Stop Number One, Greek Peak Mountain Resort, NY
The state with the most ski resorts in the U.S. is not Colorado. Nor is it Utah, Vermont, Montana, New Hampshire, Idaho, California, or any of the other states I rattled off in conversational trivia with Drew Broderick, VP of Sales and Marketing at Greek Peak Mountain Resort and Toggenburg. Try New York. Home to 51 ski resorts, New York state hosts a full 20 ski operations over Colorado.
Broderick didn’t seem too concerned with the saturation in a state not recognized for powder steeps. After all, Greek Peak is a manageable day trip from the New York City area and the perfect stop, she noted, for visitors making the trip from the Big Apple to Niagara Falls. With more than a decade of experience in New York’s ski industry, the Texas native had a unique air of confidence.
She was quick to draw out her iPhone 11, capturing images throughout our tour. There were two young snowboarders visiting from San Diego; Trax Restaurant’s famous Bibimbap Bowl; plus the indoor wave pool (notably packed on a rainier day). I couldn’t help but notice her radio never seemed to get in the way. When I ask about Greek’s differentiator, Drew talks amenities.
About a decade ago, Greek Peak became the year-round resort it is today. The Hope Lake Lodge hotel opened along with its extensive spa center and the adjacent indoor water park. Cascades Water Park is a 41,000-square-foot mammoth, dizzying in all it has to offer: a wave pool, pizza/food window, indoor/outdoor hot tub, arcade, and a water basketball court (a personal first). For the folks exploring off the slopes, Greek’s Adventure Center hosts a unique year-round mountain coaster and zipline. In the snowier months, they offer up to 25 tubing lanes, and in the warmer weather, a high ropes course is available to the public.
The family vacation experience is where Greek Peak really extends itself.
Greek Peak is just shy of 1,000 vertical and 220 skiable acres, but the space they offer to young and new skiers is staggering. “It’s all about the family,” Broderick said, as we moved from the “boot bridge” where staff can help PeeWee’s (ages 3-4) into the right rental boots without the usual contortion tricks required to do so. We then moved to the bay windows where parents can stay warm while watching their child’s lesson. In the distance, Broderick pointed out two magic carpets and a banked turn course for “terrain-based learning” that eases beginning skiers onto edge.
Broderick is part of the newest generation of Greek Peak leadership, which shifted in 2013 when John and Christine Meier became part-owners (now with 100% equity) of the resort. They purchased Greek Peak’s sister mountain, Toggenburg, in 2015, and have invested more than $10 million in the two. This includes updates to grooming and snow equipment, a gorgeous base lodge deck, and restaurant renovations at Greek Peak.
Despite the transitions, Greek maintains the values of mom and pop ski mountains, highlighting the employee community culture and local accessibility. There are plenty of ways to get on the slopes affordably, including Tuesday’s 2-for-1 night tickets, $2 drafts and the college pass that offers students with a valid ID an $18 ski pass on Wednesday nights. I learned about John Meier’s all-night ride with his snowmaking crew, and the friendly dynamic between the groomers and snowmakers. The snowmakers take pride in their efforts to bury the mountain so deep, that their groomer counterparts will be “pushing snow out in July.”
And of course, there’s a local food favorite: rave reviews for “Jim’s Breakfast Sandwich” at the “Taverna,” a casual and historic eatery that dates to 1965, set at the center of Greek Peak’s main lodge. It’s a guaranteed great start a bluebird ski day.
I relished in Broderick’s generous tour as we waited for the rain to turn to snow so I could ski in my not-so-waterproof parka. I’ll admit coming around the corner on a Friday night, Greek Peak’s scale took me by surprise. The mountain is designed with access points to three summits, which means different trails experience different sun and wind exposure helping the mountain to “ski bigger.” The mountain is lit up without discrimination, covering trails of every pitch.
Eventually, I hopped on the main Visions quad to lap Iliad, the black diamond with a lift audience. I skied my way eastward hitting more meadow terrain, after learning from the locals about all the storied glade skiing that was possible with cooperative weather. Finally, I summited Visions and skated over to the trails that caught my eye the night prior. I knew “Odyssey” by the race hut signifier. Its unique terrain alone held up against the rainy/warm conditions. Odyssey takes you down challenging slalom pitches and lets you catch your breath on the speed flats. It’s a “wannabe racer’s dream” and there’s “oh-so-lappable flushing out” at the Visions quad. It’s no wonder five colleges call Greek Peak home, including Ithaca College and Cornell.
With a long drive ahead, I quit before the lights came on and snagged the shuttle across the street to the Hope Lake Lodge for a delightful shower. The hotel itself was everything a skier can expect from a corporate Colorado ski vacation — a towering wood lodge reminiscent of Mt. Hood’s Timberline, with a wonderful fireplace and quick access to the first-floor spa. The rooms themselves are designed for a family vacation. Even with a one-room suite, I had a full kitchen and dining area, plus plenty of hanger space for dripping snow and carpet space to stretch out the hips. Thanks to Broderick and crew, I was in my happy place.
Stay tuned as Natalie embarks on a Boston-to-Oregon ski trip this month. She’s agreed to visit as many Indy Pass resorts as possible and write about her experiences!