Tree Skiing, Terrain, Cool People
Far, limited nightlife, can be cold
We go up to Jay Peak about once a year and would say that it is our favorite mounain for one main reason - natural snow. In my opinion the most important part of great ski experience is having an abundant supply of soft, dry, real, mother nature produced natural snow. There is really no comparison between man made snow and natural snow. Natural snow is created by massive unhuman like weather systems over 1000s of vertical feet. Manmade snow has about 40' vertical to work with, no comparison. Man made snow is basically just spraying water on the slopes.
With that said, Jay has the most by far - about 350 inches per year. Just as a comparison, Sunday River only gets 150" per year and Stowe is around 270". Jay also has challenging terrain and the best tree skiing in the East. I also like the funky Alps theme lodge and tram lodge at the peak. It's like some sort of retro faux Alps chalet deal, very cool. I like it.
Jay has also has an international vibe to it from all the French Canadians. You get a little bit of Euro vibe there, which may turn off some types of Americans, but I think most people think it's a bonus. Make it more interesting.
We usually stay in Newport to make the drive easier and for more restaurant choices. Newport is real town with real people, not a resort town. They have a movie theatre and a bowling alley if you want to do something different at nite. We bought a big bag of candy at the movie theatre for $2. Priceless.
In summary, if you like natural snow, an international vibe, challenging terrain, and cool people, go to Jay. If you want groomed courdoroy, expensive SUVs, and people who cut you in line, go to Stratton or Sunday River.