Ski lodging is a distinctly personal choice. Some folks prefer ski in/ski out slopeside condos stocked to the gills with modern appliances. They are the epitome of convenience, whether you’re skiing or entertaining. Others prefer a quaint bed and breakfast, steeped in history and chock full of antiques and comfy quilts. Then there are a raft of properties that fall somewhere in between.
The funny thing is, I can call myself a fan of all of these properties, depending on what I’m looking for during a particular visit. If I’m with a large group of family or friends, the condo is a terrific option. If I prefer a romantic getaway with my wife, I might go with the cozy B&B. During our recent visit to Stratton, the one-bedroom condo at the Long Trail House was ideal.
The Long Trail House, named after the legendary trans-state hiking route, is one of several large condo complexes built on the Village Common, just steps away from the resort’s Welcome Center and Stratton’s eclectic village and base lodge. Other buildings on the Village Common include Founders Lodge, Hearthstone Lodge, Rising Bear Lodge and Black Bear Lodge (situated behind Founders), and all offer the same basic amenities and packages.
From the outside, the broad, yellow facade of the Long Trail House, built in 1999, is nothing to write home about. The two buildings that make up the “house” are fairly nondescript, but with clean, architecturally straightforward lines (by comparison, the Hearthstone Lodge next door, modeled after the grand National Park lodges of the West with exposed timber and stone, has a far more appealing exterior). However, for my wife, Lauri, and I, our fourth-floor unit was really the perfect “ground central” for a few fun days skiing at Stratton.
We were able to park our Subaru Forester in the heated below-ground garage (guests are provided a pass for one vehicle), and though we had to navigate through a sea of SUVs with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut license plates, often parked askew, we managed to find a spot. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s something to be said for parking your car, locking it and just being able to forget about it for a few days.
The hotel has plenty of luggage carts to help you get your gear (yes, like any good New England couple, we overpack to a fault) from your parking spot to your room. Once we got our bags to the fourth floor (there are a pair of elevators in each building), I loved feeling the tension of the long drive just oozing out of my body. The Long Trail has ski lockers on the first floor (to avoid bringing skis to the rooms, which is a common request in New England), and a combination lock for the lockers waiting for you in your room. Like the underground parking spots, the lockers are available on a “first come, first serve” basis. Stratton also offers Stor-A-Ski and snowboard storage right next to the gondola.
The Village Common condo complexes all have a variety of units. Long Trail offers one-, two- and three-bedroom condos, plus the five-bedroom penthouse (just a bit out of my price range). Each floor has a common washer and dryer, while each well-lit unit is fully equipped with solid-if-not-spectacular furnishings, including quality bedding and linens, sofas, tables, chairs, full bathroom and a full kitchen. The kitchens are wellstocked, with a refrigerator, oven, stovetop, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, dishwasher and garbage disposal.
That was a great reminder — never underestimate the joy of a well-stocked kitchen. Despite the fact that Stratton’s village has a slew of excellent restaurants, they charge a pretty penny. A condo with a full kitchen allowed Lauri and I, and other guests, to bring dinners that allows everyone to save a few bucks compared to the offerings in Stratton’s village restaurants (in our case, a delicious Mexican enchilada casserole on the night we arrived, with a couple of fresh, homemade margueritas). Same holds true for breakfast. Yes, Stratton’s base lodge (including Mugs), and spots like Benedicts offer a commendable array of early morning fare.
The key, of course, is having plenty of options. We could fry up a couple of eggs with toast and bacon in our unit, or saunter over to a local breakfast nook in the village. If the Folgers coffee packets in your condo don’t measure up to your morning brew standards, the Long Trail does offer Starbucks coffee on the first floor (if you bring your own coffee, bring filters too).
The neat-as-a-pin condos at Long Trail offer large flat-screen TVs, with a full array of channels, and free WiFi for all your personal electronic devices (ask you kids how important that amenity is). Gas fireplaces and air conditioning supply yearround comfort and, yes, atmosphere. Our unit also had a nice-sized deck overlooking the Village Common pond. On our second night, Lauri and I relished an après-ski cocktail while enjoying the tableau of youngsters skating, and I couldn’t imagine anything speaking to the soul of New England winters quite like this Norman Rockwell moment.
Other après options at Long Trail include the outdoor heated pool, a collection of three hot tubs and a sauna, all of which will help untangle all those ski-induced knots in your legs, lower back and shoulders. Or enjoy some down time in the hotel’s Hearth Room, with its plush furnishings and historical images and antiques (like old wooden snowshoes) celebrating the Long Trail’s storied history. Though I might be in the minority, given that I’m in my 60s, I love this shared sense of history that connects us to the generations that came before us.
There is no restaurant or bar on the Long Trail premises, but you don’t have to go far to find one (in fact, almost everything at Stratton is within walking distance, though the resort does have a complimentary shuttle service). The eclectic Fire Tower Restaurant and Tavern is directly across the street, and the Black Bear Lodge houses Table 43.1 restaurant, which specializes in local fare. Not sure where to go? The Long Trail has a staffed concierge desk that can make dining recommendations and answer most questions that guests might have.
If Mother Nature isn’t delivering the best ski conditions (despite the best efforts of the Stratton snowmaking and grooming crews), or if members of your group simply aren’t interested in spending a day on the hill, these condos also provide access to the resort’s Training and Fitness Center at discounted rates ($20 daily for individuals, $30 for families).
The benefit of the fitness center can’t be overstated, particularly if you’ve got children. Open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., the center offers a 75-foot indoor salt-water pool, cardiovascular equipment, weight training center, a dedicated spin room with Peloton cycles, a yoga room, a stretching room, saunas, massage therapy and two indoor tennis courts. There’s also a long, long list of classes (some free, but most available for an additional $15 fee) including several varieties of yoga, pilates, a combo of the two called yogalates, indoor cycling and body bar.
So whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating, working out at the fitness center or simply chilling after a full meal, there’s a very good likelihood that you’ll be looking forward to a good night’s sleep by the end of the day at Stratton. And the Long Trail House makes sure you’ve got everything you need to drift off quietly into dreamland.