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Seeking Something Special In Vermont

1 Big Mountain Extremes
2 New England Charisma
3 Instagram-Worthy Views

By Mike McPhee

Some destinations exude a unique energy that attracts and embraces us, that makes us feel welcomed and at ease upon arrival in a way that seems like déjà vu. These special places are rare and to be embraced whenever found. Vermont’s Mad River Valley is one of these locales and Sugarbush Resort, part of the Ikon Pass family of resorts, is a gem in the valley’s crown.

Most avid skiers will be familiar with the big resorts out West that offer endless big mountain extremes. Rest assured that Sugarbush stacks up and offers its own set of unique experiences that add a cheerful charm that leaves you wanting more. The surrounding villages and towns not only emanate an old-world New England charisma, but harbour culinary experiences that are sure to please.

As one of New England’s largest ski areas, Sugarbush boasts a respectable 4,000 acres of terrain over two separate mountains. The resort has a top elevation of 4,083 ft (1,245 m), 2,600 vertical feet (792 m), 111 marked ski trails and 97 acres of gladed tree runs. Sugarbush is also known to have some of the most advanced terrain in the Northeast. A total of sixteen lifts transport skiers and boarders up the mountain. A quad chair carries you across a basin which separates two ski areas now connected into one resort. Even those from the West will agree that the ski terrain is an exciting mix of perfectly groomed rolling cruiser runs, gladed tree runs, and black diamond mogul runs. 

Having two base areas means ample food, beverage and lodging opportunities. Located right at the base, Clay Brook Hotel offers luxury accommodation and a pool/hot tub area with views of the slopes. The building itself is uniquely modeled after the many traditional red barns of the Mad River Valley. With a true ski-in ski-out experience, you can check your equipment with the valet and comfortably head for aprés-ski. Accommodations range from hotel rooms to five-bedroom suites.


An eclectic range of food and beverages await, including everything from fun food trucks to fine dining. Rumbles Bistro and Bar is a great place to people watch on a sunny patio and to then have an upscale dinner later in the evening. Reks bar has long been a local favourite, serves great deli sandwiches and brings in well-known musical acts from the city. Chez Henri Restaurant & Bistro is in the classic French style and has been one of the iconic spots in the base area for decades. 

A ten-minute drive from the resort base takes you to The Pitcher Inn, a Relais & Châteaux luxury hotel property in the incredibly photogenic hamlet of Warren. This well-known romantic inn offers unique lodging and exceptional dining on the banks of a babbling brook complete with waterfall. Rooms are individually themed, and the exceptional culinary offerings are complimented by an equally distinctive wine cellar. 

Other worthwhile stops include Lawson’s Fine Liquids to get your craft beer fix and the Mad River Taste Place which carries all kinds of local offerings, including the many delectable cheeses for which Vermont is famous. 

There is a history here that is both fascinating and inspiring. Historic towns, covered bridges, old world Instagram-worthy barns and quaint, centuries old buildings add an authenticity to the valley that you don’t get in purpose-built resorts and tourist destinations elsewhere. The people of the Mad River are equally charming and there is a friendly essence to the place that stands out and warms the heart. Sugarbush Resort and the Mad River Valley are simply gems, and a destination that deserves to be added to your bucket list of must visit places

Gain the freedom and flexibility of private jet travel.

Photos courtesy of Sugarbush Resort and Mike McPhee.

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