Reporting Jay Lloyd
There’s nothing quite like having a dynamic destination resort with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, spa surfing, sipping and supping where distance to the mountain can be measured in minutes. The access road — with an eye filling view of the sprawling lodge, hotel, slopes and trails — is called Doe Mountain Lane. Quaint, but it ain’t your father’s Doe Mountain! It’s now grown by leaps and bounds and dubbed Bear Creek Mountain Resort. Embark on an energy driven day-trip to neighboring Berks County or revel in a weekend stay-and -play extravaganza close to the Philadelphia suburbs, but in a pristine setting with all the amenities of a full blown resort. Here’s what you’ll find. – Jay Lloyd
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
101 Doe Mountain Lane
Macungie, PA 18062
The mountain, like the resort, has developed over the years to accommodate advancing ski and snowboard skills while still retaining the ability to make enthusiastic novices comfortable. From a dedicated learning area that blocks off faster traffic to a quartet of steep headwalls that provide downhill and mogul challenges, 21 trails and slopes (including three terrain parks) offer variety that allows families of different ability levels to ski or ride together. Come to a fork in the trail, and it’s a “You take the high road, I’ll take the low road” moment. One kid splits for a plunge in the steep, while the cruisin’ crew takes the scenic fork, and everyone meets where the trails rejoin. The terrain parks keep active young knees pumping and boards in the air. Snowmaking and trail contour give this 510 vertical foot mountain far more versatility than the elevation would indicate. Six lifts keep the uphill movement flowing, and it’s all under the lights for night skiing and riding.
For beginners in the crowd or advancing skiers and riders who want to advance faster, the Bear Creek ski school has a reputation for inventive children’s programs, women’s programs, group lessons and custom-crafted private teaching that focuses on curing bad habits and creating new possibilities.
In the lodge, which blends into the hotel, you’ll find a well lighted, high ceilinged cafeteria, free storage cubbies, two bars, a modern cocktail lounge with a central fireplace and an array of restaurants with offerings from pizza and wraps to high end dining. And there’s no need to be concerned about leaving skis and boards outside the lodge; Bear Creek offers free equipment check service right outside the lodge.
WHAT IT COSTS:
Adult Open to Close Tickets: $62 Weekends/Holidays, $47 Weekdays
Youth/Senior Open to Close: $53 Weekends/Holidays, $43 Weekdays
Under 5/Over 70: Free
4 hour tickets and daily specials are available.
Check all ticket prices at: www.bcmountainresort.com/tickets-passes
Equipment rentals: $35
Group Lessons w/equipment and tickets: $90 Weekends/Holidays, $77 Weekday
Private Lessons: $99
Check all ski school rates at: www.bcmountainresort.com/snowsports-school
WHERE TO STAY:
The Bear Creek Mountain Resort hotel is the heart of the action here. Right from the go, bellhops take charge of equipment at the door for storage in personal lockers. If you need rentals, there’s a satellite rental shop in the hotel. The rooms are what I call “mountain modern,” with touches of the rustic combined with flat screen TVs, mountain views and the ability to ski from door to lift. There’s a full service spa with special attention to couples, or you can just venture to a steaming outdoor pool and hot tubs. Midweek specials that include night and day lift tickets, discounted equipment rentals and lessons, plus free tubing are going for $98 a person per night. For weekend rates and availability, call 1-866-754-2822.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK:
The kids may prefer a burger under the cathedral ceilings of the Mountain Eatery cafeteria or a pizza in the more intimate Trail’s End Café before heading back to an evening on the slopes or in the chutes. For the youngest, there are childcare services until 9 p.m. That leaves mom and dad free and clear for The Grille.
This is pure romance at a fireside or slopeside table, a dinner that defies all ski table expectations and an evening that becomes an event. Our first stop is the popular bar, warmed by a fireplace. It’s an après ski spot where conversation usually revolves around the day on the mountain and anticipation of the dinner yet to come. Then, it’s a candlelit table in the Grille dining room. If you’ve been here before, it’s hard to vary your choice when that menu is laid out. I head right to the prime rib, while Mary tilts to the salmon on a cedar plank. Steaks and ribs are staples. Perfectly cooked, rare Yellowfin tuna is a soy-flavored treat. The wine list is carefully selected and travels a range that covers most palate and wallet comfort zones.
To cap off the evening again with the kids, the Mountain Eatery offers up ice cream treats for a family gathering and of course, those exhilarating last runs under the lights for youngsters endowed with the boundless energy of youth. Check out all dining options here.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Philadelphia (54 miles):
Take I-476 North (the PA Turnpike Northeast Extension) to exit 44/Quakertown. Turn right onto Route 663 South towards Pennsburg. Turn right onto Route 29 North, and follow it to the Route 100 intersection. Continue straight at the traffic light (do not follow 100/29!) for 4 miles to Bear Creek.