I finished a cup of latte, put aside The Wall Street Journal and peered across the quaint cobblestone street at the row of elegant stores. Only at Stratton ski resort you could find venison scallopini and diamond rings within minutes from ski trails.
Nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont–and just four hours away from New York City –the resort is akin to fabled ski towns on the West Coast or Swiss Alps. This is probably the only mountain resort in Vermont, if not the whole New England region, where you can literally ski down to plush restaurants, chic jewellery boutiques, and luxurious spas.
The village is a bustling hub where you can–bear with me–start your lunch or dinner with miso soup and wakame, organic pizza, or beef brisket and finish it with chai latte and Belgian waffles. And instead of falling into deep slumber, at Stratton you can easily update your Bogner wardrobe, buy a diamond ring at Von Bargen’s, pop the question, get married at the Chapel of the Snows, walk to ski lifts and ride the gondola to the summit to kick off a honeymoon. And the best part? They’re so close you can walk from one destination to the next.
Of course, if you just want to ski rather than tie the knot, Stratton has plenty of ski trails for all levels, but typically attracts two very distinct groups of snowboarders and skiers: guys and gals rocking baggy pants, and ladies and gentlemen sporting sleek couture outfits.
The baggy-pants culture loves to descend in large numbers on Stratton’s 500-foot-long half-pipe, jib-style trails, table-tops, butter boxes, rails and hips. This is the ultimate paradise for adrenaline-craving dudes looking to tape the next YouTube blockbuster, but a nightmare for some parents and a money-making spot for orthopaedic surgeons.
The couturier culture, on the other hand, typically stays away from the explosive colours and mirrored chrome goggles cursorily flashing in the air. They prefer to stretch and warm up on wide and curvy green trails, pick some speed up on countless blue trails, and practice sharp turns on black diamond trails running from the top of the mountain. Breaking ribs is typically not an option when you have multiple client meetings scheduled next week in New York, especially if your kids want to test the rails every single weekend.
So on the upside, Stratton resort has extensive snowmaking systems, plenty of trails for all skills, and of course, terrain parks for freestyle skiers and riders. Plus, the resort hosts the US Open Snowboard championship in late March, meaning they meticulously maintain snow surfaces well into the late season. On the downside, at least for cash-strapped folks, Stratton Mountain is a luxury Vermont ski resort, so you should expect to pay top-dollar prices for the special Western ski village atmosphere, well-groomed trails, and freestyle parks that you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Vermont.
I grabbed my gear and briskly strolled past the Fifth-Avenue crowd on my way to ski lifts. “Click-clack-cluck” sounded a car alarm system and a pair of the baggy pants dudes ran past me towards a Range Rover, followed by their parents sporting sleek North Face outfits. I chuckled and deeply inhaled the crisp winter air: it was jam-packed with the succulent smell of burning wood and a tempting scent of luxury.