Intrawest: It takes a Village to build a resort

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VERNON, N.J. -- At the foot of Hamburg Mountain, less than 50 miles from New York, Mountain Creek -- one of the newest resorts from Canadian developer Intrawest Corp. -- has begun construction on another World Class Destination Resort Village.

I had a chance to view a scale model of the Village at Mountain Creek shortly before they broke ground on its first building last summer, and I can say I've seen nothing like it in New Jersey. The Appalachian at Mountain Creek -- the heart of the Village -- will be ready for guests next winter, according to Jay Wilmoth, director of development for Mountain Creek.

The Village will consist of pedestrian plazas with shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafes lining cobblestone streets. When completed, the Appalachian, which will stand at the entrance to the Village and at the foot of the slopes, will offer 177 resort mountain homes.

It also will provide a four-season, private swimming pool; two hot tubs; ski-in/ski-out access; a fitness center; a family restaurant -- and a fresh opportunity for travel agents to earn 10% commission on a high-end product.

The living room of a rentable townhouse at Black Creek Sanctuary. Each home is designed to fit into the Intrawest Lodging Program, which makes units available for rent at the owner's discretion. Rentals are available now at Black Creek Sanctuary, Mountain Creek's initial development here, which opened in 2000.

Of the 133 one-, two- and three-bedroom, privately owned homes -- many of which abut an estuary that flows into the Black Creek (thus the name) -- a variety are available for rent year-round.

Room rates average $159 to $379 per night and rise to $229 to $449 per night during peak ski season.

When making a reservation, be sure to request a townhouse that overlooks the estuary. You'll have great views of birds and other wildlife from the living room, dining room and master bedroom.

Mountain Creek recently replaced the estuary's old boardwalk, dock system and bridge with a floating boardwalk; a gazebo; a nature trail that includes nesting boxes for bluebirds and wood ducks; bat houses; bird blinds; and restored habitats for wood turtles and other wildlife, turning the wetlands into a refuge for guests to enjoy.

My husband and I, our teen-age grandson and his friend spent the weekend at Black Creek Sanctuary.

The three-bedroom townhome we occupied mixed homestyle comfort with luxurious touches, including Adirondack-style furnishings; a dining room with an enormous table; a large, comfortable bedrooms; a bathroom with a Jacuzzi and a separate shower; daily maid service; and a laundry room that came in handy after a surprise downpour.

I was content to sit by the gas fire and read, looking up now and then to soak in the view, while my husband took the boys for a real soaking at the Mountain Creek Waterpark.

Guests at Black Creek Sanctuary can walk along paths to the 30-plus-acre park, one of the state's largest themed water attractions.

The waterpark has 26 rides, slides and attractions, including a variety of water-fun activities for little ones.

Black Creek, located across Route 94 from the Appalachian, is considered an extension of the coming Village and will be connected via shuttle, Wilmoth said.

For golfers, Mountain Creek boasts access to a variety of championship courses and is offering golf packages that include accommodations at Black Creek Sanctuary. Rates start at $155 per person, per night. Rates for nongolfers are also available and include accommodations only.

Intrawest owns and/or operates more than 12 mountain resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Tremblant in Quebec, Stratton in Vermont and Mammoth in California.

For lodging information, call (973) 209-3300 or visit www.mountaincreek.com.

To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].

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