Photo from Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports

The foundation of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports’ new $2.5 million adaptive sports facility at Sugarbush Resort’s Mount Ellen is in and the first walls are installed, setting the stage for an anticipated opening of this state-of-the-art facility for the winter 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season.



“As with at any ski resort, community is a big part of the entire experience and that holds true for everyone who enjoys Mount Ellen, whether as an independent skier/snowboarder or someone participating with us,” said Erin Fernandez, executive director at Vermont Adaptive, which offers daily adaptive sports programs to people with disabilities.

“With our building connected to the existing base lodge, all of our guests will have access to everything in the Mount Ellen lodge – the cafeteria, bathrooms, bar and pub on the third floor, the retail shop. There is no division. Friends and family can get ready, recreate and apres-ski together. The elevator will be a game changer, too,” Fernandez added.  

Demolition at the site is complete, crews have poured the foundation and the framework of the new facility is underway. Interior work will begin to take shape this fall on this long-awaited project. Until now, Vermont Adaptive has operated out of 400 square feet of borrowed space in the lodge. This new 4,000-square-foot facility at Sugarbush is the second of three permanent homes to be built in Vermont for the nonprofit.


The first permanent home, the Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge, was built in 2013 at Pico Mountain in Killington. The third will be a new home on the Burlington waterfront and bike path, in the next two to three years.

“It’s been a long haul since we began this second building three years ago with many twists and turns including a global pandemic, which none of us could have foreseen,” said Fernandez. “This year has had its own set of challenges. There are major supply chain issues and materials are more expensive.”

The organization still has about $400,000 left to raise for the Sugarbush project.

Naylor & Breen Builders, Inc. is the general contractor for the project, and the building was designed by Jeffrey Dunham Architecture. The new facility is specifically designed with the Vermont Adaptive participants, volunteers, staff and community in mind in order to bring year-round accessible sports and recreation to the entire Mad River Valley area.


The new facility at Sugarbush will include three floors for adaptive sports programming, retreats, veterans’ programs, workshops and wellness seminars as well as the following:

  • Access-for-all elevator for three floors at Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush. 
  • Year-round storage for state-of-the-art adaptive equipment. 
  • Bag and gear storage space for staff, volunteers and guests. 
  • Connecting pathways to existing and new spaces – connection to Sugarbush’s main base lodge level for food, the fireplace, seating, and retail. 
  • Accessible entryways and exits for getting ready for and hitting the slopes. 
  • Dedicated space for program check-in, accessible restrooms, program space, personal storage and changing space, volunteer break room, educational lending library and more.
  • Specially-designed soundproof sensory room for those who need a comfortable retreat away from noise and overstimulation. 
  • Multi-purpose space for classroom activities, retreats, yoga workshops, wellness camps.
  • and other holistic activities. 
  • Space to work on equipment with a mechanical equipment closet included. 

Vermont Adaptive arrived at Sugarbush Resort in 1991, when it expanded its programming locations to include Sugarbush in addition to its then-home base at Mt. Ascutney, where programs began in 1987. (The statewide headquarters is now at Pico Mountain.) The longstanding partnership between the organization and Sugarbush Resort has thrived for the past 30 years.

To learn more about the facility and to view designs and renderings, visit