Smeared across eight mountain peaks, Sunday River, Maine, offers the kind of diverse skiing that gave birth to one of the East Coast’s premier mogul competitions (RIP Bust & Burn), Maine’s first adaptive ski program, and the mercurial rise of freeskier Simon Dumont. The Western Maine resort receives less snow than its brother to the North, but supplements Mother Nature with enough snowmaking to cover a small city, making it one of the most dependable ski destinations in New England. From the couch surfer to the family man, here are a few places to rest your head at The Riv.
Snow Cap Inn
Clientele: College ski bum
Originally designed as a ski dorm for college students, the Snow Cap Inn is a mix of budget-savvy ski bums and university-goers, with a sprinkling of group trips mixed in. With two large common rooms and an outdoor hot tub, the Snow Cap fosters the communal ski aspect (parties included), so if a quiet stay is high on the priority list, it might be best to take the show down the road.
The Deal: Ski and stay packages for as low as $75 a night per person (minimum two-night stay) that includes a breakfast. It isn’t salmon eggs benny, but it’ll do you just fine.
Tips Up: The Snow Cap Inn is arguably the closest dog-friendly lodging at Sunday River and built with the budget skier in mind. It also offers free parking for patrons and lockers for ski gear.
Faceplant: If there’s a deal at a ski area, you best believe that everyone knows about it. Such is the case with the Snow Cap Inn, where it can be tough to find an open bed on weekends. Book early and trust that Sunday River’s award-winning snowmaking will have you covered no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.
Location: Set along the Sunday River Road in between the Barker and South Ridge base areas, with easy free shuttle access to South Ridge.
Grand Summit Hotel
Where the Snow Cap Inn may have screamed “party,” the Grand Summit cries, “party… of four.” The original Summit, this on-mountain hotel is as family-oriented as they come, with an outdoor heated pool, full spa, game room, and pair of restaurants in house. With a 6,000-foot ballroom also housed inside, don’t be surprised to find a conference, wedding, or event happening while you try and hit the slopes.
The Deal: Ski and stay as low as $105 a night per person (for one queen bed and one pull-out, minimum two-night stay).
Tips Up: Did we mention the massive, heated outdoor pool and twin hot tubs? That shouldn’t be the sole reason for booking a ski vacation, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Ski-in, ski-out doesn’t hurt either, we suppose.
Faceplant: While the Grand Summit has updated its restaurants and facilities consistently, its actual rooms can feel a little dated. If you’re looking for convenience and a family vibe, the hotel will more than meet your needs, but if you like your towels folded in animal shapes, check the smattering of B & B’s in nearby Bethel.
Location: On-hill next to the Whitecap Base Area. Parking and valet services available at hotel, as well as town shuttle.
Okay, it’s New England after all, and some of us are just trying to get a little rustic with it. For the lovebird skiers out there, there’s few other options more charming than a classic New England Bed and Breakfast. Less than five miles from the slopes, Holidae House in Bethel attracts the couple’s crowd by offering beautiful, quiet rooms and home-cooked breakfasts every morning. Honestly, good luck to anyone trying to escape this place on an empty stomach.
The Deal: While most rooms cost between $125 and $175 a night with a queen size bed, cable, Wi-Fi, and a boot drying tray, if you’re feeling lucky you can try and snag a walk-in, day-of room for $109 (plus tax).
Tips Up: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if Jeanette is cooking it. Cream cheese stuffed French toast, blueberry pancakes, and other baked goodies get you filled up right before stepping out the door.
Faceplant: Ski storage is currently at a premium at the Holidae House. While there are plans for ski lockers, a ski bench, and even boot dryers for next season, skiers will have to keep their gear in the car for 2016-2017 (though boots are allowed in rooms).
Location: Downtown Bethel, about a 15-minute drive to Sunday River and within walking distance to the free mountain shuttle.