Going All Out
Combining decadence and practicality, this fully wired Sugarloaf house is equipped for pizza parties and hot tub hangouts
“It was like Christmas every day when we moved in,” says tech entrepreneur Bob Neveu. “You’d open a drawer in the kitchen and it was like opening a present. Here’s a spatula and a whisk! Here’s a mixer!” He laughs at the memory. Spatulas and whisks might not sound like the most exciting finds, but for Neveu and his family, it was a great pleasure to discover everything about their fully furnished, fully decorated Sugarloaf home. “It’s hard to find a single-family home on the main mountain,” he explains. “We’re really, really happy with what we have.”
He and his wife, Katy, purchased the big red house in the fall of 2017, and in the past year the Neveu family has used the house “religiously, every single weekend,” he says. The biggest draw was the location. The three-story house is down-mountain from the Birchwood Condos and just a quick walk from two access trails. While they briefly considered buying a condo, with three college-aged sons, the couple knew that it wouldn’t be the right fit for their rowdy crowd. “We have a lot of space to sleep everyone,” Neveu says, thanks to the five bedrooms. “The place came with folding cots and air mattresses. It’s not atypical to see four college kids sleeping on mattresses in the basement game room on any given weekend.” With seven bathrooms, it’s also not too much of a struggle to schedule shower time before heading out to the slopes. And the huge “ski room” in the basement allows skiers to take off their boots, step straight onto a heated floor, hang everything up, and head upstairs without missing a beat.
There are four floors including the basement, which also features a game room, a kitchen, two full bathrooms, and a living area. The next floor houses the kitchen, living room, and a huge owners’ suite. The third and fourth floors have bedroom suites. Some of the bedrooms have two double beds, and others contain a single king-sized bed. “It has a lot of combinations, which is nice,” Neveu says, “since you can have a couple with young kids, and they can have their own space.” (In the coming years, Neveu imagines this will happen more often, after his college-age boys eventually start families.)
Although the Neveus occasionally use the home during the summertime, Sugarloaf really comes alive in the snowy months, and that’s when the family most appreciates their mountain escape. Every Friday they make the two-hour drive from Cumberland County to this big red home-away-from-home. “Sugarloaf is notorious for being Cumberland North on the weekend,” he says. “We see friends from school and work, and their kids.” The Neveu house is often a nexus of activity, and sometimes they even pick up new friends as they relax in the mountain hot tub. “It’s been fun getting to know and understand the neighborhood and the ski traffic up here,” Neveu says. “You have all these people coming past, and whether you want to or not, you end up making friends. They will see us in our hot tub from the ski trails and say, ‘Hello, can we join you?’” he laughs.
That may happen even more often this winter, since Neveu and his wife have installed a new feature that’s bound to be the envy of every easy going vacationer. In August workers removed the old wooden deck and laid down a stone patio that spans the entire property. “We decided we didn’t really need grass in our backyard,” he says. “Plus, it was nice to take the wooden decks off—the stone feels like a much nicer presentation.” He and his wife also opted to “go all out” and install radiant heating underneath the outdoor patio, which will boast an outdoor kitchen, a large outdoor gas fire pit, a lounge area, and a hot tub that faces up toward the mountain’s purple peak (accompanied by a “decadent” towel-warming rack). “We haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I’m excited. Walking across snow and ice is never fun, and if you slip and fall, that’s a bummer,” he says. “It can ruin the whole ski season.”
Now, all they’ll need to do is “flip a switch and all the snow melts.” The fully modernized house is linked to Neveu’s cellphone via Nest, so if he forgets to turn the outdoor heating off, he can power down remotely. Or, as he’s leaving the house in Freeport, he can turn on the heat, ensuring that by the time they arrive there will be warm floorboards, snow melting on the patio, and a hot tub steaming in the frigid air. On driving days the Neveu family tends to stop on the way to Sugarloaf to fill up their bellies, but they like to cook at the house, too. They’re often traveling on a Thursday or Friday, which means Saturday is pizza night. “The wood-fired pizza oven was a huge discovery,” Neveu says. “It had a steep learning curve, but now we love it.” It took some time to figure out how many logs to use, where to place them, and how to build a fire that would cook pizzas without burning them, he says, but after turning a few pies to charred-cheese Frisbees, the Neveu boys figured it out. “On a pizza night, we’ll fill the kitchen island up with toppings, and everyone can make their own pizza,” he explains. “We’ve discovered it tends to be more fun when you can make a personal pizza. Some people want to do things like pineapples and peppers, and you know, that should be a personal pizza.”
Neveu knows this sounds like heaven (unconventional topping choices aside), and he can’t seem to mention their new Sugarloaf home without talking about how lucky it makes him feel. In a sense, he feels he owes it to the house to use it frequently—and to keep it up-to- date and filled with perks, like the towel-warming closet or the smart home system. “I know families who buy and sell houses like this, and maybe we will sell it one day, but right now I just want to keep it in the family forever,” he says. In the winter it’s “easy to become an internal being,” he says. “You wake up, drop the kids off at school in the morning, go to the office, go home, and the sun sets at 4 p.m. It’s easy to say, ‘I’m just going to stay in my cave.’” But at Sugarloaf, things are different. There, they get outside and watch the sun set slowly while snowflakes fall on the pines. There, they can be loud and friendly and happy. “It’s a familiar place, but it feels fresh every time you go back,” Neveu says. “It’s a change of pace when you need it most.”