I live in Atlanta and am not affiliated with any ski area. I don’t have any kids, so my perspective is that of someone who just wants to ski. I’ll offer my opinion on this site for all the NC ski areas I’ve tried: Sugar, Beech, Appalachian and Cataloochee.
First I’ll say here what I’ve said for all the others – this is North Carolina, so you can’t compare it to anything out west or even up north or W.VA. It’s small and the snow is man made. Don’t go on the weekend and God help you if you go on a holiday. The crowds will be massive.
But compared to other NC ski areas, here’s my opinion of Sugar Mountain. Tragic disappointment. Sugar is the biggest of the bunch and could be a great place to ski if they invested in it. I’ve read most of the reviews on this site about Sugar, and all the negative ones, sadly, are true. Sugar needs two main things: attitude adjustment and NEW EQUIPMENT. Their lifts are the worst around. They boast the highest vertical, yet sit you done in a chair that creeps up the hill. Even with no crowds, the lift ride time alone is enough to question even going to Sugar. Add in weekend crowds and you’re talking about 4-7 minutes to get down the hill. 20-45 minutes in lift line and another 10 minutes back up the hill. It’s horrible. Also, the chairs as so old, there’s no cushion left on them. After a day there, the back of my legs were killing me from the chair slamming into me as I sat down. A few reviewers noted the lift personnel were less than professional, and that also is true. I experienced either indifferent teens (they seem to work all NC ski areas) or Hispanics who looked truly lost as to what they were supposed to do. Forget them forming a line or slowing down the chair as you sit. If anything, all they do is check tickets. Sugar desperately need a high-speed quad like any legitimate ski area.
IF you go, check their site to see if Big Red is open. My bother and I spent a day just on that slope/lift, and it wasn’t so bad. However, you have to stay only on Big Red. If you go all the way to the bottom, you have to ride TWO slow lifts to get back up.
I’ve also experienced rude or indifferent personnel from the ticket window to the grill to the lift attendants. One reviewer noted that they act is if they’ve got a captive audience or the best product around and therefore don’t have to treat their guest right. I’d have to agree with that.
My final recommendation: if you’re going to ski in NC, go to Beech. They DO have a high-speed lift, they have more runs from the top of their mountain, and their longest is comparable to Sugar’s longest run.