The Early Years of Glen Ellen

The Red Jackets: Sugarbush Volunteer Ambassadors

A core part of the Sugarbush Guest Services Team is our Volunteer Mountain Hosts who we call “Ambassadors”.  This group of eighty strong, mostly retirees, are often seen around the Resort wearing their signature Burton Red Jackets.  In a “normal year” you generally see them at the end of the day in the Courtyard handing out hot cider or on weekends/holidays leading their signature, Meet the Mountain Tours.  This year, however, with onerous COVID protocols in place – the fleet has been somewhat grounded.  This season their focus is on helping to educate guests in our base areas with COVID protocols and assist them with learning our new resort layouts. 

This group of Volunteers is one of THE most well educated, well-traveled, well experienced and FUN teams that the resort has.  They are passionate outdoor enthusiasts who love Sugarbush and the Mad River Valley.  And without them, the Sugarbush customer experience would be markedly different.

Below, hear their thoughts on skiing/riding this season, some of their pro-tips for navigating our new COVID protocols, why they love being an Ambassador and some of their favorite parts of Sugarbush. This week I interviewed three different ambassadors. Harry Hutchinson is 70 years old, lives in Fayston and has been in the program for 20 years. Dinah Simonini is 75 years old, lives in Fayston and has been in the program for 10 years. Mark Saks is 65 years old, lives in Richmond and has been in the program for 9 years.

What would you share with guests or community members who are uncomfortable or concerned about skiing / riding this season?

“I am 75 years old and was worried if this season would be safe for me to be an Ambassador.  I am pleasantly surprised at how safe I feel working at Sugarbush.  The lift lines are 6’ apart.  Mask wearing is enforced in a friendly way telling guests we want to be open ‘til May doing what we all love.  All inside destinations like cafeterias / warming rooms are manned for crowd control with tables more than 6’ apart.  Food is easy to order online with many choices.  The new Lincoln Peak Courtyard area with fire pits / tables is very inviting.  Bathrooms are monitored for the number of people in them.  And one of the biggest fears I had was loading chairs, no one rides with anyone they haven’t come with and lift lines were not more than ten minutes even at Xmas.” – DS

Dinah Simonini

What do you feel has been the biggest challenge for our guests this season? What helpful advice do you have?

“Experiment with a few options for face coverings to find the least ‘uncomfortable’ interface with goggles, breathing, etc.  As far as resort flow concerning lifts and use of indoor facilities, including ordering food, after a day or two of experience, it is pretty seamless.  It may not be the ideal but since it’s working to date, let’s continue enjoying the sport we love.” – MS

Mark Saks

What are your favorite parts of Sugarbush?

“The community of people at the mountain.  I have never met a more sincere, caring, and loyal group of individuals, that like swallows of Capistrano, every November keep coming back to the mountain, because they love it.  This community could go anywhere, but they return to Sugarbush.  Once the Sugarbush spirit is in your blood, it is very hard to get it out. You can’t stay away.” – HH

Man on beer and tractor
Harry Hutchinson

Why did you want to join the Ambassador community?

“When my husband and I retired we did not know many people for we always brought our friends from Massachusetts with us.  We knew if we joined this program, we would meet people and become a part of a community that we would enjoy living with.” – DS

What do you enjoy most about being an Ambassador?

“Conversations with guests who genuinely want to know more about enjoying the Sugarbush experience.” – MS

“Standing at the bottom of Heaven’s Gate organizing the lift corrals and watching the guest rip down the trail and seeing the exhilaration and smiles on their faces knowing they are having a great day.”
 – HH

“Being part of an organization that wants to strive to make the customer happy.  Love helping people have fun.” – DS

For more information on the Ambassador Program read Sharing the Love written by John Bleh in last year’s Sugarbush Magazine.  Interested in learning more about this program?  Please contact Karl Munzel, Events & Guest Services Manager at com or 802.583.6834