Our family goes to Sugar every year. Of the closest ski facilities to Alabama, Sugar Mountain is by far the best and we have enjoyed it each and every time. Sure, its not Colorado or Utah, but Sugar has longer runs than many other SE resorts which makes for less time spent on the chairlift. Also the chairlifts have mostly been replaced and are very reliable in comparison to some places we've been. Of course the snow quality is dependent on the weather, which makes it hard to plan ahead long range. but that is true of all SE resorts. We usually go in Jan/Feb and conditions have ranged from 8" of new natural snow to something akin to skiing in a defrosting freezer. However, the snowmaking crew is on the spot at every available opportunity, and we have always found the staff to be very friendly and helpful down to the poor guys on night parking lot duty when it's near zero. There isn't an exciting night scene here, but the area of Banner Elk is charming and lacks touristy congestion and atmosphere. Think snow and cold, as all SE resort owners are at Mother Nature's mercy this year!