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Alpine Fun in Vermont

Now in its 60th year of operation, Stratton Mountain Resort has brought winter adventure to the Green Mountain State for generations of outdoor enthusiasts

Nestled deep within the pristine splendor of southern Vermont, Stratton Mountain Resort has brought its brand of outdoor adventure to the Green Mountain State for the last 60 years. Only a four-hour drive from the heart of New York City, Stratton Mountain is the nearest resort of choice for many metropolitan centers along the East Coast, and has become a premier destination in New England for winter activities and weekend getaways.

Influenced by the finest European ski destinations, Stratton Mountain was founded by Connecticut businessman Frank Snyder, Vermont landowner Tink Smith and Vermont Senator Edward Janeway in December 1961. On opening, the resort featured three double chairlifts and eight trails, as well as chalets, hotels and a lively Austrian-inspired music scene thanks to bands like the Stratton Mountain Boys and Tyrolean Evenings.

Today, Stratton Mountain is owned and operated by Alterra Mountain Company, a family of 15 iconic, year-round destinations throughout the U.S. and Canada, and has grown to 99 trails that stretch more than 38 miles over 670 acres of skiable terrain, 95 percent of which uses a snowmaking system. However, what hasn’t changed over the years is the resort’s commitment to high-level service and winter fun, which has drawn throngs of guests to its snow-capped slopes from places like New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut for generations.

“Stratton Mountain is a generational resort and a focus on family is a big part of our culture,” said Craig Panarisi, vice president of mountain operations at Stratton Mountain. “It’s rewarding to see people come through our doors with their kids and hear their memories of how they used to come to the resort years ago with their own parents and grandparents.”

Part of Stratton Mountain’s broad allure can be attributed the resort’s grooming and snowmaking capabilities. As well, the location boasts the tallest peak in southern Vermont at 3,875 feet, and a 2,000-foot vertical drop. The region receives an average annual snowfall of 180 inches, which is enhanced by 1,200 snowguns throughout the winter season. It’s a massive snowmaking system that can put a staggering 11,800 gallons per minute up on the mountain.

To groom the trails, Stratton Mountain uses a single Prinoth Leitwolf (Prinoth’s largest and most powerful snowcat with 530 hp and a Tier 4 low emission diesel engine), five Prinoth Bisons, three Prinoth BR 350s, a Prinoth BR 350 winch cat, three utility snowcats and a PistonBully 100 Nordic groomer. The resort will soon be adding a new Prinoth Bison X for the 2021-22 ski season.

“With only a quarter of our trails being advanced or expert, Stratton Mountain is not known for our extreme skiing, instead appealing to the novice (40 percent of trails) and intermediate (35 percent of trails) skiers who come because of the quality of our grooming and snowmaking,” said Panarisi. “At Stratton, you can start early in the season on a good pair of skis, and then finish the season on the same pair because we take great pride in providing good coverage and depth on the mountain.”

Navigating the summit is easy thanks to a variety of lifts that can transport nearly 34,000 skiers every hour. Stratton Mountain has one summit gondola, four six-passenger high speed detachable chair lifts, one four-passenger (quad) high speed detachable chair lift, two four-passenger fix grips, one three-passenger fix grip, one two-passenger fix grip double, a 550-foot covered carpet conveyor, two 100-foot carpet conveyors, one 60-foot carpet conveyor and a snow tubing lift.

“Typically in New England, there are a bunch of peaks and a bunch of lifts, but you can’t get from one side to the other without going up another lift,” said Panarisi. “But at Stratton Mountain, we are on this large, dome-shaped peak that sticks up by itself where almost every lift goes to the summit and, once at the top, you can pretty much ski to anywhere on the mountain.”

Off the slopes, visitors can check out the four lane Coca-Cola Tube Park located in Stratton’s Sun Bowl, go on snowshoe hikes, cross-country ski over 7.5 miles of groomed trails, lace up their ice skates at Mill House or take a snowmobile tour around the mountain. Guests can also take advantage of Stratton Mountain’s Training and Fitness Center, featuring a 75-foot indoor saltwater pool, weight training and cardio center, Peloton-equipped spin room, four pickleball courts, yoga rooms and saunas.

Another unique feature that helps set Stratton Mountain apart is its classic alpine Village, where guests can outfit their adventures from flagship stores like The North Face and Burton, and then savor some of Vermont’s finest dining experiences that are created with locally-sourced ingredients and crafted by Stratton’s executive chef and culinary team.

“The slope-side Village is certainly uncommon for resorts in this area and brings some much-valued western flavor to New England skiers,” said Panarisi. “The Village showcases a wide variety of high-end retail stores, restaurants and lodging, as well as an exciting social atmosphere that spills into the streets of the Village throughout the day and into the night around many fire pits and tables.”

In the off-season, Stratton Mountain continues to bustle with activity as the scenic backdrop of the Green Mountains plays host to summer festivals and events, like large-scale yoga gatherings, outdoor concerts and the Obstacle Course Racing National Championships. The resort’s 27-hole golf course takes advantage of the mountain’s natural contours, water features and flora, and is routinely regarded as one of the top resort courses in New England. The Training and Fitness Center also has 15 outdoor and two indoor tennis courts, and the surrounding trails are available for miles of hiking and mountain biking experiences.

Down the road from the resort is Stratton Mountain School; an independent boarding and day school with a focus on college preparatory academics and competitive winter sports. Stratton Mountain School has seen more than 100 alumni make national teams, and 46 go on to compete in the Olympics to win a combined total of six Olympic medals.

“The school is not affiliated with the resort, but it is part of the community and we fully support our partners at Stratton Mountain School, hosting an alpine race with them almost every other week,” said Panarisi. “Stratton Mountain is celebrated for our alpine racing and freestyle mogul programs, and some of the very best races in New England are held at Stratton Mountain. We have a great alpine racing trail, Frank Fall Line, that is safety netted top to bottom; its great pitch makes it perfect for training and racing.”

Stratton Mountain employs approximately 1,600 staff in the winter months and is a vital part of the local community. The resort provides many of its own community services, such as maintaining its own water and sewage infrastructure, its own roads crews and operating the largest propane plant in the state to service the resort’s propane needs.

Stratton Mountain also strives to be an environmental leader with a number of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, such as installing bi-fuel LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) systems on vehicles that help reduce carbon emissions by 50,000 tons per year, reducing waste through the use of compostable paper straws and to-go containers and upgrading the indoor tennis court and pool lights to LED fixtures. Stratton Mountain is also a consignor to the Climate Collaborative Charter, the ski industry’s first unified effort to combat climate change with shared commitments around sustainability and advocacy, and a portion of every Ikon Pass sold supports ‘Protect Our Winters’ to help educate guests and employees on the impact of climate change.

“Rather than leasing from the [U.S.] Forest Service, Stratton Mountain owns all of its property and take our stewardship of the environment very seriously,” said Panarisi. “In addition to our many sustainability initiatives, we also designate hundreds of acres of property for conservation that we maintain for bear, deer and other mountain wildlife.”

Stratton Mountain places a high priority on ensuring the safety of its guests and employees, and the resort has been recognized multiple times by the National Ski Areas Association for its commitment to health and wellness. In addition to its industry-leading terrain park safety programming, the resort has been designated a ‘Heart Safe Community’ by the State of Vermont for its efforts in providing publicly-accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), as well as CPR and AED training, and hosting the prestigious Carlos Otis Clinic.

Named for a local medical legend, the medical clinic is outfitted with most of the medical equipment found in any advanced hospital setting, and provides both general and urgent care to the Stratton Mountain community during the ski season. The Clinic is staffed by full-time nursing professionals and an all-volunteer roster of board-certified surgeons and physicians. The Clinic also operates its own paramedic ambulance and provides 911 response services to the wider Stratton community.

“For minor injuries there is the first aid station, but for more critical incidents we have Stratton Mountain Urgent Care at the Carlos Otis Clinic, where some of the finest medical professionals in the country are available on site throughout the winter season; all day, every day,” said Panarisi. “Often when someone gets hurt at one of our competitors’ resorts, they will send them to Stratton for definitive medical treatment.”

Currently, Stratton Mountain is accelerating out of Covid-19 and getting prepared for the upcoming 2021-22 ski season, purchasing new equipment and upgrading its snowmaking capabilities. The resort is expecting great demand in the months ahead as eager skiers across the East Coast look to get back to schussing the slopes after a year of uncertainty.

“We are just excited to welcome all of our guests back, and are working hard behind the scenes to get ready,” said Panarisi. “Everyone has been so patient and understanding with what’s been going on, and now it’s time for us to make it up to them by providing a higher level of service based on some of the things we learned over the last year-and-a-half.”