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Peak Passion


By Rachel Stearns

Winter in the Green Mountains is known for heaps of snow, but at Spruce Peak, you’ll also find warmth at every turn: a cup of hot cocoa by the skating rink, a dip in the swim-out heated pool, and best of all, the greeting of a friendly wave or a familiar face. To make our community feel like home, a great many people contribute their time and talents. Meet six folks who bring us joy at Spruce Peak.


Billy O'Neil

Billy O'Neil

Concierge at The Lodge at Spruce Peak

“I ski alone,” says Billy O’Neil, known to most as Billy O. “Anyone on the mountain will tell you that.” An exception may be made if one of his three grown children is in town, but otherwise, he’ll be zipping through in the singles lane. Solitude on the slopes gives him a chance to reflect—on where he is in life, where he’s been, and where he’s going. (At the time of publication, he was chasing opening days out west, at Keystone, Copper Mountain, Vail, and Aspen Snowmass.)

O’Neil has been a competitive ski racer and freestyle skier, hospitality professional, and owner of more than one upscale inn. Currently, he works second shift at the guest services desk. The afternoon start allows time for a ski before he begins—not to mention a two- to three-hour run (he’s also a seasoned marathoner).

On the job, O’Neil takes care of owners and makes recommendations for visitors—including giving his own personal ski condition report to anyone who asks. He expertly advises on activities and restaurants in Stowe, Vermont, New England, and beyond; he moved to Stowe as a teenager in the 1970s, but his skiing, business, and long-distance running have taken him around the world.

O’Neil says the solo runs (be they on snow or pavement) balance out the time he spends talking with people the rest of the day. He loves his job and has developed a rapport with repeat guests over the years. “The most enjoyable part is being able to seriously impact someone’s time while they’re on vacation here,” he says. “You can really make a big difference.”

John Ashworth

John Ashworth

Principal at Bull Stockwell Allen

If you’ve skated on the Rink, warmed your toes in the Spruce Camp base lodge, or gathered with friends around the crackling hearth at the WhistlePig Pavilion, you’ve experienced firsthand the vision of architect John Ashworth. For more than a decade, Ashworth has brought snow country design to life at Spruce Peak village.

Although Ashworth is based out of Bull Stockwell Allen’s San Francisco office, the firm has a storied history with Spruce Peak: Founder Henrick Bull completed his MIT architectural thesis on the ski area long before it became the resort it is now. “It’s this wonderful serendipity,” Ashworth says.

Ashworth also worked on the newly completed Treehouse, which houses 48 luxury modern alpine residences (for more about the Treehouse, turn to page TK). “The building nestles into a stand of trees and overlooks the landscape,” he says. “It really does look like it belongs there and nowhere else.”

While Ashworth fondly recalls ski trips up north while attending Harvard, his work at Spruce Peak convinced him to buy a home in nearby Craftsbury Common, where he now spends about a third of his time. “It’s because of Stowe and Spruce Peak that I became a part-time Vermont resident,” he says. “I just love this place.”

Jason Powell & Mike Scarlata

Jason Powell & Mike Scarlata

Founders of Ten Bends Beer

Jason Powell and Mike Scarlata started Ten Bends Beer in 2016, after winning a few homebrew competitions together. Its name refers to the ten distinct bends the Lamoille River makes between the nearby towns of Morrisville and Johnson. “We’ve always felt very connected to this region and landscape,” Powell says.

He came to Vermont from Michigan after college, while Scarlata moved here from New Jersey in 2012. The two became fast friends, bonding over a passion for making beer. With respective backgrounds in web design and finance, they were well equipped to build a business—and the brewing part has always been a creative collaboration.

In 2021, the brewery was tapped to create an exclusive beer for Spruce Peak. Powell and Scarlata used Vermont-grown chinook and centennial hops, which lend a piney, earthy flavor (as a nod to Spruce Peak), without being overpowering. “The second it hit our lips, we realized it was perfect,” says Scarlata. “That happens very rarely in this industry, but it happened with Spruce Peak IPA, and it’s still one of our personal favorites.”

This past summer, Powell and Scarlata turned Ten Bends Beer’s seventh anniversary party into a fundraiser for families whose homes had been destroyed in July’s floods. They also sponsored Spruce Peak’s October flood relief concert, featuring Michael Franti. “The show was fantastic,” says Powell. “It’s great to have partners that believe in the same things we do.”

Nicole Sutherland-Maiden

Nicole Sutherland-Maiden

Food and Beverage Director at The Club at Spruce Peak

Club members appreciate Nicole Sutherland-Maiden’s warm smile, ability to keep things running smoothly even on peak weekends, and impeccable attention to detail. But her easy charm and business savvy are only part of her story.

Sutherland-Maiden is a global traveler who has had more than a lifetime’s worth of adventures. She was born in England and moved to Canada as a child. She bike-raced in her teens on Canada’s national development team, modeled to pay for college, and then started her own modeling agency before joining Ford as a scout, crisscrossing the country organizing fashion shows and seeking talent.

She later ended up in Woodstock, Vermont, where she ran a an inn and directed a summer camp for girls. When her kids were nine and 11, she relocated to the Lake Tahoe area. At long last, she found her way back to Vermont. “Stowe is a worldly town,” she says. “I’m really happy I landed here in the end.”

Sutherland-Maiden shines when building relationships with Club members and offering a personal touch—remembering their favorite spot to eat in the dining room or recommending local events they might enjoy. She plans themed dinners, family-friendly celebrations, and special events.

Her children ski raced growing up, so she also keeps tabs on community members whose kids race. “I understand the sport really well and get excited about it,” she says.

In her free time, Sutherland-Maiden likes to ski too, though her own kids (now all grown up) rib her about her sub-par skills. “They will tell you I’m a gaper,” she laughs. If she’s half as good on the mountain as she is at her day job, she’ll be doing just fine.

Seth Soloway

Seth Soloway

Executive Director of Spruce Peak Arts

Seth Soloway, the new head of Spruce Peak Arts, comes to Stowe via Music City, he spent the last two years as an associate dean at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville. But don’t mistake him for a southerner. “I know what to do in the winter!” he says. You might catch him backcountry skiing with his wife and toddler when the flakes fly.

Born in New York City, Soloway grew up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. His mother was a teacher and his father worked as an artist-slash-exterminator. “My dad was willing to do anything to fund his creative pursuits, which was a great influence on me,” he says. Prior to his role at Vanderbilt, he spent more than a decade in New York’s Hudson Valley, where he helmed several arts organizations and even turned a historic train station into a theater.

At Spruce Peak, Soloway is getting to know the community and planning programs that draw tourists and resonate with locals. He spent the fall in a research and evaluation phase, aiming to develop consistent, high-quality, engaging arts experiences. “My goal is to continue to sustain the audience for the live arts, because that’s key to keeping artists thriving,” he says.

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