- Overall Rating 5
- Family Friendly 5
- All-Mtn. Terrain 5
- Terrain Park 4
- Nightlife 3
Pros: fun trails, great terrain, fast lifts, streamlined opperation
Cons: big mountain seperated from beginner mountain and lodge by large parking lot
Recommended For: Family Friendly, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Dec 1, 2008
Stowe is a great, friendly mountain with terrain that is challenging and diverse and a lot of fun to ski. The resort and town are quaint and comfortable and provide upscale services (good or bad depending on your budget/preferences) like 5 star dining, spas exc., allowing them to compete on the amenities front with resorts out west. Stowe tries to be family friendly with children's programs and a mascot named Snowball who makes appearances at the kids center on crowded days. I don't have a family so I can't comment on to what extent the resort lives up to its family friendly claims though.
Stowe is not a sprawling mini-metropolis like some resorts ie Killington in southern Vermont or Heavenly comes to mind in Tahoe. It has streamlined lifts, one straight shot to the top of the best terrain, and the mountain is long and narrow so you spend your time going down not across (again both Heavenly and Killington come to mind as traverse nightmares).
I would also note that in glancing over the 27 reviews before mine, the only people who disliked the mountain did so because ticket prices are high, the conditions were bad or the staff was not engaging. Stowe has extensive snowmaking and takes grooming very seriously, so you really can't knock the resort for bad conditions - blame Mother Nature for that. As long as it's cold enough the mountain makes 3"-6" inches of snow each night and grooms it in beautifully so if you get their early your first few runs are guaranteed to be perfect.
And ticket prices? Thats an understandable turn off, but you know what your getting into before you go, so whats to complain about? Some resorts set their prices high 1. because they know they're worth it and people will pay a higher price for higher quality or 2. to keep the crowds down so guests who are willing to pay a premium price get shorter lines and less crowded trails.
As for the staff not being friendly, all I can say is that this has not been my experience. Lift attendants are always warm and friendly as are the lodge staff and other employees. Many of the lifties and cafeteria workers are from Chile, here on temporary work visas, many of them are college kids on their summer break (Chilean summer = our winter). I'm a big fan of the Jolly Green Giant, a guy who skis around the bottom of the lifts dispensing hot chocolate from the large thermos on his back - quite a fellow!
Stowe is not really a scene, or young person party atmosphere, if that's important to you. But it does have a few lively night spots including the Rusty Nail and the legendary apres ski jaunt, the Matterhorn, at the base of the access road.
The best things about Stowe is its history, uniqueness and secret woods trails, which there are many, including one down to the Matterhorn. The crowd also tends to be a classier, more refined and laid back bunch as apposed to the high anxiety felt around larger resorts in southern Vermont and elsewhere.
My evaluation of this resort is based on having skied their frequently in the past five years and uses the twenty or so resorts across the country that I have visited as a frame of reference.
Other standouts in my mind are Squaw Valley, CA, Snowbird, UT, Jackson Hole WY, and Whistler, BC.