Thanks to some management changes at the top, Sunday River is now sporting a newer, happier attitude, causing one reader to call it "a civilized version of Killington." But its biggest success is still the Les Otten formula of snowmaking, grooming and lots of fast lifts. Time and again, readers laud the on-slope quality: "Best snowmaking and grooming in the East," boasts one. People also like Sunday River's terrain, stretching over a long, multipeak ridge, with enough trails to get lost for days-everything from narrow, bumped-up double-diamond tree runs like Flying Monkey to smooth highways like Risky Business. Former-owner Otten's attention faltered where lodging and dining were concerned. While there are improvements, that's still a sore point. Last year, a free trolley service brought thousands of skiers to Bethel's Norman Rockwell downtown, improving the maligned shopping and dining options. But on-mountain, one reader notes succinctly: "The food stinks." Condos cheaply built 20 years ago are no prettier today, with one reader calling the base lodge "a hodgepodge." And if you're looking for nightlife, the person who wrote "bring your own party!" has got it right. But the ski school and family programs win high marks, service continues to improve, the fabulous Joyce hosts a party every weekend at the Matterhorn bar, and you won't find better snow anywhere in the East. -N.R.
WHAT'S NEW Twenty snow-tower guns; a deck on top of Jordan for views of the Presidentials; lodge upgrades; and Enchanted Forest, a new family-oriented adventure park.
A GOOD DEAL A small pizza and a beer at the Suds Pub and a movie at the Casablanca costs a mere $10.
MEDALS GOLD Snow, Grooming, Challenge, Lifts, Terrain Parks; SILVER Terrain, Service, Family Programs.
HIGH/LOW RANK Grooming (7), Lifts (9), Terrain Parks (11); Access (44), Scenery (48), On-Mountain Food (50).
DON'T MISS Dinner by the fire at the Sudbury Inn in Bethel.
READER REMARKS (+) "This is our favorite resort." "If there is snow in New England, you can find it here."
(-) "Small town, little nightlife." "All terrain is similar, very groomed and boring."