My first experience at Sugarbush was spring skiing in March, 2009. I remember that day clearly. I was enjoying après ski in the sunshine on the porch of Timbers when I met Win Smith, the omnipresent owner of Sugarbush. Since then I have met him a handful of times. But during a recent stay at Clay Brook I had the opportunity to ski and spend some time with Win. And that’s when it really clicked for me that their motto: Be Better Here isn’t just a tag line. They really want you be the best you can be and have the best of everything while you are there.
Being Better is not just about extravagance, not to say it isn’t luxurious, because the Clay Brook Residences are all that and more. It’s about how your experience at Sugarbush can be unique to you and your family’s needs. In late February we checked into a 4-bedroom condo with another family for a few days. From the minute we arrived everything was taken care of to make our lives Better. The valets come right out to the car and whisk your things away to their proper places. Ski boots to the boot room, skis to the ski & snowboard valet, bags to your condo and your car to the underground garage. It couldn’t have been simpler.
We quickly settled into our accommodations, the kids choose their beds and we went to dinner at The Timbers. This is the most upscale dining choice on the property. While the adults in our group enjoyed a sumptuous meal, the kids (ages 8-14) sat at their own table adjacent to us and choose from menu items like mac & cheese, chicken fingers, burgers, dogs and pasta. (Worth noting: the restaurant is attached to Clay Brook so we were able to send the kids back to the condo while we finished up in peace. That made everyone feel Better)
The next morning our friends headed off to the new Farmhouse Building to get their ski rentals and lift tickets while my family took a few runs. I must admit I have never been on the slopes that early and I really liked it—it’s Better. Just another benefit of staying slope-side After everyone was all geared up, the whole group hit the trails with Sugarbush legend John Egan—the been on the US Pro Tour, Mogul Tour, rated one of the top 48 greatest skiers of our time John Egan. Yeah, him. All of us were pretty excited to get in some skiing time with John, but I think my 12 year old son was the most fired up. John is the best-of-the-best. Our group had a very wide range of ski skills for him to work with but each of us walked away feeling pretty good about what we learned. I was the last to peel off from our lesson. It was a tiring few hours to say the least, but now know I am Better able to handle that mashed potato snow when it rears its ugly head this spring.
After a power lunch at the Castlerock Pub everyone seemed to make a spectacular recovery and we spent the afternoon skiing until it was time to retire back to our condo. One of the things that I loved best was having a full-sized kitchen. We had brought snacks and dinner with us for the kids. That gave us of time to relax after a long day on the hill without feeling like we had to rush off to feed them elsewhere. This also left time for a soak in the 104°F outdoor hot tubs. You will find loads of fluffy towels conveniently located by the door. What a Better way to end the day.
On our last day, we didn’t take any more lessons but I did take peak at the Schoolhouse. Wow! This self contained building has everything a family could need to get kids set up with lessons for the day/week. It even has it’s own rental shop and cafeteria. Micro (3 yrs) , Mini (4-6 yrs) and Sugar Bears (7-12 yrs) check in on the first floor. Drop-off is as early as 8:30 and lessons go out at 10:00. Parents are welcome to head upstairs to the school rooms and help get their kids established before they head off. The space is large and beautiful. Hand-painted murals by local artists adorn the walls making the space visually inviting. There are lots of little nooks for kids to get cozy when they come in to warm up. I even spied a faux bear den in one room. What could be Better?
With a trifecta of new buildings in the last few years — the Gatehouse, the Farmhouse and the Schoolhouse — Sugarbush has never been Better suited for families to come ski, ride and stay. There is enough terrain for beginners to progress from a never-ever to a starter chairlift and there are plenty of black diamond trails for the experts in your family. The amenities of slope-side living make staying there hassle-free.Our family liked it so much we could consider part-ownership in one of the residences. As a fractional owner that would give us VIP access and lots of fringe benefits!
There are so many things I still want to experience at Sugarbush. I want to dine at Allyn’s Lodge and ski down at night, I want to ride the Lincoln Limo for first tracks, my son wants to hold his birthday party at Sugarbush. And I have yet to ski into Chez Henri for Fondue. But I feel fortunate that I have already done so much. I don’t know what I will cross off my bucket list next. What I do know is I am Better here. I can confidently say I am a Better skier. I learned to ski without fear at the Woman’s Ski Discovery Camp. I have skied with John Egan. My kids have been in the blazer program. I have had numerous friends ski with us here over the last few years. And when all is said and done every experience I have had a Sugarbush has enriched our family—for the Better.
Photo Credits: Sugarbush and Dana Freeman
Disclosure: While I was invited to Sugarbush and they paid for most of my expenses, my review reflects the honest opinions of my experience without outside influence.