Stratton vs. Okemo. 2010 is a toss-up. Stratton has the varied terrain, better parking, amazing parks. Okemo has the grooming.
Stratton and Okemo are the two biggest and best (we believe) mountains in Southern Vermont. In our book, they are both "10's. They share ski passes. And, we are prejudiced towards Stratton. We have made it our home for the past 25 years, after trying out every mountain in Vermont. We love Stratton and the people there are great.
However, we think Stratton and Okemo have been in a battle for years. It is a battle to see who is the best. Who has the best lifts. Who moves crowds around the best. Who has the best terrain. Who handles the crowds the best. And who has the best ski conditions.
One year Stratton wins the award for best snow making and Okemo for the best grooming.
The next year it is vice versa.
In the early 2000's, Stratton appeared to be winning every round.
Stratton reset its Gondola for better wind conditions and Stratton was warmer riding the lifts.
They added the URSA lift to replace the antiquated two person Grizzly.
Then Stratton added American Express, the Sun Bowl lift and with the Shooting Star had 4 high speed six packs.
Stratton designed and built and rebuilt the best parks.
Stratton had the Sun Bowl where you could always find a place to park, walk to the lift and a nice small base lodge.
While Stratton had its sprawling old base lodge, it was still better than Okemo's crowded really old base lodge.
Comparing Stratton to Okemo in the mid-2000's, and considering Okemo's crowded base lodge, Stratton was the clear winner (in our opinion).
Then the Meuller's just blasted ahead, and Okemo started to win around 2006, when Jackson Gore became fully operational. Stratton now tended to concentrate on building ski condos and beautiful homes, while Okemo opened up a whole new side of the mountain. (Okemo had always concentrated on condos and invented the ski-home concept.)
Okemo opened what some people feel is the best base lodge in Southern Vermont at Jackson Gore. It is a beautiful place with great meals and nice round tables.
New terrain on the south was opened, and high speed lifts were added.
People loved Sapphire and Stump Jumper and Big Bang.
In 2008 to 2010, both mountains made improvements. Stratton has made $2,000,000 of mountain improvements each year. It added a great beginner covered magic carpet called "Catepiller". It added more efficient snow making, better steps to the gondola, terrific terrain parks and did a great job grooming. We give Stratton our snow making award for 2006 through 2010.
Unfortunately, Stratton took down the Kidderbrook chair, and we thought that side of the mountain was going to be developed with more difficult terrain. This was our favorite spring (when not too cold) lift. Stratton moved the Villager Lift for safer beginner access, but made it difficult for kids and old timers to get to it from the condos below, while Okemo added a new lift for better condo access.
Stratton began charging $10 to ride the Villager lift, which had always been free to introduce new skiers and snowboarders to the sport. At the same time, Sugarbush started giving away a free day of skiing to get people started.
So Stratton won the rounds in 2001 to 2006, Okemo won the rounds in the 2007 to 2009.
Now the battle continues with both areas doing a good job in 2010, but not great as they had done with all the improvements in the first decade.
The Stratton Villager lift has been moved for better access for beginners, but no provision was added to get to it from the condos below.
Our positive ratings:
We give Stratton a 10 for its terrain and ability to recover from random winter rain storms. Stratton Snomaking is a 10.
Okemo gets an 8 for terrain and 9 for snowmaking.
Okemo gets a 10 for grooming and Stratton a 9. Both are excellent.
Stratton also gets a 10 for parking (due to Sunbowl area), and Okemo a 5 minus.
Both areas get a 10 for ski and snowboard parks.
Okemo gets a 10 for most ski houses that are on the slope. Most condos at Stratton are on the shuttle routes
Stratton gets a 10 for its Village and Okemo a zip, but Okemo gets a 10 for the Jackson Gore Base Lodge
Bathrooms and facilities at both areas are clean and get high marks
Stratton may have slightly more advanced skiers and Okemo more families.
Ski schools at both places are excellent. Stratton, Okemo and Bromley get a 10 plus for their ski programs. (To see how our 5 year old grandson is learning to ski, as he is telling it to other kindergardeners, go to How I Learned to Ski at Stratton.)
Our negative ratings:
Both Stratton and Okemo have trails which cross each other. We do not see how to exactly fix that, but Stratton is doing a good job with its signs. But Stratton gets a low mark (3) for crossing trails and Okemo gets a 2 for a bunch that funnel together.
Stratton gets a high mark for being able to get back to the main base lodge, but at Okemo it can be a couple of lifts at the end of the day.
Both areas do not get high marks for the steeps.
Vermont can be cold. Stratton can be colder than Okemo, and zero is still zero, even when there is no wind. In a warm winter, this can be a plus for Stratton.
But all in all, if you watch the crossing trails, and are not looking for the steeps of Sugarbush, and wear layered clothing, they are amazing southern Vermont mountains.
This part of strattoncondos.com is really just for fun and not official at all. A lot of our facts are probably wrong and given to us by "old timers in the Stratton trailblazers". A number of these comparisons were provided by people we met on the lifts and Gondola at Stratton. And we often forget exactly what we have been told. Well, we even forget what day it is (see Jokes) ... and certainly we forget what time it is, when our wives have said "Be in by 2:30 to take us shopping in Manchester" and the snow is perfect.
We are doing an unofficial comparison of the two mountains by asking people, who have ski passes that work at both mountains, what they think. If you ski both Stratton and Okemo and have any comments, please email us at email@example.com and we will try to post them.
Finally we are based at Stratton, love the people at Stratton and think the skiers and snowboarders are the best. Perhaps you might like to see why we chose to settle at Stratton (when I met my wife at Killington and Okemo 40 years ago).
No matter where you stay, Stratton and Okemo are great places for a winter ski vacation. Maybe you should try both.