The heated walkways circling from the parking lot into Lincoln Peak village at Sugarbush Resort don’t always keep up with the rate of snowfall … and those are the best mornings. With the mountain towering before you, those anticipatory steps through softened snow are an indicator of the piles of fun that await on nearly 600 skiable acres of classic New England terrain.
These also are the best mornings to take in your surroundings. The big red barn you first notice while driving up the access road maintains its vintage charm close up — not an easy feat considering it’s 159,000-square-feet of luxury residences, 61 rooms in all.
This is Clay Brook. Opened in 2007, its post and beam barn-style construction complete with towering silo harkens to Vermont’s agrarian past. It is both functional and picturesque. It is the crown jewel of Summit Ventures’ vision to develop a previously undistinguished base area village at the resort. Summit Ventures is a partnership of several individuals including majority owner Win Smith Jr., who serves as president of the resort.
The architectural style of Clay Brook is shared by the comfortably clustered buildings that also define the new base area landscape and enhance the beauty of this morning walk to the lifts, including the 12,500-square-foot Schoolhouse (children’s ski school, etc.), 14,500-square-foot Farmhouse (adult ski school, rental shop, ticket sales, café, etc.), and the 23,000-square-foot Gate House Lodge with vaulted ceilings, food court, Castlerock Pub and skier services.
It’s no wonder that ABC News at the start of this season selected Sugarbush among its top picks in a round-up of “The best ski-in/ski-out resorts in the U.S.” Claybrook, editors stated, appeals to a range of travelers — from families vacationing with kids to couples looking for a cozy lodge and slopeside dining.
“(Clay Brook) is located right at the foot of Sugarbush, and there’s certainly no lack of activities off the mountain, with an outdoor heated pool, game room with a kiddie pool, and access to a large fitness center,” the editors wrote. “Free entry to swanky Sugarbush Health & Racquet Club is a bonus. The beautiful round-barn restaurant and bar is a highlight. One of this property’s boons is that it has the energetic atmosphere of a large resort, but with just 61 units, it has the feel of a more intimate mountain lodge. All come equipped with full modern kitchens, washer/dryers, fireplaces, and plenty of space to spread out.”
Circling the perimeter of Clay Brook is inspiring; even the understated access to the 62-space underground parking garage is worthy of note (two Tesla charging stations are located here, free of use for hotel guests). It gets even better once you step inside. I suggest entering at Rumble’s Kitchen, the hotel’s adjoining 6,000-square-foot round bar and restaurant with vaulted ceiling and seating for 130 with mountain views. Named in honor of Rumble, Sugarbush’s Bernese mountain dog mascot who spent nearly nine years at the mountain, the restaurant serves fresh American cuisine, offering a selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers, steak, chicken and seafood, with vegan and gluten-free options.
Venturing deeper inside, Clay Brook’s 61 residences range from studios to fivebedroom suites. Each home features hardwood furniture in the Shaker style, Beaubois custom-crafted kitchen cupboards, mantles and vanities, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops. Rooms include fireplaces, washer/dryers, balconies, four-poster beds and jetted shower/tub combos.
Clay Brook guests get access to underground parking and valet services, personal concierge, grocery delivery service, private owners’ lounge, personal storage units, boot-warming and skivalet services, Health and Racquet Club membership and golf club privileges. Clay Brook also features a year-round outdoor heated pool (80-82 degrees) and two outdoor hot tubs (104 degrees).
The ski-in, ski-out hotel is located just steps away from the Super Bravo Express, Valley House Quad, Gate House Express, Village Double and Welcome Mat. Guests and owners enjoy the highest level of resort privileges, including “Early Ups” lift access, extremely popular for those who love first tracks.
A pet-friendly resort — dogs are the stars of an annual winter parade around the Lincoln Peak courtyard — Clay Brook has designated dog-friendly residences in the south wing of the building, so families need not leave their four-legged family members at home.
The hotel and accompanying base area development has bolstered Sugarbush as a four-season resort. Summer activities like ziplining and mountain biking are now family favorites, Clay Brook serving as the perfect jumping off point to enjoy summer in the Mad River Valley. Nearby Sugarbush Resort Golf Club is a Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole course with incredible mountain and valley vistas from just off the access road. The Long Trail and the Mad River frame it all.