For the past five seasons, Mt. Sunapee has been bustling. The owners of Okemo, Vt., who were selected as caretakers of the state-owned day area, have invested $13 million, cutting new trails, adding lifts, building a new lodge and terrain park and increasing snowmaking. New and returning visitors alike have reacted positively to the improvements: "Nice rehab. Okemo owners have turned this facility around," says one reader. "A very pleasant experience," says another. Sunapee, which earns gold medals for Grooming, Value and Access, caters to families. In its segregated novice area, South Peak, new skiers feel safe and unintimidated. Experts will find pockets of challenging terrain, including Sunbowl, a lift-accessed back bowl area. Sunapee's nine lifts serve up diverse terrain: There are long cruisers, open slopes, a halfpipe, a terrain park and even glades (surprisingly uncrowded). "Great skiing, good prices and no crowds," notes one reader. Although there's no lodging at the mountain, its location inside the heavily forested Mt. Sunapee State Park makes for scenic skiing, and from the summit, as one reader notes, you get "a nice view of Lake Sunapee." The surrounding small towns in the Sunapee region have many hotels, from a budget Best Western to historic inns. It's unusual for a mountain with great skiing, good value and accessibility to feel uncrowded; but that's one thing at Mt. Sunapee that hasn't changed. Yet. -Krista Crabtree
WHAT'S NEW Kid Wonder Carpet, New England's longest conveyor lift (300 feet); new teaching trail on South Peak;upgraded snowmaking and base facilities.
A GOOD DEAL Dexter's Inn in nearby Sunapee offers ski-and-stay packages starting at $100 per person, per night (double-occupancy). Includes lifts, buffet breakfast and après-ski treats. Blackout dates apply.
MEDALS GOLD Grooming, Value,Access; SILVER Snow, Lifts, On-Mountain Food, Service, Family Programs, Scenery, Terrain Parks.
HIGH/LOW RANK Access (8), Grooming (13), Service (14); Challenge (54), Lodging (55), Après (56).
DON'T MISS The Rosewood Country Inn, a handsome 1850 Victorian voted one of New Hampshire's most romantic inns. Rooms start at $119; 800-938-5273, www.rosewoodcountryinn.com.
READER REMARKS (+) "Excellent snowmaking and grooming, easy cruising, good family hill." "Well-spent money."(-) "Lack of beds in the area." "Weather can be bad." "A little short on vertical."