A Special Q&A with Stratton Mountain Resort’s new CEO, Matt Jones
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY MATT JONES
Matt Jones has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of Stratton Mountain Resort since November 6, 2023. He comes to Stratton with 25 years in the mountain resort business, most recently as Vice President and General of Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California. Matt sat down with Stratton Magazine to share about his passion for winter sports, his recent move to Vermont, and his plans for Stratton Mountain Resort’s future.
Q: Welcome to the Stratton Community, Matt—and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Your entire career has been in the ski and snowboard world. How did you get hooked?
A: We are in the business of fun. Not only do we get to have fun working, but our whole job focus is on creating fun and memorable experiences for others. What’s not to like about that? Also, the industry is complex and challenging with no two seasons being the same. The challenge and persevering through it all as a team is what makes it so rewarding.
Q: What’s it like to join a new mountain community at the start of a ski and ride season?
A: I think this is the best time to start a new role. My other two large career moves happened at the same time. Inheriting such a talented team already capable of executing allows me to listen and learn— and to truly understand what we do well, why we do it, and what opportunities there are to continuously improve.
Q: Moving from California to Vermont seems like a big change. What do you see as common threads from mountain to mountain?
A: Passion for the mountain and community are prevalent in a lot of locations AND that is particularly strong at Stratton as evidenced by the generations who have called Stratton their home or home mountain. The strength of the Stratton community and the quality of life in the surrounding areas were a huge draw for me and my family.
Q: What was your impression of Stratton from “the outside”?
A: Before joining, I knew Stratton had a strong brand, was family focused, and was home to athletes who have gone on to accomplish great things in a variety of winter sports. I knew it was in a spectacular part of Vermont with so much to offer those who are drawn to the mountains and the surrounding communities. Those were things that I thought of first when this role and opportunity were first presented to me. The potential of helping carry on that legacy was definitely part of the consideration for moving.
Q: One of the big projects this summer has been “the learning area,” which includes three covered magic carpets and terrain designed for progression. What do you say to someone who has yet to try either skiing or snowboarding?
A: The learning area project was something that really stood out to me when I researched this opportunity. I was really impressed at the investment in this area, knowing it’s an investment in the future of the sport. Furthermore— and this is connected to what I’d say to someone who has not given it a try— I’d say it can be life changing. That might sound a bit over the top, but I feel strongly that introducing someone to the sport enriches their lives, and in some cases, it can change the trajectory entirely. I’d be in a completely different place if I had not been introduced to the sport and the mountains by friends. There’s nothing more powerful than someone who believes in you. Our instructors are positioned to do that and help build your confidence as you enter the sport. The confidence you can gain from learning and improving is rewarded by additional challenges and terrain to conquer. At that point there are so many different avenues to enjoy the sport. I love that it promotes a healthy lifestyle, is great for friends, and most importantly for me, it’s something families can do together throughout their lives no matter what age.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: That’s a question for those I’ve worked with to answer! What I’d hope they would say is that they worked with a leader who was authentic, transparent, passionate, and committed to helping each of them and the team accomplish great things. The result of this is delivering for our guests— and that is extremely rewarding. For me, it’s always about the team.
Q: What are you and the family—wife Courtney, sons Brady and Connor and those two Golden Retrievers (Sully and Riva) – most excited to check out this winter?
A: We are all really excited to learn and experience what Stratton and the area has to offer on and off the mountain, to make friends and settle into this amazing area. Courtney has already scoped out trails for the dogs, and while the boys are nervous about new schools and making friends, they are also excited and ready to go. Connor may try snowboarding since he’s only skied so far and Brady is hoping to get his first job since he’s now old enough to work.
Q: You’re from Ohio and have lived in Colorado and California. Have you spent time in New England?
A: For sure. My wife is from West Newbury, MA just 3 hours away. We were married in Newburyport, MA and vacation visiting family in New England every summer. Before the opportunity at Stratton came up, we were already making plans to retire in New England and spend more and more time here. We feel fortunate that those plans to move to the Northeast have accelerated with this opportunity.
Q: Stratton was one of the first “ski” resorts to offer year-round activities. What’s your summer look like?
A: In the summer, I love to mountain bike, golf, and spend time at the lake. I was excited to see recent investments in Stratton’s summer offerings and look forward to working with the team, guests, and community to understand how we can continue to grow the activities and events in the right way.
Q: And finally, what is it about Stratton’s vision statement that resonates with you: “A bold mountain community, cultivating extraordinary experiences.”
A: Two things stick out to me. “Bold” and “Extraordinary Experiences.” Starting with the latter, I think this is spot on for what our guests and community want out of Stratton. I’m in the process of learning where we hit that mark today and where we need to improve to meet and hopefully exceed that expectation. It’s going to require us to be “bold” in our thinking and focused, so we truly identify those areas where we can lean in and elevate the experience. There will be challenges, but that will only make the accomplishments sweeter and drive us to continue to improve.