Known for its sunny days, easy access (right beside Vermont's Route 11) and family-friendliness, Bromley is now gaining a reputation for affordability. Tickets cost an average of 20 percent less than at the East's bigger resorts, and the widely acclaimed children's programs are up to 50 percent less expensive. Though short on slopeside amenities, Bromley has "access to great food, shopping and nightlife," in one reader's estimation. Still, another complains that you "must travel to Manchester for those"-a six-mile trip. Once called Big Bromley, the resort is now considered small-or, from one reader's point of view, "not so big you lose the kids." The mountain is also thought of-mistakenly-as merely a playground for intermediates. It's all that, but most of the resort's east side is black-diamond terrain, with "some good gnarly trails," says one. After the numerous snowstorms last season, powder lay deep and remarkably, delightfully untouched well into the afternoon on expert runs such as Havoc and Stargazer. Bromley is "skiing the way it used to be," observes one reader, and this is obvious from the old rambling base lodge. But what the lodge lacks in ambience, the staff makes up for with friendliness-they ask how you are and actually listen to your answer. On the mountain, readers praise the old-style, winding narrow trails as well as the wide-open slopes: the "best of both worlds," says one. But others complain that the resort "needs more terrain." Still, with curbside drop-off, Bromley offers what one reader calls a "no-hassle ski experience," even if you do have to schlep your stuff-and your kids' stuff-up a flight of stairs first. The best time to ski the south-facing "Sun Mountain" is midweek: Tickets are cheap and crowds nonexistent. With few others on your tail, you'll have time to soak in the "exquisite view from the summit" before making tracks on either freshly laid corduroy or powder. Skiing the way it used to be, indeed.
WHAT'S NEW Improved skier drop-off/pick-up area; trails widened in the beginner area; snowmaking upgrade; additional groomer.
A GOOD DEAL Value Season lift ticket (midweek, non-holiday, before Jan. 12 and after March 17): $33.
MEDALS GOLD Family Programs; SILVER Value.
HIGH/LOW RANK Family Programs (3), Value (24), Access (33); Terrain (61), Lifts (61), Challenge (67).
DON'T MISS Up For Breakfast in Manchester (802-362-4204). With entrèes like sourdough baguette French toast filled with lingonberry cream cheese, you won't care if you miss first chair.
READER REMARKS (+) "You can turn your 10-year-old loose here." "As good as bigger resorts for a lot less money."
(-) "Wish it were bigger." "Base lodge needs updating."