While most ski resorts announce offseason capital improvements around this time every year, guests aren’t likely to appreciate any of the work that’s being done until the snow starts falling. At Vermont’s Stratton Mountain Resort though, visitors can already make immediate use of some of the improvements made since the lifts were shuttered for winter back in April.
Highlighting Stratton’s $8.9 million in capital improvements for the 2022-23 season is the addition of five new trails — including a skills park — to the resort’s bike park, bringing the total number of resort mountain biking trails to 16. Created with the help of Sinuosity Flowing Trails, a Vermont trail development company, the trails include “Paper Route,” which stretches 1.23 miles into the Snow Bowl area, and the 1-mile, multi-directional “Bear’s Den,” which connects the bike park to the Sun Bowl area.
The skills park, named, “Kick Start,” will also be the home for Stratton Mountain Sports School’s MTB Lessons with ideal terrain to promote proper technique.
“It’s fun,” said Myra Foster, Stratton senior manager marketing and communications, said. “There are berms and gaps and a tabletop. [It’s] a way to to check out your skill level and improve.”
It’s little surprise that Stratton has maintained itself as a destination for summer attractions over the years. In fact, it was one of the first ski resorts to discover the market for offseason attractions when it introduced golf to the resort in 1964. Nearly 30 years later, Stratton added mountain bilking to its summer offerings, but there is little resemblance to what bikers experienced in 1993.
“I was there, and the bikes, it was like rock shocks,” Foster said. “Barely any suspension, caliper brakes, and you would go down the mountain. Now, the trails are amazing. They’re all Sinuosity Flowing Trails and the difference is night and day. And the technology is amazing. I was out the other day and the brakes, the hydraulic brakes, this little seat thing that lifts you up and down, the technology is amazing.”
The current bike park is now in its fourth season and in what many think is the second step of a four-or-five stage plan.
“Mountain biking has grown exponentially,” Foster said. “There are so many elements of mountain biking that are similar to skiing — It’s gravity-based, it uses the terrain you’re in, through the woods, on the mountain. So it just made sense to have mountain biking. And we launched it very carefully with a lot of work, to take advantage of the terrain and to find the right group to help us build out the trails.”
At the 27-hole Geoffrey Cornish-designed golf course this summer, visitors will find a total parking lot resurfacing and paving project completed along with equipment upgrades including a Toro 684 aerifier and Toro 3150-Q green mower for advanced green maintenance resulting in consistent greens speeds across all three courses.
They are just the latest improvements to a resort that is steeped in golf history.
“We played host to six LPGA tournaments,” Foster said. “Jan Stephenson [a professional golfer who competed on tours in the 1970s] would come each year and bring her family from Australia. Because not only was it a golf course, but it was a complete resort community. And Vermont is special. So she would enjoy all of the activities that Stratton offered, starting with the village shopping and dining patio dining, music, concerts, hiking, scenic lift rides, tennis. Now we have yoga, even yoga at the summit. There’s a summit deck. Hiking has always been really popular. The Long and Appalachian Trails share a route over the summit. And legend has it that Stratton and that view inspired both. On a clear day, you can see across four mountain ranges and states and there’s a hike to the fire tower.”
It’s about a 1.5-mile hike from the summit to the water tower (a pretty easy hike, Foster said). The fire tower was manned until some time in the 1980s. Today, it’s a spectacular spot where hikers on the Long Trail will meet.
Other resort capital projects include a commitment to the employee experience with a $20 an hour minimum wage coming this winter, a remodeling of the summit ski patrol building, and further investments in snowmaking,
But there’s a long way to go, and a lot to do, at Stratton before turning on the snow guns.
“Winter is peak season and rates are at at a real high,” Foster said. “So summer is a good time to visit and also run into families who are having their reunions because of all the different things that you can do. I don’t want to bash the beach, but, you know, the mountains are a pretty cool place to come for family reunions. And we’re seeing a lot of that.”
Elsewhere at the resort, former professional tennis player Cliff Drysdale partnered with Stratton to create a tennis school with clinics for kids that, Foster said, is growing in popularity. “We’re seeing so many kids in our tennis programs,” she said. “So they’re coming for the week. It’s part of our kids adventure camp. We also have tennis for adults. Cliff Drysdale is well-known and the courts, the red clay courts, that’s an amazing program, run by Cliff Drysdale.”
The aforementioned kids adventure camp is offered for children ages 3-12 all summer long. The camp includes a number of outdoor adventures, as well as the chances to play golf and tennis. There’s also a junior tennis camp for those looking to work on their backhands.
It’s hard to think of a better place to practice one than on the “nature-immersive Green Mountain tennis courts.”
“Summer has always been an attraction not only for the homeowners in the community, but the Green Mountains are pretty spectacular in the summer,” Foster said. “And Stratton is a great place to enjoy it.”
For more information about visiting Stratton this summer, visit www.stratton.com/the-mountain/discover-stratton-summer