I went to the Bolton Valley Resort with my ski club one weekend in early January. My roommate and I arrived late (it was about an 8-hour drive). It was easy to check in and we had a nice, big room. However, there were three of us in this room. When I inquired about a discount, the front desk said they already gave us a group rate based on double occupancy. Still, the room was clean, large and pleasant with a balcony and a view of the ski lift.
On Friday night, after we arrived, two of us went to the bar to unwind. I got there around 10:30 and the bar was getting ready to close at 11. I wondered what kind of resort closes its bar this early when there is no place else to go? The resort is isolated at the top of a mountain road and it's about 10 miles from the closest tiny town that didn't seem to have any businesses either.
There were a few local people in the bar, so the bartender did stay open till about 11:30 for the few customers who were there.
The resort told us that breakfast was served only from 7 to 8 a.m., again somewhat inconvenient hours for travelers. However, the breakfast buffet was good: waffles, hot and cold cereals and toast (although one toaster with four slots can be a time-consuming wait when there's a group.) It was extremely cold that morning, so we went back to our rooms and waited until about 10 a.m. to ski.
Our club has both downhill and cross-country skiers. I believe the downhill skiers liked the slopes. Nordic skiers had a bit of a challenge to get to the trails, though. We had to walk about 100 yards to get to the Nordic center. The only way to get there from the hotel was to walk downhill through the icy, snowy parking lot because there was no separate walkway. I was worried about losing my footing and falling into the path of a car that was trying to find a parking place. At times, the resort had one or two staffers to direct traffic, but it was a narrow driveway and a small parking lot. Skiers on their way uphill to the slopes or to the Nordic Center were supposed to walk off to the side behind traffic cones.
When we reached the Nordic center, I went inside to sign up and get a trail map. We were given $5 coupons to apply to the $17 trail fee (very steep price), but the staffers at the desk told us we couldn't use the coupons even though it said, "good any day throughout the 2008-2009 season." They said we had to use the coupons at the time of purchase! But our trail passes were purchased in advance by our group leader and the coupons came separately. There was no way of knowing that we couldn't use the coupons.
That's a poor policy not to honor the coupons and I should have put up a fuss, considering we were here for the first time and came from several hundred miles away!
The trails were groomed, but icy and I had trouble negotiating them, even though I stayed on the trails marked for beginners or intermediates. Most resorts do leave some part of the trails ungroomed, depending on your preference or for snowshoers, too. Bolton Valley had only one or two "wilderness" trails that were left snow-covered. They went through the woods and were marked expert. But you couldn't get to them without tackling the icy trails first.
I also thought the trail maps were too small and hard to read. Basically, there is one main trail (Broadway) and all the other trails feed off it. Often times you didn't notice there was an intersecting trail until after you passed the small signs.
On Saturday night, however, the resort got about five inches of fresh snow and the skiing on Sunday was fantastic. I got out early before the trails were groomed and I could control my skis in the turns.
The Nordic Center also has a small swimming pool. The children using it on Saturday morning said the water was cold. I didn't try the pool because I didn't want to come out of a heated room and walk that far back to the hotel at night (uphill) in temperatures close to zero.
Another plus: the food. The hotel gave our group a good buffet dinner on Saturday night and the wait staff was friendly and attentive.
I heard that the hotel had recently been taken over by a "local" group of owners, but based on my experience with the young people at the front desk and the staff at the Nordic center, there was nobody in charge who could make a decision to help correct a customer's dissatisfaction. Some of my friends complained also about a lack of hot water in the bathroom, but I was very satisfied with my room. I was disappointed that the hotel didn't have any computers for use by the guests.
The trail fees were way too high considering the poor economy this year. Where I live in New York State, we always have plenty of snow and free ski trails, so I felt the trip to Vermont was a hassle.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vermont Skiing and Riding at its best!Bolton Valley Vermont is a unique, high mountain alpine ski village surrounded by over 5,000 pristine acres. At Bolton Valley the recreational opportunities are as numerous as the views are spectacular. In the winter, whether your're interested in skiing or snowboarding, telemark or Nordic, backcountry or night skiing, Bolton Valley has it all in abundance. After your legs have had enough, relax in the Sports Center's jacuzzi, heated pool or warm up in the sauna. Need more activities? Join a basketball game, play tennis, or work out in the exercise center. There is no limit on ways to stay active at Bolton Valley. Great food? We have that too. Want to stay in slope side lodging? Look no further. All lodging, whether it be the Inn accommodations, suites, or condominiums, are all slopeside or within a short walking distance. No cars needed at Bolton Valley, it's all right here. We are family friendly, affordable, and offer loads of fun. Bolton Valley is the place to get away and enjoy the best Vermont has to offer. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bolton Valley Hotel Bolton Valley
- The Inn Bolton Valley & Ski Area Vermont