Wow, an invitation to spout off and tick off the SJ regulars...gotta love it.
Intrawest is one of the companies serious skiiers like to bash: their resorts are too "cookie cutter," they cater to the high end skiier who wants easy goomed trails everywhere, everything is in a fake village environment, with few local touches.
And their prices for everything from food to lifts to lodging is sky high.
All of that is true...but...
As a longtime skier at Intrawest resorts (Snowshoe these days, but Stratton and Tremblant in the past) my feeling is that they serve a great purpose. They keep the sport alive for the skiiing set who wants nothing to do with Magic, Mad River Glen, or Cannon.
Sure, most of the posters here would choose Magic over Stratton any day.
But Magic and MRG cater to a small, dedicated crowd. Areas like Killington and Hunter cater to another crowd.
Higher end areas like Stratton and Tremblant serve a great need too, and bring in many more paying customers with thick checkbooks, who then support the local economy.
They may be cookie cutter corporate, but admit it: even if you hate ersatz villages, these areas are NICE.
Well designed, incredibly well groomed, tasteful architecture. Top notch snowmaking.
Intrawest built the villages at Whistler/Blackcomb, and you never hear a complaint about those. And Tremblant is far nicer than it was 25 years ago, pre Intrawest.
So put me down as an Intrawest defender. Come on, hit me with your best stuff, I'm ready for it.
"Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't" One ski day this season I drove to Stratton* and while searching for a parking lot, I decided to ski Magic instead. I had decided that I was more in the mood for the Magic "scene", as opposed to the hustle/bustle of Stratton.
That said, I've had nothing but great, fun days when I have skied Stratton. April 1, 2011 they had a $15. ticket deal. On another trip I was treated to 'free' yep, free ribs from the grille after 4. Another time I got a free soda. Trite, but who doesn't like free? Despite the upper crust reputation of Stratton, the skiers and staff have always been friendly. It is not the most challenging mountain in the East, so I am able to ski every single trail.
So, while the imitation 'villages' are just that, there are times I like to go to a 'big' resort and get a little pampered. I'm actually surprised that 'corporate' ski resorts are able to have some understanding of ski area management. When I first heard of ski areas going 'corporate' in the 80's I thought it would just about be the death of good skiing.
So, while I like ski 'areas' like Magic, the corporate resorts have their place. Look on the bright side; while most people are over at Stratton, we're at Magic.
* It was a toss up between Mt. Snow / Stratton / Magic depending on NWS snow storm information.
Resorts I've visited with a past or present connection to Intrawest:
Copper Mtn, CO
Keystone (River Run), CO
Winter Park, CO
A number of my visits to these places occurred in late season when they're more competitive cost-wise. Several of my visits to these places were on family trips, as opposed to "hardcore" trips. Some of my visits occurred before Intrawest had an interest in them. I got no problem with these places, but I'm biased. I never met a ski area I didn't like. They all put me in my happy place.
I wasn't sure how many resorts Intrawest has touched over the years, this link provided some info: Intrawest history
Most of their resorts and the skiing philosophy behind them, don't appeal to me. Too over manufactured for my taste, not to mention that I don't care about the amenities they offer.
The lodges are nice, the villages are nice, the overgrooming is....well-done, etc. But I don't really like/care about those things, and the added price premium for having those amenities makes there not be much point at skiing at most of their areas.
But, for the crowd they cater to, I hear few complaints.
Bought the Okemo/Stratton midweek pass as a local chamber member I paid $299.00 had a great time skiing both and for the most part skiing either in the morning was never really crowded. Had a Magic pass for the weekends again never really crowded and I could bring my kergerater..
I think the big B is one of my favorites, but I like Flatton alot. It has nice lifts. I dont go for the village or parking garage. Good conditions and they get alot open fast. The grooming is great. The prices still drove me to big B for the Sun Lodge vacations. As for Interwest in NJ- they took a dump and turned it into great skiing. For the second season they spent 20mil on lifts and snow. They also reopened trails that were closed, and put some new ones in. (some never got use ) but most turned out great. It seems as time went on, they lost faith in the Jersey investment. Then they sold back the skiing part of Creek to the former owner, Movehill. __________
I can't say Intrawest resorts (other than Whistler) are my cup of tea, but I will say I have always been impressed by the level of service and snow quality at the ones I have been to (Whistler, Tremblant, Panorama, Stratton, Mammoth). I have lost track of which of these are still under their umbrella, but they serve their clientele well.
I'd take a powder day at Hickory or MRG, though...