Opens new KidsRule Mountain Camp, Orion glade, but offers same great value, charm
by Eric Leiberman, Dave Leiberman & Andrew Kessel
Bromley Mountain, a perennial family favorite in southern Vermont, is famous for its “Classic Vermont skiing”, its unpretentious, folksy atmosphere, and incredible value.
While tradition is Bromley’s hallmark, the mountain is not completely adverse to progress: this year, Bromley is celebrating its 75th anniversary by adding a black-diamond glade trail, “Orion,”and completely revamped its children’s program, with a new KidsRule Mountain Camp and learning program.
Bromley plunked close to $600,000 into a brand new, 3,000 square foot kids’ facility and gave the Learning Area a top-to-bottom makeover, with a new, fully-enclosed carpet lift. There is a new “Kids’ Cabin” for warming-up and for bathroom breaks. The new KidsRule learning program was designed in collaboration with the directors of the ski and snowboard schools at Bromley’s sister resorts Jiminy Peak (the biggest mountain resort in Massachusetts) and Cranmore Mountain (in New Hampshire). It offers a new approach to teaching kids aged 4-14 skiing and snowboarding.
The kids in the program get a kind of birthday present, too: Bromley purchased $70,000 of new rental equipment – that’s over 300 pairs of Head skis, and 100 Burton snowboards – and made the decision to become a Burton LTR Center, which gives Bromley access to snowboard equipment designed specifically for beginner snowboarders and training for the instructors that will enhance the fun factor of their snowboard lessons.
The “Orion”trail is a black diamond glade located between Havoc and Pushover on the East Side. Developed in close coordination with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Green Mountain National Forest, the goal of the new trail is to not only provide great new terrain, but to ensure a sustainable forest both in and around the expanded terrain.
Bromley is the antidote to big, bustling, frenetic ski resorts. Everything about it is relaxed and calm, beginning with the warm reception you get when you arrive.
Walking into the Bromley Mountain ski lodge, one of the first things you might notice are heaters near the door and an easy-to-navigate layout. From the minute you walk in, you feel relaxed and comfortable at Bromley. While many of Bromley’s staff come from the surrounding Vermont towns, The young woman who helps us with our ski rentals is here from Argentina and manifests that friendly, easy-going attitude that personifies Bromley. The staff at Bromley make buying lift tickets, obtaining ski rentals, and finding lockers a simple process.
Craig, one of the lift operators who entertains us with his harmonica and good nature, jokingly apologizes for the 15 second lift wait time. Checking our tickets just ahead, Julia always waves us on with a smile. The longest we wait on any lift line is five minutes.
Bromley has 46 classic New England Trails including 6 glades with plenty of variety of terrain to satisfy everyone from first-timers to those who crave an adrenaline rush – 28% of the trails are classed as “easy”, 37% as intermediate and 35% as advanced/expert. It offers 175 skiable acres (snowmaking on 86% of the terrain) and a 1334 feet vertical. A high-speed quad whisks you to the top in six minutes. It also has two quads, four doubles and 2 Surface lifts.
The East Side is full of black diamonds for the experts in the family, while the West Side has some great cruising trails, and the beginner area has all the right elements for the first timer and those who are just learning.
Meadow East terrain park was an enjoyable trail for skiers of many different levels while Sunder was a good option with a sharper gradient for more experienced riders.
Bromley also offer four terrain parks, designed and tailored for a progressive freestyle experience.
Exhibition: Located mid-mountain just beneath the Sun chair on Liftline, this terrain park is geared for the intermediate-to- advanced rider. It offers a flow line of box-rails, log spine, and a double jump which incorporates a cannon pole jam. As the season and snow conditions evolve, so will the layout of the park.
Bonanza: Located on Lower Boulevard and accessible from the Alpine chair, this terrain park geared for the beginner and intermediate skier or rider. Its features are smaller in scale, offering an introduction to the world of terrain parks. The features include a jump, butter box, and assorted rails.
Halo: Located on Lord’s Prayer and parallel to the t-bar, this is Bromley’s most advanced terrain park. It includes streetstyle rails, homestyle features, and a jump line.
Unforgiven Bordercross: Located on Plaza, this trail consists of one of the East Coast’s oldest and most formidable, yet basic, bordercross trails.
We soon discover why Bromley is known as Vermont’s Sun Mountain: it is one of the only southern facing mountains in Vermont, so it gets more sun and less ice. The snow operations team (snow blowers) tend to work more at night and avoid reducing visibility during the day which makes for a more enjoyable ride down the mountain.
With one centrally located base-lodge, it’s easy for the family to get together, find one another and get back on the slopes.
If you’re thinking about other nearby and possibly bigger mountains it might be good to keep in mind that on the busiest days of the year you can still always get a seat during lunch rush hour at Bromley. The pricing for lunch dishes is modest for an on-mountain ski lodge (the cranberry-turkey sandwich was quite tastey).
Coming in at the end of the day you will likely be greeted by a warm fire and several people drinking hot chocolate and PBR while enjoying waffles outside. Bromley has a connection to Pabst Blue Ribbon beer – it had been owned by Fred Pabst, Jr, the son of the famous Frederick Pabst, founder of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, until recently. Some of the trail names still include reference to this Pabst legacy.
Avi Lessman, an instructor here who grew up coming to Mountain Snow from his native hometown of Great Neck Long Island, tells us, “Bromley isn’t a big mountain, but the narrow, often winding trails are not only often more beautiful, they don’t have the sweeping wind effect that you get on wider, more open trails.
Run Around, a trail which literally runs from the top of the mountain to the bottom in four parts, while probably geared more towards beginners, is a good example.For the price of a regular one day lift ticket at Bromley ($50-$60) you definitely get a good value (and there are packages and deals online).
In the Heart of Quintessential Vermont
While you may explore most of the mountain within a day or two, one distinct take-away from Bromley is the ease with which you can explore what the surrounding towns have to offer while quickly transitioning to the mountain. Within minutes of taking your ski boots off you can feel comfortable and ready for evening activities a short distance away.
Accessible, bucolic, and quaint are three words you could use to describe the area in which Bromley Ski Mountain is located. Again though, like the ski mountain it’s the people that make the place special.
Bromley has limited on-mountain accommodations (there are some condos at the base village), but there are a score of places around, ranging from the grand, historic Equinox Resort & Spa (personal favorite), which is luxurious, charming resort hotel with a world-class spa and every manner of luxurious amenity (Mary Todd Lincoln summered at the Equinox) and is about 20 minutes drive away in historic Manchester (800-362-4747, www.equinoxresort.com); to quaint inns and budget motels.
Frank Sutton runs a cozy guest house, Sutton’s Place, right in the heart of shopper-friendly downtown Manchester Center (loaded with factory outlet shops). Sutton’s offers a large suite for a family with two bedrooms connected by a bathroom, a smaller and more cozy, romantic single, and a few other good options. Frank greeted us with a big smile and proceeded to tell us his story of moving from Brooklyn, NY 20 years earlier. He enthusiastically endorsed Manchester businesses while offering good practical advice about where to eat our meals. Let’s not forget the donuts, coffee, and crisp apples that Frank left out in the morning as an added bonus. (50 School Street – PO Box 142, Manchester Center, Vermont 05255, 802-362-1165,Frank@SuttonsPlaceVermont.com, www.SuttonsPlaceVermont.com).
There are a plethora of other lodging options including on the mountain (the Sun Lodge, village condos), bed & breakfasts in the surrounding towns, and several hotels & motels to choose from, some of which look straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Some of the town is walk able and nothing is more than a 10-15 minute drive to the ski slopes.
Just a few steps from Sutton’s, The Lawyer & the Baker offers a good lunch option, while the upscale brunch venue “Up for Breakfast” also came highly recommended. However, we might also suggest instead, checking out the local café/book-store Spiral Press, which is also just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Frank’s. The Press features a breakfast special of Vermont cheddar cheese egg Panini at an affordable price; when we were there it was less than $5.
For dinner, we eat at the Fire Fly, something in between a sports bar and what an upscale tapas restaurant in Vermont might be. A pound of delicious mussels, tequila-lime shrimp served with tortilla chips, and decent steak quesadilla’s with a homemade salsa topped it off. The Caesar salad was good (nice homemade dressing) but a little light on the homemade croutons: just a helpful hint: don’t splurge on the large salad option as it’s the exact same size as the small. The Buffalo wings were good and there are several nice local and non-local tap beers you can also choose from. Everything is offered at decent prices but be careful about coming during peak hours as you might wait several hours to get your food. It might be worth the wait with slightly larger-than-normal tapas servings and a friendly, cozy environment.
The happening spot in town is the bustling and eventful Perfect Wife restaurant and pub, where there is nightly live entertainment that attracts locals of all ages. The Wife, as the locals call it, has a nice music stage where we catch a very fine five piece blues band from near bye Bennington called Blues Sanctuary. It’s a great place to get some beers (the whole place is lined with bottles of brew from every place imaginable) and chill out after a good day of skiing. The Perfect Wife also has some unique and creative desert options like Vermont maple cheese cake and cream cheese brownie Sunday with vanilla and coffee ice cream. Be sure to catch the famous eggplant fries. While we didn’t get the chance to try any of the main dishes, we caught a glimpse of some very plump shrimp, rare steaks, and the menu featured a host of other enticing dishes.
Off-Mountain Activities Abound
Bromley may not be a self-contained resort, but is literally surrounded by a host of Vermont family winter activities, including ice skating, sleigh riding, snowmobiling, shopping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
If carving figure eights is your thing, then you’ll want to check out the great ice at the Riley Rink at Hunter Park, in Manchester. A new, state-of-the-art facility, Riley Rink at Hunter Park is the home ice for several community hockey and skating leagues, and offers public skating hours at various times throughout the week. (Call 802-362-0150 for hours and schedule of events.)
Sleigh rides are available in several locales around the Bromley and Manchester Vermont area. Located on Route 11, in Londonderry, there’s the Taylor Farm (802-824-5690), and in Landgrove, Karl Pfister offers rides (802-824-6320). A few miles up Route 30, in Peru, Deb Hodis operates Horses for Hire (802-297-1468), which she has owned and operated for over a decade.
Cross-country ski centers abound in the Bromley area. The closest is Wild Wings, 802-824-6793 right in Peru, and is run by longtime friends of the Bromley Outing Club, the Black family. Other touring centers include Hildene (Robert Todd Lincoln’s estate) in Manchester, 802-362-1788 and Tater Hill in Windham, 802-875-2517, as well as Viking in Londonderry, 802-824-3933, which also offers snowshoeing.
If shopping is more up your alley, then Manchester Vermont’s Manchester Designer Outlets are just perfect for you! You’ll find plenty of discount shopping right out your door with factory stores from Polo, J. Crew, Armani, Versace and Burberry just to name a few.
For snowmobilers, Equinox Snow Tours is right down the road at the junction of Routes 11 & 30. A guided snowmobile tour takes you through the Green Mountain National Forest stopping to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Green Mountains (802-824-6628, www.vermontsnowmobile.com.
Another snowmobile operator is Alpine Tours on Stratton Mountain, 802-297-1207 offers moonlight tours, family tours and can tailor programs, as well.
Experience the thrill and excitement of a dog sledding adventure in the Green Mountains. A team of friendly Siberian huskies takes you on an exhilarating ride on over a network of groomed woods trails. With a Musher as your guide, you will get a chance to witness true working sled dogs in action while doing what they love to do… run! (Visit www.huskyworks.com, or contact Jeremy and Laura at 802-896-3478).
As we pulled away from Bromley, we are thinking of the words to describe it: “Stress-free, friendly, quaint,”says Eric. “Pleasant, family-friendly and painless,”says Dave; “Compact and friendly,”says Andrew.
Bromley is the place to go for a relaxed, family-friendly, comfortable mountain experience, terrific value, and all the charm that is quintessential Vermont. It’s a Vermont gem not to be missed.
It is no wonder why Bromley has its stalwarts, and now, in its 75th year, is worth discovering anew.
Check the website, www.bromley.com, for specials, packages, deals and events.
Located in southern Vermont, Bromley is a four hour drive from New York. Bus service from New York City is available from Adventure Northeast Bus Service (www.Adventurenortheast.com, 917-861-1800).
Friday, 20 January, 2012
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