23 OCT 2013: It was mix and mingle last week at the Ski Vermont Toronto media event held at the chi-chi Thompson Hotel rooftop lounge. From that fine perch with city lights a-blazing and air traffic bustling from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport our hosts relayed this winter’s exciting developments.

On hand to bring us up to speed and celebrate the joys of Vermont were Vermont secretary of commerce, Lawrence Miller; Megan Smith, commissioner for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines; Parker Riehle president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association (VSAA) and a team of ski resort reps; and special guest of honour Jim Dickmeyer, US consul general.

Here’s the download:

Vermont


This ski/snowboard state might look small on the map but as far as skiing goes Parker says it ranks third in the US behind Colorado and California. In the East – it’s number one “when you look at ski/snowboard visits.”

The South Burlington says he’s literally under an hour’s drive to five ski resorts.

Parker tells me last year Vermont encountered its second best season in Vermont’s recent history with 4.5 million skier visits. “That was huge.”

What gives?


Mega snow. “It’s the snowmaking coverage for one. We have snowmaking prowess that no other ski state comes close to with over 80 percent state coverage which is pretty phenomenal when you think about it.”

More mountains. “We have 10 mountains with 2000 feet or more vertical. That’s more than Maine, New Hampshire and NY combined.”

That Je ne sais quoi – Go ahead and ask five different people what Vermont means to them and be prepared for five different answers Parker challenges me. “It’s that extra ingredient nobody can put a name or label on because it’s that whole Vermont brand.” Picture the covered bridges, the agricultural heritage, the pastoral countryside and no billboards, now get the picture.

Proximity – Thanks to Porter Airlines you hop a plane in downtown Toronto and in just over an hour you touchdown in Burlington, Vermont home to ski country. For the drive crowd 45 million people in a four hour radius can check out the slopes and for a day’s drive (that’s eight hours and includes Toronto) that number nearly doubles to 80 million.

Porter Airlines began the short easy flight three years ago and since that time the air carrier has reported a 60 percent increase last year in passenger bookings.

Robert Deluce announced seasonal flights will resume on December 15 with twice weekly service increasing to four times a week during peak season from February to mid March. The Toronto - Burlington Vermont route will operate until April 6, 2014.

“These flights are timed to connect with much of our network in Ontario to allow more Canadians to experience Vermont. The service is also an important showcase for Porter Escapes,” he says, “I can tell you Porter Escapes has never worked more closely with a destination than Vermont for this coming season.”

“Porter Escapes is relatively a new part of the Porter experience. It is something that is an ideal fit for a destination like Vermont,” he said and explained great packages are available that “can not only save you money but make your trip that much more simple and enjoyable.”

http://www.porterescapes.com/

Breweries

Yes. When Lawrence Miller made his way onto the Vermont brewery scene in 1990 chances of spotting a microbrewery on the horizon were slim. The founder of Otter Creek Brewing now as Vermont’s secretary of commerce boasts the state has about 30 breweries with 15 on-site distilleries.

Trapp Family Lodge


Who doesn’t love the classic movie Sound of Music? The von Trapp family’s legendary plight starring Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews as the real-life von Trapp’s, as many might know, left ‘the hills are alive’ in Austria to make roots in...Vermont.

Sam von Trapp whose grandma was Maria – (his dad’s character did not appear in the film line-up version since he was born in the US) gets all animated on talking about his famous grandparents. But you and your clients can get the full scoop when you visit the legendary lodge. Expect Austrian style cooking and beer at a new resto and new beer pub. “Dad always lamented for years how you couldn’t get a good Austrian lager,” he laughs so voila be sure to order the Trapp lager.
www.trappfamily.com

Killington Resort

In mid-December the largest ski resort in the Eastern US will be unveiling its cherry on the top -- a brand new state of the art Peak Lodge facility being constructed at the 4,100 foot level of Killington Peak.

For clients this means conferences, weddings and for the money savers who love a good deal head to the nearest Costco. A rep from Killington Resort says about 10 area locations are offering the discounts. “We are going to be in about ten area Costcos selling a discounted product so a lot of people in Toronto will be able to take advantage of a great experience not only for Killington but the rest of the state of Vermont.”
www.killington.com


Jay Peak Resort


Jay Peak has achieved only one of the most revolutionary things in the ski industry. “We invested one billion dollars to make skiing more affordable,” starts JJ Toland, Jay Peak Resort’s director of public relations who dishes on how this year clients will not only be able to ski and stay but they can experience a brand new hotel.
www.jaypeakresort.com

Mount Snow Resort

Yes there’s a ski resort named Mount Snow. Located in Southern Vermont, I hear Mount Snow stands out for a couple of other reasons. The snowmaking they use has a low energy high output fan gun that’s new technology. Mount Snow has 250 of them around the resort. The other reason: the resort has one six-passenger bubble chair reported to be the only one in North America.
mountsnow.com

Stowe Mountain Resort


For folks who like vintage and truly traditional old timey winter experiences head to Stowe Mountain. Jeff Wise, marketing and communications director, boasts how 80 years ago there were only two ski resort towns in America, one of them was Stowe.

Now to show their commitment to the winter white fantasy, the resort has invested 1/2 billion dollars in infrastructure development which includes new lodging, lifts, snowmaking and “fabulous things to keep Stowe as a world class brand that it’s been for eighty years.”
www.stowe.com

So are you ready to hit the slopes?

http://www.skivermont.com


Above banner: Lawrence Miller, Vermont secretary of commerce; Jim Dickmeyer, US consul general; Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines; Megan Smith, commissioner for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; Parker Riehle president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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