If it weren’t for pleasant surprises, life would be full of nothing more than met expectations and disappointments.
If that sounds too philosophical or rhetorical then look at it this way: We tend to raise our standards a lot after good experiences, which only makes it harder for successive experiences to meet those elevated standards. Spend a few weeks visiting a dozen or so of the highest acclaimed resorts across America’s Northeast, and you’ll no doubt figure a place you’d never heard of (a few months ago) could not possibly match up to where you’ve just been. You’re on vacation cruise control at that point, ready to complacently accept whatever comes next and just move on. And then an unheralded star like Okemo Mountain takes your flawed reasoning for a dizzying yet highly gratifying spin.
The resort I had intended to feature in Vermont closed. I already had The Equinox, but really wanted to spend another day in Ben & Jerry’s country. I stumbled across Okemo Mountain on accident, and the resort ended up being top 3 on our Family Resort Rankings for the entire trip — a genuine supermodel. It’s the stuff of itinerary legends. If there is such a thing. I tested the waters with the marketing department and they LOVED the project concept. The super sweet voice on the other end of the email said, “You’ll absolutely LOVE it here.”
“Sounds good,” I said.
Eskimo Mountain, here we come.
That Ludlow, Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort can and should be mentioned among the top 5 resorts in the entire Northeast is quite remarkable given the allotment of incredible amenities the other elite properties possess and the fact that Okemo is primarily a ski facility. Seasonal strength is irrelevant to this particular article. Even if they do have 119 trails. Skiing is not my expertise. Pretty much the exact opposite. It also doesn’t matter what any of the others have for assets. This is what makes Okemo Mountain Resort great.
The pulse of Central Vermont’s Green Mountains, Okemo is a collection of eight diverse lodging properties from hotels to condominiums, bed and breakfasts and country inns. There’s definitely a room for your budget somewhere in that broad hospitality spectrum. Summer is technically the “slow” season, though you can’t really tell, so not all of the lodging sites are open every night, but the activity centers and pools are open daily and booming. (The Mojo Café in Ludlow is always stellar, too!)
Jackson Gore Village is the heart of the resort, with Coleman Brook Tavern and Bar and impressively luxurious accommodations, The Ice House (indoor tennis/basketball), an indoor and outdoor pool with toys/slides and a Waffle Cabin surrounded by one of the newest (2012) and greatest adventure parks in the Northeast.
Highlights of Okemo Mountain’s phenomenal Adventure Zone include the three-skill-level Haulback (ropes) challenge course, the exhilarating Timber Ripper mountain coaster (operates year-round), a two-story Amp Energy Big Air Bag, a climbing wall, disc golf course, bounce house, Sawyer’s Sweep zipline tours, Segway tours, the Stump Jumper Bungee Trampoline and a fantastically fun Lumberin’ Cal miniature golf course!
From small scale to big scale, Okemo is associated with two championship golf courses: Okemo Valley Golf Club and Tater Hill. Tater Hill is a tree-lined course with scenic mountain views. It’s a short back-and-forth design with ponds scattered about and the water-split 16th hole is easily my favorite there.
Okemo Valley’s championship routing (they have a four-hole family course as well) is anything but ordinary — an up-and-down round with fescue and mounding galore that plays through a variety of tree, marsh, pond and mountain elements. With all the water and Green Mountain views you almost get a “fishbowl” sensation as you play. It’s also not overly long at only 6400 yards, but the hazards add a lot of mental length so you won’t be dismissing any of the holes as “easy.” There are several standout holes, like the plummeting par-3 eighth, the backside’s beautiful bunker-lined 10th, tricky 12th and sensational all-carry par-3 17th. It’s a photogenic round around a pretty little clubhouse that features a barn, Willie Dunn’s Grille and an indoor golf center (6000 sq. ft. practice area, putting green, swing stations and golf simulator).
Whatever your passion for play might be, do yourself a favor and consider Okemo Mountain Resort for your next Northeast family vacation—whenever in the year you might be traveling. If Eskimo Mountain helps you remember the name for research purposes—that’s fine—but once you visit, you’ll never confuse the two again.