PORTLAND, Maine -- When it comes to choosing Maine over other New
England destinations, most winter sports enthusiasts can sum up
that state's appeal with just one word: snow.
Last month's East Coast storm dumped up to 48 inches of fresh
powder on the region.
"Maine mountains are in a natural snow belt, so we have a lot of
natural snow," said Greg Sweetser, executive director of Ski Maine
Association, a non-profit trade group based here, representing 18
ski areas. "In addition, we have high elevations in a northern
location, which are the ingredients for deeper snow pack."
Another positive factor is the relative lack of crowds on the
slopes as compared to Vermont and New Hampshire, he said.
Sweetser cited the easy access enjoyed by Vermont and New
Hampshire resorts for their domination in visitor numbers but said
accessibility is improving for Maine resorts, as well.
"Portland has a great jetport, and [the airport in] Manchester,
N.H., [which serves many Maine ski areas] is also gaining traffic,"
he said, although most of the state's traffic is by car.
Other advantages the state offers skiers include a commitment to
state-of-the-art snowmaking, high-speed quad lifts and a generous
supply of ski-in/ski-out slopeside accommodations and shops, said
And with a nod to families, who represent a significant and
growing segment of the winter sports industry, Maine resorts offer
activities for a range of ages and interests, including
cross-country skiing, snow tubing, shopping and spas, he said.
As part of an ongoing effort to sell travel agents on Maine, the
state's office of tourism offers familiarization trips and
educational materials, and the resorts themselves offer lodging
packages, Sweetser said.
"In addition to ease of booking, packaging gives agents knowledge,
and that is what the consumer is looking for," he said, adding that
Maine's two destination resorts -- Sugarloaf USA in Carrabassett
Valley and Sunday River in Newry -- are especially skilled at
working with agents.
He stressed that multiple-component packages -- with such
add-ons as lift tickets and ski or snowboarding instruction --
increase the value of the overall booking and enable agents to make
more on commissions.
For details, contact the Ski Maine Association at (207) 761-3774
or visit www.skimaine.com.
To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].
Winter season updates
PORTLAND, Maine -- Following is what's new for the 2003-04
winter season at Sugarloaf/USA and Sunday River ski areas in
• Sugarloaf/USA. To accommodate increased
demand, the first 18 units of The Timbers at Bucksaw, Sugarloaf's
newest on-mountain condominiums, will be unveiled for the 2003-04
season. Some 80 additional ski-in, ski-out units are in the works
over the next three years.
Fourteen three- and four-bedroom units in the Winter's Way
condominium complex also will be ready for the season, with an
additional 14 slated for next year.
On the mountain, two new glades will be open for this coming
season, suitable for skiers and riders of all ability levels. New
groomed trails include Kick Back, for experts only, and
Boomscooter, for families and novices. The ski area also will offer
expanded snowmaking and grooming capabilities.
A new snow cat, with a seating capacity of 20 passengers, will
be introduced to transport visitors to Bullwinkles, Sugarloaf's
mid-mountain lodge, for gourmet dinners on Wednesday and Saturday
For information, call (800)THELOAF or visit www.sugarloaf.com.
• Sunday River. South Ridge Base Lodge
renovations include new retail space and lockers. The ski area also
expanded its snowmaking facilities.
Expanding upon its reputation as a four-season resort, the ski
area is building an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course, the
first nine holes of which are slated to open by July 2004. Also in
the works are a golf school, driving range and clubhouse.
For information, call (800) 543-2SKI or visit www.sundayriver.com.