Stowe's considerable charm is about to become more charming. A $220 million expansion plan is moving ahead. Among other things, it includes additional lifts, snowmaking and terrain, along with a "hamlet" at the base of Spruce Peak. Resort President Hank Lunde promises the architecture will "rival that of any ski resort in North America." He expects to break ground next summer-we'll see. Though readers complain about the "lack of connection between mountains" (the new master plan solves this) and the "53 uphill steps between the base lodge and the quad," they also revel in the "classic feel" of Mt. Mansfield. As one READER REMARKS, "There's great grooming for those who want it, and a cornucopia of hidden stashes and trails for those who don't." It's no accident that "most skiers in Stowe are better than average," and that there's a "great ski school." Stowe has been a magnet for generations of racers and mogulists. Many settled here to raise families. In fact, the town has a large population of ex-instructors. When the resort gets busy, many are pressed into service-much to the benefit of guests. "Stowe is like living in a snow globe," says a reader. The bucolic setting, plus a sophisticated skiing population, enhances the visitor's experience. The downside is that many locals are convinced they can run the resort as well as-or better than-Mr. Lunde. -S.C.
WHAT'S NEW A Midway Mini-Park for snowdecks (skateboards for snow); includes free demos.
A GOOD DEAL Stay at the Inn at the Mountain for $110 per person, midweek and nonholiday, two-night minimum (800-253-4754).
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Lodging, Dining, Après, Off-Hill Activities, Terrain Parks; SILVER Snow, Family Programs, Scenery.
HIGH/LOW RANK Dining (4), Lodging (8), Terrain Parks (8); Value (46), Lifts (47), Weather (47).
DON'T MISS The newly opened Vermont Ski Museum in a lovingly restored church near the heart of Stowe Village.
READER REMARKS (+) "Good, tough skiing." "In New England, there is Stowe and then there's everything else."
(-) "Stowe attitude." "Be prepared for cold and wind. It is New England after all."