great expert skiing, bump runs, glades, powder, jay hotel, waterpark
slow lifts, long lines, crowded, high winds, limited food/drink options, lack of intermediate runs
We visited Jay Peak for the first time last weekend after hearing many rave reviews, and overall came away impressed. The place lives up to its reputation of getting more snow than most eastern resorts - but it is still an eastern resort with mostly eastern "powder".
This is a skiers mountain - with the best terrain geared toward advanced to expert skiers. The glades, steeps, bump runs, etc. were fantastic. Almost dangerously, the mountain does not use a double black diamond designation, and thus there is a massive difference between black diamond runs. Steep groomers such as Haynes or Derick Hotshot could be easily handled by advanced intermediates, while steep ungroomable runs like Green Beret and the face chutes demand high-level expert skiing. Glade runs vary similarly, though as a general rule, the higher up the mountain, the more difficult the glade runs - thus good intermediate glades are Bushwacker, Bonaventure, Showoff, Buckwood and Buckaroo, while Valhalla is best handled by pros.
While the advanced terrain is epic, our novice/intermediate friends were bored doing the same 2-3 blue square runs all day. These runs get a lot of traffic and ice up quickly during the day - namely Northway, Goatrun and Vermonter. Ulr's Dream was our favourite blue for snow conditions - though it has a lengthy run out (partly avoided by taking Kokomo). If you're idea of fun is blue-cruisers, you may not enjoy Jay Peak.
A major downside, the lifts at Jay are badly in need of upgrading if they intend to make this a world class resort. The Jet Triple Chair should be in a museum, and the Bonaventure quad isn't much better. We experienced 20+ minute lift lines at Stateside on Saturday. The Tram is a nice novelty, but has very little capacity.
We stayed at Hotel Jay, which was packed for the long weekend. Be sure to reserve all of your meal times if you're there on a weekend as the place can hold far more guests than they have places to serve them - and the restaurants fill up fast. The waterpark is impressive for the space it takes up - a great way to finish a ski day. All bars and restaurants were decent, though expensive. The place has zero nightlife, with the last bar closing at 11pm. Not that you should be up late with skiing the next morning...