Ski Gear’s Hitting New Heights
For so many on the East Coast, going outside during the winter and grabbing some exercise (not to mention much-needed Vitamin D) means hitting the slopes — even if only for a few days. And while our region’s ski areas will probably never rival Gstaad or Aspen for pure glam factor, there’s no denying that they’ve upped their style game, and have appeal to different kinds of ski personalities. And different kinds of lifestyles, too, from how you dress and what you eat to where you shop and, of course, how you ski.
For example: At Sugarloaf, in northern Maine, it’s all about downhill racing and freestyle skiing (it is, after all, the tallest mountain in the state). That means you’ll see serious but stylish lines like Swiss trekking company Mammut and Helly Hansen — plenty of sleek parkas and soft-shell pants in tasteful nature-inspired colors. Maine’s keep-it-real attitude means that until recently, there weren’t a lot of swish places to hang out off the slopes (and even now, the bars at no-frills, throwback places like Widowmaker Lounge are always packed), but there have also been major makeovers happening in these parts — like the refresher the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel just got, complete with a grand new lobby entrance and a 30-person outdoor hot tub.
With a (relatively) quick drive from Boston and proximity to New York City that brings loads of Manhattanites to weekend here, the village of Woodstock, Vt., is an always-happening winter getaway. Killington Resort is just a stone’s throw away, snowshoeing and ice climbing abounds, and the shopping and eating are a destination in their own right. The ethos here is laid-back luxury — with an emphasis on sustainable everything (from ski gear like the independently owned company FlyLow to support of all the local farms, to handcrafted treasures at Simon Pearce’s water-power fueled glass studio). For proof, check out the scene at the urban-meets- antique bistro at 506 On The River Inn, where everyone warms up on the many sofas with Maple Lumber Jack cocktails, dressed in snowboarder chic like fitted and vibrant Marmot jackets, stretch racer back dresses by Arc’teryx and ultra cool, space age Eternity Suits by Spyder.
On the slopes of Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, skiers are more about no-nonsense American clothing that’s engineered for the biggest weather possible — durable shells from Columbia, super insulated hybrid hoodies from The North Face and more teal and amethyst fleece jackets than you can count. The Patagonia brand-loving hordes gather in the lobby of the palatial Mount Washington Hotel next to the fireplaces (underneath the chandeliers and mounted moose heads) and at the lobby bar for icy martinis after even icier hours of snow tubing and alpine skiing.
And then there’s Stowe, Vt., the closest thing our region has to Aspen. With a cluster of high-end resorts to choose from (my favorites: Topnotch, Stoweflake and Stowe Mountain Lodge — all of which house world-class day spas), the area is host to a slew of art studios, gourmet food shops, and home and fashion boutiques. On the nearby slopes, the obsession is split between skiing and boarding, so you’ll spot as many visitors in head-to-toe looks from Descente (their fur-trimmed Layla jacket, is a big hit in these parts) as you will zebra-print pants by Bogner. In the bars afterward, the crowds can be found at swanky, candlelit spots like the lounge of Solstice at Stowe Mountain Lodge, still hanging out in their gold metallic Bogner puffers and fur-trimmed army fatigues bombers from Canada Goose. Long live apres-ski.