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Ski Resort Life

Vermont’s Burke Mountain: Big Plans in the Works

With economy rebounding, owner Ginn wades back in with redevelopment plan—and hires architect who knows the place well.

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Forgive Northern Vermont skiers for not wanting to share Burke Mountain with the rest of the world. For those in the know, it has long been a secret powder stash. Sure, you might spend an extra 45 minutes getting to Vermont’s beautiful Northeast Kingdom. But the terrain is excellent and liftlines are non-existent, so while the big resorts track out in a couple hours, Burke offers freshies long into the day and even days after a storm.

The ski area, home to the famous Burke Mountain Academy (whose latest product, 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin, is taking the World Cup by storm) was purchased by Florida-based Ginn Companies in 2005, following a near-death experience in which the academy was forced to step in as a buyer to save the mountain from extinction.  Ginn, developer of vacation real estate ventures across the nation, with a focus on golf and seaside resorts, seemed out place and out of its element in tiny East Burke (population  1,600). Many locals fretted over initial plans for a “gated community” with hundreds of luxury residences. The economy put those plans on hold, but now it appears that Ginn is ready to invest again.

Already in place are a new high speed lift to the summit (apparently the legendary Poma lift on Warren’s Way, though plenty high-speed, wasn’t high-end enough) and a summit wind turbine to offset energy needs responsibly. Then just before Christmas Burke announced preliminary plans for Camber Heights, a new neighborhood of sustainably built luxury homes near the base of the new lift.

The good news is that the architect promises to take a sustainable approach to the project and to work in the “Vermont vernacular,” so the homes don’t look jarringly out of place. And as it happens, that same architect, J.B. Clancy of Albert, Righter & Tittmann, is himself a product of Burke Academy. So presumably he has an appreciation for what makes Burke Mountain and the Northeast Kingdom special. Anyway, it’s always good to have a real skier on the case.

Here are the details on the plan from the Dec. 20 press release from Burke:


First New Community in Over a Decade Preserves True Vermont Experience, Showcasing Smart, Highly Efficient Homes

EAST BURKE, VERMONT (Dec. 20, 2011) – Carving a new thoughtful approach for the building of slopeside resort communities, Burke Mountain ( is unveiling preliminary plans for Camber Heights, an on- mountain, low-density residential community at the base of the new Mid Burke Express lift. This plan includes single-family homes that will be released and built in very limited quantities, based on market demand. The community incorporates stringent energy efficiencies and a number of innovative smart home features, differentiating these homes from other New England resort properties. Burke is in the final stages of permitting and plans to have homes available for sale later this winter.

“We are establishing a new standard for the resort ownership experience that embraces modern convenience and is rooted in a relaxed simplicity,” said Tim McGuire, president and general manager of Burke Mountain. “Right now, there are no other New England ski resorts introducing communities with this character. Based at one of the most desirable locations on the mountain, these homes have views of Willoughby Gap, across the Meadow at Burke, and toward the gladed terrain of the upper mountain. Camber Heights has ideal access to both the lower mountain cruisers and upper mountain expert terrain.”

As part of its overall commitment to sensible operations and planning, including the recent addition of a wind tower to offset energy consumption, Burke Mountain plans to incorporate as many intelligent home design and construction techniques into each residence as possible. Features include Wi-Fi- controlled thermostats, automated lighting in closets and corridors, best- in- class insulation, panoramic windows, low volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints, and natural finishing materials. Homes are designed to achieve Energy Star and LEED certification, which will result in a reduced footprint, lower operating costs and an overall sensible approach to living at Camber Heights.

Burke is working with architect J.B. Clancy of Albert, Righter & Tittmann, a firm known for its work in sustainability and passive housing. Inspired by Vermont style farmhouses and barns with simple building exteriors, each home incorporates striking designs and arrangement of windows, doors, and skylights and several other modern twists. “All homes will include a thoughtfully designed mudroom and ski storage,” said Clancy. “Since every one of these slopeside homes features convenient trail access, it is only fitting that the convenience continues when homeowners enter.”

As an alum of Burke Mountain Academy, from where over 50 Olympians once trained, Clancy has a true appreciation for the Mid Burke location, the Vermont vernacular and the need for smart homes that suit the mountain family.

Those who wish to purchase in Camber Heights may take advantage of Burke’s “Inside Track” program, beginning mid winter.

About Burke Mountain: Located in the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Burke, with over 260 acres of skiing and riding, has an elevation of 3267 ft., 2011 ft. of vertical, and 50 natural trails including more than 110 acres of glades. Burke is home to Burke Mountain Academy, an internationally-acclaimed ski focused boarding school, offering a college preparatory curriculum, sending many students to compete in the Olympics and other national and international competitions.