When Fred Pabst Jr. started Bromley in 1936, he wanted to make skiing fun for everyone. He manicured the wide-open slopes, installed comfortable lifts and instituted on-mountain baby-sitting, all on a south-facing mountain. Although his Blue Ribbon beer no longer flows from the bar's taps, Pabst's legacy lives on at the "Sun Mountain." Bromley's southern exposure still makes it a comfortable place to ski, but readers like it for more than just its tanning potential. "It's hardly ever crowded," notes one. Others like the laid-back, family atmosphere. Whether the kids are napping in a daycare crib or training GS on Corkscrew, parents know where they'll be at day's end-at the rustic, rambling base lodge where all trails end. Despite its "good old-time atmosphere," as one reader describes it, Bromley is a mix of old and new. The lodge was recently expanded but still feels quaint (or "rundown," from one reader's point of view). There's only one high-speed quad, the Sun Mountain Express. But it flies to the summit in five minutes and "gives you more bang for your buck than anywhere else in New England," notes one reader. Almost a third of the trails are true black-diamonds, nicely isolated from the easier slopes, and a run down the thickly treed, double-black Plunge requires steady nerves. Still, some readers yearn for more challenging terrain. And although the sunny days are nice, warm days are often followed by cold in Vermont, and the crust can be fearsome. What's more, Bromley's exposed summit can feel like the South Col of Everest on a windy day. But if the weather's nice anywhere, it's sure to be at the Sun Mountain. If it isn't, there's always Manchester, one of Vermont's most charming tourist towns, six miles down the road.
WHAT'S NEW Sunset Pass, an intermediate trail on the west side; more than 50 new tower-mounted snowguns.
A GOOD DEAL Sunday morning lift ticket (8 am-1 pm): $37. Midweek season pass: $195.
MEDALS GOLD Value, Family Programs.
HIGH/LOW RANK Family Programs (11), Value (20), Access (25); Terrain (61), Scenery (62), Challenge (67).
DON'T MISS Two-for-one margaritas every Thursday evening at Candeleros in Manchester.
READER REMARKS (+) "Sunny exposure." (-) "Sunny exposure."