What happens when a neglected, state-run ski area is leased to the husband-wife team already credited with turning around Okemo Mountain in Vermont? Another turnaround. Over the past two seasons, Mt. Sunapee's new caretakers have invested $4 million inon-mountain improvements. There's the new post-and-beam base lodge, a 950-vertical-foot trail (Lynx) and increased snowmaking, which now covers 97 percent of the trail network. Readers noticed. "New management has made a huge difference in the quality of snow and friendliness of the staff," remarks one. Even Sunapee's Sunbowl, New Hampshire's only lift-accessed back bowl, enjoys new popularity with visitors eager to use the new quad to reach its wide-open terrain. "Skis like a big mountain (for New England, that is), with medium-mountain prices," comments another reader. The mountain features two areas-North Peak and South Peak-plus a snowboard area. South Peak caters to beginners. Nostalgic Sunapee skiers should note that some things haven't changed; like the summit warming hut's gigantic stone fireplace or the stunning view of Lake Sunapee as you drop into Sunbowl on Upper Wingding. Also stubborn to change, the large number of skiers on some of Sunapee's narrow, Fifties-style trails. Says one reader: "There are too many blue squares and too many people on one slope." But what Sunapee lacks in expert terrain, it makes up for with long, serpentine cruises. Try skiing midweek for zero liftlines and empty hill space. If you haven't been to Mt. Sunapee since its facelift, it might be worth a visit. With nearly 100 percent mountain access and updated lifts, you won't have a problem finding something new.
WHAT'S NEW Beginner area facelift with new quad and Wonder Carpet; continued upgrades to snowmaking, trails, buildings and parking lots.
A GOOD DEAL Ladies Day, Tuesdays: Women pay $30 for lift ticket and buffet lunch.
MEDALS GOLD Grooming, Accessibility; Silver Snow, Value, Family Programs.
HIGH/LOW RANK Accessibility (7), Grooming (15), Service (15); Terrain (72), Dining (76), Challenge (77).
DON'T MISS The view of Lake Sunapee and beyond from the top of Skyway Ledges Trail.
READER REMARKS (+) "Always a great choice for a day trip." (-) "Terrain lacks challenge and diversity."