As the days grow shorter and mornings begin to greet us with layers of ice crystals on our car windshields, many people shudder at the thought of enduring another long winter in New England. Last year, the brutal season tested the best of us with its unrelenting icy temperatures that pushed spring back so far it was nearly absorbed by summer.
Although many of us dread a wintery mix, some of us jump with joy as the forecast begins to call for snow. Hearty New England skiers revel as the snowflakes begin to fall and stick to the mountains up north. That first climb into the attic for ski gloves and hats brings a smile to the face of faithful skiers. North Shore residents are lucky to be a mere two to three hours from a whole variety of mountains that promise consistent skiing (albeit icy at times) from Thanksgiving until early April.
In fact, some of the best skiers in the world come from New England because the conditions can be so challenging: It is hard to grip a sheet of ice even with freshly sharpened skis. Ski aficionados often reject East Coast skiing, opting instead to spend their money traveling out West, where they are almost never let down by the conditions and the resorts are often much larger and less crowded.
For those of us wanting to forgo a long flight and time change and feel the joy of standing on top of a mountain less than 24 hours after leaving our desks on Friday afternoon, there is one ski resort that stands a cut above the rest.
Situated just a little over two hours from the North Shore in southern Vermont is the only private ski mountain in the east. The Hermitage Club in Deerfield Valley is the brainchild of Jim Barnes and boasts 400 families to date who have exclusive access to more than 1,400 acres on the 3,200-foot-high Haystack Mountain for a full year of mountain sports. The ski resort had sat vacant for almost six years when Barnes purchased the mountain, Hermitage Inn, and Deerfield Valley Regional Airport, transforming it into a world-class winter playground.
Barnes wanted to create a high-end ski resort “where you would never have to wait in line for the chair lift,” he notes. “The slopes also have 100 percent snowmaking coverage by snow guns that produce lighter, drier snow, which assures ‘first-track’ conditions all day.” Members and their guests can Alpine ski and board as well as cross-country ski, snowshoe, and—come springtime—golf on the 18-hole Desmond Muirhead-designed course.
The master plan for the club includes more than 500 deluxe homes and condominiums—with plans for 14 ski-in/ski-out homes adjacent to a private chair lift, as well as a $15 million luxury five-star hotel. The Hermitage Inn offers cozy accommodations along with a five-star restaurant. Projects already completed include a $21 million 80,000-square-foot clubhouse, with 14 spa and treatment rooms, a movie theater, and an editing suite for GoPro helmet cams, where skiers and boarders can edit footage they’ve recorded on runs and post on social media.
With an initiation fee of $65,000 and annual dues between $2,500 and $5,000, The Hermitage Club is an investment for a family that wants to build lifelong friendships as well as enjoy Vermont’s winter wonderland for generations to come. hermitageclub.com