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Need help planning trip to Bethel

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Need help planning trip to Bethel

We’re taking a family vacation the first week of March and have almost 100% decided on Bethel, ME area. A couple of questions – any help/advice is appreciated:

(1). Myself and sons (14, 12) are beginner skiers. Husband is intermediate. Will we be OK at Sunday River? We’re taking classes first day but I don’t want to get in over our heads.

(2). Looking to stay at Jackson Grand Resort. How far is it from Bethel village area? Will we be too isolated and should we stay in town?

(3). How is the drive between Sunday River ski resort area and Bethel main village area? Is it an easy drive in and out or tough road conditions?

Thanks for any help!

MG

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The Bethel Inn Resort
The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
Sunday River Ski Resort
Sunday River Ski Resort
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1. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Marty Girl,

I now live in Baltimore, but I grew up in Maine and Sunday River was my second home! The mountain has an excellent area called South Ridge for beginner skiers. You will definitely not be in over your head. The instructors are pretty great. Do you mean the Jordan Grand Resort? I have never heard of Jackson. If it is indeed the Jordan, then that is where my family owns a timeshare and you are in for a treat! It takes about an extra 15 min to drive up to the Jordan hotel from all the main activity of the mountain, but it is well worth it! You almost feel like you are in a scene of "The Shining" where there is nothing but trees and all of a sudden this gigantic beautiful resort. There is a shuttle that runs on the hour from the resort to the main lodge areas/restaurants, so you don't have to keep driving places. The drive to Bethel is not bad at all . . . unless there happens to be a snowstorm. Maine does a really good job of clearing the roads, though . . . I'm appalled at how bad they are at it in Baltmore! If I were you, I would definitely try to stay on the mountain and not in town if you are planning to do a lot of skiing. It is much less of a hassle to drag your skis and all the equipment back and forth. I love Sunday River and miss going there every weekend, so if you have any more questions let me know!

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The Bethel Inn Resort
The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
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2. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Thanks so much for the response. Yes, I mean Jordan Grand (sorry).

What I've tenatively set up is three nights at the Jordan Grand (Sun, Mon, Tues) and then three nights at the Bethel Inn (Wed, Thurs, Fri). We'll drive up Sunday and then home on Satruday.

I figure that gives us two, maybe three days of skiing and then a few days at the Bethel Inn for snowshoing/snowmobiling.

My biggest concern is being stuck in the middle of nowhere with bored kids and a hungry husband! That's why I was concerned about the drive between Jordan Grand and the town.

What is up with the bad reviews at the Bethel Inn? Is it as bad as the posting on tripadvisor?

Thanks, MG

PS - I'm originally from the Washington DC area. I think the problem with snow removal is that think they're "in the South" and don't think they have to worry about snow!!

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3. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

No Problem!

I have only really stayed at the Jordan Grand and the Grand Summit at Sunday River. I pass by the Bethel Inn and I can't imagine that it could be that bad. I do bet, though, that you will prefer the Jordan.

There is plenty to do for non-skiers! I would take the boys to the Big Adventure Center on a non-ski day. They have a huge laser tag place that I will still frequent with my sisters and boyfriend (I'm 23). You can look them up online. There is also a movie theater close by . . . both are 5 minutes or less from the access road.

Sunday River has plenty of dining options, although, never seems to have many places with realllly good food. The Matterhorn (you'll see it on the access road) and The Phoenix (near South Ridge Lodge) are both fun places to go, often having live entertainment.

You'll probably have at least a mini fridge at the Jordan, if not a full one. I would stock up on snacks and tons and tons of drinks because it is pretty dry up there.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the optionns of things to do right on the mountain. Have fun, I'm jealous!!

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Grand Summit Resort at Sunday River
Grand Summit Resort at...
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Bethel, ME
The Bethel Inn Resort
The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
Big Adventure Center
Big Adventure Center
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Bethel, ME
Southern Maine
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4. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

All the info you received so far is great! I would add that your husband will enjoy the slopes at Jordan Bowl (ski right out from your hotel). If you get bored at South Ridge, there are some nice smaller slopes over by White Heat, and that lodge is less crowded at lunch time.

You can ski across the entire mountain (several different peaks), but that often involves a lot of poling, so you will probably want to use the shuttle service.

I have stayed at the Grand Summit (nice to swim out to the heated pool) and the Bethel Inn (also a heated outdoor pool). Both have their pluses and minuses. There is x-county skiing at the Inn as well as on the access road to Sunday River. The trails are groomed for both traditional and skate skiing. If you've never tried x-country, it's great exercise!

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Grand Summit Resort at Sunday River
Grand Summit Resort at...
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Bethel, ME
The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
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5. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Thanks for the great feedback. It is truly appreciated.

I know it sounds crazy to change hotels mid week but it seems like the best option. The Jordan Grand does not have check in or check out on Saturdays, which is the day we go home. So we either cut our vacation short a day or I split hotels. Plus the price jumps up $200 per night at the Grand for Friday night - ouch.

I like the options at the Bethel Inn - would love to try cross country and we love snowshoeing. So I guess we'll resort hop - LOL.

How long will it take us to drive from Jordan Grand to Bethel? I know I sound like a broken record but a few years ago I rented (online) a beautiful cabin in NC -- it was a thirty minute ride down to the main gate and another 40+ minutes winding drive to "town". Beautiful but we were all a little cabin crazy after that week...

thanks again...MG

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The Bethel Inn Resort
The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
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6. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

I'm guessing 10 minutes or so from Sunday River to intown Bethel. Unless, of course, you leave the mountain when everyone else is. I grew up 45 minutes from Sunday River and we learned not to expect to get anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30, as the skiers were going through on Route 26.

Another option for skiing, particularly for the more novice skiers in your group - Mt. Abram in Locke Mills, about 20 minutes south on Route 26. I grew up on that mountain. It is smaller and has a family feel to it. They also offer snow tubing, which is a lot of fun!

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The Bethel Inn Resort
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Bethel, ME
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7. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Back today from 5 nights at the Grand Summit.There are plenty of easier trails at Sunday River. Your package should include free group lessons which are group clinics divided up by ability. Called Perfect Turn Clinics.These are offered either in the morning at 10:30 or in the afternoon around 1:30 or 2.The Jordan Grand is very nice but is a bit far away from the majority of slopes. It's about 12 minutes by car from the South Ridge base area. The pool area is very nice and the outdoor hottub is lovely. I've not stayed there only the Grand Summit.The restaurant there Sliders has a great view of the mountain and the tables look right out on the mountain. Book yourself a massage in advance. The spa services are great! Good Luck!

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Grand Summit Resort at Sunday River
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8. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Thanks for all the great feedback. I spent the weekend shopping for ski pants and snow boots for the kids - as it is in the mid-60's here, it feels weird - LOL.

Any other tips welcome. Hopefully we'll have plenty of snow in early march.

MG

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9. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Believe it or not, it was 63 degrees here today:-)

Don't worry - it's the January thaw and won't last long. Plus Sunday River is famous for its snow-making capabilities.

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10. Re: Need help planning trip to Bethel

Hi, hopefully this will get to you before you leave for Maine. We've been going to Sunday river for the past 15 years or so for about a week each year during the ski season. I believe you have enough responses about Sunday River. All of kids took lessons there by age 9 and now at 20 and 12 my sons are experts in that mountain. my 17 y.o. daughter is not so much into skiing but does well there too. The best part to us is that the waiting time is minimal at the lifts. We are also from NJ and have not bothered again skiing in NY or VT. The drive is long.. they say 6 1/2 from the Montclair area, but it can be at least 7 by stopping for gas, more with heavy traffic in hideous 95 in CT. The Merrit may be a better choice but you will drive slower, specially at night. Once in NH, (if you take 95 for a short time in NH and then in ME), the ride becomes more pleasant. We take the GSP to 287 to 95 or Merrit to 91 to 84 to 90 to 290 to 495 to 95 to 26.

We always rented houses in the area, so we never stayed at the mountain, but we always drove to Bethel for dinner and basic shopping. There is a supermarket there as well.

We finally bought a house in town, and we feel we made the best decision to be within walking distance of the restaurants on Main St. etc. The Sudbury Inn and S.S. Milton are 2 we go often when there. The Bethel area is great also in the summer. The Bethel Inn is iffy... but I was also surprised for the bad reviews. I have not dined there for years, so I don't know about the current status. Whn wew did, it was just a safe, traditional menu. the Hastings House across the street is an italian restaurant will lots of potential, but the service can be extremely slow. Don't go there unless you have a few hours to kill. I think the drive to Sunday River from Bethel is about 6 miles on 26 and 3.5 miles on the Sunday River Rd. ABout ten minutes, easy ride. There will be much snow this weekend, more snow this season than I ever saw in the Bethel area. Our snow removal contact had to get an excavator to push the snow away from the driveway, as his snowplow could not handle the amount of snow. Decided to get the 2 plus feet of snow removed from the roofs, we may still be skiing on the 4th of July, it seems.

Driving to Bethel or back to NJ through the White Mountains is wonderful, but it can add hours to the already long drive. If you need to get groceries, the supermarket (hannaford) in Norway (short drive past the walmart) has a very good selection. I think even better than any Kings in NJ. The Hannaford in Bethel is rather basic.

Enjoy it and be careful, lots of snowing tomorrow Saturday but the roads in ME are always dry and clear unless in the middle of a snow storm or rain.

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