Ski Canada Magazine
With Owl’s Head, what you see is what you get, and you see a lot. The peak rises straight off the shores of Lake Memphramagog, giving it an impressive welcome as you drive in from the north. Passing l’Abbaye de Saint-Benoitdu-Lac leaves one with a distinct Europe feeling (and some excellent cheeses). There’s practically no other way to get to this resort that’s hard up against a beautiful lake to the east and the Vermont border just to the south.
The layout is there for all to see—wide-open, fall-line runs that offer consistent pitch and long stretches of uninterrupted cruising. But the distracting view is even better while heading downhill, with the 50-kmlong lake stretching out below providing great sightlines from many of the runs.
The memorable views of the lake haven’t changed since the 1960s. Until recently, the same could be said for much of the resort, but since new owners took over from the founders in 2018, the place has undergone an overhaul. The formerly austere base lodge has been totally renovated from within to the tune of $5-million. The underused dining hall has been converted into a lively bar with enormous windows opening to the hill, the formerly dingy basement bar now hosts the rental shop and a boutique with a ringing cash register, and the 20 cramped rooms of the former auberge have been turned into 10 swishy suites and renamed the Mtn Haus Hotel. Guests of the hotel get an RFID card on which to load money for lift access, cafeteria food and access to the ski lockers in the basement.
The modern black, grey and white colour scheme is missing some of the warmth of yesteryear, but it’s a huge step forward in the amenity department and is complemented on the hill by a new Lakeview Chair—fixed grip, but with a loading Carpet for faster cable speeds.
The snowmaking system usually doesn’t get much attention in brochures, but it’s an increasingly important selling point for ski resorts, and Owl’s Head is playing along. During the first year after the sale, the new owners spent $8-million on snowmaking. Now 350 snowmakers blanket the terrain with bespoke snow that can be made in greater quantities, at warmer temperatures and with more precise moisture content controls. Add the acquisition of a winch cat, which pulls snow up the hill as it works, instead of pushing it down, and the locals are reporting noticeably improved snow conditions.
Skiable terrain: 40 hectares Lifts: 6
Annual snowfall: 250 cm