The Hermitage Club 3/8/15

Date: 3/8/15

Ski area: The Hermitage Club

Conditions: Light snow the totaled up to about 4" over a generally groomed base


Today was a day of being a racer Dad, which for those of you that have never had a child as a ski racer, it often ends up involving more hurry up and wait moments than actual skiing moments. Today was one of those days, although an very enjoyable day!

Woke up to about an inch of snow at Mount Snow, and still snowing light to moderately - gotta hate when the weatherman underestimate snowfall as they were calling for at most an inch overnight and just light scattered flurries all day! Made the "long" drive about 3 miles down the road from Mount Snow to the Hermitage Club for my 11 yr old daughter's race. This was the 1st time that the Hermitage Club has hosted a VARA (Vermont Alpine Racing Association) race, and the start list had about 180 kids from ages 10-14 on the start list, add in parents and coaches and that was going to add about 400 people to the hill potentially yesterday - MAJOR crowd volume for the Hermitage ;-)

Pulled into the guest parking lot down near the lower slopes at the Hermitage, they didn't want racers using the upper "members" lot with valet service, so we had to "slum" it and be shuttled from the lower lot in Mercedes transport vans to get us up to the clubhouse :rolleyes:

The clubhouse is 80,000 sq feet and 3 floors of impressiveness! A huge post and beam construction clubhosue with massive chandelier's made out of antlers and a main floor to ceiling 4 sided stone fireplace filled the center of the members dining room. Sadly, as quests, we were relegated to a "private" meeting room that was filled with oversized tables with white linens and either leather or embroidered cloth chairs. Yup, we had to slum it ;-)

After waiting through a lengthy registration process (seriously it took about 50 minutes to get my daughter registered, pay the race fees, get my complimentary parent ticket and lunch vouchers due to a combo of understaffing the registration area and computer glitches) I finally had my daughter out the door with her teammates for warm ups and course inspection. Me and a bunch of the other parents headed for the lifts for the roughly 90 minutes we knew we'd have to ski a bit before the 1st run started. The summit triple, with it's PLUSH seat pads embroidered with the Hermitage Club logo on them, had a "massive" 2 chair wait - the ticket scanner apologized for such a long wait at 9AM on a powder day! We headed up, and got to enjoy where ever we skied at that time about 2" of powder over a base that was either machine groomed, or bumped, or in many places till untracked from the 9" or so that fell in the area during the previous week - yup, the Friday and Saturday "crowd" couldn't track the place out, especially the glades! We were up for the challenge! Since I last skied there a year ago, they did some extensive clearing of their on the map tree areas, and while non are scary steep, It'd a bunch of fun skiing in places what was about a foot of untracked powder on nicely spaced low to moderate angle glades! Warlock's Woods and Enchanted Forest up off the Witches were our favories and warranted repeat runs, still with basically top to bottom untracked lines, throughout the day! As one of my friends I was skiing with put it "on days like this they should put a sales center right here!" as we were at the base of the Witches lift!

Off to watch the kids race - the kids and coaches said that the race hill the Hermitage gave, Rocker off the mid mountain Hayfever Triple was one of the best race hills they've had in many years. No complaints from my daughter! Inside for lunch, which was a buffet for everyone (they explicitly said in the pre race info sheet) that oputside food and drink couldn't be brought in to the club, and that they'd have an all day long, all you can eat buffet available for $12 for the kids and $15 for adults (no complaints from me being able to feed my kid and myself in a ski lodge all day long for $27!) They delivered with lunch! Their buffet was basically they opened up the whole cafeteria and had 5 separate serving areas (one a carving station with roast chicken and turkey, one a grill for burgers, hot dogs, paninis, one a cook to order pasta station and fresh pizza area, one a soup (4 varieties) and salad bar and one a made to order smoothie bar and dessert table)! All with wait staff service to clear your plate and more soft drinks, coffee, tea and lemonade than you could want. The still warm out of the oven platters of chocolate chip cookies they kept bringing out after the race was done as we were waiting for awards were a nice touch too!

After lunch, I got my daughter ready to head back out with her team for the 2nd run, me and the rest of my adult racer parent friends grab headed out, across the heated patio, past the outdoor hottub that had a few members in it, by the outdoor fireplace and outdoor grill/bar area that are all on the slope side of the clubhouse and back up to the top. By this time about 4" of snow had fallen, and we noticed that the main run under the lower half of the summit lift, Barnstormer, was still very lightly tracked, so we headed there and did our best to make it look like some people had actually skied the trail in the then over 4 hours since 1st chair went up! We were up for the task! A second run off the top via Fever Pitch (a legit, albeit it short, pitched expert run and had some turns that were boot top untracked powder on the sides, down through Haywire to the Secret Passage tree area (once again easy to find long untracked lines in a low/moderate angle widely spaced trees) to the finish area of the race hill. We watched our kids ski their second runs quite well and then as parents we were trying to get our kids to come ski with us, but sadly they just wanted to go in to the clubhouse, hangout with their friends, eat more from the dessert table and check out the indoor pool and movie theater complete with video editing area so that members can quickly upload their gopro videos to facebook, etc. We all told our kids to text us when awards were getting close and we went back out on our mission to try and make it look like some people had been skiing the powder all day ;)

We got another 5 or 6 runs in before we were texted to come down to the clubhouse for awards. Those runs were all basically untracked glades and/or powder over groomed snow in the Witches. We all finally made it back to the clubhouse, and past the outdoor hottub and inside with big smiles on our faces! The awards were in the members dining room, which if I didn't have to drive home to CT very soon after would of had me sitting at the bar that over looks the mountain and enjoying a pint or, two. Sadly, even the Hermitage can't get Headdy Topper, but as the bartender told us, "Mr. Barnes, (the owner of the Hermitage Club) is working on it, since many members regularly ask about it". Jim Barnes himself, opened up the awards with "welcome to the Hermitage Club" message, and then awards and it was back into the Mercedes transport vans to head back to my car. All in all a very fun day.

Is the Hermitage, even if price wasn't a factor, for everyone? Nope. Even before they likely install the Doppelmayr Bubble six pack for next season (they have a model orange bubbled chair out front of the clubhouse now) pedning what happens with their VT Act 250 issues, it's still a group of 4 smallish (500 vertical feet or so) peaks with flats in between. It's got some fun skiing, but not long or "scary" terrain that caters to families and people looking to have some fun and cruise rather than really push themselves. The kids programs that have, from what I seen in terms of racers development and also heard from friends with kids in the programs there are very good. The clubhouse is spectacular, and the type of place that if you're a member, you'd be proud to take any friend. It's really an impressive site to see what they have created there. And i'm looking forward to the next time either one of my kids has a race there, or when one of my multiple friends who are members there, extends an invite

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