From today's TIMES and NEWS-STAR
Ready for a mountaintop experience?
In regard to full disclosure, I ask because I know Mike Mitton, who has developed a summer family resort on Mt. Snow in Vermont, a place filled with all sorts of fun things to do in July and August, when your children need a break from multiplication tables and mowing grass and you need a break from wondering how you can take a vacation without actually having to plan one.
I asked Mike, who we call Mitts, why he opened it only last year and not 10 years ago when we were coaching Little League together.
"Because I didn’t figure it all out until last year and because we were coaching Little League together," he said. "For us, that WAS a family vacation.”
He was one of the first people I met and I was one of the first people he met when I moved to Shreveport and he was thinking about moving there and marrying Catherine Watts, who has been Mrs. Mitts since around then, an impossible 30ish years ago. This was before children Michael and Megan, before he started managing golf courses and before he decided to open up a winter ski resort to summertime cross country biking, picnicking, lakeside games and fishing. And golf, naturally. If Mitts and Catherine have a third child, it’s called Mount Snow Family Camp.
“In the wintertime you ski there, but the summer family camp is my brainchild,” Mitts said. “What I wanted to do was offer a week’s vacation and build it similar to the vacations we used to take when we were kids with our families, and make it all inclusive so moms could enjoy it as much as dad and the kids.”
Open from the first week in July through the final week in August and for one price – all the information is at mountsnow.com – the camp provides the snacks and meals, the lodging and the facilities, even the rides to and from town. You are not cut off from civilization – there is WiFi, there are televisions – but when the families are together, cell phones are left behind. The whole point, the theme, is “Unplug and Reconnect.”
“There’s plenty of time for adults to be connected (to the outside world) if necessary at night or in the morning,” Mitts said, “but the thing about Mount Snow is, this is the time to get to know your spouse and kids again.
“The basic way to understand it,” he said, “is that we have the kids in the mornings – we have fully licensed daycare for infants and camp counselors for the bigger kids – and grandma and grandpa or mom and dad can have a chance to do things by themselves: get a massage, go for a bike ride, ride the scenic ski lift. Then after lunch together we go as a family to kayak or ride pontoon boats or hike or swim. But you still have the option of just lying out by your private condo pool. Our goal is to give you as much to do as you can think of doing, but with the option of doing nothing.
“It doesn’t require much thinking; that’s the thing,” Mitts said. “We’ve done all that. That’s what it would be perfect for a guy … well, for a guy like you, for instance.”
Mitts can be a toughlove guy.
Mount Snow is four hours from New York City, 90 minutes from Hartford. Temps are in the low 80s daytime and 50-to-60 after sundown. You can arrive one afternoon and be sitting by a bonfire with a smore and a glass of wine that evening.
“We have family reunions there. We take people in town to shop. We’ll even chair lift you to the top of the mountain so you ride your mountain bike only one way,” Mitts said. “But the neatest thing is seeing the interaction between these families. I’ve looked outside and seen a 16-year-old playing four-square with an 80-year-old. When’s the last time you’ve seen kids and grownups playing Capture the Flag? It’s all about getting disconnected from the routine so you can get connected again.”