Shredding to Snowplowing. Soar to Your Own Ski Adventure!
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie ripper and freerider who likes challenging the big runs, or prefer epic views, majestic panoramas and more intermediate terrain, Benchmark Resorts & Hotels offers a great selection of properties grandly situated at the foot of North America’s best ski mountains. Find the one that fuels your fire.
Vail, Colorado, and Stowe, Vermont, are considered the West and East Coast equivalents of each other. Yet, both have their own distinct charms, villages, and mountain experiences. Here, we see how the two towns – plus their Gemstone properties – stack up to determine which one might best suit you.
Lay of the Land
Located between Burlington and Montpelier, Stowe feels like walking into a Vermont postcard: The town is a classic New England ski village of steepled churches, clapboard houses, and a folksy Main Street punctuated with boutiques and restaurants. The skiing is comprised of two neighboring mountain areas: Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, which together, offer a combined 116 trails and six terrain parks. Spruce Peak tends to be better suited to beginners with gentle blue and green runs, while the famed “front four” double-black-diamond runs make their home on Mount Mansfield.
Two hours away from Denver, Vail has long been legendary for blending both amazing skiing and plenty of fine spoils to make it the ski vacation of our collective dreams. The two base areas, Vail Village and Lionshead Village, are truly pedestrian-friendly with cobblestone heated streets lined by restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops contained in buildings reminiscent of a centuries-old European village. As for the skiing, it’s vast: 5,000 acres with the full assortment of black-diamond steeps, glades, and bumps; for intermediates and beginners, the mountain is also home to the most groomed terrain on the planet. But the defining characteristic of the ski experience here are the immense Back Bowls: 3,000 acres of powder skiing that funnel into some of the most scenic drainages in ski country.
Part of the “Front Four,” this New England classic, narrow, winding trail is arguably one of the most difficult on the mountain with a double fall-line full of moguls, ledges, boulders, and streams – enough to trip up even the most sure-footed goat (hence, the name).
Vail: Sun Down Bowl
The east-facing areas of this bowl sit below a ridge that gets loaded with snow as the wind blows from the west. The terrain varies, offering wide open, fairly steep runs, tight aspens, open glades, and even small cliff bands.
Stowe: The Roost
Named a top après spot in Stowe by Freeskier’s 2016 “Elevated Après,” this modern bar within Topnotch Resort offers shuffleboard, oversized couches by the fireplace, and views of Mount Mansfield through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Vail: Los Amigos
With so many bars in Vail, it’s hard to pick one. But, if you like pitchers of margaritas and people watching, then there’s just one deck worth cutting your day short for, and that’s at Los Amigos in Vail Village by Gondola 1. Situated before the iconic and steep Pepi’s Face, it’s the place to watch skiers take the plunge.
Where to Stay
Stowe: Topnotch Resort
Stowe’s only luxury boutique hotel is just a five-minute drive from the slopes (they offer a free shuttle). Originally built as a ski club in 1953, the 68-room property recently underwent a renovation in 2013 that blends quaint Vermont with modern ski luxury with touches like water and fire features and a giant moose head (named “Mikey”) in the lobby. Ski storage is available on premises, as well as equipment rentals through MountainOps, one of Stowe’s top ski shops that is located right on property.
Vail: Tivoli Lodge
Located a two-minute walk to Gondola 1 in Vail Village, this 66-room boutique property has a European-style touch to it – accented with stone, dark leather chairs, and rich wood furnishings. The owners, Bob and Diane Lazier, actually live on the fifth floor of the hotel, so you not only see them rubbing elbows with their guests at breakfast every morning and during après in the lobby, but their chocolate lab, Speedy, as well. The resort offers a complimentary ski valet for gear storage and transport.