Having grown up in the northeast, we’ve dealt with our fair share of winter storms. But the week we’d planned to visit Stratton, Vermont, the “Bomb Cyclone”—which blasted the Eastern Seaboard with a foot of snow, winds in excess of 55 miles per hour, and temperatures as low as negative 20 degrees—was in a class of its own.
The storm served as a fitting reminder of why—as climate change makes extreme weather events more frequent—sustainability is more important than ever. And why we return again and again to Stratton Mountain Resort, which prioritizes sustainable business practices to minimize its environmental impact.
Fortunately for us, our decision to brave the weather paid off: Our weekend in Stratton turned out to bring the best skiing conditions the mountain had seen all season.
STAY: THE LONG TRAIL HOUSE
Our home base for the weekend was the upscale condo complex Long Trail House. Located across the street from the ski lift and the shops, restaurants, and activities of Stratton Village, guests can access everything the town has to offer without needing a car.
After picking up our room keys from the welcome center, we proceeded to the heated parking garage beneath our building—a feature that anyone who’s unloaded bulky ski equipment in the wind and snow will appreciate. From there, an elevator connected the garage directly to our floor.
The units—which range from studios to three-bedroom, plus one five-bedroom penthouse—combine the comforts of home with the perks of a ski resort. In addition to free WiFi and a flat-screen TV, each condo has its own eat-in kitchen, gas fireplace, and private balcony overlooking the mountain.
Each morning, we fueled up on Starbucks coffee and a generous free breakfast downstairs in the Hearth Room (named for the giant wood-burning fireplace, which we took full advantage of). At the end of the day, we returned to soothe our muscles in the heated pool, hot tub, and sauna, accessible year-round by a heated patio.
DO: SKI RUNS & STRATTON VILLAGE
Stratton is one of Vermont’s most accessible mountains from the New York metro area; it took us less than five hours by car from Central New Jersey. When we arrived, we were surprised to find that the sun was out, and a light snowfall had covered the more than 670 acres of skiable terrain in fresh powder, creating the best conditions we could have asked for.
The rental experience was a breeze. We moved quickly through registration, and when fitted for boots and skis, we were impressed by the quality of the brand new Rossignol gear, paired with our matching Strafe Ski outfits.
At a sunny 32 degrees, we warmed up quickly once we hit the slopes. We spent the majority of the first day on some of the 97 trails—from well-maintained beginner areas, like Tamarack and Cub Carpet, to black diamond runs, Spruce and Upper Standard. The next day, the snow was falling so fast that we had fresh tracks on every run.
One of the things we liked most about Stratton is the quaint, family-friendly village at the base of the mountain, which made it convenient whether we needed to stop for a meal or a new set of sunglasses.
For lunch, we stopped at the Stratton Mountain Market and Deli, for hot coffee and the Panarisi sandwich, stacked with roast beef, cheddar, a horseradish sauce, fresh tomato, arugula, and red onion (available on regular or gluten-free bread). Don’t leave without a fresh cinnamon donut before getting back on the trails. For apres-ski, we returned to our favorite spot, Fire Tower Tavern, for the Bacon Old Fashioned—made with bacon-infused Maker’s Mark and Vermont maple liqueur—which we were craving after a long day on mountain.
MEET: STRATTON’S OLYMPIC PHOTOGRAPHER
While in town, we had the chance to sit down with Stratton’s resident photographer, Hubert Schriebl, to talk about the local scene. Born in Austria, he has documented Olympic events and other international competitions around the world, but has called Stratton home since 1964, just three years after the resort town was established. In that time, Hubert has watched the mountain resort transform from three chairlifts and a base lodge to eleven lifts, dozens of nearby lodgings, and one of the most abundant apres-ski scenes in the U.S.
Even at 81 years old, he still spends a hundred days per year on the mountain, photographing skiers and covering local events. On level ground, he’s a fixture of the community; it was hard to get through a cup of cocoa with him without one or more locals stopping to say hello. We discussed the best spots to capture the local scene.
Hubert’s favorite photo opp is on top of Janeway Junction looking west. From there, he says, “it’s just wilderness as far as your eye can see.” He also recommends immersing yourself in what he calls the “visual feast” of the local scene at the local farmers markets, concerts, and outdoor theater in the summer.
Meeting with Hubert was a wonderful reminder that the stories with locals and taking in the local scene is one of the best parts about travel.
CONSERVE: STRATTON MOUNTAIN SUSTAINABILITY
Winter sports depend on people being able to enjoy nature; it is crucial, then, that those who participate support mountain resorts that are committed to preserving the environment.
Skiing can be a very resource-intensive pastime—the runs and lifts can disrupt and displace wildlife, and as our climate gets warmer, resorts rely on making artificial snow, which can deplete surrounding lakes and rivers.
Stratton is working to counteract these effects by leading in making winter sports more sustainable. This includes everything from engineering trails around the migratory patterns of bears, to reusing water from collected melted snow to use in snow-making (rather than drawing on streams).
It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good for business, explains Myra Foster, director of public relations for Stratton Mountain Resort. “Because for a mountain resort, the environment is our primary asset.”
Foster says everyone who works to keep Stratton running shares the ethos that acting sustainably now may cost more upfront, but the long-term value outweighs short-term savings—it ensures that the mountain will be around for future generations to enjoy.