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Travel review: Okemo Mountain resort, Ludlow Vermont

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Winter storm Electra is headed for Vermont. That's great news for ski resorts as they gear up for the busiest time of the ski season: Christmas break week. That's also great news for me and my family since we're weekend guests at Jackson Gore Inn at Okemo Mountain Resort just in time for the snow.

I'm researching ways for active families to stay fit and active this winter. No couch potato syndrome for us! We're going to embrace the snow and the cold and step away from our electronic devices. And thanks to Electra, our timing couldn't be better. This resort is starting the season with a bang thanks to cooperation from Mother Nature and the resorts' snowmaking capabilities which I'll learn more about tomorrow.

Day 1: We've always been "day lodge" skiers. That is: we drive to the town nearest the mountain, check into our room for the night and get up early the next morning to ski for the day. This usually involves finding breakfast somewhere in town and driving to the mountain along with all the parking and gear-lugging hassles that brings. No doubt, I'm spoiled forever with Okemo's slopeside accommodations. For one, and I can't begin to tell you the value of this as a winter storm is about to hit, the Jackson Gore Inn has a heated underground parking garage. Our car is tucked safely away in a climate controlled zone just steps from the elevator that brings us right up to our third floor suite. I don't plan to see the vehicle again until Sunday. We've already dropped our skis off at the bell desk and they've hand-delivered them to the slopeside ski check. In the morning, we will pick up our skis right near the Coleman Brook express quad which will take us up the mountain. Simple and convenient.

Also convenient is the on-site Coleman Brook Tavern where Executive Chef Scot Emerson has just unveiled his new winter menu and highlights local and seasonal ingredients. This is where we dine on Friday night in an environment that is both upscale/fine dining and ski resort casual. It's a lovely setting.

But before we retreat back to our spacious one bedroom suite, our 11-year-old son has other plans for us. Looking out from our balcony, we spy an enormous outdoor swimming pool with steam rising off it. It's barely 10° out, but we've made a pledge to be more active so off we go. We step into a heated room that houses a large indoor whirlpool and indoor access to the outdoor pool. It feels a bit chilly at first but once we immerse ourselves in the water up to our necks it feels just fine. If you're brave enough, there are two outdoor hot tubs just a few steps away from the pool. It's a fun way to cap off our evening and to work off some calories from our excellent meal.

Tomorrow - What we came here to do: ski! Plus, we'll have a sampling of the different dining options that Okemo Mountain Resort offers. Maybe a ride or two on the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster? And I hear the Ice House is open for ice skating too! Oh, and I can't forget that Okemo Mountain Resort offers spa and massage services too in a cozy setting just an elevator ride away from my guest room. All in the name of research for active, healthy families.



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