqueness are the best part. Stowe has formidable terrain on a big mountain, and a luxury reputation off slopes. Meanwhile, Okemo is overtly family friendly, with ego-pleasing trails, exceptional learn to ski and ride programs, and haute cuisine – above the usual “ski area food.” What’s exciting for skiers and riders, is season passes at Stowe or Okemo were over $1,600 USD ($2,309 AUD) each previously, now you can ski here on the Epic Pass, 45 ski resorts all tolled for under $900 USD ($1,299 AUD) a season.
Stowe has long been revered as the Ski Capital of the East, with skiing on Vermont’s highest peak 1,340 m, and the legendary Front Four trails. Stowe is impressive, with classic steep terrain on Goat, Starr, Nosedive and National served by a swift high speed quad – laps here will make a real skier out of you. Stowe’s signature bright red gondola flanks Mt Mansfield too, with super-scenic groomers like Gondolier and Perry Merrill. Gracing Stowe’s base is the posh Spruce Peak village –that looks more like Beaver Creek than Vermont. Après ski, the lap of luxury awaits at the Lodge at Spruce Peak – a grand timber hotel with ski valet, its own outdoor pools, hot tubs and spa, and a centrepiece ice rink. The Mountain Road to Stowe’s historic village is dotted with inns, lively restaurants and pubs – like the Matterhorn for après ski, and unique Vermont shops and boutiques.
Okemo Mountain Resort is a favourite for families, for good reason. Okemo has lots of moderately pitched, pleasant ski trails, served by high speed, high capacity lifts – two of which have bright orange bubble covers – perfect for Vermont winters. Kids will love Calvin the mascot catamount, the fun ski camps, Okemo’s terrain parks, and riding the Timber Ripper mountain coaster after skiing, before hitting the Spring House or Ice House for swimming or skating. Parents will love the convenience of staying slope side at Jackson Gore Inn, steps to the slopes, to snow sports lesson and rentals, and top notch Vermont culinary in the grand lodge’s Tavern or the fireplace lobby bar. Okemo blows tons of snow, and blows away typically ski area food blahs with great dining around the mountain. Cap this off with pastoral Vermont views, Okemo makes for a truly amusing family ski vacation.
Both Stowe and Okemo in Vermont are on Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, along with Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire. To round out Vail Resorts’ $11 billion ski empire are the flagship - Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Crested Butte in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood in California; Stevens Pass in Washington; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, Wilmot, Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps in the Midwest US; Perisher Australia. Vail Resorts also partners with and offers bonus day pass privileges at Telluride in Colorado ,The Resorts of the Canadian Rockies - Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska and Kimberley, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Quebec; and Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland, The Arlberg in Austria, Skirama Dolomiti Italy, and Hakuba Valley in Japan.