East Update Northern Vermont Lands Big Air (Service)
At these prices, why drive? Low cost air service finally landed in Burlington, Vt., over the summer, opening up new possibilities for skiers looking for a Vermont weekend getaway-especially those in the New York City and Florida markets. JetBlue, the startup budget airline based at New York's Kennedy Airport, offers fares from JFK to Burlington that start at $98 round-trip. Northern Vermont resorts, elated to finally have competitive airline service, are making the most of the opportunity, offering fly-ski-and-stay packages that could give the drive-to resorts in southern Vermont a run for their money. Some examples (per person, double-occupancy):
Stowe: airfare, rental car or transfer, three nights' lodging (breakfast usually included), three-day lift ticket: $367.
Sugarbush: airfare, rental car, three nights' lodging, three-day lift ticket and breakfasts: $369.
Smugglers' Notch: airfare, airport shuttle, three nights' slopeside lodging, three-day lift ticket, daily lessons: $563.
Jay Peak: airfare, rental car, three nights' lodging, breakfasts, two dinners, daily lessons, childcare: $552.
Afternoon flights depart JFK at 2:50; return flights depart Burlington at 4:30, so the timing is perfect for maximizing a quick two- or three-day visit. There are great deals from Florida, too, where jetBlue serves the Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach markets (roundtrip: $158-$358; Jay Peak offers a ski week for $849). At those prices you'd expect aging turbo-prop equipment, but jetBlue employs all-new jets, with extra leg and overhead room. Other airlines have noticed and begun cutting fares into Burlington. Crotched Mountain, N.H.: Back From the Dead?
In an era when the rate of ski-area closures barely seems to have leveled off, attempting to reopen failed resorts seems...optimistic. "Of course I'm crazy," admits Chris Bradford, a partner in Fresh Tracks, a new venture aimed at reopening closed ski resorts. "I do it because I'm a ski nut, and it's fun." Crazy or sane, Bradford and three partners in Fresh Tracks, which is interested in properties both here and abroad, have done their homework. And topping the list of targets is New Hampshire's dormant Crotched Mountain, where land reacquisition is under way with hopes of getting the area back online by as early as next winter. Known for strong racing programs, Crotched enjoyed a successful run of nearly three decades on slopes just west of Concord. With about 1,000 vertical feet on two peaks, it drew skiers not only from the Manchester and Nashua markets, but from Boston, an hour away. Over-ambitious management brought it down in 1989, Bradford says, immediately after a period of what he describes as too-aggressive growth. Now the Fresh Tracks partners feel they can make it go again. Much of the infrastructure remains in place and viable, and there's potential for real estate development. Investors are still being sought. Want to be a ski-area mogul? Call 207-324-6278 or visit ftas.hypermart.net. Indecent Exposure: Stowe Says No To Girlie Shows
Keep it on; keep it all on. So said the Stowe police, who cited The Mountain Roadhouse for violating town indecency ordinances. Very friendly waitresses working the Monday Night Football crowd at the popular Mountain Road bar raised more than a few eyebrows, dressed as they were in a manner that could hardly be expected to keep them warm during Vermont's winter months. Management quickly covered them up, denying it was in response to either the citations or a threatened eviction by their landlord. New Demo Center Opens At Smugglers' Notch
Rental skis don't have to suck. Customers of Gold Medal Demo Centers-including a new one at Smugglers' Notch, Vt.-not only get the latest stuff-they get the best stuff. Only SKI Magazine gold-medal winners are offered.The new shop, located at the entrance tto the ski area, joins shops at Killington and Stowe in serving skiers who want a decent pair of boards for the day. Some customers see it as a way to save money: They don't ski more than a handful of days each year and can't justify owning skis. Others are in the market to buy skis and use GMDC to inform their decisions. The staff is knowledgeable, having personally skied most models (it's a rough job). Daily demos (reserved in advance) cost $25 ($30 with boots and poles). Get two pairs for an additional $15; for a third pair, add another $10. For information, call toll-free: 800-458-9996 (Stowe), 877-445-1280 (Smugglers') or 877-282-3820 (Killington).