Catamount going upscale with new hotel

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cat hotel

Catamount, one of the East’s oldest ski areas, is getting ready to go upscale.

The 75-year-old ski area on the border of Massachusetts and New York State, plans to build a four-story posh hotel steps away from the slopes. It’s the beginning of a new base area development plan that will transform Catamount from ski area to resort.

Before ground is broken for the new hotel, the ski area is selling whole or fractional ownership for the residences. It’s set up a sales office inside its rustic lodge hoping to attract the interest of skiers from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. In a clue to the market it’s hoping to sell the resort hotel, the Berkshire Mountain Club brochure lists the driving times from Greenwich (2 hours) and Ridgefield (90 minutes).

When it’s completed the hotel will have spa, fitness center, pool, a restaurant, valet parking and room service. People can buy as little as a 1/5th fractional ownership.

How much? Fractional prices start in the mid-$50,000s.

The Berkshire Mountain Club being developed by Rock Solid Development LLC, Catamount Ski Resort, and BBL Construction Services LLC, will be located in front of Glades Chair, now a section of the dirt parking lot, pictured below.c1

Presently, the only hotel near the ski area is the Swiss Hutte, a comfy Swiss-themed inn that has fireplaces and a restaurant of chef and owner Gert Alper.

For Connecticut skiers and snowboarders, Catamount is one of the best, closest mountains to play on. It’s an easy day trip, has good variety with 34 trails and a 1,000-foot vertical drop (nearly double of  Connecticut’s largest ski area). And better yet, it has some of the best lift ticket prices around, especially its $20 e-tickets on Mondays.

The intermediate Ridge Run trail starts at the summit and connects with the upper and lower Promenade trails for a 2.5-mile long run. Sidewinder on the western side of Catamount, is a more than 2-mile long run with lots of turns. Catapult, to the left of the summit quad, is the steepest trail in the Berkshires.

photo From the top of the Upper Glade and Upper Alley Cat trails are views of the Berkshire Hills and Taconic Mountains, including Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak.

Some people are often confused exactly where Catamount is located. That’s because it’s in two states, straddling the border of New York and Massachusetts. The Ridge Quad lift follows the states’ line, equally dividing Catamount in Massachusetts and New York.

Another surprise to many first-time Catamount visitors is its closeness: less than 20 minutes over the Connecticut border.cat map

The Cat is a laid back ski area with serious terrain that will get your legs burning, especially midweek with no lift lines.

Its rustic lodge with a cafeteria and separate bar serves the usual soups, burgers and sandwiches. No fancy farm-to-table food or artisan cheeses found here.

The sales pitch for the new hotel says: “The Berkshire Mountain Club, located on the slopes of Catamount Resort in Columbia County, bordering the Berkshires, will provide a unique opportunity for you to own luxury whole or fractional residences with the amenities, services and benefits of a 4 star hotel. Combine full property management and travel opportunities around the world and your future vacations will never be the same again.”

In a way, Catamount is taking is similar path to what happened to Jiminy Peak in northeast Massachusetts. Twenty years ago, Jiminy was very much like Catamount; it had long and steep trails, a couple of lodges and restaurants and very little development. Today, it’s a built up resort with vacation homes, inns and base village with shops and restaurants. Yes, the skiing and snowboarding has improved in the last two decades at Jiminy, but the area seems too built up for the size of the mountain.

Hopefully, the upscale hotel and any future development at Catamount won’t take away from its down home charm and … affordability.

 

 

Jim Shay

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