I accept the fact that I might be in the minority on this topic, but I personally feel the condominium was the single worst thing to happen to New England’s ski culture. Sure, condos were a convenient, and often less expensive, option to buying a second home in ski country. But what was lost was a slice of the “community,” the shared experience that makes skiing so special.
But I’ve found the antidote — the Hostel of Maine. Thanks to Melanie and Justin Steele, a young couple (30 and 31, respectively) who opened the hostel in 2017, skiers in western Maine can go traipsing down Memory Lane to enjoy an old-school ski experience. Though she’s literally half my age, Melanie Steele and I share a kindred spirit.
“I remember being interested in small, family-style hospitality from a young age,” she said. “All I can really attribute that to was growing up spending weekends and vacations here at Sugarloaf, where our family ski home always had a rotating door of guests coming to stay, piling into the bunk room, and creating meals from whatever got picked up along the way. They’re some of my fondest memories, trying to create a space and environment with a genuine sense of welcome for our guests.”
The hostel idea really took root in 2012, after Justin returned from his travels abroad, determined to replicate the accommodations he had enjoyed in Europe.